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Romantic Anti-Capitalism and the Invention of the Proletariat
In the early 19th century, a new social collective emerged out of impoverished artisans, urban rabble, wandering rural lower classes, bankrupt aristocrats and precarious intellectuals, one that would soon be called the proletariat. But this did not yet exist as a unified, homogeneous class with affiliated political parties. The motley appearance, the dreams and longings of these figures, torn from all economic certainties, found new forms of narration in romantic novellas, reportages, social-statistical studies, and monthly bulletins. But soon enough, these disorderly, violent, nostalgic, errant, and utopian figures were denigrated as reactionary and anarchic by the heads of the labour movement, since they did not fit into their grand linear vision of progress. In this book, Patrick Eiden-Offe tells their story, tracing the making of the proletariat in Vörmarz Germany (1815–1848) through the writings of figures like Ludwig Tieck, Moses Hess, Wilhelm Weitling, Georg Weerth, Friedrich Engels, Louise Otto-Peters, Ernst Willkomm, and Georg Büchner, and in so doing, revealing a striking similarity to the disorderly classes of today.
The book offers a critical account of how utopian thinking became defeated as a tool of philosophy whose explicit objective has been to not only analyse but emancipate the world. While such philosophy was originally inseparable from ideas of a radically better society it aimed to realise, many of its most influential practitioners today object to the use of utopian ideas. Countering this scepticism, the book argues in favour of utopian thinking. By elucidating a concept of utopia freed of its alleged pitfalls, the book contends that utopian thinking indeed presents an important resource for achieving emancipatory social goals.
Ästhetik und Politik bei Walter Benjamin und Salomo Friedlaender
Walter Benjamin hat sein Denken und Schreiben verschiedentlich als Ausdruck von extremen Konstellationen gedeutet. Doch welche konkreten Schreibverfahren resultieren daraus? Die Studie untersucht diese Frage anhand einer einflussreichen intellektuellen Begegnung, die in der Benjamin-Forschung bisher kaum berücksichtigt wurde: Benjamins Rezeption von Salomo Friedlaenders ‚Schöpferische Indifferenz‘. Entlang einer vergleichenden Untersuchung wird gezeigt, wie beide Autoren die Denkfigur der ‚Polarität‘ als zeitdiagnostisches Erkenntnismedium nutzen, um die Krisen, Spannungen und Extreme der Zeit auf ihren Begriff zu bringen. Mit den Untersuchungen von konkreten Einflüssen und intertextuellen Verweisen erschließt die Arbeit einen Knotenpunkt der kleinteiligen intellektuellen Debatten, in denen Benjamins Schriften verortet sind und leistet zugleich einen Beitrag zur Wiederentdeckung des Philosophen und Schriftstellers Salomo Friedlaender.
Zur poetischen Argumentation in Nietzsches Also sprach Zarathustra
Die Studie präsentiert eine neue Lektüre von Nietzsches philosophischem Hauptwerk „Also sprach Zarathustra“. Der Text hat seit seinem ersten Erscheinen (1883–1885) extreme und stark divergierende Reaktionen hervorgerufen: Galt Nietzsche um 1900 als ‚Dichter-Philosoph‘, so bot zugleich die anti-demokratische und elitistische Haltung Anlass für vehemente politische Kritik. Die französische Philosophie der 1960er und -70er Jahre fand in Nietzsche hingegen den Kritiker und Freigeist par excellence. Den Sprachwitz von Nietzsches Text sowie dessen ironischen und parodistischen Charakter betonten poststrukturalistische Lesarten der 1980er und -90er Jahre. Vor dem Hintergrund einer bis heute fortwirkenden Spannung zwischen dekonstruktiven und hermeneutischen Zugriffen auf den Text unternimmt die Studie eine neue und konsequente Rekonstruktion der eigenwilligen Poetik von „Also sprach Zarathustra“.
For the first time, this book reconstructs the fascinating story of a series of anonymous "dialogues of the dead" published in Germany in the early eighteenth century. The texts stage fictional debates between some of the most famous thinkers of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, such as Descartes, Leibniz, Thomasius and Bekker. The dialogues were originally published as cheap prints and very few copies now survive; until today the links between these texts and the very existence of this textual corpus have remained unknown. Starting from the little reliable information available, Riccarda Suitner conducts an exciting investigation of the authors, production, illustrations, circulation and plagiarism of these texts in the intellectual world of the early eighteenth century, proposing a new image of the German Enlightenment. The German edition of this book was awarded the prestigious Geisteswissenschaften international prize.
