Hegel's Undiscovered Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis Dialectics: What Only Marx and Tillich Understood by Leonard F. Wheat (Prometheus Books) More
Schopenhauer: A Biography by David E. Cartwright (Cambridge University Press) Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) was one of the most original and provocative thinkers of the nineteenth century. He spent a lifetime striving to understand the meaning of living in a world where suffering and death are ubiquitous. In his quest to solve "the ever-disquieting riddle of existence," Schopenhauer explored almost every dimension of human existence, developing a darkly compelling worldview that found deep resonance in contemporary literature, music, philosophy, and psychology. This is the first comprehensive biography of Schopenhauer written in English. Placing him in his historical and philosophical contexts, David E. Cartwright tells the story of Schopenhauer's life to convey the full range of his philosophy. He offers a fully documented portrait in which he explores Schopenhauer's fractured family life, his early formative influences, his critical loyalty to Kant, his personal interactions with Fichte and Goethe, his ambivalent relationship with Schelling, his contempt for Hegel, his struggle to make his philosophy known, and his reaction to his late-arriving fame. The Schopenhauer who emerges in this biography is the complex author of a philosophy that had a significant influence on figures as diverse as Samuel Beckett, Jorge Luis Borges, Emile Durkheim, Sigmund Freud, Thomas Hardy, Thomas Mann, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. More
Interpreting Heidegger: Critical Essays by Lee Braver (Cambridge University Press) This volume of essays by internationally prominent scholars interprets the full range of Heidegger's thought and major critical interpretations of it. It explores such central themes as hermeneutics, facticity and Ereignis, conscience in Being and Time, freedom in the writings of his period of transition from fundamental ontology, and his mature criticisms of metaphysics and ontotheology. The volume also examines Heidegger's interpretations of other authors, the philosophers Aristotle, Kant and Nietzsche and the poets Rilke, Trakl and George. A final group of essays interprets the critical reception of Heidegger's thought, both in the analytic tradition (Ryle, Carnap, Rorty and Dreyfus) and in France (Derrida and Lévinas). This rich and wide-ranging collection will appeal to all who are interested in the themes, the development and the context of Heidegger's philosophical thought. More
God-Beyond Me: From the I's Absolute Ground in Hölderlin and Schelling to a Contemporary Model of a Personal God by Cia Van Woezik (Critical Studies in German Idealism: Brill Academic Publishing) German idealism has attempted to think an absolute ground to self-conscious I-hood. As a result it has been theologically disqualified as pantheistic or even atheistic since many maintain that such a ground cannot be reconciled with a personal God. In the early writings of Friedrich Schelling (1775-1854), it is clear that he and his contemporaries were aware of this difficulty. His Tübinger fellow student, Friedrich Hölderlin (1770-1843), was convinced of the ultimate inadequacy of any philosophical system to grasp the unitary ground of all that is and turned to poetry. The metaphysical insights expressed in his poetry have been largely neglected in both philosophical and theological scholarship. Drawing on the 20th century metaphysics of Dieter Henrich and Karl Rahner, this book elaborates on Hölderlin's poetry. This results in a novel concept of God as both unitary and personal ground of I-hood. Unlike many academic titles, Woezik writes clear, direct prose. Her ideas are exceptionally well expressed. Highly recommended. More
Nietzsche on Time and History edited by Manuel Dries (Walter de Gruyter) This set of essays investigates the correlation between Nietzsche's philosophy of time and his philosophy of history. Nietzsche's attempt to rethink time affects the task of recording history. History can no longer be a discipline that merely registers the constellations of entities and objects that remain identical over time. While philosophy requires the corrective of history, the latter will have to be improved through a new conception of time. More
Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morals: Critical Essays edited by Christa Davis Acampora (Critical Essays on the Classics: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.) This astonishingly rich volume collects the work of an international group of scholars, including some of the best known in academia. Experts in ethics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, political theory, aesthetics, history, critical theory, and hermeneutics bring to light the best philosophical scholarship on what is arguably Friedrich Nietzsche's most challenging text. Including essays that were commissioned specifically for the volume as well as essays revised and edited by their authors this collection showcases definitive works that have shaped Nietzsche studies alongside new work: of interest to students and experts alike. Sections are devoted to the topic of genealogy generally, the numerous essays on specific passages, the applications of genealogy in later thinkers, and the import of Nietzsche's Genealogy in contemporary politics, ethics, and aesthetics. A lengthy introduction, annotated bibliography, and comprehensive index make this an extremely useful guide for the classroom and advanced research. More
Husserl's Phenomenology: Knowledge, Objectivity And Others by
Kevin Hermberg (Continuum Studies in Continental Philosophy:
Continuum International Publishing Group) fills a gap in previous
Husserl scholarship by offering a treatment of the problems of
intersubjectivity and empathy that goes beyond their mere
possibility to explore the questions of whether and how empathy
contributes to the attainment of knowledge. Hermberg focuses his
investigation on Husserl's introductions to phenomenology (Ideas,
Cartesian Meditations, and The Crisis of the European Sciences) and
offers a new look at both Husserl's epistemology and his position in
the Western philosophical tradition.
Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) was one of the most important and influential philosophers of the twentieth century. One would be justified in calling Husserl both the last great representative of classical modern philosophy and the transition by which a new philosophical world came into being. The list of thinkers who claim Husserl as influential to their work is impressive and includes leading figures from every "school" of contemporary Continental philosophy as well as many "analytical" philosophers. Husserl achieved this influence in spite of his texts, which are notoriously difficult and with which he was rarely completely satisfied. So dissatisfied was he that he offered three separate texts labeled "introduction" to phenomenology. In this book Hermberg offers an examination of the interplay between empathy and knowledge as presented in the introductions published by Husserl. Those three introductions are: Ideas: A General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology (Springer) which first appeared in German in the 1913 inaugural issue of Jahrbuch fur Philosophie and Phenomenologische Forschung; Cartesian Meditations: An Introduction to Phenomenology (Springer) which is an outgrowth of a set of lectures which was given in Paris in 1929 and published in French in 1931; and The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology: An Introduction to Phenomenological Philosophy (Northwestern University Press) which was written between 1934 and 1937 but of which only the first two parts were published during his lifetime. (More)
Hegel's Epistemology: A Philosophical Introduction to the Phenomenology of Spirit by Kenneth R. Westphal (Hackett Publishing Company) I Hegel's Phenomenology is notoriously challenging, in form and structure as well as in content. His apparent ambitions in the Phenomenology and his highly unusual presentation have often made it difficult to relate it to more familiar philosophical views and issues. Hegel demands much of his readers. At the beginning of a chapter or subsection, for example, Hegel states a philosophical view often to argue (by indirect proof or reductio ad absurdum) against that view, though sometimes only to argue against a defective account or justification of that view. Precisely what view he criticizes can at times be difficult to determine, often because he states some essential points of an historical philosopher's view without mentioning whose view it is. Hegel unfortunately tends to refer to passages from the history of philosophy the way Medieval philosophers referred to Aristotle. They would write "the philosopher says ... ," expecting, and knowing they could expect. the reader to know exactly which passage from which work of Aristotle's was being quoted or paraphrased. Hegel, however, only rarely mentions his frequent paraphrasing or quotation—though his use of such references should not have misfired nearly so often as it has. More
A Companion To Heidegger edited by Hubert L. Dreyfus, Mark A.
Wrathall (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy: Blackwell Publishers)
A Companion to Heidegger is a complete guide to the work and thought
of Martin Heidegger, one of the most influential philosophers of the
twentieth century. The 31 essays in this volume make an important,
illuminating contribution to explaining the complexity of
The volume opens by focusing on the most important elements of Heidegger’s intellectual biography, including his notorious involvement with National Socialism. The book then goes on to provide a systematic and comprehensive exploration of Heidegger’s work. The contributions proceed chronologically, starting with discussions of his magnum opus Being and Time, moving on to the period of his ‘Kehre’ or ‘turn’, and concluding with his neglected later work. A final section contains key critical responses to Heidegger’s philosophy, including consideration of his relation to pragmatism, religion, and ecology. Contributors include many of the leading interpreters of, and commentators on, the work of Heidegger.
Martin Heidegger is one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century. His work has been appropriated by scholars in fields as diverse as philosophy, classics, psychology, literature, history, sociology, anthropology, political science, religious studies, and cultural studies. More
The New Schelling edited by Judith Norman, Alistair Welchman (Continuum) (Paperback) Contributors: Manfred Frank, Jürgen Habermas, Iain Hamilton Grant, Joseph Lawrence, Odo Marquand, Judith Norman, Alberto Toscano, Michael Vater, Alistair Welchman, Slavoj Zizek.
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Von Schelling (1775—1854) was a colleague of Hegel, Holderlin, Fichte, Goethe, Schlegel, and Schiller. Always a champion of Romanticism, Schelling advocated a philosophy which emphasized intuition over reason, which maintained aesthetics and the creative imagination to be of the highest value. At the same time, Schelling's concerns for the self and the rational make him a major precursor to existentialism and phenomenology.
The New Schelling brings together a wide-ranging set of essays which elaborate the connections between Schelling and other thinkers -- such as Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Sartre, Deleuze, and Lacan -- and argue for the unexpected modernity of Schelling's work. It is hoped that new critical editions and translations of his works may begin to find their audience.
Excerpt: Schelling is often thought of as a 'philosopher's philosopher', with a specialist rather than generalist appeal. One reason for Schelling's lack of popularity is that he is something of a problem case for traditional narratives about the history of philosophy. Although he is often slotted in as a stepping stone on the intellectual journey from Kant to Hegel, any attention to his ideas will show that he does not fit this role very well. His later philosophy suggests a materialism and empiricism that puts him outside of idealism proper; his connection with the romantic movement suggests an aestheticism that challenges traditional philosophy as such; and his mysticism allies him with medieval, pre-critical philosophies considered antiquated by the nineteenth century. And if Schelling was not entirely at home with his contemporaries, he seems, on the face of it, to have fared little better with his future: there has been no Schelling school, he has had no followers. No historical trajectory announces Schelling as its point of departure.
And yet Schelling's influence has been an extraordinary one. He has inspired physicists, physicians, theologians, historians and poets. A wildly diverse set of philosophers have claimed that their ideas have resonance with his. Perhaps the question of Schelling's influence can be approached by looking at what Kant says about works of genius — that they should give rise to inspiration, not imitation. Paradoxically, to imitate genius is not to produce an imitation but a new creative work. Whether or not Schelling should be strictly viewed as a genius, Kant's notion suggests a sense in which Schelling should be understood as a 'philosopher's philosopher': he inspired creativity, not repetition. In this perspective, the lack of a 'Schelling school' is a sign of strength; Schelling is continually being rediscovered, and his works have retained a fresh and untimely character. If Schelling does not have any obvious historical successors, it is because his influence cannot be charted by the usual methods. New philosophical tools are needed in order to understand his philosophical significance, his impact on contemporary thought and relevance for contemporary concerns.
