Alterities marks an advance to a new stage of critical theory. Dealing with literature from Shakespeare and Donne to Calvino, with philosophy from the medieval to the contemporary, with cinema from popular to art-film, and with political theory from Marx to Lyotard, Baudrillard and Badiou, Thomas Docherty intervenes in all the major contemporary cultural debates to propose and practise a new criticism, whose theoretical foundations lie in postmodern ethics, ecopolitics, and an austere attention to the radical difficulties of art. Docherty's new book is a response to a growing realization that modern criticism - even in its apparently oppositional forms - remains caught up within the limitations of a philosophy of identity. Consequently, the tacit purpose of existing critique is the self-legitimation of the subject of criticism, a solace gained only through the refusal of the encounter with the objects of criticism: art and the culture of sociality. Alterities argues that we must attend to the difficulty of aesthetic practices.
The contention is that it is only through an attention to the radical otherness of the world outside consciousness that we will be able to arrive at a historical and materialist criticism. In making this claim, Docherty rehabilitates the questions of why we bother about art, and proposes new modes of critical engagement with contemporary culture. Bound together by the cohesive drive of Docherty's intelligence and the coerciveness of the arguments he enlarges about alterity and historicity, Alterities is essential reading for those interested in postmodernist theory.