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PHILOSOPHY AND MELANCHOLY. 1.PRISMATIC THINKING To what extent does Benjamin matches experiences and reflections? 2.ARCADES AND REPRODUCTIONS What is.

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Presentation on theme: "PHILOSOPHY AND MELANCHOLY. 1.PRISMATIC THINKING To what extent does Benjamin matches experiences and reflections? 2.ARCADES AND REPRODUCTIONS What is."— Presentation transcript:

1 PHILOSOPHY AND MELANCHOLY

2 1.PRISMATIC THINKING To what extent does Benjamin matches experiences and reflections? 2.ARCADES AND REPRODUCTIONS What is Benjamin’s aesthetical project? 3. MEMORY AND SADNESS How to deal with lost time?

3 1.PRISMATIC THINKING

4 WALTER BENJAMIN BIOGRAPHICAL NOTIONS: 26 July 1892: born in Berlin : secondary school : study of philosophy in Freiburg and Berlin. 1914: president of student association : study of philosophy in Munich and becomes friend of Gerhard Scholem. 1917: marriage with Dora Pollak. 1918: birth of his son Stefan; becomes friend of Erns Bloch. 1919: Ph.D. Cum laude. 1924: in love with Asja Lacis. 1925: couldn’t defend his habilitation thesis. 1929: co-operation with Bertolt Brecht. 1933: starts to work for the Institute of Social Research. 1938: as stateless person incarcerated by the French.. 27 September 1940: death.

5 IMPORTANT PUBLICATIONS  Critique of Violence (1921).  Goethe’s Elective Affinities (1922).  The Origin of German Tragic Drama (1928).  One Way Street (1928).  The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1936).  The Paris of the Second Empire in Baudelaire (1938).  On the Concept of History/Theses on the Philosophy of History (1939 [published posthumously]).  The Arcades Project (unfinished and published posthumously).

6 FRANKFURTER SCHULE  ‘Institut für Sozialforschung’ > founded in 1923 by Felix Weil  Interdisciplinary research program  History of the labour movement  Studying the socio- economical, psychological and cultural factors to explain why people submit themselves to authoritarian regimes.

7 TRADITIONAL THEORY:CRITICAL THEORY: 1. Empirical research to test hypotheses. 1. Empirical research to test hypotheses and to change situations in which people are repressed. 2. Dichotomy between science and society. 2. Science is always a part of the society. 3. Value-free science.3. No dichotomy between facts and values.

8 PHILOSOPHICAL STYLE  Essay.  Different kinds of intellectual activities (essay, translations, radio-programmes).  Combination of marxism and Jewish mysticism.  Prismatic thinking > correspondence between micro cosmos and macro cosmos.  Dialectical imagination > the importance of experiences.

9 HEURISTIC VALUE 1.Literature (Bertolt Brecht). 2.Philosophy (Adorno). 3.Media studies (Seel). 4.Literary studies (George Steiner). 5.Art (Dani Karavan). 6.Theology (Gershom Scholem).

10 2. ARCADES AND REPRODUCTIONS

11 THE ARCADES PROJECT  ‘Passagenwerk’: Benjamin started this project already in the twenties.  Analysis of the city life of Paris in the 19th century.  The inner-outer world of the arcades mirror the world at large.

12 THE LOST AURA  The world of art changed because of modern reproduction techniques.  Examples: photography and film.  Traditional art lost its aura.  Aura > the manifestation of the uniqueness of a piece of art.  Modern art lacking the aura of the original.

13 AESTHECIZED POLITICS  The relation between art and policitics changed.  The differentiation of cultural spheres: art, morality and science.  Shift in the relation between art and politics.  Politics > dedifferentiation.  “All efforts to render politics aesthetic leads to one thing: war”.

14 3. MEMORY AND SADNESS

15 MARCEL PROUS ( )  In Search of Lost Time.  Walter Benjamin translated parts of this work together with Frans Hessel.  Important for his concept of memory.  Two kinds of memories: 1. Forced memory. 2. Spontaneous memory.

16 ADVENTURE AND EXPERIENCE  Adventure (Erlebnis) > that what an actor can controle.  Experience (Erfahrung) > that what cannot be controled.  Experience is repressed by adventure.  The replacement of the story by the information.

17 ANGELUS NOVUS “A Klee painting named ‘Angelus Novus’ shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing in from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such a violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.”

18 MEMORIAL POLITICS  Central question: which responsibility do we have towards the suffering of others.  ‘Eingedenken’ > role taking concerning those who are marginalized in society.  Criticism > 1) making someone conscious about something and 2) saving something.  Sadness is triggered by memorial politics.

19 MELANCHOLY  Melancholia (from Greek melancholia) > a non-specific form of sadness.  History > caused by an imbalance between one of the four humours (bodily fluids).  Benjamin > analysis of the German Tragic Drama.

20 “It is more arduous to honour the memory of the nameless than that of the renowned. Historical construction is devoted to the memory of the nameless.”


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