Perhaps Schelling's thought presents these challenges because it is 'unsystematic' (although, of course, this does not preclude a certain unity of problematic). This 'unsystem' arises, on the one hand, from Schelling's attempts to produce a philosophical encounter with the irrational and, on the other hand, from the fact that the sheer number of `systems' he created undermines the notion of unitary system in the sense intended by Kant or Hegel. It is not much of an exaggeration to say that twentieth-century European thought is motivated by a struggle to escape from this notion of a unitary philosophical system imposed largely by German thought in the previous century; consequently, it comes as no surprise that Schelling's thought allies itself with so many different – and mutually incompatible – strands in the contemporary. We see traces of Schelling in both twentieth-century idealism and materialism, in existentialism, Marxism, psychoanalysis and even deconstruction. But it also follows from this notion of `unsystem' that these alliances or affinities often cannot be expressed in terms of the standard conception of influence, with its institutional presuppositions of schools and expositors that form the concrete correlates of the philosophical conception of system. Rather, we need some other conceptualization of Schelling's reach into the present. Karl Jaspers wrote:
To study Schelling, to look with new eyes at who Schelling is and where he leads, to follow him from his great beginnings, to see through his magic and to let him speak to us from his prevailing modes and ways of thinking – this largely means: to grasp the possibilities and dangers of contemporary philosophy. Schelling's reality, his rich mental life, the way he presents himself is not an example [Vorbild) to be copied, but rather a prototype [Urbild) of modern possibilities.'
The pieces in this collection will view Schelling as Urbild rather than Vorbild, and explore the possibilities he opened up for modern thought.
Schelling's impact on and relevance for twentieth-century thought can be seen most strongly in four different areas: materialism, existentialism, psychoanalysis and religion. The heterogeneity of the articles collected in this volume is testimony to the diversity and fruitfulness of Schelling's thought, evidence that Schelling articulated a wide range of ideas that other and later traditions would follow through to their limit. Most of all, these articles show that, after 200 years, Schelling is still new.
Schelling's connections to psychoanalysis are conceptually clear. He developed a theory of the unconscious as a set of pre-personal drives that matches the contours of Freud's account. Canonical works like Hartmann's ground-breaking Philosophy of the Unconscious acknowledge the centrality of Schelling's contribution here.
In his article, 'Several Connections between Aesthetics and Therapeutics in Nineteenth-century Philosophy' (which has been translated into English for the first time for this collection), Odo Marquard argues for a different and more novel 'functional' continuity between Schelling's earlier philosophies of art and nature and Freudian psychoanalysis: 'Freudian psychoanalysis is to a significant degree the disenchanted form of Schelling's philosophy of nature.' Although also interested in the question of the historical influence of Schelling on Freud, Marquard is more deeply concerned with the structural — in fact functional — convergence between Schelling's aesthetic and Freud's therapeutic project. He argues that they are formally distinct responses to the same problem, namely the threat posed by the irrational and destructive powers of nature. For Schellingian aesthetics it is the artistic genius that represents an acceptable — sublimated or domesticated — form under which nature can appear. For Freud the therapeutic process performs the same function of providing a forum in which nature can appear but without being a direct threat, albeit in a very different way. This affinity between Freud and Schelling is therefore quite distinct from any questions of historical influence or terminological continuity: they constructed different tools to solve the same problem.
The Slovenian philosopher and film critic Slavoj Zizek has been key in reawakening contemporary interest in Schelling. In his 1996 book, The Indivisible Remainder: An Essay on Schelling and Related Matters, Zizek applies a distinctive blend of Lacanian psychoanalysis and pop culture to the task of interpreting Schelling's middle period works. Zizek stresses the Lacanian theme that rational structures of ordinary thought are predicated on some Real, a dejected, obscene surplus of materiality or indivisible remainder that cannot be thought through or thought away. Zizek finds considerable resonance between this and Schelling's theory of a chaotic ground of existence, and spells out the relevance of Schelling for Lacan (and vice versa) in terms of theories of language, time, even physics. Zizek adds to this a dizzying assortment of references to various cultural phenomena, in particular film.
In Zizek's piece for the collection, `Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Schelling (But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock)', he explores the relationship between Lacan, Schelling and Hitchcock. Zizek focuses on Schelling's idea of the unfathomable Real, which he describes as ontologically incomplete, a `spectral plurality of virtual realities'. Zizek describes three ways of construing this spectral Real in Schelling's Ages of the World; and then he generalizes Schelling's point, finding these three versions of the Real played out in a wide variety of Hitchcock's filmic motifs. Schelling becomes a matrix through which to read Hitchcock — a more significant matrix even than Lacanian psychoanalysis. Of course Hitchcock was no reader of Schelling. But Zizek argues that artistic conventions often anticipate the technological means of realizing them, and both Hitchcock and Schelling were aiming at a vision only first realized in the hypertext, which offers a way of presenting reality as virtual, inconclusive, haunted by an abject abyss of traces of possibilities it does not actualize. Hitchcock — and by extension Schelling — prefigure the thought of a fictionalized, virtual reality, in which the virtual is not a qualification on reality, but rather its essence and kernel.
Schelling has had a stormy relationship with dialectical materialism. Although inspired by his critique of Hegelian idealism, the Young Hegelians repudiated Schelling's theology, and Lukas branded him an irrationalist, largely because of his early theory of a quasi-mystical intellectual intuition.' On the other hand, Schelling casts considerable and elaborate doubts on the efficacy of the pure concept as vector of development or ground of material reality. Schelling develops the thought of an `unprethinkable' material ground prior to reason, and philosophers such as Jürgen Habermas and Ernst Bloch have been very receptive to this idea, agreeing that a purely rational philosophy does not have the resources to account for actually existing material nature. In fact, Marxists have seen Schelling's distinction between negative and positive philosophy as a prototype for a distinction between theory and practice. Habermas goes so far as to describe Ernst Bloch as a `Marxist Schelling', citing Schellingean inspirations for Bloch's views on nature and history.'
