[Paleopsych] Wikipedia: Jean Baudrillard

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Jean Baudrillard

Jean Baudrillard (born July 29, 1929) is a cultural theorist and
philosopher. His work is frequently associated with postmodernism
and post-structuralism.


* 1 Life
* 2 Introduction to work
  + 2.1 International Journal of Baudrillard Studies
  + 2.2 On the Gulf War
  + 2.3 Precession of Simulacra
  + 2.4 Baudrillard's Object Value System
  + 2.5 End of history and meaning
* 3 Critiques of Baudrillard
* 4 Bibliography
  + 4.1 Books
  + 4.2 Essays
* 5 External links


He was born in Reims, France. He studied German at the Sorbonne
University in Paris and taught German in a lycée (1958-1966). He
worked as a translator and critic and continued to study philosophy
and sociology. In 1966 he completed his Ph.D. thesis: 'Thèse de
troisième cycle: Le Système des objets' ('Third cycle thesis: The
system of objects') under the tuition of Henri Lefebvre. From 1966
to 1972 he worked as Maître Assistant (Assistant) and Maître de
Conférences en Sociologie (Assistant Professor). In 1972 he
finished his habilitation 'L'Autre par lui-même'. ('The other by
himself'.) and started teaching Sociology at the Université de
Paris-X Nanterre as a professor. From 1986 to 1990 Baudrillard
served as Directeur Scientifique (Scientific Director) at IRIS
(Institut de Recherche et d'Information Socio-Économique) at the
Université de Paris-IX Dauphine. Since 2001 he has been a professor
of philosophy of culture and media criticism at the European
Graduate School. He continues to support the Institut de Recherche
sur l'Innovation Sociale at the Centre National de la Recherche

Introduction to work

Jean Baudrillard is best known for his formulation of the notion of
hyperreality, and in particular hyperreality in the United States.
According to Baudrillard, America has constructed itself a world
that is more 'real' than real, and where those inhabiting it are
obsessed with timelessness, perfection, and objectification of the
self. Furthermore, authenticity has been replaced by copy (thus
reality is replaced by a substitute), and nothing is "real," though
those engaged in the illusion are incapable of seeing it. Instead
of having experiences, people observe spectacles, via real or
metaphorical control screens. Instead of the real, we have
simulation and simulacra.

While early in his career he was influenced by Marxism, he
eventually came to the conclusion that Marx's attitudes were in
mirror opposition to that of capitalist thought, and that Marx in
fact held the same basic worldview as the capitalist. For instance,
he did not question such concepts as "work" or "value". In short,
while perhaps well-intentioned, he argued that Marx was infected by
the "virus of bourgeois thought". In opposition, he proposed a
concept of symbolic exchange, a "cycle of gifts and countergifts",
similar to a gift economy. However, in time he began to prefer the
idea of a system based around seduction, involving "the charms of
pure and mere games, superficial rituals". While he gives such
possible alternatives, he sees little hope in any repair of the
social world, but rather a further progression into a hyperreal
system offering little distinction between what is real and what is
not. He sees the United States as having moved furthest in this
direction, noting for instance that his decision to visit the
United States stemmed from his desire to seek "the finished form of
the future catastrophe."

International Journal of Baudrillard Studies

On the Gulf War

Shortly before the Gulf War, Baudrillard predicted that the war
would not actually happen. After the war, he claimed that he had
been correct, that no war had taken place. The reality of the war,
where people fight for a cause and are killed, had been replaced by
a 'copy' war that is delivered to televisions across the world
where no fighting is taking place. America was engaged in an
illusion that it was fighting, much as the mind engages with a
video game, where the experience tricks the consciousness into
believing it is an active participant in something that is not
happening. While the combat may have been real, only a few people
experienced it, and they were on the other side of the world. The
'war' that was broadcast on television, and therefore the war as it
was understood by the majority of people, was not actually real.

The real conflict, according to Baudrillard, was not a war with
Iraq over the invasion of Kuwait, but a greater question concerning
the concept of war. The first Gulf War served as a crisis point,
determining whether or not war was still possible in the
post-industrial age. One could imagine, with relation to this
claim, that the American soldier often fought solely within the
system of military technology, to the degree that the war's
"culture imprint" remains that of friendly fire created by faulty
machinery, and a lack of actual face-to-face combat. The video
screen-mediated concept of the precision strike became an
advertisement for American technological dominance, which makes it
possible to view the war as, in part, an advertisement for military

The problem is that actual deaths were involved, deaths which were
as much de-realised by the rhetoric of the clinical, technological
war as Baudrillard's abstruse analysis of the war as a simulacrum.
The ongoing indecision and subterfuge involving Gulf War Syndrome
recalls again the precession of the real event, that of suffering
caused by war, by debate over what constitutes the real, and the
assertion of an authorised history which masks, and replaces in
public consciousness, the effects of the real.

Precession of Simulacra

In his essay 'The Precession of the Simulacra', Baudrillard recalls
a tale by a probably fictional 17th century author named Suarez
Miranda that was first recounted by Borges. In the story a map
(i.e. a representation) is produced so detailed that it ends up
coming into one-to-one correspondence with the territory (i.e.
everything that had once been directly lived), but argues that in
the postmodern epoch, the territory ceases to exist, and there is
nothing left but the map; or indeed, the very concepts of the map
and the territory have become indistinguishable, the distinction
which once existed between them having been erased.

