The Narrowest Path

Antinomies of Self-Determination in Four Aesthetic Studies


A strategic reconstruction of modern German thought from the standpoint of aesthetic theory, The Narrowest Path reveals the characteristically modern, revolutionary project of freedom-as-autonomy to be unresolvably antinomic. Basing himself on four seminal texts by Kleist, Hegel, Marx, and Adorno, Mehrgan develops four basic figures: the literary, the person, the republic, and the artwork. All flourished during the long period between the French Revolution and the aftermath of the Second World War in Europe. The key antagonist is the rule of capital, paradoxically enabling self-determination and thwarting it. Still present in contemporary revolutionary experiments, this daunting conflict, the book argues, shows itself best in the aesthetic — but the resolution lies elsewhere.

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Omid Mehrgan, Ph.D. (2018), Johns Hopkins University, is adjunct assistant professor at New York University, Department of Liberal Studies. He has published on aesthetic theory, the Anthropocene, translation studies, Iranian cinema, and translations of major works in critical theory, including those by Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno in Farsi.
This book is especially relevant for scholars of aesthetics and philosophy of art, political economy, practical philosophy, post-graduate students, as well as artists interested in foundational questions about practicing art.
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