In his own treatment of Schelling, Habermas focuses on the works from the time of the Freedom essay and the positive philosophy, and the notions of a material ground and pre-personal will. He is interested in the extent to which Schelling succeeded in integrating a sense of historical or empirical contingency into an otherwise transcendental rationalism. In his 1954 dissertation Habermas lays particular stress on the first draft of Schelling's fragmentary, Ages of the World; Habermas sees this as the locus for a theory of historical freedom, in which freedom loses its absolute, transcendental character; even God becomes genuinely historical, and individuals are empowered to intervene meaningfully in determining their historical fate. Habermas thinks that Schelling's experiment in historical freedom was ultimately at odds with the rationalist tendency of his metaphysics, leading him eventually to abandon it; Schelling was not able to realize the revolutionary potential of his insight.
Habermas continues these themes in his 1971 article, `Dialectical Idealism in Transition to Materialism: Schelling's Idea of a Contraction of God and its Consequences for the Philosophy of History,' which appears in English for the first time in this collection. Habermas emphasizes Schelling's theory of a contraction in God, a force that draws things inward and resists expansiveness, acting as a material ground for the actual development of God through history. Habermas focuses on how this force serves to ground not only God but a finite being who has broken from God (but is bound to him by love) and fallen into corruption. This finite creature is social, historical humanity as an `alter deus' or other (of the) Absolute. God puts his own fate in jeopardy by relinquishing power to this other, which destroys its connection to nature and inaugurates a period of corruption. Habermas is interested in the extent to which Schelling succeeds in theorizing an actual historical beginning to this alter deus, as an actual (as opposed to transcendental) beginning of corruption makes possible the practical demand for an actual end to corruption. This would permit the restoration of an authentic relationship with nature, and the abolition of the political state as a coercive institution that uses domination to establish order.
Judith Norman's article on Schelling and Nietzsche discusses the various affinities and points of contact between these two philosophers of the will. Unlike Schopenhauer, Schelling and Nietzsche were concerned to bring the idea of a material will into relationship with temporality. Specifically, Norman argues that both Nietzsche and Schelling constructed the notion of a will capable of creating the past as a way of affirming the present. For both of them, the will not only intervenes creatively in time – it is involved in a sort of backwards causality that constitutes temporality in the first place. And in both cases, this backwards willing functions within a project of affirmation, as a way of embracing and valorizing the present. Norman argues against seeing this reverse causality as a sort of return of the repressed for either Schelling or Nietzsche; Schelling's notion of reverse causality does not entail the thought of return, while Nietzsche's thought of eternal return is predicated on a decisive overcoming of repression.
Gilles Deleuze refers to Schelling sparingly but approvingly, and the articles by Toscano and Hamilton Grant both explore the Deleuzean side of Schelling. Toscano suggests that materialism can be seen as a type of philosophical practice common to both Schelling and Deleuze (-Guattari), specifically the practice of construction. Schelling transformed the Kantian theme of construction in a manner vital to the development of materialism, Toscano argues, giving speculative philosophy a privileged position as a recapitulation of the transcendental production of the Absolute. Schelling's great merit was to bring production into the concept and see philosophy as creative practice; but Toscano thinks that Schelling ultimately fails to make good the promise of this advance. By linking the task of philosophy to construction within the Absolute, and construing the Absolute as a starting point that is given in advance and develops in a necessary manner, Schelling fails to grasp the specificity and artifice of philosophical construction. Philosophy remains safely locked within the Absolute and never comes into contact with anything like a non-philosophical exterior. It is the thought of such an exterior, of philosophical construction as heterogenesis, that characterizes Deleuze's more radical materialism, a line of thinking that Schelling inaugurated, according to Toscano, but never fulfilled.
Iain Hamilton Grant's paper, ' "Philosophy become Genetic": The Physics of the World Soul' shares not just a common Deleuzian contemporary intellectual coordination for Schelling with Toscano, but also a Kantian matrix. That is, Schelling exacerbates the productive, constructive or genetic impetus of the critical philosophy, pushing it beyond its representational and therefore idealist frame. At the limit, this requires, as Toscano agrees, an immersion of philosophy itself, the process of thought, in the productive nexus of matter, as well as a strictly correlate intensification of the empirical process of production. The former radicalizes the alleged vitalism of the nineteenth-century Naturphilosophen; the latter is, Grant argues, a continual and active un-conditioning of things, almost an Entdingen. Along the way Grant recasts the standard debates around Plato and Aristotle in a highly original way ('the Timaeus is not a two-worlds metaphysics ... because it has a one-world physics') and performs a tour de force by rehabilitating the 'recapitulation' hypothesis of the Naturphilosophen — that phylogeny recapitulates ontogeny — in a way analogous to Deleuze's treatment of return in Nietzsche. In both cases, a thought that apparently presupposes a whole idealist identity theory is reconfigured through an account of repetition as a generator of difference. Grant mobilizes recapitulation in the service of a catastrophism that ruins the possibility of the same, arguing that even identity must be constructed, and thereby building an unusual bridge between Schelling's philosophy of nature and philosophy of identity phases.
Paul Tillich saw Schelling as the father of existentialism, because his later philosophy explicitly took its point of departure from the notion that concrete existence precedes essence. (Interestingly, this is one of the principle reasons why philosophical materialism has taken such an interest in Schelling.) Indeed, Tillich went so far as to say: 'There are hardly any concepts in the whole of twentieth-century existentialist literature that did not come from the [Berlin) lectures.' In the case of Kierkegaard this lineage is particularly direct, since he actually attended the lecture series in 1841-2. But the works of Jaspers and Heidegger, especially Heidegger's famous lectures on Schelling from 1936 and 1941, also attest not only to Schelling's impact on their own thought, but also to his wider and continued effects on existentialist thought in general.
