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Time and Philosophy: A History of Continental Thought

John McCumber
Copyright Date: 2011
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130h9vd
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  • Book Info
    Time and Philosophy
    Book Description:

    Looking at the development of continental philosophy in both Europe and America, McCumber discusses philosophers ranging from Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, Arendt, Adorno and Horkheimer, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Foucault, and Derrida to the most influential thinkers of today - Agamben, Badiou, Bulter, and Ranciere. Throughout, McCumber's concern is to elucidate the primary texts for readers coming to these thinkers for the first time, while revealing the philosophical rigour that underpins and connects the history of continental thought.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-9473-9
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. ABBREVIATIONS AND NOTE ON TEXTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-12)

    Continental philosophy is the most important intellectual tradition of the past two centuries. Billions – not millions – of people the world over have not only studied it in detail, but have tried to live by it. It has transformed our understanding of God, of society, of art and literature, of minority groups and of human life in general. It has provided much of the vocabulary in which educated people from Buenos Aires to Hanoi, from Moscow to Cairo, from Mexico City to Mauritius, from Shanghai to Brussels, think about their lives and communities. The only intellectual project that can...

  6. I. Germany, 1790–1890
    • CHAPTER 1 THE COLLAPSE OF KANT
      (pp. 15-30)

      Immanuel Kant was hard at work – all the time. From his daily reveille at 4.55am until his bedtime at around 9.30pm, his entire day – with the exception of his afternoon walk through Königsberg, the far eastern German town in which he lived – was devoted to work. From 5.00am until 7.00am, he did his correspondence and investing. From 7.00 until noon, he lectured: five hours straight. After his walk, at around 4.00pm, he took up his labours again until fatigue forced him into bed. Even the guest lists for Kant’s elaborate daily luncheon parties, which lasted for hours,...

    • CHAPTER 2 HEGEL DISCOVERS THE PAST
      (pp. 31-56)

      Kant died, worn out, in 1802. It is fortunate that he never lived to see what happened just four years later. The French Revolution, which in its beginnings had contained what Kant could recognize as a rational impulse towards freedom and goodness (Kant,The Conflict of the Faculties, AA VII, 85–7), had grown steadily more chaotic and violent until it was finally taken over by a young Corsican, Napoleon Bonaparte. Bonaparte, however, was riding a tiger. By 1806 the revolutionary impulse had coalesced into a mighty army, spreading the name of freedom – but the reality of conquest –...

    • CHAPTER 3 MARX, CAPITALISM AND THE FUTURE
      (pp. 57-76)

      In March 1843, eleven years after Hegel’s death, authorities in the western German region of Westphalia closed down a newspaper called theRheinische Zeitung, or the “Rhineland Gazette”: Among the people thrown out of work by this was the paper’s twenty-five-year-old editor, Karl Marx The newspaper itself was not very radical; its main audience was originally supposed to be businessmen, although after Marx became editor it veered leftwards. That the authorities could not tolerate even something as mildly progressive as the Gazette so disenchanted its editor that he decided to move abroad. After marrying the following summer, Marx moved with...

    • CHAPTER 4 KIERKEGAARD’S DREADFUL FUTURE
      (pp. 77-96)

      One evening around 1850, a man named Otto Zinck had nothing to do. Zinck was a well known actor in Copenhagen, but this evening he had no performance scheduled, nor any party. As he was casting about for a way to spend the evening it occurred to Zinck that he might drop in on the brother-in-law of a friend of his, who had come to be his friend as well: Søren Kierkegaard. As Zinck approached Kierkegaard’s luxurious apartment on the Nørregade, one of Copenhagen’s most elegant streets, he must have wondered if he was doing the right thing. Even from...

    • CHAPTER 5 NIETZSCHE AND THE BOUNDLESS FUTURE
      (pp. 97-124)

      In January 1889, in Turin, Italy, a drayman was whipping an old horse in the street: a common enough, although unpleasant, sight in those days. One of the passers-by, a thin man with pince-nez glasses and an enormous moustache, was terribly moved by the spectacle. He rushed forwards, threw his arms around the horse’s neck to stave off the whip, and collapsed. Friedrich Nietzsche regained consciousness, but he was totally insane for the rest of his life.¹

      This was a transformation in Nietzsche’s life as profound as any Christian conversion Kierkegaard ever envisaged, but in the opposite direction. Instead of...

  7. II. Germany and America, 1900-1968
    • CHAPTER 6 THE RETURN OF TRADITIONAL PHILOSOPHY: EDMUND HUSSERL
      (pp. 127-158)

      In the mid-1930s, a young woman from the privileged northern suburbs of Chicago came to Freiburg, Germany. Her purpose was to study with Germany’s most famous living philosopher, Edmund Husserl. Husserl was then in his late seventies, and was known to her and the world as the founder of one of the twentieth century’s most influential philosophical schools, “phenomenology”. Since he had retired from his professorship at Freiburg, and as a world-famous philosopher had many demands on his time, she must have believed her main hurdle was getting his approval for her programme.

      What she found was very different from...

    • CHAPTER 7 THE FINITE FUTURE: MARTIN HEIDEGGER
      (pp. 159-200)

      In September 1933, five months after Husserl was banned from the University of Freiburg, a casual visitor there might have found things quite normal. Preparations were underway for the start of Winter Semester. Classrooms and offices were getting their final cleaning and repairs; early-bird students were unpacking and greeting one another; and not a few professors were doing last minute revisions to their lecture notes.

