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Jean Baudrillard


Baudrillard Jean was a French philosopher, sociologist, political commentator, cultural theorist, and a famous photographer. His wide collection of work mainly features elements of post structuralism in addition to post modernism. The theorist was born on the 27th of July 27 1929 at the northeastern region of France by the name Reims. He died at the age of 78 in March of 2007. Baudrillard informed his interviewers that he had peasant grandparents who were working as civil servants. While going to high school at Reims Lycée, he came across pataphysics in the careful aid of his philosophy professor, Emma Peillet. Claims reveal that this knowledge aided Baudrillard in his understanding of his later thoughts.

Later on, jean was the first member of his family to attain university education, which was made possible after his migration to Paris after receiving admission to study at Sorbonne University. While at the University of Sorbonne, Jean learnt German and literature (Dutton 236). This led to his later teaching vocation at a couple of lycées at patrician and provincial levels between 1960 and 1966. In his teaching years, Jean published reviews on literature in addition to translation literary works by famous authors such as Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Dr. Seuss, Bertolt Brecht, Peter Weiss, Wilhelm Mühlmann and , Molly Greene. During the same period, Baudrillard started to move to other disciplines such as sociology, which eventually led to his completion of his doctoral thesis named The System of Objects (Le Système des objet). He was able to achieve this under the able critiquing committee comprising of Roland Barthes, Henri Lefebvre, and Pierre Bourdieu (Dutton 238).

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Consequently, he started his instruction job in sociology at Université de Paris-X Nanterre which was a university campus located in the outskirts of Paris. Later on, this created the basis of the high involvement of the activities of May 1968. While at Nanterre, Baudrillard took up the position of assistant professor (Maître Assistant) and later on became an associate professor (Maître de Conférences) (Dutton 238). He eventually got elevated to the position of professor after he completed his official approval, L'Autre par lui-même. In the year 1970, Baudrillard took his very first out of his many tours to the United States and Aspen in particular. In addition, he took his initial tour of Tokyo, Japan in 1973. In 1981, while visiting Japan, he received an offer of his very first camera as a gift, which saw his interests in photography actualize to becoming a world-renowned photographer.


In 1986, Baudrillard moved to Institut de Recherche et d'Information Socio-Économique (IRIS) which was situated at Université de Paris-IX Dauphine (Dutton 237), where he remained for the remaining fraction of his teaching profession. Throughout this period, Baudrillard diverted from the field of sociology in its predominantly "conventional" form. After coming to a close with his full time teaching, he hardly ever acknowledged himself with a particular area of study (Dutton 238). Nevertheless, he remained associated with the academic world. Between the 1980's and 1990's the books written by Baudrillard had attained a huge audience all over the world. In his final years, the theorist had become, to some extent, an academic celebrity after most of his works received repeated publishing by both the English and French-speaking famous press.

He however continued being of support to the Institut de Recherche sur l'Innovation Sociale and specifically at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. Collège de Pataphysique made Baudrillard Satrap where he was an instructor at Saas-Fee European Graduate School. He additionally acted as a collaborating fellow at The Canadian technology, theory, and culture and review known as Ctheory. He received massive citation for his contribution. Between 1999 and the year 2000, photographs by Baudrillard were displayed in Paris at the Maison européenne de la photographie in Paris (Dutton 326). In 2004, Baudrillard was present at the major convention on his work dubbed, "Baudrillard and the Arts", which was held at the Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe that is situated in Karlsruhe, Germany.

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Core Ideas by Baudrillard

As a social philosopher, Baudrillard was a critic who was famous for his scrutiny of the different methods of arbitration and technologically aided communication. His works, despite the fact that they were mostly about technological advancement, affected social transformation and they cover varied issues including, gender relations, consumerism, the societal perception of the past, cloning, the Gulf War, journalistic commentaries regarding HIV/AIDS, the Rushdie affair and the September 11th ambush on the World Trade Center in the US (Dutton 235).

His distributed works come out as ingredients of a cohort of French scholars not forgetting contributions of  Jean-François Lyotard, Jacques Derrida, Deleuze Gilles, Michel Foucault, and Lacan Jacques. They all shared a common concern for semiotics. Moreover, Baudrillard is regarded part of the poststructuralist philosophical society. Just like many other poststructuralists, arguments by Baudrillard are constantly drawn based the concept that implication and significance can only be comprehensible in relation to how specific signs or words relate with each other (Dutton 235). Baudrillard, just like many other post-structuralists did, thought true meaning derived through various systems of symbols that work hand in hand.