Manfred Frank is one of the most significant Schelling commentators in recent years, and has done groundbreaking work in demonstrating the roots of Marxism as well as existentialism in the thought of Schelling. His contribution to this collection, `Schelling and Sartre on Being and Nothingness', is the first English translation of his important study of Schelling's relevance for an understanding of Sartrean existentialism. Frank carefully lays out Sartre's discussion of the nature of consciousness and its relation to the facticity of being-in-itself in the opening sections of Being and Nothingness. He explains that Sartre has to bend grammar in order to express the manner in which consciousness is, given the fact that its mode of being is to be nothing; so, for instance Sartre coins passive and transitive forms of the verb `to be'. Frank argues that Schelling had been driven by the same desire to distinguish between forms and states of nothingness, and had developed a sophisticated set of conceptual distinctions that would be useful for an understanding of Sartre. Both, moreover, were motivated by the same desire to develop an ontology of freedom. The ontology of the late Schelling, Frank argues, has `stupendous similarities' to that of the early Sartre, and Frank gives us a taste of the productive cross-fertilizations that can occur by reading the two together.
Philosophers of religion have found considerable inspiration in Schelling, with Paul Tillich being perhaps the most noteworthy example. Tillich's central distinction between mysticism and guilt consciousness or philosophy and religion, and his attempt to overcome this dichotomy through a metaphysical conception of the will, were inspired by Schelling's late, religious philosophy.
The chapters by Joseph Lawrence and Michael Vater contribute to ongoing religious appropriations of Schelling's thought in new ways. Lawrence explores Schelling's conception of radical evil. Given the scope of the atrocities apparent in the twentieth century and now unfolding in the twenty-first, Lawrence turns to Schelling not only to understand how and why evil takes the forms it now does, but also to grasp the possibility of forgiveness. In his middle period works, Schelling distinguishes between, on the one hand, the overt evil of incipient irrationality, the chaotic material ground run amok, and, on the other hand, the subtler (but, Lawrence argues, ultimately more destructive) evil of a dominating rationalism that conducts silent genocides in the name of self-interest. These are the twin evils of suicide bombers and capitalism, or `Jihad' and `McWorld', in Lawrence's analysis. Schelling cleared the way for understanding such terrors by seeing hell not as a punishment for evil, but as its condition. Our vibrant, living world necessarily entails the existence of suffering, and the two types of evil are ultimately responses to the crisis caused by ineradicable human suffering. By recognizing this, Lawrence believes, we can not only begin to understand evil — we can finally begin to forgive it.
Finally, Michael Vater's contribution looks at Schelling's system of identity as well as the later system of freedom in light of the tradition of Mahayana Buddhist, anti-metaphysical thought. Vater focuses in particular on the Madhyamika theory of knowledge and reality, and the manner in which it describes the relationship between `absolute' and `relative' truths as two ways of speaking about the very same thing(s). Vater uses Buddhist thought as a model of clarity, and therefore a standard by means of which to measure how effectively Schelling's metaphysics is able to avoid a reification of the Absolute. Vater's conclusion is that Schelling cannot avoid this; but it is only by renouncing a philosophical enterprise that the Buddhist tradition succeeds.
Metacritique: The Linguistic Assault on German Idealism by Jere Paul Surber (Humanity Books) Contrary to the standard account of German Idealism, the most recent research suggests that it did not grow seamlessly from Kant's critical philosophy into Hegel's mature system, nor did it proceed without serious challenges from alternative philosophical perspectives. Probably the most sustained and trenchant assault upon this tradition came from a group of already well-established philosophers and intellectuals who referred to their project as "metacritique," a critical movement spearheaded by J.G. Hamann, S. Maimon, F.H. Jacobi, and J.G. Herder. Employing approaches clearly prefiguring later twentieth-century challenges, the metacritics attempted to refute the transcendental and metaphysical doctrines of the German idealists through a rigorous linguistic critique of their philosophical discourse. This linguistic challenge and the response on the part of the idealist party also drew into its ambit such important figures of the early Romantic movement as August and Friedrich Schlegel and August Ferdinand Bernhardi.
Although this extended discussion between the early indealists and their linguistic metacritics formed an important episode of European intellectual history, neither the crucial texts nor an interpretive discussion of them have to date been available to the English-speaking student. The present work fills this important gap in our understanding of the period by offering an extensive interpretive and critical overview of the metacritical challenge and the responses to it, together with English translations of the key texts, each with its own introduction and commentary.
This outstanding collection will be useful for any class on German Idealism and for providing an accurate historical context for some of the later philosophical charges leveled against this tradition.
Romance of Individualism in Emerson and Nietzsche by David Mikics (Ohio University Press) is a staggering commentary on the conflict of alternative realities as expressed in the visionary populism of Nietzsche and the homespun Americana and Unitarian-style individualism found in the writings of Emerson. The contrast of these two by the brilliant, but erratic, Professor Mikics IS one of the great misunderstood (not to mention unjustly ignored) intellects of our time and this book, so far, is his magnum opus.
Ralph Waldo Emerson and the influential German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, though writing in different eras and ultimately developing significantly different philosophies, both praised the individual's wish to be transformed, to be fully created for the first time. Emerson and Nietzsche challenge us to undertake the task of identity on our own, in order to see (in Nietzsche's phrase) "how one becomes what one is."
The Romance of Individualism in Emerson and Nietzsche examines the argument, as well as the affinity, between these two philosophers. Nietzsche was an enthusiastic reader of Emerson and inherited from him an interest in provocation as a means of instruction, an understanding of the permanent importance of moods and transitory moments in our lives, and a sense of the revolutionary character of impulse. Both were deliberately outrageous thinkers, striving to shake us out of our complacency.