      Chemistry professor Hermann Staudinger, however, was having trouble concentrating. He was not alone. Beneath the veneer of normalcy they were trying desperately to maintain, many Germans were terribly worried about what the Nazi government, now...

    • CHAPTER 8 ACTIVITY AND MORTALITY: HANNAH ARENDT
      (pp. 201-224)

      In the summer of 1941, a woman known today only as Mrs Giduz sat down to write a letter. Mrs Giduz, of Winchester, Massachusetts, was a proper person, and she ran a proper household. The Giduzes did not eat meat, and Mr Giduz was not allowed to smoke in the house, which meant that he was often in the garden. He was therefore envious of their boarder, a thirty-five-year-old refugee who had been placed with them on a language-learning venture. She, at least, was allowed to smoke in her room: which she did, like a factory.

      The good order of...

    • CHAPTER 9 THE TWILIGHT OF ENLIGHTENMENT: THEODOR W. ADORNO AND MAX HORKHEIMER
      (pp. 225-250)

      On 22 July 1969 an old man walked out of a courtroom in Frankfurt, Germany. On the way he permitted himself a condescending smile in the direction of the defendant, a radical student leader named Hans-Jürgen Krahl. Krahl was on trial for trespassing; the old man, who had brought the charges against him, was his teacher, Theodor W. Adorno. The preceding February, Krahl had led a student occupation of Adorno’s beloved Institute for Social Research; this was his trespass. His ensuing trial was the culmination of growing tension between, on the one hand, Adorno himself, his associate Max Horkheimer and...

  8. III. France, 1945–2004
    • CHAPTER 10 THE FUTURE AND FREEDOM: JEAN-PAUL SARTRE
      (pp. 253-286)

      In June 1940, a little less than a year before Arendt was to flee France and two months after the “phoney war” between France and Germany became all too real, a detachment of the German army surprised a small group of French soldiers who were more or less hiding in the small village of Padoux, in northern France. The French hardly constituted a cohesive fighting force; they had been wandering around in confusion and despair for several days. Most pathetic of all, perhaps, was their meteorologist. He was certainly an odd-looking soldier. Barely five feet tall, he had bulging eyes,...

    • CHAPTER 11 THE FUTURE AND THE DISCLOSURE OF BEING: SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR
      (pp. 287-312)

      On 26 August 1944, a triumphant Charles de Gaulle walked down the Charnps-Élysées in a still-not-fully liberated Paris. In the cheering crowd was a tall, elegant woman accompanied by another woman. Suddenly shots rang out. They missed de Gaulle, but several other people fell to the ground. The two women, along with everyone else in the vicinity, ran from the snipers and eventually took refuge in a basement. In spite of the danger, Simone de Beauvoir spent the next couple of days moving around Paris, covering the liberation for a newspaper.

      The sniping signalled the end of the German occupation...

    • CHAPTER 12 THE FUTURE AS RUPTURE: MICHEL FOUCAULT
      (pp. 313-330)

      It was early 1956, and the good people of Uppsala, the famous old Swedish university town north of Stockholm, were on their toes. Day and night – and in the winter there was very little day – they had to watch out for a huge beige Jaguar, which was being driven around town by a crazed (and often drunk) instructor at the university. The instructor was a thirty-year-old Frenchman, and his temporary lectureship at the university was the lowest position it contained. His car, like his many convivial meals in the town’s best restaurants, had been paid for by his...

    • CHAPTER 13 THE FUTURE AND HOPE: JACQUES DERRIDA
      (pp. 331-348)

      At the end of December 1981, as American philosophers were convened in Philadelphia for the yearly meeting of the American Philosophical Association, their French colleague Jacques Derrida was leaving a much smaller, but perhaps no less important, meeting in Prague. The conference was sponsored by Charter 77, a Czech dissident group, together with the Jan Hus Society, a French group formed to aid Czech intellectuals who had lost their jobs, and of which Derrida was vice president. Charter 77 was not an officially approved organization in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic – to say the least – so the meeting had...

  9. IV. Onwards, 2011–
    • CHAPTER 14 BADIOU, RANCIÈRE AND THE TIME OF EQUALITY
      (pp. 351-372)

      One could be forgiven for thinking that, by 2011, continental philosophy’s distinctively temporalized approach, in which everything is mortal, was moribund itself. The anglophone lands remained generally in the grip of philosophical traditionalists, while continental philosophy’s original habitat in Germany had dried up decades before. Already in his 2001Continental Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction, Simon Critchley had characterized Germany as philosophically “becalmed” while in France, he found only Derrida himself “still very much going strong” (Critchley 2001: 124). and with Derrida’s death in October 2004, the last of the great founding thinkers of French postmodernity went off into what...

    • CHAPTER 15 LIFE AND GENDER IN AGAMBEN AND BUTLER
      (pp. 373-393)

      The final two philosophers we shall look at are, like Badiou and Rancière, not only flourishing today but hard at work. Unlike Badiou and Rancière, they are not in France: Giorgio Agamben is a professor at the University of Verona, in Italy, and Judith Butler is at Columbia University, in the United States. Such international presence is nothing new for continental philosophy, of course; Kierkegaard was a Dane, and Marx lived in variety of countries before settling in England. Something, however, has changed: continental philosophers born during and after the Second World War are no longer concentrated in France and...

  10. FURTHER READING
    (pp. 394-398)
  11. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 399-403)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 404-414)