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From the Body to the Body Politic

Mensch, James R.

How does the body politic reflect the nature of human embodiment? To pursue this question in a new and productive way, James Mensch employs a methodology consistent with the fact of our embodiment; he uses Merleau Ponty’s concept of "intertwining"—the presence of one’s self in the world and of the world in one’s self—to understand the ideas that define political life.

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The End of the World and Other Teachable Moments

Jacques Derrida's Final Seminar

Michael Naas

The End of the World and Other Teachable Moments follows the remarkable itinerary of Jacques Derrida’s final seminar, The Beast and the Sovereign (2001–3), as the explicit themes of the seminar—namely, sovereignty and the question of the animal—come to be supplemented and interrupted by questions of death, mourning, survival, the archive, and, especially, the end of the world. _x000B__x000B_The book begins with Derrida’s analyses, in the first year of the seminar, of the question of the animal in the context of his other published works on the same subject. It then follows Derrida through the second year of the seminar, presented in Paris from December 2002 to March 2003, as a very different tone begins to make itself heard, one that wavers between melancholy and an extraordinary lucidity with regard to the end. Focusing the entire year on just two works, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Martin Heidegger’s seminar of 1929–30, The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics, the seminar comes to be dominated by questions of the end of the world and of an originary violence that at once gives rise to and effaces all things. _x000B__x000B_The End of the World and Other Teachable Moments follows Derrida as he responds from week to week to these emerging questions, as well as to important events unfolding around him, both world events—the aftermath of 9/11, the American invasion of Iraq—and more personal ones, from the death of Maurice Blanchot to intimations of his own death fewer than two years away. All this, the book concludes, makes this final seminar an absolutely unique work in Derrida’s corpus, one that both speaks of death as the end of the world and itself now testifies to that end—just one, though hardly the least, of its many teachable moments.

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Ending and Unending Agony

On Maurice Blanchot

Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Translated by Hannes Opelz

Published posthumously, Ending and Unending Agony is Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe’s only book entirely devoted to the French writer and essayist Maurice Blanchot (1907–2003). The place of Blanchot in Lacoue-Labarthe’s thought was both discreet and profound, involving difficult, agonizing questions about the status of literature, with vast political and ethical stakes. Together with Plato, Holderlin, Nietzsche, Benjamin, and Heidegger, Blanchot represents a decisive crossroads for Lacoue-Labarthe’s central concerns. In this book, they converge on the question of literature, and in particular of literature as the question of myth—in this instance, the myth of the writer born of the autobiographical experience of death. However, the issues at stake in this encounter are not merely autobiographical; they entail a relentless struggle with processes of figuration and mythicization inherited from the age-old concept of mimesis that permeates Western literature and culture. As this volume demonstrates, the originality of Blanchot’s thought lies in its problematic but obstinate deconstruction of precisely such processes. In addition to offering unique, challenging readings of Blanchot’s writings, setting them among those of Montaigne, Rousseau, Freud, Winnicott, Artaud, Bataille, Lacan, Malraux, Leclaire, Derrida, and others, this book offers fresh insights into two crucial twentieth-century thinkers and a new perspective on contemporary debates in European thought, criticism, and aesthetics.

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Essential History

Jacques Derrida and the Development of Deconstruction

Kates, Joshua

However widely and differently Jacques Derrida may be viewed as a "foundational" French thinker, the most basic questions concerning his work still remain unanswered: Is Derrida a friend of reason, or philosophy, or rather the most radical of skeptics? Are language related themes writing, semiosis his central concern, or does he really write about something else? And does his thought form a system of its own, or does it primarily consist of commentaries on individual texts? This book seeks to address these questions by returning to what it claims is essential history: the development of Derrida's core thought through his engagement with Husserlian phenomenology. Joshua Kates recasts what has come to be known as the Derrida/Husserl debate, by approaching Derrida's thought historically, through its development. Based on this developmental work, Essential History culminates by offering discrete interpretations of Derrida's two book length 1967 texts, interpretations that elucidate the until now largely opaque relation of Derrida's interest in language to his focus on philosophical concerns.

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The Ethics of Authorship

Communication, Seduction, and Death in Hegel and Kierkegaard

Daniel Berthold

This is a book about the ethics of authorship. Most directly, it explores different conceptualizations of the responsibilities of the author to the reader. But it also engages the question of what styles of authorship allow these responsibilities to be met. Style itself is an ethical issue, since the relation between the writing subject and the reader--and the dynamics of authority and influence, of gift giving and friendship in this relation--have as much to do with how one writes as what one says.The two writers who serve as the main subjects for this work, the German idealist philosopher G. W. F. Hegel and the Danish Christian existentialist Sren Kierkegaard, invite us to confront particularly challenging questions about the ethics of authorship. Each in his own way explores styles of authorship that employ a variety of strategies of seduction in order to entice the reader into his narratives, strategies that at least on the surface appear to be fundamentally manipulative and unethical. Further, both seek to enact their own deaths as authors, effectively disappearing as reliable guides for the reader. That might also seem to be ethically irresponsible, an abandonment of the reader, who has been seduced only to be deserted.This is the first work to undertake a sustained questioning of Kierkegaard's central distinction between his own indirectstyle of communication and the (purportedly) directstyle of Hegel's philosophy. Hegel was in fact a much more subtle practitioner of style than Kierkegaard represents him as being, indeed, a practitioner whose style is in the service of an ambitious reconceptualization of the ethics of authorship. As for Kierkegaard, his own indirect style raises a whole series of ethical questions about how the reader is imagined in relation to the author. There is finally an either/or between Hegel and Kierkegaard, just not the one Kierkegaard proposes as between an author devoid of ethics and one who makes possible a true ethics of authorship. Rather, the either/or is between two competing practices of authorship, one daunting with the cadences of a highly technical style, the other delightful for its elegance and playfulness--but both powerful experiments in the ethics of style.