Rather than choose between Emerson and Nietzsche, Mikics attends to Nietzsche's struggle with Emerson's example and influence. Elegant in his delivery, Mikics offers a significant commentary on the visions of several contemporary theorists whose interests intersect with those of Emerson and Nietzsche, especially Stanley Cavell, Jacques Lacan, Slavoj Zizek, and Harold Bloom.
Nietzsche resembles Emerson in that both have become, in today's academic climate, texts subject to judgment: are they acceptable or dangerous? (Lacan offers a more primitive version of such a shibboleth, dividing academics between those who see him as a demented charlatan with mystagogic habits and those who detect hints of highest truth in the slightest gesture of the master.) Is it risky even to think about Nietzsche? Are fervent readers of Nietzsche like myself guilty by association (of elitism, misogyny, proto-fascist worship of "honor" and hero-ism), and are we to respond to this imputation of guilt by describing a warm-hearted, quasi-liberal Nietzsche? On occasion I have encountered students who defend themselves against the reading of Nietzsche and Emerson by worrying that these texts might be "dangerous," all the while going to great lengths to make these writers say what they expressly do not say, so they then can be revealed as selfish idolaters of power. (A common impulse is to turn both Nietzsche and Emerson into members of the Carlylean hero-cult both despised; see Daybreak #298, and Emerson's "Self-Reliance" for their arguments against the worship of heroes.)
Such caricatures are not dangerous, of course, but rather the re-verse: they enable the student to enjoy his politically correct symptom in undisturbed fashion by prohibiting access to the text itself. By insisting that Nietzsche is somehow responsible for European fascism and Emerson for imperial American self-aggrandizement, one keeps a sharp lookout only for those places in their writings where they take the risk of not defending themselves against readers who might devour and use them, not for new thinking, but for previously rehearsed ideological gestures.
We can police texts in this way only by refusing to think for ourselves, in our scared concern to think for —on behalf of, instead of—the texts we read. On the other hand, it is a mistake to make Emerson and Nietzsche acceptable to a tolerant liberalism, as Walter Kaufmann did in the case of Nietzsche, by downplaying their charged, inflammatory moments. Such a reading implicitly wishes that these thinkers had expressed themselves in a more measured, accessible way, one that would support us in what we already wanted to believe, whereas their actual effort is to outrage our security. Perhaps more than any other writers, Nietzsche and Emerson want to deny us the self-possession of being confirmed by the ego ideal, the big Other. To avoid their extreme, intransigent, or seemingly intolerable moments means, then, to fly to the protection of the big Other, to resort to non-thinking respectability.
This book risks implying that, because Nietzsche is more twisted or pressured than Emerson, he is more worthy. But Emerson is not with-out his own twists, among them the idea that the Nietzschean wish for mastery leaves something out. Emerson suggests that, released from the forced, secretive inwardness of the ascetic impulse, we can yield to life's wildness in a way that conserves a healthier sort of inward "pudency" (E 483) —we can surrender without giving ourselves away. Finally, the difference between these two thinkers increases the strength of our understanding, even if, weighted ourselves by history and attitude, we cannot always choose freely between them.
In the first chapter Mikics offers a reading of Emerson's "Experience," with frequent reference to other Emerson essays, that ends in an invocation of Nietzsche's Zarathustra. Mikics explores the ways in which Emerson makes his texts available to radically distinct inclinations, encouraging a breadth of interpretive choice that puts into action the Emersonian model of liberation. There is a critical tradition of charging Emerson with the visionary's self-involvement, with an imaginative narcissism that refuses social commitments. Indeed, Emersonian vision, at its ecstatic, impatient height, is avowedly solipsistic, the gospel of a divine child who devours all he sees. But by recognizing how the social world both resists and thrives on the individual's prophetic sight, Emerson urges his solipsistic sublime into conversation with the common-sense realism that mocks and deflates it.
Individualist interpretation takes on a radical form in Emerson, one that circumvents the tragic persistence of the past in favor of our present desires to reimagine the world. Nietzsche, by contrast, embraces tragedy. Chapters 2 and 3 examine Nietzsche's development in the 1870s of an individualist sense of history based on a tragic mode. In his early Birth of Tragedy, the subject of chapter 2, Nietzsche figures tragedy as a phenomenon of cosmic scale, the weaving and unweaving of life and death, generation and decay. By the time of Untimely Meditations, however, just three years later, Nietzsche reinterprets tragedy as an individualist genre centered on the effort to carry on in writing, but also to contest, the memory of particular persons and events. With this movement to the level of the individual, the tragic sense becomes a source of critical power. Nietzsche's thought that poetry's proper role is the defense of the particular shape of history, its memorable events and actors, has its roots in Plato's Symposium, as well as in Emerson. Chapter 3 concludes with a study of Nietzsche's early versions of the architectonic self: the image of the builder of thought as cosmic judge in Nietzsche's final Untimely Meditation, "Richard Wagner in Bayreuth," and in another work of the mid-1870s, Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks.
In chapter 4 Mikics investigates two central Nietzschean works of the 1880s, Daybreak and The Gay Science, in terms of their use of theatricality, particularly in relation to themes of love and sexual relationship, and with reference to Emerson's reliance on the theatrical. The Gay Science avoids the disastrous consequences of the Genealogy's masochistic asceticism by espousing a carefully composed self that thrives on acting out, as if on stage, its distance from moral ideals. But this distancing, and the theatrical model it entails, means that the self becomes disturbingly isolated from the world Nietzsche set out to explore—even to conquer—with the critical ideal he invoked in his "Use and Disadvantage of History for Life." (Nietzsche's self-alienation will culminate in Ecce Homo, in which theatrical distance becomes Dionysian uncontrol, in place of The Gay Science's Apollonian composure.)
In Daybreak, Nietzsche meditates on the weakness of monumental history, already explored in "The Use and Disadvantage of History for Life." Monumental history founds a heroic grandeur that will inevitably devolve into blurry conformity, the vague fetishizing of greatness.
