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1. Journal of Continental Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Donatella Di Cesare It is Time for Philosophy to Return to the City
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Philosophy has been a subversive practice since the time of Socrates. Recognizing no authority other than the persuasiveness of dialectics, philosophy designated a thinking beyond the boundaries of the city: an estranging conception, an elsewhere of thought. It is from this critical distance that philosophy derived its political vocation. In the era of global capitalism, however, philosophy has become institutionalized and lost its subversive potential. To this end, philosophy has accepted that it should no longer pose too many questions, especially the ones which are most fundamental, resulting in a dearth of in-depth public questioning, and the slumber of critical reasoning. Hence, philosophy needs to rediscover its political vocation in order to reawaken consciences and to once again embrace that theoretical and practical commitment which never accepts anything without critical reflection. By doing so, it will be possible to restore philosophy to its original role as a guiding light for the community.
2. Journal of Continental Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Barbara Cassin, Orcid-ID Michel Narcy, Orcid-ID Alex Ling Orcid-ID Pre-Socratics and Post-Moderns: The Effects of Sophistry
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In this text Cassin and Narcy begin their reassessment of the mode of thought that is sophistry, which has historically functioned as the (negative) “other” of classical philosophy. To this end, the authors first present a close reading of Book Gamma of Aristotle’s Metaphysics, understood as a concerted “strategy against sophism” that, in establishing a logical basis for metaphysics, seeks to relegate the former to the sidelines once and for all. What proves ineliminable in this operation, however, and which “resurfaces beyond metaphysics,” is discourse itself. Cassin and Narcy then set about exploring the contemporary resurgences of sophistry, first through the discourse of (novelistic) fiction, then, more rigorously, in the work of Jacques Lacan, whose own thought poses radical challenges to the relation of language to meaning
3. Journal of Continental Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Alain Badiou, Alex Ling Orcid-ID In Search of the Lost Real
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The real invariably functions today as a means of intimidation and constraint. That we consistently fail to overcome this static conception stems from the fact that we do not know what the real actually is, nor do we know how to access it. To address this shortcoming, Badiou looks first to the well-known story of the death of Molière to show how all access to the real necessarily entails division—not only a division of the real from semblance, but also a division of the real itself. Staying with theatre, Badiou then turns his attention to Pirandello to pursue the idea that, since the real is always manifested within semblance, its exposure demands not simply that its “mask must be torn off as semblance,” but moreover that “the mask itself demands that it be taken as real.” Applying these principles to our present situation, Badiou proceeds to isolate the contemporary semblance of real capitalism—the crucial mask that needs to be torn off today—as nothing other than democracy itself, noting that, as with all access to the real, its division will necessarily entail a measure of violence.
4. Journal of Continental Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Justin Clemens Orcid-ID Contraversy in the Nursery; or, A Brace of Basterds
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The controversies unleashed by psychoanalysis never seem to stop repeating themselves. If what psychoanalysis has to say is true, then, by its own lights, it has to be controversial. Controversies are thus a privileged place to see this truth and this resistance in violent and lurid action. Take infant experience and bastardry. Every kid is a bit of a bastard, and the establishment of this infantile bastardry conditions subsequent repetitions of the organism: that breast is persecuting me, these are not my real parents, I did not borrow your kettle. Just how much of a bastard is this baby? The answers psychoanalysis comes up with depend on how it formulates the vicissitudes of differential repetitions, formations of the unconscious. Yet there remains something puzzling about repetition: if eros is constantly getting itself into nasty situations as a matter of course, are there still other factors (perhaps even more sinister) at work? Because of his refusal to dismiss his own puzzlement, Jacques Lacan persistently returned to the relation between desire and drive, reformulating his own theory as he went. At one moment, as we shall see, he comes to discriminate between a surprising number of (at least 3!) kinds of death.
5. Journal of Continental Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Ian Alexander Moore, Hans Weichselbaum, Georg Trakl Georg Trakl’s Poem “Hölderlin”
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This document includes the first English translation of Georg Trakl’s recently discovered poem “Hölderlin,” along with two commentaries on it. Moore’s commentary highlights the significance of this poem for continental philosophy (especially Heidegger and Derrida) by focusing on the German word for madness, Wahnsinn, which Trakl (mis)spells with three n’s. Moore argues that this word resists the sense of gentle gathering that Heidegger locates in Trakl’s poetry and therefore in Hölderlin and his madness. Trakl is, rather, a precursor to Paul Celan. Moore’s commentary concludes with a new translation of Celan’s own poetic response to Hölderlin, titled “Tübingen, Jänner.” Weichselbaum’s commentary discusses the background for the genesis and discovery of Trakl’s “Hölderlin.” Weichselbaum compares this poem with other moments in which Trakl alludes to Hölderlin.
