The Incorporeal: Ontology, Ethics, and the Limits of Materialism

Dublin Core


A book that responds to many of the different flavors of contemporary materialist theory by offering a model of the ethical commitments many find lacking from some of the more radical new materialisms. The book assembles an incredibly useful, alternative history of philosophy that traces a single, structuring thread from antiquity to the present: thinking the ideal within the material. While Grosz doesn't pitch it as such, I imagine the book will be useful for writers on the anthropocene trying to threading an ethical middle ground between “dieback” models and human-centered ontologies. Grosz argues that the increasing emphasis on materiality in new materialisms (feminist and otherwise) must address what this means for ideality. The material and the ideal are usually opposed, but Grosz brings them together in the figure of the "incorporeal:" "the subsistence of the ideal *in* the material or corporeal." She calls for "a more complex, more wide-ranging understanding not only of materiality but the framing conditions of materiality that cannot themselves be material." (5)


New York: Columbia University Press, 2017








Grosz, Elizabeth, “The Incorporeal: Ontology, Ethics, and the Limits of Materialism,” Legacies of the Enlightenment, accessed September 28, 2023,