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Elemental Philosophy

Earth, Air, Fire, and Water as Environmental Ideas

Explores the ancient and perennial notion of the four elements as environmental ideas. Bachelard called them “the hormones of the imagination.” Hegel observed that, “through the four elements we have the elevation of sensuous ideas into thought.” Earth, air, fire, and water are explored as both philosophical ideas and environmental issues associated with their classical and perennial conceptions. David Macauley embarks upon a wide-ranging discussion of their initial appearance in ancient Greek thought as mythic forces or scientific principles to their recent reemergence within contemporary continental philosophy as a means for understanding landscape and language, poetry and place, the body and the body politic. In so doing, he shows the importance of elemental thinking for comprehending and responding to ecological problems. In tracing changing views of the four elements through the history of ideas, Macauley generates a new vocabulary for and a fresh vision of the environment while engaging the elemental world directly with reflections on their various manifestations.

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Ellipsis

Of Poetry and the Experience of Language after Heidegger, Holderlin, and Blanchot

What is the nature of poetic language when its experience involves an encounter with finitude; with failure, loss, and absence? For Martin Heidegger this experience is central to any thinking that would seek to articulate the meaning of being, but for Friedrich Hölderlin and Maurice Blanchot it is a mark of the tragic and unanswerable demands of poetic language. In Ellipsis, a rigorous, original study on the language of poetry, the language of philosophy, and the limits of the word, William S. Allen offers the first in-depth examination of the development of Heidegger’s thinking of poetic language—which remains his most radical and yet most misunderstood work—that carefully balances it with the impossible demands of this experience of finitude, an experience of which Hölderlin and Blanchot have provided the most searching examinations. In bringing language up against its limits, Allen shows that poetic language not only exposes thinking to its abyssal grounds, but also indicates how the limits of our existence come themselves, traumatically, impossibly, to speak.

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Embodiments

From the Body to the Body Politic

James R. Mensch

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

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

Joshua Kates

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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Feminist Phenomenology Futures

Edited by Helen A. Fielding and Dorothea E. Olkowski

Distinguished feminist philosophers consider the future of their field and chart its political and ethical course in this forward-looking volume. Engaging with themes such as the historical trajectory of feminist phenomenology, ways of perceiving and making sense of the contemporary world, and the feminist body in health and ethics, these essays affirm the base of the discipline as well as open new theoretical spaces for work that bridges bioethics, social identity, physical ability, and the very nature and boundaries of the female body. Entanglements with thinkers such as Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Beauvoir, and Arendt are evident and reveal new directions for productive philosophical work. Grounded in the richness of the feminist philosophical tradition, this work represents a significant opening to the possible futures of feminist phenomenological research.

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