The Doppelganger: Literature's Philosophy

The Doppelganger: Literature's Philosophy

Dimitris Vardoulakis
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    The Doppelganger: Literature's Philosophy
    Book Description:

    The Doppelgnger or Double presents literature as the doubleof philosophy. There are historical reasons for this. The genesis of the Doppelgnger is literature's response to the philosophical focus on subjectivity. The Doppelgnger was coined by the German author Jean Paul in 1796 as a critique of Idealism's assertion of subjective autonomy, individuality and human agency. This critique prefigures post-War extrapolations of the subject as decentred. From this perspective, the Doppelgnger has a family resemblanceto current conceptualizations of subjectivity. It becomes the emblematic subject of modernity. This is the first significant study on the Doppelgnger's influence on philosophical thought. The Doppelgnger emerges as a hidden and unexplored element both in conceptions of subjectivity and in philosophy's relation to literature. Vardoulakis demonstrates this by employing the Doppelgnger to read literature philosophically and to read philosophy as literature. The Doppelgnger then appears instrumental in the self-conception of both literature and philosophy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4920-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
    (pp. IX-X)
    (pp. XI-XIV)

    According to Jean-Joseph Goux, the figure of Oedipus represents the first philosopher. Oedipus can claim to launch the entire philosophical tradition of the West because he presents a subversion of the traditional mythic pattern of a hero’s trial in order to become king. Instead of the hero’s using physical force to overcome the monstrous, Oedipus uses only his mind against the Sphinx. As a consequence of Oedipus’ self-reflective act, the subject can aspire to self-identity. This represents the humanist insistence on self-knowledge.¹ There are two dangers inscribed in this act that have accompanied philosophy ever since. First, Oedipus’ use of...

  5. Introduction, or The Reflections of the Doppelgänger
    (pp. 1-10)

    The doppelgänger makes possible an ontology of the subject. This does not entail a lapse into metaphysics. The doppelgänger, rather, eschews attempts to reduce the subject to mere presence. A first thesis of this book is thatthe resistance to presence indicates the doppelgänger’s ontology, bringing literature and philosophy into productive and mutually illuminating contact. The thesis about the doppelgänger’s resistance to presence does not entail a simple opposition to, or negation of, presence. Such a move would have resulted in an essentialization of absence as constitutive of subjectivity. Instead, it will be shown that the subject persists through its...

  6. CHAPTER ONE The Critique of Loneliness: The Genesis of the Doppelgänger
    (pp. 11-65)

    A consideration of the political has to start with a distinction between politics and the political. This distinction, here, is drawn in relation to the place of the subject. Both politics and the political require a locus in which interaction between human beings occurs. Both terms require that the subject is not isolated but that it is placed in an area where there is contact with other subjects. The subject’s isolation, as the locus that resists or counters sociality, is central in identifying the subject of both the political and of politics. Isolation puts the subject in a place devoid...

  7. CHAPTER TWO The Subject of Modernity: Law and Temporality in Alexandros Papadiamantes
    (pp. 66-105)

    A reworking of denial so that it can never be absolute is the linchpin of Jean Paul’s doppelgänger. Fichte, as it has just been shown, needed an “alien element” within the absolute I which, however, had to, but could not, be denied. Jean Paul highlighted that that alien part, the “demogorgon” inside the subject, is like a conjurer’s trick. In addition, the unraveling of the trick is also the debunking of absolute denial, and hence the elimination of absolute loneliness. The lament about loneliness at the end of theClavisparadoxically implies that there is no last man. Hegel, who...

  8. CHAPTER THREE The Task of the Doppelgänger: Jean Paul as Collocutor of Maurice Blanchot
    (pp. 106-134)

    The distinction between denial and negation in the preceding chapter allowed for a figuration of the subject as the doppelgänger. At the same time, this figuration entailed that the doppelgänger is operative not only in the literary work but also in the criticism addressing that work. The doppelgänger becomes the medium to interpret the work. However, two issues remain. The first raises the questions: To whom is the dissolution of the autonomous individual and the appearance of the doppelgänger to be attributed? Is it solely to the characters of a narrative or is it also to its signatory, the author?...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR The Politics of the Doppelgänger: Universal History and Cosmopolitanism
    (pp. 135-191)

    The doppelgänger, as discussed so far, is the figure that configures both time and place. The doppelgänger undoesmerepresence; it resists a reduction to a determinate locus as well as to a determinate temporal arrangement. Theeffectivepresence of the figure of the doppelgänger creates the condition of the possibility of topicality as well as temporality. Whereas the configurations of time and space have been demonstrated separately, an extrapolation of both in conjunction is still lacking. Such an undertaking will involve asking about the time of the past. What is the past of an effective presence? And, also, how...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Self-Inscriptions: Failing Kafka and Benjamin
    (pp. 192-248)

    The doppelgänger is operative in a notion of theatricality that undoes simple presence. The staging suggested by theatricality—the place of the actors and the audience—complicates the distinction between what is on the stage and what is outside the stage. But this does not entail the outright rejection of the inside-outside distinction. Rather, it will be argued that the staging becomes a fruitful concept when it allows a self-inscription so that the life and work of the actors are neither permanently ruptured nor eternally reconciled. Walter Benjamin’s essay on Kafka is crucial to this undertaking for two reasons: First,...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 249-306)
    (pp. 307-324)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 325-330)