Baudrillard's Object Value System

Baudrillard was heavily influenced by the works of Karl Marx. Like
many other philosophers of consumer society, Baudrillard was
particularly influenced by Marx's discussion of commodity
fetishism, and much of his earlier work was an attempt to
re-articulate the logic of commodity fetishism through a
post-Marxist frame of reference that took seriously twentieth
century developments in linguistic structuralism. Part of this
rearticulation involved what Baudrillard called the "four logics of
objects." He developed four categories for the value of
  1. The functional value of an object is its instrumental purpose.
  (A pen writes. A diamond ring adorns an otherwise empty hand.)
  This is what Marx referred to as the 'use-value' of the
  2. The exchange value of an object is its economic value. (A pen
  is worth three pencils. A diamond ring is worth three months'
  3. The symbolic exchange value of an object is its arbitrarily
  assigned and agreed value in relation to another subject. (A
  pen represents a graduation present or a speaker's gift. A
  diamond ring symbolizes a public declaration of love between
  two individuals.)
  4. The sign exchange value of an object represents its value in a
  system of objects. (A pen is part of a desk set, or a
  particular pen confers social status. A diamond ring has sign
  exchange value in relation to other diamond rings, conferring
  social status to the person with the biggest or prettiest

End of history and meaning

According to Baudrillard, in the 20th century, we somehow reached
the termination of history. The method of this termination comes
through the lack of oppositional elements in society, with the mass
having become 'the silent majority', an imploded concept which
absorbs images passively, becoming itself a media overwritten by
those who speak for it. By its silence, contends Baudrillard, the
people create the extreme situation which is exploited by the
aestheticising of politics and the symbolically viral kind of
conflict that is terrorism. The end of history is typified by the
public assumption of revolutionary fulfillment, which is equal to
the same, the celebration of the past in the place of concern for
the future and the continual repetition of scenarios in identical
forms. For Baudrillard this is the natural result of an ethic of
unity in which actually agonistic opposites are taken to be
essentially the same. For example, Baudrillard contends that
universalism (human rights, equality) is equated with
globalisation, which is not concerned with immutable values but
with mediums of exchange and equalisation such as the global market
and mass media.

An example to be used is his elaboration on the loss of meaning.
Baudrillard remarks: 'the universe is not dialectical: it moves
toward the extremes, and not towards equilibrium; it is devoted to
a radical antagonism and not to reconciliation or to synthesis'.
For example, in today's society, there is excessive production,
where there is increasing technology enabling faster circulation of
production and distribution. Baudrillard however postulates that we
have passed beyond production itself and have come through the
previously-held distinctions of production. He argues that the
constancy and perpetuity of production has become so ordinary, that
the ideal disappears, that no semanticity or meaning is left, and
that method has become commonplace. This is related to Marshall
McLuhan's credo - 'The medium is the message'. This approach has
been criticized for confusing meaning per se with a mere shock
effect. Some theorists argue that by being more exposed to a
process of production, we may actually attach different types of
meaning to an object, albeit anthropocentrically, in terms of its
functions for humans.

Critiques of Baudrillard

Baudrillard has been criticized by many scholars. Douglas Kellner
offers a critique of Baudrillard in 'Jean Baudrillard: From Marxism
to Postmodernism and Beyond' (ISBN 0804717575) that attempts to
defend traditional Marxism from Baudrillard's critique. And
Christopher Norris attacked what he saw as Baudrillard's lack of
meaningful political engagement in 'Uncritical Theory :
Postmodernism, Intellectuals and the Gulf War' (ISBN 0870238175).

Some counter that these critiques of Baudrillard are based on a
limited understanding of his work. While Baudrillard is deeply
critical of Marxism for its failure to engage in a deconstruction
of capitalism beyond the 'use-value-exchange-value' dichotomy (and
thus failing to account for the unproductive expenditure of luxury
goods, expendable purchases, etc., which have defined
late-capitalism since the mid-twentieth century), he himself has
rarely used the term 'postmodern'. When he does, it is to describe
in disparaging terms the decadence of Western culture, or more
specifically, "the exalting of residues, rehabilitation by
bricolage, eclectic sentimentality ... high dilution, low
intensities" (The Illusion of the End, 1994: 35).


Unless stated otherwise, publication dates given are those of the
original French language editions, and not those of their English
translations or subsequent revised editions.


   * The System of Objects (1968)
   * The Consumer Society: Myths and Structures (1970)
   * For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign (1973)
   * The Mirror of Production (1973)
   * Symbolic Exchange and Death (1976)
   * Forget Foucault (1977)
   * Seduction (1979)
   * Simulacra and Simulation (1981)
   * In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities (1982)
   * Fatal Strategies (1983)
   * America (1986)
   * Cool Memories (1987)
   * The Transparency of Evil (1990)
   * The Gulf War Did Not Take Place (1991)
   * The Illusion of the End (1992)
   * The Perfect Crime (1995)
   * Impossible Exchange (1999)
   * Passwords (2000)
   * The Singular Objects of Architecture (2000)
   * The Spirit of Terrorism: And Requiem for the Twin Towers (2002)
   * "The Conspiracy of Art" (2005)


   * "The Ecstasy of Communication" (en. 1983)

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Jean Baudrillard
   * Disneyfication in the New Media Chunnel: When Image Myth Takes
  Over, British Film Institute Conference paper
   * Jean Baudrillard Faculty Page and Archive
   * Baudrillard on the Web
   * 'Disneyworld Company' by Jean Baudrillard
   * 'The Violence of the Global' by Jean Baudrillard
   * Welcome to the World of Jean Baudrillard
   * Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry
   * International Journal of Baudrillard Studies
   * Baudrillard and Susan Sontag
   * Baudrillard Interview With Der Spiegel Magazine After 9/11
   * Baudrillard On American Abuse of Prisoners at Abu Ghraib
   * Reversibility Baudrillard's One Great Thought

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