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The Unpolitical

On the Radical Critique of Political Reason

Massimo Cacciari

Publication Year: 2009

Massimo Cacciari is one of the leading public intellectuals in today's Italy, both as an outstanding philosopher and political thinker and as now three times (and currently) the mayor of Venice. This collection of essays on political topics provides the best introduction in English to his thought to date. The political focus does not, however, prevent these essays from being an introduction to the full range of Cacciari's thought.The present collection includes chapters on Hofmannstahl, Luk\~cs, Benjamin, Nietzsche, Weber, Derrida, Schmitt, Canetti, and Aeschylus. Written between 1978 and 2006, these essays engagingly address the most hidden tradition in European political thought: the Unpolitical. Far from being a refusal of politics, the Unpolitical represents a merciless critique of political reason and a way out of the now impracticable consolations of utopia and harmonious community. Drawing freely from philosophy and literature, The Unpolitical represents a powerful contribution to contemporary political theory.A lucid and engaging Introdcution by Alessandro Carrera sets these essays in the context of Cacciari's work generally and in the broadest context of its historical and geographical backdrop.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-viii

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Introduction: On Massimo Cacciari’s Disenchanted Activism

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pp. 1-44

Massimo Cacciari’s career is nothing short of impressive. Both an academic philosopher and a public figure who has devoted a significant part of his life to active politics, he is also one of the high-profile intellectuals in contemporary Italy. Born in Venice in 1944, Cacciari graduated in philosophy...

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Chapter 1: Impracticable Utopias Hofmannsthal, Lukàcs, Benjamin

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pp. 45-91

Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s work seems to amount to a research project on the languages and forms of ‘‘Romània.’’ But this ‘‘Romània’’ is not at all the stable dwelling that many interpreters have claimed, in the shadow of whose authority Hofmannsthal would overcome the aestheticism of his...

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Chapter 2: Nietzsche and the Unpolitical

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pp. 92-103

The most authentic reactionary thinking of the German crisis remarked with sound intuition its own distance from the ‘‘political’’ Nietzsche. In August 1918, in reply to the accusations of ‘‘allied Zivilisation’’ against the Kultur of Deutschtum and its ‘‘presumed advocacy of violence,’’ Ulrich von...

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Chapter 3: Weber and the Critique of Socialist Reason

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pp. 104-121

Eduard Bernstein’s analysis of Weber’s critique of socialism—of Second International Austrian-German social democratic orthodoxy—is only a basic prologue to the really decisive question (for Weber, as for Sombart, for Schumpeter, as for Kelsen): how is socialism possible? What is its transcendental...

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Chapter 4: Project

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pp. 122-145

What do we mean by the term project? The question seems just as superfluous as it is normal-sounding in our language. Its basic emphasis is similar to technology. One only truly disposes of the world when there are paradigms at one’s disposal that make it available. The present dominion...

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Chapter 5: Catastrophes

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pp. 146-158

Writing to Antonio Valde´s, secretary of Charles V, on August 1, 1528, this is how Erasmus explained, against his detractors, the enterprise of the boundary mark (Termine): ‘‘One time the borders of fields were marked by a special sign; it was a stone protruding from the ground that...

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Chapter 6: The Language of Power in Canetti

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pp. 159-172

‘‘The discursive legitimation of power by law universals’’ typical of all great revolutionary rhetoric and, more generally, of every ‘‘philosophical reading’’ of political facts’’1 seems to constitute the perennial inexhaustible polemical motive of Elias Canetti’s work. Fulvio Papi insists, correctly,...

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Chapter 7: Law and Justice

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pp. 173-196

Perhaps in no other place as in the interpretation of the role of mysticism in the modern political, Weber’s spirit of capitalism requires revision and study. A mystical type of religiosity (eine mystisch gewendete Religiosität) is in itself entirely reconcilable ‘‘with an eminent realistic sense of empirical...

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Chapter 8: The Geophilosophy of Europe

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pp. 197-205

Here is the supreme struggle (agon eschatos), the labor (ponos), and the ultimate confrontation that the soul is called upon to bear: steering the steeds, which are also its parts, training them for the difficult ascent, preventing that the wicked one (the spirit of gravity, we could say!) drags us to earth,...

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Chapter 9: Weber and the Politician as Tragic Hero

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pp. 206-238

If by phenomenology we mean essentially that attitude or mode of thinking that puts the vision of essences before a formal definition of the valid criteria of knowledge, Max Weber is a great phenomenologist (even though his knowledge of Husserl’s philosophy may have been minimal),...


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pp. 239-268


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pp. 269-290

Index of Names

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pp. 291-296

E-ISBN-13: 9780823246786
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823230037
Print-ISBN-10: 0823230031

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2009