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Heidegger, Philosophy, and Politics

The Heidelberg Conference

Jacques Derrida, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Edited by Mireille Calle-Gruber, Translated by Jeff Fort, Foreword by Jean-Luc Nancy

In February of 1988, philosophers Jacques Derrida, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe came together in Heidelberg before a large audience to discuss the philosophical and political implications of Martin Heidegger’s thought. This event took place in the very amphitheater in which, more than fifty years earlier, Heidegger, as Rector of the University of Freiburg and a member of the Nazi Party, had given a speech entitled “The University in the New Reich.” Heidegger’s involvement in Nazism has always been, and will remain, an indelible scandal, but what is its real relation to his work and thought? And what are the responsibilities of those who read this work, who analyze and elaborate this thought? Conversely, what is at stake in the wholesale dismissal of this important but compromised twentieth century philosopher? In 1988, in the wake of the recent publication of Victor Farias’s Heidegger and Nazism, and of the heated debates that ensued, these questions had become more pressing than ever. The reflections presented by three of the most prominent of Heidegger’s readers, improvised in French and transcribed here, were an attempt to approach these questions before a broad public, but with a depth of knowledge and a complex sense of the questions at issue that have been often lacking in the press. Ranging over two days, and including exchanges with each other and with the audience, the discussions pursed by these major thinkers remain highly relevant today, especially following the publication of Heidegger’s already notorious “Black Notebooks,” which have added another chapter to the ongoing debates over this contested figure. The present volume recalls a highly charged moment in this history, while also drawing the debate toward its most essential questions.

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Heidegger's Phenomenology of Religion

Realism and Cultural Criticism

Benjamin D. Crowe

Throughout his long and controversial career, Martin Heidegger developed a substantial contribution to the phenomenology of religion. In Heidegger's Phenomenology of Religion, Benjamin D. Crowe examines the key concepts and developmental phases that characterized Heidegger's work. Crowe shows that Heidegger's account of the meaning and structure of religious life belongs to his larger project of exposing and criticizing the fundamental assumptions of late modern culture. He reveals Heidegger as a realist through careful readings of his views on religious attitudes and activities. Crowe challenges interpretations of Heidegger's early efforts in the phenomenology of religion and later writings on religion, including discussions of Greek religion and Hölderlin's poetry. This book is sure to spark discussion and debate as Heidegger's work in religion and the philosophy of religion becomes increasingly important to scholars and beyond.

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Heidegger's Philosophy of Religion

From God to the Gods

By Ben Vedder

In various texts, Martin Heidegger speaks of god and the gods, but the question of how exactly Heidegger’s thought relates to theology and religion in a broad sense—and to God in a specific sense—remains unclear and in need of careful, philosophical excavation. Ben Vedder provides the first book-length study on Heidegger’s relation to the philosophy of religion, offering greater accessibility into an area that continues to fascinate philosophers, theologians, and all those interested in the philosophy of religion. Heidegger’s Philosophy of Religion: From God to the Gods deals intimately with hotly debated topics such as Heidegger’s interpretation of Saint Paul, Nietzsche and the death of God, ontotheology, and Heidegger’s discussion of the “last god,” taking into account the early, middle, and later texts of Heidegger. Significantly, Vedder draws heavily on Heidegger’s The Phenomenology of Religious Life, long available in German, but only recently available to English readers. Vedder describes the tension between religion and philosophy, on the one hand, and religion and poetic expression, on the other. If we grasp religion completely from a philosophical point of view, we tend to neutralize it; but if we conceive it in a simply poetic way, we tend to be philosophically indifferent to it. Vedder demonstrates how Heidegger speaks a “poetry of religion,” a description of humanity’s relationship to the divine, and why Heidegger’s thinking is ultimately a theological thinking. Clearly written and comprehensive in scope, Heidegger’s Philosophy of Religion: From God to the Gods represents a major step forward in Heidegger scholarship.

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Heideggerian Marxism

Herbert Marcuse

The Frankfurt School philosopher Herbert Marcuse (1898–1979) studied with Martin Heidegger at Freiburg University from 1928 to 1932 and completed a dissertation on Hegel’s theory of historicity under Heidegger’s supervision. During these years, Marcuse wrote a number of provocative philosophical essays experimenting with the possibilities of Heideggerian Marxism. For a time he believed that Heidegger’s ideas could revitalize Marxism, providing a dimension of experiential concreteness that was sorely lacking in the German Idealist tradition. Ultimately, two events deterred Marcuse from completing this program: the 1932 publication of Marx’s early economic and philosophical manuscripts, and Heidegger’s conversion to Nazism a year later. Heideggerian Marxism offers rich and fascinating testimony concerning the first attempt to fuse Marxism and existentialism.
These essays offer invaluable insight concerning Marcuse’s early philosophical evolution. They document one of the century’s most important Marxist philosophers attempting to respond to the “crisis of Marxism”: the failure of the European revolution coupled with the growing repression in the USSR. In response, Marcuse contrived an imaginative and original theoretical synthesis: “existential Marxism.”