But the antidote offered in "History for Life" to the weakness of the monumental, the critical history that measures the present self against the influence of the past, is largely abandoned in Daybreak and its successor, The Gay Science. In these works, Nietzsche relies, in place of the critical, on a version of Emersonian refinement, though Nietzsche will confront a frustration foreign to Emerson: the encounter with the object a, a secretive core of identity that refinement both courts and stumbles over.
Chapter 5, after an excursus on Emerson's "Fate," studies Toward the Genealogy of Morals, focusing on how it concludes in a severe, self-frustrating irony. The attempt to liberate human possibility through a strenuous antagonism to priestly morality results in a new (but just as costly) morality, that of the ascetic philosopher Nietzsche. Chapter 5 goes on to encounter the destiny of the Nietzschean self that answers ascetic self-punishment with an outrageous playing out of roles, the musical, exploding self of Ecce Homo that presages Nietzsche's final madness.
Redeeming Nietzsche: On the Piety of Unbelief by Giles Fraser (Routledge) (Hardcover) Best known for having declared the death of God, Nietzsche was a thinker thoroughly absorbed in the Christian tradition in which he was born and raised. Yet while the atheist Nietzsche is well known, the pious Nietzsche is seldom recognised and rarely understood. Redeeming Nietzsche examines the residual theologian in the most vociferous of atheists.
Fraser demonstrates that although Nietzsche rejected God, he remained obsessed with the question of human salvation. Examining his accounts of art, truth, morality and eternity, Nietzsche's thought is revealed to be a series of experiments in redemption. However, when placed in direct confrontation with the enormity of modern understandings of destruction, Nietzsche's prescriptions for human salvation look like the imaginings of a more comfortable age. Drawing upon the work of Kundera, Nussbaum, Girard and Cavell, Fraser traces the successive failures of Nietzsche's salvation theology to an inability fully to face the depths of human suffering.
Though Nietzsche's powerful attack upon Christianity has remained influential for over a century, few have attempted to mount a sustained theological critique of his thought. Redeeming Nietzsche challenges assumptions of Nietzsche's secularity and opens up a new front in Nietzsche scholarship.
Excerpt: One of the most extraordinary things about Nietzsche's reception by theologians in the twentieth century is how so few of them have a bad word to say about him. Barth attacks Nietzsche (though really only in a footnote, albeit a very long one) and so does Milbank (and we shall look at this later), but apart from these two it is hard to think of a major theological voice which seeks to rebut the charges Nietzsche makes against Christianity. Christian theology is not alone in offering so warm a welcome to one so hostile to its fundamental beliefs. Nietzsche wrote that `When a woman has scholarly inclinations there is usually something wrong with her sexuality' yet he has managed to become a fashionable figure in academic feminism. Nietzsche also had nothing good to say about democracy or socialism yet he has been appropriated by leftist movements from the very beginning. Nietzsche is a charismatic figure and everybody wants to be his friend.
Over the centuries Christianity has made a habit of appropriating the arguments of non-Christians and turning them to its own purposes. Given the powerful role Nietzsche has had in shaping twentieth-century thought it
is unsurprising that Christian theologians have looked to use his work as a theological resource. The way in which this has been done has been to break up Nietzsche for his parts. The aspects of Nietzsche's work that are wholly incompatible with Christian theology are fenced off and (largely) ignored, or cleverly re-interpreted. Thus Christians can join in the general applause of Nietzsche's work. I have tried to suggest in this opening chapter that though there is much to learn from Nietzsche, these fences are not very secure. If Nietzsche is to be used as a theological resource I think the Christian theologian ought first to set about the task of refuting him (best of all, on his own terms). And in order to do this we must try to understand him better.
Indeed, isn't his `kind of denial of an existence shared with others' linked to `the murderous lengths to which' Nietzsche will go in order to repress the claim the other has upon him? Could it be that Nietzsche's unwillingness to enter into the suffering of another, that is, his objection to the empathic projection involved with pity, represents an unwillingness not simply to see, but to be seen? Karl Barth seems to be tracking Nietzsche down in precisely this way when he writes:
And the true danger of Christianity . . . on account of which he had to attack it with unprecedented resolution and passion . . . was that Christianity — what he called Christian morality — confronts the real man, the superman . . . with a form of man which necessarily questions and disturbs and destroys and kills him to the very root. That is to say, it confronts him with the figure of the suffering man. It demands that he should see this man, that he should accept his presence, that he should not be man without him but man with him, that he must drink with him at the same source. Christianity places before the superman the Crucified, Jesus, as the Neighbour, ignoble and despised in the eyes of the world (of the world of Zarathustra, the true world of men), the hungry and thirsty and sick and captive, a whole ocean of human meanness and painfulness. Nor does it merely place the Crucified and his host before his eyes. It does not merely will that he see Him and them. It wills that he should recognise in them his neighbours and himself.
For Barth, what Nietzsche feared in the other was a reflection of his own suffering humanity. Nietzsche preferred fantasies of (super-human) strength and self-sufficiency to the recognition of human-all-too-human need and fragility. Throughout Zarathustra, Nietzsche's hero is haunted by the crippled dwarf, the little man, the small man. In one of the great emotional climaxes of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, as Zarathustra comes to feel the full force of eternal recurrence, that is, as he is faced with the reality of what he can and cannot affirm about himself, it is the weight of the dwarf (note especially that Nietzsche speaks of the eternal recurrence as `the greatest weight') that restricts his full self-affirmation. In the climax of the passage Zarathustra turns on the dwarf: `Dwarf! You! Or I!' Stanley Rosen interprets this exclamation in this way: `The immediate sense of the image is as follows. Zarathustra can rise no higher until he overcomes the pity for humanity that still pulls him back to the earth below.' In this way Nietzsche's rejection of pity (in so far as Nietzsche and Zarathustra are of a common mind at this point) represents a rejection of, a refusal to acknowledge, any sense of identity between himself and the crippled dwarf figure, suffering humanity. Better to murder the dwarf, to oust him, to sacrifice him even, than to have him make me face my own dwarfness — thus spoke Zarathustra. In rejecting suffering humanity, in casting people as the herd, Nietzsche is seeking to set himself free from the earth below. This begins Nietzsche's disloyalty to the earth; a 'murderous' disloyalty which, for all Nietzsche's emphasis on honesty, is motivated by an unwillingness fully to face the pains and disappointments of his own humanity.