Baudrillard and the Object Value System

Deducing from the structuralist linguist known as Ferdinand de Saussure, Baudrillard maintains that value (meaning) can possibly mean dissimilarity insinuating reason from what something is not. An example world is describing a dog as being a dog since it is not a "cat" or a "goat". In fact, Baudrillard examined meaning as being a close self-reference to words, signs, objects, their images, and other things that are located in a network of meaning. He maintained that the meaning of one object is only explicable in the course of its relation to those of other entities. Similarly, one thing's pride is relative to another's mundanity (Baudrillard).

Using these observations as a basis, Baudrillard developed extensive theories that relate to human societies based on this sort of self-reference. His photographs of the different societies he observed portray the need for society to constantly search for a feeling of meaning if not a 'complete' understanding of the universe we live in which evidently remains constantly elusive (Baudrillard). In contradiction of poststructuralists like Foucault, who claims that the structure of understanding emerges only as a product of associations with power, Baudrillard hypothesized theories that successfully demonstrated that the extreme fruitless hunt for total knowledge possibly led to inevitable delusion.

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In Baudrillard's defense, the human subject may make endless attempts at trying to comprehend the inhuman object. However, due to its nature, the object may only be understood on the basis on to what it connotes. Due to the progression of significance, this almost instantaneously involves a network of additional signs that will make distinguishing possible which either rarely or never produces the expected results. In this situation, it may be claimed that the subject is rendered seduced or led away by the specified object (Baudrillard). Baudrillard as a result argues that, in the final investigation, a wholesome appreciation of the details of structures of the human life is unfeasible, and in the event individuals are seduced into having conflicting ideas, they end up drawn towards a "replicated" translation of reality otherwise referred to as "hyper reality".

This does not however mean that the world ends up becoming unreal, but to a certain extent, means that the sooner and more expansively societies commence to adopt reality into a hypothetically logical picture, there more there is an added lack of confidence in life making it look unstable. As a result, there will be an increase in fearful societies on earth, hence killing reality in societies.

Accordingly, Baudrillard maintained that the surplus of symbols and that of denotation in the late 20th century's "universal" societies had resulted in quite a paradox of an effacement of actuality. In this universe, neither Marxist nor liberal utopias believed in anymore. Baudrillard argues that human beings do not believe live in a "universal village", in trying to apply the phrase by Marshall McLuhan's phrase. In reality, the world has proven to be capable of being petrified by even the tiniest event (Baudrillard). Since the "universal" world functions at the height of the substitute of commodities and signs, it turns out to be ever blinder to figurative actions like terrorism.

In Baudrillard's research findings, the emblematic realm that he expands the viewpoint throughout the anthropological findings of Georges Bataille and Marcel Mauss are observed as quite distinctive from that of signification and signs. Signs are interchangeable just like in the case of goods. On the other hand, symbols operate in a different manner. They are exchangeable, like gifts, and in some cases in a violent manner as a kind of potlatch. Baudrillard, predominantly in his later on works, viewed the "universal" society as being free of its "symbolic" element therefore rendering it defenseless from acts like the Rushdie Fatwa or even the terror attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001 against the military organization of the US and its people (Baudrillard).

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The condition of use worth in Marxian hypothesis is ambiguous. We understand that the product is both use value and switch value. However, the latter is constantly solid and particularly reliant on its fate, whether in the course of personal consumption within the labor channel. In this situation, lard is qualified as lard and cotton as itself. The two cannot be alternated in place of each other (Baudrillard). Furthermore, they cannot be used interchangeably. Exchange value, conversely, is theoretical and general. As a result, there would not be any exchange value in the absence of use value. Consequently, the two entities are applied together.

However, neither one of them is strongly obscured by the other. To be able to describe the notion of product, it is not significant to understand either its meticulous content or its exact destination. It is sufficient to understand that before its state as a product it may possess the ability to be referred to as one. In addition, use can be achieved without the involvement of exchange value. This applies equally to labor power just as in the case of other tangible products that exist within and without the sphere existing outside the market. As a result, it appears that product fetishism (a condition that involves community relations that are camouflaged in the attributes and qualities of the product itself) does not simultaneously comprise the function of the product in question as exchange worth and use quality, but only of exchange worth (Baudrillard). Use worth, in this limiting examination of fetishism, appears to be neither a social relation nor as a fetishization locus.

