(1991) Re-Reading Levinas, ed. with Robert Bernasconi, Indiana University Press, Bloomington.
(1992) The Ethics of Deconstruction: Derrida and Levinas, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, (1st Edition, Blackwell 1992; 2nd edition, Edinburgh 1999;
3rd Edition, Edinburgh 2014)
(1996) Deconstructive Subjectivities, ed. with Peter Dews, State University of New York Press, Ithaca, NY.
(1996) Emmanuel Levinas: Basic Philosophical Writings, ed. with Adriaan T. Peperzak and Robert Bernasconi, Indiana University Press, Bloomington.
(1997) Very Little... Almost Nothing: Death, Philosophy, Literature, Routledge, London & New York (2nd Edition, 2004).
(1998) A Companion to Continental Philosophy, ed. with William J. Schroeder, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.
(1999) Ethics-Politics-Subjectivity: Essays on Derrida, Levinas, and Contemporary French Thought, Verso, London (Reissued in 'Radical Thinkers', 2007).
(2001) Continental Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press.
(2002) The Cambridge Companion to Levinas, ed. with Robert Bernasconi, Cambridge University Press.
(2002) On Humour, Routledge, London.
(2004) Laclau, A Critical Reader, ed. with Oliver Marchart, Routledge, London.
(2005) On the Human Condition, with Dominique Janicaud & Eileen Brennan, Routledge, London.
(2005) Things Merely Are: Philosophy in the Poetry of Wallace Stevens, Routledge, London.
(2007) Infinitely Demanding. Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance, Verso, London & New York (Reissued 'Radical Thinkers' 2012)
(2008/9) The Book of Dead Philosophers, Granta Books, London; Vintage, New York; Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.
(2008) On Heidegger’s ‘Being and Time’, with Reiner Schürmann, edited by Steven Levine, Routledge, London and New York.
(2008) Der Katechismus des Bürgers, Diaphanes Verlag, Berlin.
(2008) Democracy and Disappointment: On the Politics of Resistance (DVD) - Alain Badiou and Simon Critchley in Conversation, Slought Books, Philadelphia.
(2010) How to Stop Living and Start Worrying, Polity Press, Cambridge.
(2011) Impossible Objects, Polity Press, Cambridge.
(2011) International Necronautical Society: Offizielle Mitteilungen, Diaphanes Verlag, Berlin.
(2012) The Faith of the Faithless, Verso (paperback 2014)
(2012) The Mattering of Matter. Documents from the Archive of the International Necronautical Society, with Tom McCarthy et al (Sternberg Presss, Berlin)
(2013) The Anarchist Turn, with Jacob Blumenfeld and Chiara Bottici (Pluto Press, London)
(2013) Stay Illusion: The Hamlet Doctrine (Pantheon Books, New York). Paperback (Vintage) 2014. Published as The Hamlet Doctrine in the UK (Verso, London, 2013)
Critchley has also edited the following book series:
Thinking the Political (Routledge)
Blackwell Readings in Continental Philosophy (Blackwell)
Thinking in Action (Routledge)
How to Read... (Granta, London, and W.W. Norton, New York)
The Ethics of Deconstruction (1992)
Simon Critchley’s first book was The Ethics of Deconstruction: Derrida and Levinas (Blackwell, 1992), which became an acclaimed source on deconstruction and was the first book to argue for an ethical dimension to deconstruction. A second expanded edition was published in 1999 by Edinburgh University Press. Rather than being concerned with deconstruction in terms of the contradictions inherent in any text — an approach typical of the early Derrida and those in literary criticism aiming to extract a critical method for an application to literature — Critchley concerns himself with the philosophical context necessary for an understanding of the ethics of deconstructive reading. Far from being some sort of value-free nihilism or textual free-play, Critchley showed the ethical impetus that was driving Derrida’s work. His claim was that Derrida’s understanding of ethics has to be understood in relation to his engagement with the work of Levinas and the book attempts to lay out the details of their philosophical confrontation.
Very Little... Almost Nothing (1997)
Critchley’s second book, Very Little... Almost Nothing (Routledge, 1997) develops in a very different direction and shows his concern with the relation between philosophy and literature and the problem of nihilism. A second edition with additional material and a new preface was published in 2004. At the centre of Very Little... Almost Nothing is the problem of the meaning of life and what sense can be made of this problem in the absence of any religious belief. By way of a series of ‘lectures’ on Maurice Blanchot, Samuel Beckett, Stanley Cavell and romanticism, Critchley argues for a conception of meaninglessness understood as the achievement of the everyday, a view which, he thinks, redeems us from the need for religious redemption.
Ethics-Politics-Subjectivity (Verso, 1999) is a collection of essays that includes his debate with Richard Rorty, as well as series of essays on Derrida, Levinas, Jacques Lacan, Jean-Luc Nancy. These essays also show a pronounced political and psychoanalytic turn to Critchley’s thinking. A new edition of the book appeared in Verso’s Radical Thinkers series in 2009.
Continental Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (2001)
Continental Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2001), is both an introduction to that tradition of thinking and an essay in meta-philosophy, which lays out the way in which Critchley sees the role of theory and reflection. In the book, Critchley addresses the perennial question of the two major Western philosophical traditions, that of analytical and continental philosophy. Critchley argues that the professional opposition between analytic and Continental philosophy is something that needs to be transcended. Critchley accepts that there is risk within continental philosophy of obscurantism, just as there is a risk of scientism in much analytic philosophy. But the primary purpose of philosophy is to understand ourselves, our world and, as Hegel puts it, to comprehend one’s time in thought. Critchley offers the example of the ‘will of God’ as the prime example of obscurantism, but within continental philosophy also the ‘drives’ in Sigmund Freud, ‘archetypes’ in Carl Jung, the ‘real’ in Jaques Lacan, ‘power’ in Michel Foucault, ‘différance’ in Jaques Derrida, the ‘trace of God’ in Emmanuel Levinas, and the ‘epochal withdrawal of being in and as history’ in Martin Heidegger.