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Ethics of Ontology, The

Rethinking an Aristotelian Legacy

Concerned with the meaning and function of principles in an era that appears to have given up on their possibility altogether, Christopher P. Long traces the paths of Aristotle’s thinking concerning finite being from the Categories, through the Physics, to the Metaphysics, and ultimately into the Nicomachean Ethics. Long argues that a dynamic and open conception of principles emerges in these works that challenges the traditional tendency to seek security in permanent and eternal absolutes. He rethinks the meaning of Aristotle’s notion of principle (arche) and spans the divide of analytic and continental methodological approaches to ancient Greek philosophy, while connecting Aristotle’s thinking to that of Levinas, Gadamer, and Heidegger.

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The Event

Martin Heidegger. Translated by Richard Rojcewicz

Martin Heidegger’s The Event offers his most substantial self-critique of his Contributions to Philosophy: Of the Event and articulates what he means by the event itself. Richard Rojcewicz’s elegant translation offers the English-speaking reader intimate contact with one of the most basic Heideggerian concepts. This book lays out how the event is to be understood and ties it closely to looking, showing, self-manifestation, and the self-unveiling of the gods. The Event (Complete Works, volume 71) is part of a series of Heidegger's private writings in response to Contributions.

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Fielding Derrida

Philosophy, Literary Criticism, History, and the Work of Deconstruction

Joshua Kates

How to interpret Derrida's work now after so much commentary has been devoted to his thought, and his own astonishing productivity has come to an end? In this groundbreaking collection, Joshua Kates argues that we must begin from a different frame than Derrida himself provides, by inserting his work into already existing fields, by "fielding Derrida." Is Derrida a skeptic? Does he subscribe to a death of meaning (and the "I") at the hands of a sign? Is his thought at all proximate to contemporary Marxian/post-Marxist thinking? Thanks to placing Derrida's texts in broader fields (such as Husserlian phenomenology and analytic philosophy of language) and subsequently nuancing what such comparisons yield, Kates's work capture Derrida's stances on these and other questions with a new concreteness and an unprecedented scope, forging links to vital debates across the humanities today.; "Offers creative and well-defended new interpretations of Derrida's familiar texts."

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The Flame of Eternity

An Interpretation of Nietzsche's Thought

Krzysztof Michalski

The Flame of Eternity provides a reexamination and new interpretation of Nietzsche's philosophy and the central role that the concepts of eternity and time, as he understood them, played in it. According to Krzysztof Michalski, Nietzsche's reflections on human life are inextricably linked to time, which in turn cannot be conceived of without eternity. Eternity is a measure of time, but also, Michalski argues, something Nietzsche viewed first and foremost as a physiological concept having to do with the body. The body ages and decays, involving us in a confrontation with our eventual death. It is in relation to this brute fact that we come to understand eternity and the finitude of time. Nietzsche argues that humanity has long regarded the impermanence of our life as an illness in need of curing. It is this "pathology" that Nietzsche called nihilism. Arguing that this insight lies at the core of Nietzsche's philosophy as a whole, Michalski seeks to explain and reinterpret Nietzsche's thought in light of it. Michalski maintains that many of Nietzsche's main ideas--including his views on love, morality (beyond good and evil), the will to power, overcoming, the suprahuman (or the overman, as it is infamously referred to), the Death of God, and the myth of the eternal return--take on new meaning and significance when viewed through the prism of eternity.

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Four Seminars

Martin Heidegger. Translated by Andrew J. Mitchell and François Raffoul

In Four Seminars, Heidegger reviews the entire trajectory of his thought and offers unique perspectives on fundamental aspects of his work. First published in French in 1976, these seminars were translated into German with Heidegger's approval and reissued in 1986 as part of his Gesamtausgabe, volume 15. Topics considered include the Greek understanding of presence, the ontological difference, the notion of system in German Idealism, the power of naming, the problem of technology, danger, and the event. Heidegger's engagements with his philosophical forebears—Parmenides, Heraclitus, Kant, and Hegel—continue in surprising dialogues with his contemporaries—Husserl, Marx, and Wittgenstein. While providing important insights into how Heidegger conducted his lectures, these seminars show him in his maturity reflecting back on his philosophical path. An important text for understanding contemporary philosophical debates, Four Seminars provides extraordinarily rich material for students and scholars of Heidegger.

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