Contemporary and Historical Interventions in Blake and Brecht
In Towards a Productive Aesthetics: Contemporary and Historical Interventions in Blake and Brecht, Keith O’Regan mobilises a constellative approach to compare the political-aesthetic strategies of William Blake (1757-1827) and Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956). O’Regan traces two similar trajectories in each author’s work: an exploration of how capitalist domination defines conjunctures, and an investigation of how historical figures, themes and terrains illustrate past failures or losses that can be cleaved open for radical possibilities in the present. Brecht and Blake posit an “oppositional aesthetics of the now” that articulates a theory of experience under capitalism, while counter-posing an oppositional form of existence.
Cultural Politics between the Second and Third Internationals
The German Left and Aesthetic Politics examines the articulation of contending materialist aesthetic practices within the ideological fractures of the German Left between the Second and Third International. It is hinged on the major literary critical contributions of Franz Mehring, representative of the Second, and Karl Wittfogel and Georg Lukacs representing the Third. Both parties focussed on the bourgeois revolutionary cultural heritage and how it might provide examples for emulation. However, post the 1918 November Revolution a radical politically avant-garde challenged that tradition, and through figures like the Berlin Dadaists, Piscator’s proletarian theatre and later Brecht, with contributions from dissident Marxist intellectuals, like Karl Korsch and Fritz Sternberg, asked other questions and proposed other answers. Revisiting the contexts and contents of these exchanges allows one to understand the serious role allocated to the cultural in constructing the ‘third pillar of socialism’, its integrative dimension.
This study – the first full-length monograph in English on the subject – discusses the genesis of Theodor Lessing’s philosophy of history as mainly expressed in his books Geschichte als Sinngebung des Sinnlosen (1919 and 1927), as well as its philosophical implications. Lessing on the one hand vehemently denies that historians can know the past as it actually happened. On the other hand, and rather surprisingly, he emphasizes the exceptional importance of history within a culture, because of what he calls its religious function. His penetrating analysis of history is remarkably relevant for ongoing debates on the very nature of history.
The English-German collection Herder on Empathy and Sympathy: Einfühlung und Sympathie im Denken Herders considers the meaning and role of the concepts of empathy and sympathy in Herder’s thought. Herder invokes sympathy in a number of disciplinary domains ranging from metaphysics, biology, anthropology, epistemology, psychology, morality, politics, history, aesthetics to homiletics. While Herder is shown as belonging to a long line of thinkers who view sympathy as a metaphysical principle contributing to the interconnectedness of all parts of nature, he also offers new insights about intra-/inter-species sympathetic communication and distinctively human varieties of sympathy for which he reserves the term “sich einfühlen”. Acknowledging the limits of the natural capacity for “sich einfühlen”, Herder nonetheless calls for its reflective cultivation in various domains.
Systematische Funktionen des Bildbegriffs
This volume examines Fichte's notion of the image in the systematic domains of ethics, philosophy of history, political philosophy, philosophy of language, aesthetics, and the philosophy of religion. Several contributions investigate from various viewpoints the central feature of Fichte’s late philosophy that, in terms of image theory, human freedom is understood as the ability to understand oneself as the image of an absolute that transcends all appearances. These investigations reveal that Fichte's image theory underlies his late ethics, state theory, and educational conception and thus characterizes the peculiar meaning in which Fichte's late philosophy is still to be understood as an expression of an Enlightenment project that goes beyond mere theory. This volume also contains the three papers awarded with the "Fichte Prize for Young Researchers" in 2018.

Der vorliegende Band untersucht Fichtes bildtheoretisches Denken von der Theorie der Einbildungskraft bis in die systematischen Bereiche der Ethik, der Geschichtsphilosophie, der politischen Philosophie, der Sprachphilosophie, der Kunsttheorie und der Religionsphilosophie. Dass die Freiheit des Menschen bildtheoretisch aus der in seinem Selbstbewusstsein angelegten Fähigkeit zu verstehen ist, sich als Bild eines alle Erscheinungen transzendierenden Absoluten zu verstehen, ist ein zentraler Gedanke der Spätphilosophie Fichtes, der in mehreren Beiträgen unter verschiedenen Fragestellungen in den Blick genommen und diskutiert wird. Dabei zeigt sich, dass diese These Fichtes seiner späten Ethik, Staatstheorie und Erziehungskonzeption zugrunde liegt und damit den eigentümlichen Sinn prägt, in dem auch Fichtes Spätphilosophie noch als Ausdruck eines über die bloße Theorie hinauszielenden Aufklärungsprojekts zu verstehen ist. Der Band wird von drei Beiträgen beschlossen, die 2018 mit dem “Fichte-Preis für junge Forscher” ausgezeichnet wurden.