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Malabou has proposed that we think plasticity as the “hermeneutic motor scheme” of our epoch, and fundamentally rethink our concept of change. Yet in spite of its attention to “ontological economy”, her work does not fully confront the challenge posed by the real (non-mental, non-philosophical) abstractions of capitalism to any attempt at renewing philosophy. What separates dialectical thinking from the production of world-views is its attentiveness to the manner in which such real, social abstractions – inflexible where one would wish them to be plastic, and subjecting collective life to violent metamorphoses – radically constrain and inflect the operations of philosophy. This chapter focuses especially on Malabou’s treatment of the metaphysical dimensions of capitalism, in her writing on Heidegger and neurobiology, and contrasts it with the Marxian theory of real abstraction, stressing the latter’s comprehensive challenge to philosophy’s self-image, but also to the pertinence of plasticity for a thinking of societal transformations.

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