On Humour (2002)
Since 2000, Critchley has turned his attention to what he calls ‘impossible objects’: humour, poetry and music. His On Humour (Routledge, 2002) continues the meditation on nihilism begun in Very Little…Almost Nothing; but he continues it in a very different key, analysing the meaning and importance of humour. Critchley argues that humour is an oblique phenomenology of ordinary bringing about a change of situation that exerts a powerful critical function. On Humour has been translated into eleven languages and has exerted considerable influence over debates around the role of humour in contemporary art practice.
Things Merely Are (2005)In Things Merely Are (Routledge, 2005), Critchley examines the relation between philosophy and poetry through an extended meditation on the poetry of Wallace Stevens. Critchley’s particular focus in Stevens’ very late poems, which attempt to describe what poetry can and cannot say about a subject-independent reality. Critchley is referenced in the commentary on Stevens's poem 'Another Weeping Woman'. The book also contains Critchley’s influential essay on Terence Malick’s The Thin Red Line.
Infinitely Demanding (2007)
Infinitely Demanding (Verso, 2007) is the most systematic overview of Critchley's philosophical position. It combines a meta-ethics based on the concepts of approval and demand with a phenomenology of ethical experience and ethical subjectivity. At the centre of the book is a theory of ethical subjectivity based on the relation to an infinite demand. Critchley extends his analysis into discussions of aesthetics and sublimation and into political theory and practice. Critchley argues for an ethically committed political anarchism. Infinitely Demanding has been translated into 8 languages. The book has led to some heated polemics, notably with Slavoj Žižek (see below, the Critchley–Žižek debate). “Infinitely Demanding” is the topic of a special issue of the journal Critical Horizons (August 2009).
On Heidegger’s Being and Time (2008)
This volume (Routledge, 2008) combines Reiner Schürmann's lectures at the New School for Social Research on Heidegger’s Being and Time with Critchley’s New School lectures on the relation between Heidegger and Husserl and his own interpretation of Being and Time. Where Critchley argues that we must see Being and Time as a radicalization of Husserlian phenomenology, Reiner Schürmann's proposal is to read Heidegger ‘backward’, arguing that Heidegger’s later work is the key to unraveling Being and Time. Critchley concludes the volume with an extended critique of Heidegger’s concept of authenticity.
The Book of Dead Philosophers (2009)
An extended defense of the idea that to philosophize is to learn how to die, The Book of Dead Philosophers was published by Granta in the UK (2008), Vintage in the US (2009) and Melbourne University Press in Australia (2008). It has been translated into 17 languages. The Book of Dead Philosophers was widely reviewed and discussed (see below). It was on The New York Times Best-Seller List in March 2009 and was a top ten bestseller in Greece in Summer 2009. The aim of The Book of Dead Philosophers is to examine, defend and refine the ideal of the philosophical death in the context of a culture like ours that is defined by a denial of death. However, the deeper intention of the book is to challenge and revise the way we think about the history of philosophy. More specifically, the book tries to conceive of the history of philosophy as a history of philosophers and thereby rethink the way in which approach the relation between the activity of philosophy and an individual life, between conceptuality and biography.
Der Katechismus des Bürgers (2008)
This small volume (Diaphanes, Berlin, 2008) on the problem of politics and religion in Rousseau was first published in German.
How to Stop Living and Start Worrying (2010)
How to Stop Living and Start Worrying (Polity, 2010), a sort of anti-self-help book, is a series of conversations between Critchley and Carl Cederström from 2009 and 2010, originally based on Swedish television series. The conversations are intended to provide an overview and introduction to Critchley's life and work. They are based around a series topics: life, death, love, humour and authenticity. The volume also contains a discussion with Tom McCarthy.
Impossible Objects (2011)
A collection of interviews with Critchley over the past 10 years, edited by Carl Cederström and Todd Kesselman, published by Polity Press in 2011.
The Faith of the Faithless (2012)
From the paradox of politics and religion in Rousseau to the political stakes of the return to St. Paul in the work of Heidegger, Taubes, Agamben and Badiou, via explorations of politics and original sin in the work of Carl Schmitt and John N. Gray, Critchley examines whether there can be a faith of the faithless, a belief for unbelievers. Expanding on his debate with Slavoj Žižek, Critchley concludes with a meditation on the question of violence and the limits of non-violence. He argues that liberal democracy is the political expression of deism.
The Mattering of Matter (2012)
An English volume from the INS, The Mattering of Matter, Documents from the Archive of the International Necronautical Society was published by Sternberg Press in October 2012.
Stay Illusion: The Hamlet Doctrine (2013)
Co-authored with Jamieson Webster this text deals with the play in the light of various 'outsider' interpretations, such as those of Carl Schmitt, Walter Benjamin, Friedrich Schelling, Hegel, Nietzsche, Freud, and Lacan.
The Anarchist Turn (2013)
Edited by Jacob Blumenfeld, Chiara Bottici and Simon Critchley, The Anarchist Turn compiles a series of essays from anarchists and theorists who came together at the 2011 conference of the same name at the New School for Social Research.