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Aesthetic Ideology

Aesthetic Ideology

Paul de Man
Edited with an Introduction by Andrzej Warminski
Volume: 65
Copyright Date: 1996
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Aesthetic Ideology
    Book Description:

    Offers the definitive resource to de Man's thoughts on philosophy, politics, and history. The texts collected here were written or delivered as lectures during the last years of de Man's life, between 1977 and 1983. Many of them have never been available previously in any form.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8486-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction: Allegories of Reference
    (pp. 1-33)
    Andrzej Warminski

    The texts collected in the present volume were written, or delivered as lectures on the basis of notes, during the last years of de Man’s life, between 1977 and 1983. With the possible exception of the earliest text²—“The Concept of Irony” (1977) all of these essays and lectures were produced in the context of a project that we might call, for shorthand purposes, a critique or, better, a “criticallinguistic analysis,” of “aesthetic ideology.”³ This project is clearly the animating force ofallthe essays de Man produced in the early 1980s—and not just those explicitly concentrating on philosophical...

  4. The Epistemology of Metaphor
    (pp. 34-50)

    Metaphors, tropes, and figural language in general have been a perennial problem and, at times, a recognized source of embarrassment for philosophical discourse and, by extension, for all discursive uses of language including historiography and literary analysis. It appears that philosophy either has to give up its own constitutive claim to rigor in order to come to terms with the figurality of its language or that it has to free itself from figuration altogether. And if the latter is considered impossible, philosophy could at least learn to control figuration by keeping it, so to speak, in its place, by delimiting...

  5. Pascal’s Allegory of Persuasion
    (pp. 51-69)

    Attempts to define allegory keep reencountering a set of predictable problems, of which the summary can serve as a preliminary characterization of the mode. Allegory is sequential and narrative, yet the topic of its narration is not necessarily temporal at all, thus raising the question of the referential status of a text whose semantic function, though strongly in evidence, is not primarily determined by mimetic moments; more than ordinary modes of fiction, allegory is at the furthest possible remove from historiography. The “realism” that appeals to us in the details of medieval art is a calligraphy rather than a mimesis,...

  6. Phenomenality and Materiality in Kant
    (pp. 70-90)

    The possibility of juxtaposing ideology and critical philosophy, which is the persistent burden of contemporary thought, is pointed out, as a mere historical fact, by Michel Foucault inLes Mots et les choses. At the same time that French ideologues such as Destutt de Tracy are trying to map out the entire field of human ideas and representations, Kant undertakes the critical project of a transcendental philosophy which, says Foucault, marks “the retreat of cognition and of knowledge out of the space of representation.”¹ Foucault’s ensuing historical diagnosis, in which ideology appears as a belated manifestation of the classical spirit...

  7. Sign and Symbol in Hegel’s Aesthetics
    (pp. 91-104)

    The ideological shrillness of the polemics that surround the advent of literary theory in our time cannot entirely conceal that these debates, however ephemeral and ad hominem they may be, are the external symptom of tensions that originate at the furthest remove from the stage of public debate. Yet their apparent remoteness from common experience does not make them less pressing. What is at stake in these exchanges is the compatibility between literary experience and literary theory. There is something bleakly abstract and ugly about literary theory that cannot be entirely blamed on the perversity of its practitioners. Most of...

  8. Hegel on the Sublime
    (pp. 105-118)

    Just as the place of aesthetics in the canon of Hegel’s works and in the history of its reception remains hard to interpret, the place of the sublime within the more restricted corpus of theAestheticsitself is equally problematic. The fact that the same observation, with proper qualifications, applies to Kant as well compounds the difficulty. The ensuing uncertainties help to account for the numberless confusions and misguided conflicts that clutter the stage of contemporary theoretical discourse on or around literature. One striking example of such a confusion is the principle of exclusion that is assumed to operate between...

  9. Kant’s Materialism
    (pp. 119-128)

    The reception of Kant’s thirdCritique or Critique of Judgment(1790) represents a baffling episode in the intellectual history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, an episode that is far from finished or even from having begun to be mapped out. Richard Klein took Frank Lentricchia’s comments for his starting point, but the notion that, in Kant, the realm of the aesthetic is “free from cognitive and ethical consequences”¹ or that the aesthetic experience is “barred from the truth of the phenomenal world”² can hardly be laid at Lentricchia’s doorstep. It echoes a well-established opinion among American historians of the...

  10. Kant and Schiller
    (pp. 129-162)

    I’ll have some change in pace today, because this time I have not written out a lecture; it was not necessary in this case because I’m dealing with a much easier text. I wouldn’t dare to improvise about Kant, but about Schiller it’s a little easier to know what is going on, and so there is no need for such detailed textual analysis. So what I’ll be doing will be more in the nature of an exposition than a really tight argument, more in the nature of a class than a lecture. Therefore it is better to speak it it’s...

  11. The Concept of Irony
    (pp. 163-184)

    The title of this lecture is “The Concept of Irony,” which is a title taken from Kierkegaard, who wrote the best book on irony that's available, calledThe Concept of Irony. It’s an ironic title, because irony is not a concept—and that’s partly the thesis which I’m going to develop. I should preface this with a passage from Friedrich Schlegel, who will be the main author I’ll have to talk about, who says the following, talking about irony: “Wer sie nicht hat, dem bleibt sie auch nach dem offensten Geständnis ein Rätsel.”¹ “The one who doesn’t have it (irony),...

  12. Reply to Raymond Geuss
    (pp. 185-192)

    The tenuous relationships between the disciplines of philosophy and literary theory have recently been strengthened by a development which, at least in this country and over the last fifty years, is somewhat unusual. Literary theorists never dispensed with a certain amount of philosophical readings and references, but this does not mean that there always was an active engagement between the two institutionalized academic fields. Students of philosophy, on the other hand, can legitimately and easily do without the critical investigation of literary theorists, past or present: it is certainly more important for a literary theorist to read Wittgenstein than for...

  13. Index
    (pp. 193-196)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 197-199)