6. Journal of Continental Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Gabriel Marcel, Maria Traub, Brendan Sweetman The Emissary, Act Three
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Act Three of Gabriel Marcel’s play, The Emissary, is presented here in English for the first time. The introductory essay introduces Marcel and several of his best known themes, especially the distinctions between problem and mystery, and primary and secondary reflection. Focusing on the relationship between experience and conceptual knowledge, it discusses Marcel’s attempt to argue philosophically for a return to ordinary experience. The role of drama and art in the recovery of the realm of mystery is also highlighted. The play illustrates these themes at the concrete level as it raises many of the challenging situations and moral dilemmas that emerged from the occupation of France by a brutal enemy during World War II. The realities of deceit, betrayal and blackmail are all in the air, as are real worries about reprisals, violence, and irreparable loss. In a moving, gripping drama, Marcel portrays the occupation as an occasion for deep soul-searching among the characters, in the midst of great suffering and loss, and, rather than passing easy judgment, he suggests a journey toward healing, one inspired by compassion, honesty, courage, and faith.
7. Journal of Continental Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Drew A. Hyland Heraclitus the Jock
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The ancient Ephesian thinker Heraclitus, in his aphoristic writings, described the dynamic coming-to-be of things according to a number of obscure metaphors. In this essay, Hyland ponders whether there is a paradigmatic experience according to which a number of these metaphors can best be understood. Gathering together and thoughtfully retranslating a number of Greek terms including polemos (often translated as “war”), eris (“strife”), agon (“contest”), and paidia (“play”), Hyland argues that Heraclitus’s metaphors can be understood as referring to an experience of athletic play. Hyland explores the significance of athletic play, with its stance of responsive openness, as a paradigm for thinking and living.
8. Journal of Continental Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Jeff Malpas Orcid-ID Spirit of Time/Spirit of Place
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This essay is a meditation on the relevance of the concept of Zeitgeist for thinking about the ills of our contemporary globalized world. Exploring the heritage of the term from Roman times through to Herder, Hegel, and others, Malpas argues that Zeitgeist (literally: spirit of the time) nevertheless includes a notion of place such that time always unfolds in and through place. It is Heidegger who, for Malpas, most illuminatingly thinks this belonging-together of place and time. Malpas explores the disorientation and anxiety created by the spatialization of the modern world, which imagines that horizons of time and place can be dissolved into unbounded, undifferentiated space.
9. Journal of Continental Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Nicola Abbagnano, Daniele Fulvi Orcid-ID Existentialism as Philosophy of the Possible
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In this paper Abbagnano outlines his conception of “positive existentialism” as a philosophy of freedom and of responsible choice, in opposition to any form of dogmatism. In our everyday existence, we constantly face possibilities, meaning we are always required to make choices between the different alternatives we are presented with. Abbagnano thus argues that philosophy must provide a criterion for our existential choices, which he identifies in the possible itself. Existentialism is then understood as that philosophy which establishes valid criteria according to which human beings can choose, and that can reduce the possibility of error and constitute norms and rules of conduct. Abbagnano maintains that choosing wisely and freely means that the choice one makes in a specific moment can and should be renewed and repeated under any circumstance. Accordingly, our task is to establish criteria that will not lead us to irreparable error, but will allow us to implement a practice of always renewable choices.
10. Journal of Continental Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Reiner Schürmann, Francesco Guercio Heidegger and the Mystical Tradition
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The text presented here is an edited transcription of a thirteen-page unpublished typescript titled “Heidegger and the Mystical Tradition” by Reiner Schürmann. It dates back to the time following the completion of Schürmann’s book on Meister Eckhart and exhibits the preliminary conception of the former’s famous ‘practical a priori.’ Focusing on the relation between Heidegger’s meditative thinking and a mystical tradition inaugurated by Meister Eckhart, the text retrieves the steps of the latter’s path to Releasement as a practical transformation of existence (Part I). In so doing, it provides a detailed account of Releasement as the condition for a peculiar experience of thinking “in which one fundamental attitude manifests itself throughout an itinerary of human existence and which tends to make this itinerary the very condition for the understanding of truth.” By hinging on Heidegger’s different acceptations of ‘letting-be’—as well as on his verbal understanding of Being as Anwesen (presencing) and Ereignis (appropriation-event)—the text indicates Releasement as the coincidence of Being’s and man’s ways to be and shows how it is in the very “urgency of a new existence and thought” that the proximity between Heidegger and Meister Eckahrt’s mystical tradition comes to the fore.
11. Journal of Continental Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Alex Ling Orcid-ID On the Turning Against
12. Journal of Continental Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
List of Contributors
13. Journal of Continental Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Nicole Loraux, Alex Ling Aspasia, Foreigner, Intellectual
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The brilliant Aspasia owes her fame to two men. She was the beloved and revered companion of Pericles, the most powerful and prestigious Athenian of the city’s golden age (460–430 BCE), and the privileged and respected interlocutor of Socrates. Her position as a valued companion and recognised intellectual—exceptional in a city where custom dictated that silence and invisibility represented a woman’s greatest glory—was no doubt connected with her status as a metic (resident alien). This status, while denying her the right to become the legal spouse of the man whose life she shared, allowed her—at the risk of a somewhat sulphurous reputation—the freedom to be seen, to think, and to express herself. While the beautiful woman from Miletus has remained silent, if we assume that the insults she was showered with were essentially aimed at her lover, the leader of the democrats, the sources we have at our disposal allow us to study her relationships with Socrates and Pericles.