Published in 1976, The Mirror of Production and in addition to Symbolic Exchange and Death, are important works by the theorist (Baudrillard). These works are zealous attempts at providing ultra radical viewpoints that conquer the difficulties of an economist Marxist ritual that puts the economic globe to advantage. This particular ultra-leftist segment of Baudrillard's journey was short-lived. On the other hand, in Symbolic Exchange and Death, Baudrillard expresses one among his most significant and theatrical provocations. The text begins with a preamble that compresses his efforts to come up with a considerably special approach to culture and society (Baudrillard).

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Based on the cultural theory of the French by Georges Bataille, Alfred Jarry, and Marcel Mauss, Baudrillard champions the idea of "symbolic exchange" which goes against capitalist qualities of utility and financial return for the purpose of cultural values Baudrillard creates the basis of his thesis. Baudrillard argues that in Bataille's claim, the expenditure and profit margins are directly linked to sovereignty (Baudrillard).

Mauss's account of the societal prestige of giving out gifts in pre-modern society in addition to Jarry's theater which mocks French traditions, and anagrams by Saussure's that claim there is a split with the importance of entrepreneurial activities in addition to production, or rather the creation of sense within linguistic interactions. Baudrillard believes that these situations of "figurative exchange" create a leak within production values and at the same time describe a case of creative cultural movements in addition to poetic exchanges hence providing substitutes to values of exchange and production (Best & Kellner).

"Symbolic Exchange" is a term obtained from Georges Bataille's concept of a "universal economy" (Baudrillard). Under this concept, waste, expenditure, forfeit, and destruction are argued to be more deep-seated to the lives of human beings rather than in utility and production economies. Bataille's representation was that of the sun which unreservedly gave out its energy devoid of asking for any sort of payment. He maintained that if people wanted to be autonomous (being free of the essentials of capitalism) they ought to seek a "universal economy" of disbursement, giving, forfeit, and demolition in order to break away from fortitude by the existing essentials of efficacy (Baudrillard).

Baudrillard maintains that the Marxian critique of free enterprise, by distinction, is aggressive of exchange value and at the same time applauding the use worth, effectiveness and influential level-headedness, hence looking out for a fine employment of the financial system. Marxism is thus an incomplete petit bourgeois critique (Best & Kellner). Bataille, on the contrary, disregards all this slave-like dialectic from a point of view that is aristocratic.

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Nietzsche and Bataille view Baudrillard to make a switch to a more aristocratic critique on the political economy that is deeply affected. Baudrillard and Bataille are displaying an edition of an aristocratic view of "master morality" by Nietzsche's where "superior" persons design their own worth in addition to an excess articulation of their lives. In addition, there is the presence of an overflow of creative and intensified erotic energies (Best & Kellner). For quite some while, Baudrillard continued to show aggression towards the bourgeoisie, which is a political and capital economy, except that it was from an angle that is pro sumptuary and aristocratic expenditure bearing symbolic and aesthetic values. The gloomy side of this change in hypothetical and political loyalty is the possibility of a valorization of death and sacrifice that puts to the picture the occurrences of Death and Symbolic Exchange. In this case, sacrifice supplies a giving that undermines bourgeois quality of effectiveness and self-defense. This is an idea that bears disturbing consequences in a period of terror and suicide explosions.

In the middle of 1970's Baudrillard's work comprised of a condition of him disentangling himself from the recognizable Marxian cosmos of manufacturing and class struggle to a more metaphysical and different neo-aristocratic world-view. He appears to presuppose now that societies of a pre-capitalist conformity were ruled by forms of representative exchange that is comparable to Bataille's concept of a universal economy (Baudrillard). Contextualizing these concepts, Baudrillard drafted an elementary separating line from history that separated symbolic and productivist societies. He consequently rubbishes the Marxian viewpoint of the past, which maintains the predominance of production in almost all social settings and consequently denounces the Marxian idea of socialism, citing arguments that it fails to break fundamentally enough with that of capitalist productivism.