As a choice for a final thought on the failures of Nietzschean soteriology 'marriage' may seem odd and strangely out of place. I am aware that some may suspect that this theme introduces an unwelcome spirit of exclusiveness associated with the more conservative elements of Church teaching. This is not my intention at all. I employ marriage, following Cavell, as a way of speaking about the ordinariness of human intimacy that is shared over time and has come to be caught up in a whole pattern of life. Cavell puts it thus: 'questions about marriage . . . are meant as questions about weddedness as a mode of human intimacy generally, intimacy in its aspect of devotedness'.
There is, nonetheless, an important theological connection between marriage and ordinariness that is worth underlining. As we have already seen, one of the key dimensions of the Protestant revolution is the celebration of what Charles Taylor calls 'ordinary life'. This revolution marks the transition from a sense of the holy based upon separateness and being set aside, to one in which the holy is seen to be enmeshed in the ordinary and the everyday. And a crucial moment in this transition is the abandonment of clerical celibacy. It is highly relevant that many of the key reformers, including Luther and Cranmer, got married while remaining priests. According to Oberman it is Luther's theology of marriage gained through an exegesis of Genesis 2: 18 that 'is truly epoch making' and at the heart of the Reformation. The celebration of marriage (rather than seeing it as occasion for regret), at least historically, constitutes a definitive moment in the celebration of the ordinary.
In Cavell's thought the ordinary everyday human intimacy that is characteristic of (Cavell's sense of) marriage is counterposed to the tragedy of avoidance. He points to a genre he calls 'comedies of remarriage' – films such as The Philadelphia Story and Bringing up Baby – which pursue the logic (and glitches) of acknowledgment. For whereas avoidance 'does violence to others, it separates their bodies from their souls, makes monsters of them; and presumably we do it because we feel others are doing this violence to us', acknowledgment is the 'release from this circle of vengeance'. And here we are back to Girard.
Cavell speaks of marriage as remarriage to emphasise the sense in which 'redemptive' marriage, marriage that institutes cycles of acknowledgement and forgiveness, is constituted by the desire and willingness of each partner repeatedly to remarry each other. Reminding us of the connections with skepticism he writes: 'marriage is an emblem of the knowledge of others not solely because of its implication of reciprocity but because it implies a devotion, in repetition, to dailiness.' This quality of repetition Cavell finds in Nietzsche's notion of eternal recurrence. Of the title `remarriage' Cavell comments:
The title registers, to my mind, the two most impressive affirmations known to me of the task of human experience, the acceptance of human relatedness, as the acceptance of repetition. Kierkegaard's study called Repetition, which is a study of the possibility of marriage; and Nietzsche's Eternal Return, the call for which he puts by saying it is high time; this is literally Hochzeit, German for marriage, with time itself as the ring.
I have argued that Nietzsche betrays this vision by what I have called a ressentiment against ordinary life. It is a betrayal which leads him away from honesty, away from `the awful truth' (significantly the title of what Cavell takes to be the most impressive of the remarriage comedies). But the 'cyclical' dimension to Nietzschean soteriology is, I think, tremendously important and in speaking of remarriage Cavell reclaims this without succumbing to Nietzsche's own brand of ressentiment.
Circling around a similar idea to that explored by Cavell, Rowan Williams, in a sermon preached at the wedding of John and Alison Milbank, speaks of the relationship between truth and love. Williams begins thus:
One of the great dramatic points in an old-fashioned wedding was the moment when the bride removed her veil from her face; and whatever the original symbolism of this, it's a remarkably telling sign of what marriage involves. Unveiling, undeception — clear and just vision. John and Alison are promising to look at each other for the rest of their lives, and to be looked at by each other: lovingly, faithfully and, above all, truly and honestly.
To begin with, it is worth noting that Williams is speaking here about truth-as-honesty in much the same way as Nietzsche. For Nietzsche, total honesty is only possible alone — for Williams honesty comes through relation-ship; there can be no `total' honesty about oneself that completely by-passes the gaze of the other. Truth requires love just as much as love requires truth.
Because there can be no love without truth. Without clear and just vision, love is a business of projection and fantasy. And there can be no truth without love. Without trust and tenderness and courtesy, truth will vanish behind the walls of fear and pain.
Nietzsche clearly believes the first of these claims, that there can be no love without truth. As we have seen Nietzsche's own `version' of love is affirmation, and he believes total affirmation of human life is only possible and meaningful on the basis of a full apprehension of life's horror. But Nietzsche never sees the point of the second claim — that there can be no truth without love. Truth can be had for Nietzsche by tough-minded determination, by a rigorous exercise of suspicion. But this suspicion, when pursued as an absolute demand, forecloses upon dimensions of honesty available only to those who are prepared to accept and trust the love of another. The one who is loved is more able to face the reality of their own pain and sense of worthlessness because admitting and facing all of that no longer seems so cataclysmic. Only thus is the wisdom of Silenus fully defeated. Williams sums up: `Truth makes love possible; love makes truth bearable.'
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