14. Journal of Continental Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Karl Löwith, J. Goesser Assaiante, S. Montgomery Ewegen The Human and History (1960)
15. Journal of Continental Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Matthias Fritsch Discourse Ethics and the Intergenerational Chain of Concern
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This paper addresses the question of what discourse ethics might have to contribute to increasingly urgent issues in intergenerational justice. Discourse ethics and deliberative democracy are often accused of neglecting the issue, or, even worse, of an inherently presentist bias that disregards future generations. The few forays into the topic mostly seek to extend to future people the “all affected principle” according to which only those norms are just to which all affected can rationally consent. However, this strategy conflicts with core commitments of discursive ethics, as it renders agreement hypothetical and discursive participation virtual. I will attempt a supplementary route toward a connection between discourse ethics and intergenerational justice. Discourse ethics must be concerned, in what Habermas calls the symbolic reproduction of the lifeworld, with the emergence of rational minds capable of assessing reasons for proposed norms and policies, and such emergence is an intrinsically intergenerational affair. Symbolic reproduction links overlapping and non-overlapping generations in what has been elaborated as a chain-of-concern model, which I show to be linked to forms of indirect reciprocity among more than two parties. I conclude by discussing some consequences of this model for the all affected principle when viewed as specifically applied to future generations.
16. Journal of Continental Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Simone Weil, Chris Fleming Reflections on War
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In this essay from 1933, Simone Weil—only 24 at the time—offers her analysis of war, particularly as it appears in leftist discourse and revolutionary movements, and set in the context of a brewing war with Germany. In Marxism, and in leftist theory more generally, Weil finds no consistent attitude towards armed conflict, and certainly no principled opposition to it. Through certain historical falsifications and philosophical feints, leftists—of which Weil counted herself—end up propagating the very forms of oppression to which they declare themselves opposed. For Weil, “la guerre révolutionnaire est la tombe de la revolution” [revolutionary war is the tomb of the revolution], as long as workers are denied the means of waging it without a state machine controlling them, without military courts, and without execution for desertion. The conventional attitude towards (and the means of) revolutionary war threatens, in the words of Marx, to perfect the state apparatus rather than to overthrow it.
17. Journal of Continental Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Babette Babich Günther Anders’s Epitaph for Aikichi Kuboyama
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Günther Anders’s poem Du kleiner Fischerman is read here as a text contribution to the irruption that is violence and its enduring (omnipresent) aftermath. The essay includes a discussion of transmedial expression, including dramatization, or television and social media, text and subtext, as well as the inspiration of Anders’s poem as a work of art continuing in our times: the ongoing exclusion(s) of certain names and certain thinkers as of certain musical modes, including electronic musical works, as of voices and of collective memory, or oblivion. Reading Raymond Williams along with Anders and Adorno on television updated in today’s era of screen-being, this essay reads the challenges of on-line music magazines, Leonard Cohen and k.d.lang, between modes of memorialization, including a reading of Anders’s poetic memorial on the violence of Walter Benjamin’s death to conclude with Ivan Illich on the ongoing expropriation of death (and health) today.
18. Journal of Continental Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Ian Alexander Moore On the Manifold Meaning of Letting-Be in Reiner Schürmann
19. Journal of Continental Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Günther Anders, Christopher John Müller, Jason Dawsey Resistance Today
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Following decades of neglect, the work of the German Jewish philosopher, literary author, cultural critic, and poet Günther Anders (1902–1992) is gaining increasing recognition in the English-speaking world. This translation of “Résistance heute” (Resistance Today) makes one of Anders’s most programmatic and polemical short texts available. Published at the height of his anti-nuclear activism, “Resistance Today” is the written version of a speech Anders delivered in November 1962 upon acceptance of the northwest Italian city of Omegna’s Resistance Prize (other notable recipients included Jean-Paul Sartre and Frantz Fanon). It first appeared in print in the West German left-wing journal Das Argument in November 1963. Clearly written for the occasion, the text condenses (and often further radicalizes) key premises about the end of history, the amoral character of work, and the continuity between Nazi totalitarianism, the nuclear age and the world of consumerism that are developed in great nuance across a range of books that Anders had recently published. Key co-ordinates include: Die Antiquiertheit des Menschen 1 (The Obsolescence of Human Beings 1, 1956), his groundbreaking critique of technology; Der Mann auf der Brücke (The Man on the Bridge, 1959), a philosophical travel diary occasioned by Anders’s 1958 visit to Japan and his participation at the World Conference Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs in Tokyo; Burning Conscience (1961), a correspondence with the American reconnaissance pilot Claude Eatherly, who scouted the target area before the Enola Gay went on to drop the atom bomb on Hiroshima. It seems likely that Burning Conscience, which turned into an international bestseller, occasioned the award of the prize.
20. Journal of Continental Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
List of Contributors