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Ontology, Epistemology, Politics
In Ernst Bloch’s Speculative Materialism: Ontology, Epistemology, Politics, Cat Moir offers a new interpretation of the philosophy of Ernst Bloch. The reception of Bloch’s work has seen him variously painted as a naïve realist, a romantic nature philosopher, a totalitarian thinker, and an irrationalist whose obscure literary style stands in for a lack of systematic rigour. Moir challenges these conceptions of Bloch by reconstructing the ontological, epistemological, and political dimensions of his speculative materialism. Through a close, historically contextualised reading of Bloch’s major work of ontology, Das Materialismusproblem, seine Geschichte und Substanz (The Materialism Problem, its History and Substance), Moir presents Bloch as one of the twentieth century’s most significant critical thinkers.
The writer, scientist, philosopher, and radical democrat Georg Büchner (1813-1837) occupies a unique place in the cultural legacy of the German-speaking countries. Born into an epoch of inevitable, yet arrested historical transition, Büchner produced a small but exceptionally rich body of work. This collection of essays in English and in German considers the full spectrum of his writings, the political pamphlet Der Hessische Landbote, the dramas Danton’s Tod, Leonce und Lena, Woyzeck, and the fragmentary narrative Lenz, as well as the letters, the philosophical lectures on Descartes and Spinoza, and the scientific texts. The essays examine connections between these works, study texts in detail, debate ways of editing them, and trace their reception in contemporary literature and film. The novel readings presented here not only celebrate Büchner on the eve of his bicentenary birthday but also insert this untimely figure into discussions of the revolution-restoration dynamic and realism in poetics and politics.
This book reads messianic expectation as the defining characteristic of German culture in the first decades of the twentieth century. It has long been accepted that the Expressionist movement in Germany was infused with a thoroughly messianic strain. Here, with unprecedented detail and focus, that strain is traced through the work of four important Expressionist playwrights: Ernst Barlach, Georg Kaiser, Ernst Toller and Franz Werfel. Moreover, these dramatists are brought into new and sustained dialogues with the theorists and philosophers of messianism who were their contemporaries: Walter Benjamin, Ernst Bloch, Martin Buber, Hermann Cohen, Gershom Scholem. In arguing, for example, that concepts like Bloch’s utopian self-encounter ( Selbstbegegnung) and Benjamin’s messianic now-time ( Jetztzeit) reappear as the framework for Expressionism’s staging of collective redemption in a new age, Anderson forges a previously underappreciated link in the study of Central European thought in the early twentieth century.
International Walter Benjamin Congress 1997
The first volume of Benjamin Studies publishes the keynote lectures of the first Congress of the International Walter Benjamin Association, which took place in Amsterdam, July 1997. Its title bears witness to the most central concepts of Benjamin’s philosophy of culture. Strongly influenced as he was by Kant, Benjamin never lost his inclination to analyse the components of reality as fashioned by ourselves. Because he was also a materialist, for him the modes of fashioning were shaped in turn by the times and places we occupy in history. As a consequence, Benjamin’s theory assigns a pivotal role in the interaction between the world and its inhabitants to the media: language with its plethora of discourses, the arts, and the whole technology of reproduction. The historical and social development of the media is, translated, according to him, into our instruments of perception, and this perception constructs the elements of the world, the knowledge of this construction and the knowledge of the constructor. The self-knowledge of the constructor is what we call ‘experience’.
Within this broad epistemological framework, the diversity and complexity of Benjamin’s project acquires a fundamental coherence and is therefore able to accommodate the temporal volatility of the phenomena of our world. It’s not surprising, therefore, that Perception & Experience offers the most stimulating variety of topics, and that the keynote lectures reflect merely an intensification of interest in certain areas within a much larger field of investigation. The texts presented here pinpoint the central preoccupations of today’s debates amongst Benjamin scholars, preoccupations which are themselves responses to our own historical imperatives.