In future, Baudrillard took a path to contrast his model of figurative exchange in relation to the qualities of utility, production, and instrumental shrewdness that create the basis of social societies and capitalist governance. As a result, "Symbolic exchange" turned out to be Baudrillard's "ground-breaking" substitute to the qualities and adherences of the capitalist community hence representing an assortment of varied occurrences within his literary works of the 1970's. For example, in Critique he writes that the swap of looks, and the coming and going nature of the present resembles air that people breathe.

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He additionally illustrates his idea of figurative interaction within The Mirror of Production as "The figurative community interaction as being the undisrupted sequence of receiving and giving. He describes this as a primitive interaction that involves the consumption of 'excess supplies and an added purposeful lack of production'. The expression consequently refers to cultural or representative activities that do not add to capitalist construction, and accrual, which has the potential to comprise an "essential negation" of the efforts of a productivist community.

At this point of his thinking, Baudrillard existed in a French culture of eulogizing pre-modern or "primitive" culture as opposed to the theoretical utilitarianism and rationalism of the contemporary society. Baudrillard's justification of figurative exchange above invention and influential sagacity consequently bears its foundation in the culture of Rousseau's protection of the "historical savage" over the innovative modern man. Bataille's valuation of disbursement of premodern communities follows the Levi-Strauss' or Mauss' enthrallment with the wealth of "prehistoric communities" or "the primitive mind". After breaking down the ideas of the contemporary master philosophers and his personal theoretical mentors, (Saussure, Marx, Freud, and his French colleagues) for omitting the wealth of emblematic exchange, Baudrillard goes ahead to campaign for the representative and fundamental forms of concept. This leads him to writing in a search that directs him towards a more exotic and esoteric discourse.

Therefore, contrary to the systematized forms of contemporary society and thought, Baudrillard leads the efforts of instituting symbolic exchange as a substitute. Against current needs to generate meaning and value, Baudrillard champions efforts for their annihilation and elimination hence providing the death drive concept by Freud, Saussure's anagrams and Mauss's gift-exchange as examples. In all of these occurrences, there is a crack within the types of exchange (of meanings, libidinal energies and goods) thus escaping from the structures of capitalism, meaning, production and rationality (Baudrillard). The paradoxical idea by Baudrillard on exchange can be termed as being a declaration of the desire to free him from contemporary situations in addition to seeking an innovatory position outside of the more recent society. Against contemporary values, Baudrillard is observed to champion for their extermination.

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Baudrillard's postmodern civilization is additionally one under which prior important limitations and peculiarities such as the ones between genders, social classes, and political leanings, lose their power if modern communities, for social classical theory, were grouped according to their discrimination. Baudrillard's postmodern social groups are categorized under the "fall" of power distinctions otherwise known as implosion. Spheres of politics, economics, sexuality and culture, embody Baudrillard's simulation community (Stearns & William).

In this beseeching combination, politics culture, and other dimensions primarily shape economics, whereas art, which was once a sphere that had potential opposition and difference, is engrossed into the political and economic, whereas sexuality is almost everywhere. In this case, differences that occur between groups and individuals implode in a speedily changing disbanding of the community as the initial structures and boundaries on which social suppositions once laid their focus (Stearns & William). Moreover, his postmodern world seems to be hyper-real in which information, leisure in addition to communication technologies offer experiences that are more powerful and connecting as compared to scenes from banal day to day life. In addition, the models and codes that compose everyday life are improved.

The dominion of the hyper-realistic (through media recreation of reality, amusement parks, Disneyland, malls TV sports and other sources of consumer fantasylands of ideal worlds) is  much more realistic than the actual real (Coulter). In these cases, the models, codes of the hyperreal, images, and other objects function in controlling behavior and thought. Nevertheless, fortitude is necessary in a world that is non-linear making it impossible to make out fundamental apparatus in a condition in which persons are faced with an overpowering fluctuation of codes, images and models that have the potential of shaping individual's behavior or thought.

In the current postmodern universe, individuals escape the "wilderness reality" for the ecstatic hyper-reality and the innovative sphere of media, computer, and scientific experience. In this world, subjectivities are disjointed and non-existent (Coulter). In addition, a brand new environment of understanding seems, in Baudrillard's view, to render preceding social suppositions and politics as irrelevant and obsolete (Stearns & William). Tracking back the vicissitudes about the subject matter in contemporary community, Baudrillard asserts that modern-day subjects no longer feel troubled by modern pathologies such as paranoia and hysteria. To a certain extent, they occur in "a condition of horror which is distinguishing feature of the schizophrenic- a condition of being over-proximity towards all things or a bad promiscuity everything that beleaguers an individual with no struggle (Coulter).