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The Helmholtz Curves

Tracing Lost Time

Henning Schmidgen, Translated by Nils F. Schott

This book reconstructs the emergence of the phenomenon of “lost time,” by engaging with two of the most significant time experts of the nineteenth century: the German physiologist Hermann von Helmholtz and the French writer Marcel Proust. _x000B__x000B_Its starting point is the archival discovery of curve images that Helmholtz produced in the context of pathbreaking experiments on the temporality of the nervous system in 1851. With a “frog drawing machine” Helmholtz established the temporal gap between stimulus and response that has remained a core issue in debates between neuroscientists and philosophers._x000B__x000B_When naming the recorded phenomena, Helmholtz introduced the term temps perdu, or lost time. Proust had excellent contacts with the biomedical world of late-nineteenth-century Paris, and he was familiar with this term and physiological tracing technologies behind it. Drawing on the machine philosophy of Deleuze, Schmidgen highlights the resemblance between the machinic assemblages and rhizomatic networks within which Helmholtz and Proust pursued their respective projects._x000B_

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Hiddenness and Alterity

Philosophical and Literary Sightings of the Unseen

By James Richard Mensch

In spite of the injunction of philosophy to “know oneself,” we realize that we often act from motives that are obscure; we realize that we often do not fully understand how we feel or react. In short, we understand ourselves as not completely knowable. In attempting to know ourselves, we recognize that some aspects of ourselves—not unlike when we try to know others—are hidden from us. In Hiddenness and Alterity, Mensch seeks to define how the hidden shows itself. In pursuing this issue, Mensch also raises a parallel one regarding the nature and origin of our self-concealment. In developing the theme of the exceeding quality of selfhood, in which part of our self is truly “other,” Mensch presents a unified theory of alterity. He examines how our acknowledgment (and suppression) of the other shapes our thought in ethics, politics, epistemology and theology. Further, he demonstrates such “sightings of the unseen” through original readings of the major figures of the phenomenological movement: Husserl, Levinas, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Derrida, Nietzsche, Lacan and Fackenheim. He draws further on works by Herman Melville and Joseph Conrad to examine the inherent alterity of our flesh and its implications for the ways in which we relate to the world around us.

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Historicizing Theory

Historicizing Theory provides the first serious examination of contemporary theory in relation to the various twentieth-century historical and political contexts out of which it emerged. Theory—a broad category that is often used to encompass theoretical approaches as varied as deconstruction, New Historicism, and postcolonialism—has often been derided as a mere “relic” of the 1960s. In order to move beyond such a simplistic assessment, the essays in this volume examine such important figures as Harold Bloom, Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Stephen Greenblatt, and Edward Said, situating their work in a variety of contexts inside and outside of the 1960s, including World War II, the Holocaust, the Algerian civil war, and the canon wars of the 1980s. In bringing us face-to-face with the history of theory, Historicizing Theory recuperates history for theory and asks us to confront some of the central issues and problems in literary studies today.

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The History of Beyng

Translated by William McNeill and Jeffrey Powell. Martin Heidegger

The History of Beyng belongs to a series of Martin Heidegger's reflections from the 1930s that concern how to think about being not merely as a series of occurrences, but as essentially historical or fundamentally as an event. Beginning with Contributions to Philosophy (Of the Event), these texts are important for their meditations on the oblivion and abandonment of being, politics, and race, and for their incisive critique of power, force, and violence. Originally published in 1998 as volume 69 of Heidegger's Complete Works, this English translation opens new avenues for understanding the trajectory of Heidegger's thinking during this crucial time.

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Human Existence and Transcendence

Jean Wahl

William C. Hackett’s English translation of Jean Wahl’s Existence humaine et transcendence (1944) brings back to life an all-but-forgotten book that provocatively explores the philosophical concept of transcendence. Based on what Emmanuel Levinas called “Wahl’s famous lecture” from 1937, Existence humaine et transcendence captured a watershed moment of European philosophy. Included in the book are Wahl's remarkable original lecture and the debate that ensued, with significant contributions by Gabriel Marcel and Nicolai Berdyaev, as well as letters submitted on the occasion by Heidegger, Levinas, Jaspers, and other famous figures from that era. Concerned above all with the ineradicable felt value of human experience by which any philosophical thesis is measured, Wahl makes a daring clarification of the concept of transcendence and explores its repercussions through a masterly appeal to many (often surprising) places within the entire history of Western thought. Apart from its intrinsic philosophical significance as a discussion of the concepts of being, the absolute, and transcendence, Wahl's work is valuable insofar as it became a focal point for a great many other European intellectuals. Hackett has provided an annotated introduction to orient readers to this influential work of twentieth-century French philosophy and to one of its key figures.

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Husserl and the Sciences

Selected Perspectives

Richard Feist

Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) is one of the previous century's most important thinkers. Often regarded as the "Father of phenomenology," this collection of essays reveals that he is indeed much more than that. The breadth of Husserl's thought is considerable and much remains unexplored. An underlying theme of this volume is that Husserl is constantly returning to origins, revising his thought in the light of new knowledge offered by the sciences.

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