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Effective History

On Critical Practice Under Historical Conditions

Sinead Murphy

Effective History presents its reader with a thorough explanation and evaluation of H.-G. Gadamer’s concept of “effective history,” not only as it pertains to the broader range of hermeneutic and postmodern thinkers working in the wake of Kantian philosophy, but first and foremost as a careful and measured consideration of the practice of effective history as a critical method for philosophy in our current times.

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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 Emerging Good in Plato's Philebus

John V. Garner

Plato's Philebus presents a fascinating dialogue between the life of the mind and the life of pleasure. While Socrates decisively prioritizes the life of reason, he also shows that certain pleasures contribute to making the good life good. The Emerging Good in Plato's "Philebus" argues that the Socratic pleasures of learning emphasize, above all, the importance of being open to change.   John V. Garner convincingly refines previous interpretations and uncovers a profound thesis in the Philebus: genuine learners find value not only in stable being but also in the process of becoming. Further, since genuine learning arises in pluralistic communities where people form and inform one another, those who are truly open to learning are precisely those who actively shape the betterment of humanity.  The Emerging Good in Plato's "Philebus" thus connects the Philebus's grand philosophical ideas about the order of values, on the one hand, to its intimate and personal account of the experience of learning, on the other. It shows that this dialogue, while agreeing broadly with themes in more widely studied works by Plato such as the Republic, Gorgias, and Phaedo, also develops a unique way of salvaging the whole of human life, including our ever-changing nature.

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Endquote

Sots-Art Literature and Soviet Grand Style

Marina Balina, Nancy Condee, and Evgeny Dobrenko

Sots art, the mock use of the Soviet ideological clichés of mass culture, originated in Soviet nonconformist art of the early 1970s. An original and provocative guide, Endquote: Sots Art Literature and Soviet Grand Style examines the conceptual aspect of sots art, sots art poetry, and sots art prose, and discusses where these still vital intellectual currents may lead.

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Enemies from the East?

V. S. Soloviev on Paganism, Asian Civilizations, and Islam

Vladimir Wozniuk

As cultural conflicts roil the world, the idea of a “clash of civilizations” has lately taken hold, with commentators from both East and West weighing the religious and political disparities that affect global unity. For all its present currency and urgency, the idea is nothing new.  In various contexts V. S. Soloviev (1853–1900), the most distinguished representative of nineteenth century Russian religious philosophy, anticipated our current global dilemma by more than a hundred years. These essays, presented together for the first time in English, consider from a number of perspectives how a future clash of cultures between East and West threatens human progress toward the harmonic unity that, for Soloviev, represented the ultimate human telos.

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Epic and Exile

Novels of the German Popular Front, 1933-1945

Hunter Bivens

The antifascist exile beginning in 1933 led to a cooling among the émigrés of the artistic and literary modernist experiments of the Weimar Republic and to a return to realism and the traditional novel form. Epic and Exile examines the Popular Front– oriented cultural initiatives of the 1930s less in terms of their political strategy than in their function as a cultural and literary program for the exiles, implying a specific relationship to questions of artistic form, historical conceptions, and indeed the political as such. A popular front aesthetics is, Bivens argues, realist and modernist at once, and, in its focus on the opacities and contradictions of everyday life as a historical formation, it is particularly concerned with problems of the epic form.

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Essays on Gogol

Logos and the Russian Word

Susanne Fusso and Priscilla Meyer

These fourteen essays reflect the increasingly interdisciplinary character of Russian literature research in general and of the study of Gogol in particular, focusing on specific works, Gogol's own character, and the various approaches to aesthetic, religious, and philosophical issues raised by his writing.

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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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Essential Vulnerabilities

Plato and Levinas on Relations to the Other

Deborah Achtenberg

In Essential Vulnerabilities, Deborah Achtenberg contests Emmanuel Levinas’s idea that Plato is a philosopher of freedom for whom thought is a return to the self. Instead, Plato, like Levinas, is a philosopher of the other. Nonetheless, Achtenberg argues, Plato and Levinas are different. Though they share the view that human beings are essentially vulnerable and essentially in relation to others, they conceive human vulnerability and responsiveness differently. For Plato, when we see beautiful others, we are overwhelmed by the beauty of what is, by the vision of eternal form. For Levinas, we are disrupted by the newness, foreignness, or singularity of the other. The other, for him, is new or foreign, not eternal. The other is unknowable singularity. By showing these similarities and differences, Achtenberg resituates Plato in relation to Levinas and opens up two contrasting ways that self is essentially in relation to others.

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The Ethics of Witnessing

The Holocaust in Polish Writers' Diaries from Warsaw, 1939-1945

Rachel Feldhay Brenner

The Ethics of Witnessing investigates the reactions of five important Polish diaristswriters—Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Maria Dąbrowska, Aurelia Wyleżyńska, ZofiaNałkowska, and Stanisław Rembek—during the period when the Nazis persecuted and murdered Warsaw’s Jewish population. The responses to the Holocaust of these prominent prewar authors extended from insistence on empathic interaction with victims to resentful detachment from Jewish suffering. Whereas some defied the dehumanization of the Jews and endeavored to maintain intersubjective relationships with the victims they attempted to rescue, others selfdeceptively evaded the Jewish plight. The Ethics of Witnessing examines the extent to which ideologies of humanism and nationalism informed the diarists’ perceptions, proposing that the reality of the Final Solution exposed the limits of both orientations and ultimately destroyed the ethical landscape shaped by the Enlightenment tradition, which promised the equality and fellowship of all human beings.

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