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By Andreas Gailus

Passions of the Sign strains the influence of the French Revolution on Enlightenment proposal in Germany as evidenced within the paintings of 3 significant figures round the flip of the 19th century: Immanuel Kant, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Heinrich von Kleist. Andreas Gailus examines a principally missed strand within the philosophical and literary reception of the French Revolution, one that unearths within the old prevalence of revolution the expression of a basic mechanism of political, conceptual, and aesthetic perform.

With an in depth analyzing of a severe essay through Kleist, an in-depth dialogue of Kant's philosophical writing, and new readings of the novella shape as hired through either Goethe and Kleist, Gailus demonstrates how those writers set forth an brisk version of language and subjectivity whose volatile nature reverberates in the very foundations of society. Unfolding within the medium of lively symptoms, human task is proven to be topic to the counter-symbolic strength that lies inside of and past it. historical past is topic to contingency and is known now not as a innovative narrative yet as an expanse of progressive chances; language is topic to the extra-linguistic context of utterance and is conceived essentially no longer in semantic yet in pragmatic phrases; and theindividual is topic to impersonal have an effect on and is figured no longer because the locus of self-determination yet because the website of passions that exceed the self and its excitement principle.

At as soon as a ancient and a conceptual learn, this quantity strikes among literature and philosophy, and among textual research and theoretical hypothesis, enticing with fresh discussions at the prestige of sovereignty, the importance of performative language in politics and paintings, and the presence of the impersonal, even inhuman, in the economic climate of the self.

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Extra info for Passions of the Sign: Revolution and Language in Kant, Goethe, and Kleist

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Modified) / M 13). ”47 Goethe, Förster concludes, takes Kant’s merely problematic notion of an “intellectual intuition” as an invitation to develop an extended, not only discursive, but at the same time intuitive thinking, one that leads from the general to the particular, from the particular to the general, and that becomes, in the intuition of the whole, an experience of a higher order, namely, of that which Goethe alternately called “type,” “concept,” or “idea,” which is objectively realized in the organism.

To the open-endedness of time offered by the progressivist model, the novella opposes a model of immanent finitude. The rise of the novella is only one response to a congeries of political and social dilemmas besetting German culture at the turn of the nineteenth century. The countercurrent found a variety of philosophical and literary expressions, each of which addressed itself to the inadequacy of the idealist domestication of disruption and discontinuity. I begin with Kant’s last published reflection on history—the second essay of Der Streit der Fakultäten (1798)—because it represents the most heroic attempt to integrate the fact of revolution into a progressivist idealist conception of history.

The Conclusion identifies the novella as a border genre and then proceeds to analyze a lesser-known review by Kierkegaard of a novella about the French Revolution, which becomes for Kierkegaard the occasion for a critique of midnineteenth-century culture as suffering from the devitalization of signs. Finally, I look briefly at the emergence of foundational questions in early twentieth-century philosophy, connecting these issues to the simultaneous discussions in the works of Carl Schmitt and Walter Benjamin of the status of the exception in history, politics, and law.

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