Drawing on critiques of modernity by Blumenberg, Arendt, C. Taylor, and Heidegger, this essay examines the Gnostic underpinnings of modernity’s conception of knowledge. Skeptical in its origination, modern specialized, disciplinary inquiry construes knowledge as the open-ended accumulation and inventorying of “information.” Connecting these macro-historical shifts to classical Liberalism’s disavowal of Aristotelian ends and norms in favor of an unspecified, infinitely deferred social and epistemological utopia, Coleridge’s poetry (esp. his Rime) and later prose grasp modernity as a psychological and metaphysical disaster that unwittingly echoes the essential incompatibility of eidos and physis first flagged by ancient Gnosticism.
The essay is part of an overall effort to translate the traditions of German idealism and contemporary systems theory into a discourse infused by the rhetoric and operations of cybernetics. This is a step best tracked explicitly. The language of open as opposed to closed systems, feedback loops, autopoeisis, turbulence, chaos, and gaming not only characterizes a vast amount of the scientific and cultural programming taking place today; it is a rhetoric with deep roots in the traditions of critical theory, hermeneutics, and language-intensive philosophy. With reference above all to Kant, Hegel, Walter Benjamin, James Gleick, Fritjof Capra, Anthony Wilden, and Niklas Luhmann.
This article examines the notion of "intelligibility" as it appears in recent writings of Giorgio Agamben and Jacques Derrida on friendship. The two writers demonstrate very different understandings of the "intelligible" and its limits by and in language. At issue is the question of "intelligibility" in relation to historical transformation, and thus also in relation of "tradition" as a process involving interpretation, selection and exclusion.
This essay considers the literary deployment of antihumanist tropes as these appear in Blanchot’s immediate postwar writings. Centering on Blanchot's "Literature and the Right to Death," and his last novel, the 1948 The Most High, it addresses a series of contemporary Hegelian and phenomenological problems, notably the "end of history," embodiment, and the problem of freedom as well as some political problems related to the debate on communist humanism. Paying particular attention to Blanchot's anti-foundationalist literary engagement with atheism and freedom, it interrogates life in a world where humanism never reached the promised secular utopia, but perverted it to the point of absurdity.
This essay reexamines some of the affinities between Petrarch’s Rime sparse and Du Bellay’s Les Antiquitez de Rome. In particular, I show how Petrarch conflates personal memory with a longer view of history, associating (ruined) Roman antiquity with Laura at key moments in his sequence. By doing so, he anticipates Du Bellay’s sequence, which also accentuates loss by emphasizing the absolute temporal distance between the poet-lover and his “imperial mistress.”
This paper draws parallels between Kierkegaard’s themes of anxiety, and despair, and irony as they are laid out in The Concept of Anxiety, The Sickness Unto Death, and The Concept of Irony, respectively, and similar motifs in his compatriot Hans Christian Andersen’s long moralizing fairy-tale, “The Snow Queen.” Bringing a psychoanalytical framework to bear on all these works, the paper argues that “The Snow Queen” is in many ways a dramatization of some of Kierkegaard’s own key concerns, a dramatization which however flinches before Kierkegaard’s more rigorous stance towards what contemporary psychoanalysis calls “depression.”
A genealogical link between Vittorio de Sica's Miracle in Milan (1951) and Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's Empire (2000) may be found in the work of Gilles Deleuze. De Sica and Hardt and Negri locate a politics of resistance in the sphere of immanence, on an ontological basis. Miracle in Milan and Empire thus exemplify Deleuze’s attitude when, praising Foucault, he declares that "Life becomes resistance to power when power takes life as its object." This attitude leads De Sica and Hardt and Negri to a shared faith in the political vitality of the poor.