Awards and Recognitions

The Wachowski Brothers who are responsible for producing the film known as The Matrix were keen enough to include a genius figure such as Baudrillard in the film that required the understanding of the thematic surroundings of their movie (Spencer et. al). For example, in the beginning of the movie, a book that is used to obscure disks that are regarded as top secret is shown. It is entitled Simulacra and Simulation, which is a 1981 work of the French philosopher known as Jean Baudrillard. The film acknowledges the scholarly work of the philosopher, hence the inclusion of his name and his works (Spencer et. al). In addition, the crew and cast had to task themselves in reading the book in addition to the philosopher's ways of thinking in order to grab a feel of the entire idea.

Baudrillard's research in postmodernism has gained recognition by many readers and publishers all over the world. This is why he is regarded as a scholarly celebrity in addition to being published by tones of presses in several countries. His contribution of ideas and concepts in the modern world has also assisted individuals and societies in defining social structure and governance.

Critiquing Baudrillard

Baudrillard's literature, and his adamant positions, saw him get criticized by an extraordinary ferociousness by critiques such as Jacques Lacan making him the subject numerous antagonistic critiques (Baudrillard 60). It is no wonder his ways of thinking attracted many critics due to their involvement in studies and conclusions about aspects about the many heterogeneous communities that make up different human societies. There exist two main provoking books based on Baudrillard's thinking by Christopher Norris's attempts to reject Baudrillard media hypothesis.

In the book titled Uncritical Theory: Postmodernism, Intellectuals, and the Gulf War, the media theory in addition to his stance on 'The real' are indicated. Another book by Douglas Kellner known as Jean Baudrillard: from Marxism to Postmodernism and Beyond attempts to make an analysis of Baudrillard's view of postmodernism as a notion by which means Baudrillard has managed to have a continued and explicit rare relationship in addition to presenting a Marxist counter (Best & Kellner).

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Concerning the former book, Merrin has published supplementary works that denounce Norris's position. In the book named Jean Baudrillard: Art and Artifacts by Nicholas Zurbrugg Jean himself is denoted as reductive. Merrin maintains that Baudrillard's stand on semiotic examination of denotation denies him his own standing on figurative exchange (Merrin). Merrin, therefore, alludes to the ordinary disapproval of post-structuralist literary works (Baudrillard 58). His criticism is not different from either Deleuze's or that of Foucault, which emphasizes on inter relation as the foundation for prejudice hence denying the human organization from which societal structures come up (Sandywell).

Mark Poster who was Baudrillard's chief editor and in addition to being one of the many present day scholars who argue for Baudrillard's modern relevance defends his claiming that Baudrillard's inscription that date back to the mid-1980s is subject to more than a few criticisms (Sokal & Jean, 150). He explains that it is not accurate for critiques to clam that there is relentless unsuccessful efforts by the theorist in defining main terms, like the code. In addition, critics claim that Baudrillard's style of writing is mainly declarative and hyperbolic and mostly lacks a systemic and sustained breakdown in the event it is appropriate.

Additionally, analysts maintain that he sums up his investigations, declining to delimit or qualify his arguments (Sandywell). Mark additionally claims that it is fallacious to claim that Baudrillard writes with reference to fastidious television images and experiences as though no other thing in society is of any significance, extrapolating a miserable outlook of the humanity from a limited base (Sokal & Jean 148). Mark adds that Baudrillard does not ignore conflicting proof such as the vast advantages of new media as critics claim but rather uses accurate examples in defending his theory (Baudrillard 130).


Baudrillard consequently concludes his research work maintaining that the disaster has already taken place. He added that the annihilation of modernity and contemporary presumption, which he distinguished around the mid1970s, was accomplished because of the improvement of the capitalist culture. He alleges that modernity has vanished hence paving way to a new social state of affairs that has assumed its place. Against conventional strategies of insurgence and insurrection, Baudrillard made it his duty to campaign for what he refers to as fatal strategies that aim at pushing the qualities of the scheme to extremes in the hope of disintegration or turnaround. Ultimately, he adopted an approach of an exceedingly satirical metaphysical discussion that forsakes liberation and the hopes of a progressive societal transformation hence making him a celebrated scholarly figure.

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