Modernity and the Hegemony of Vision

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This collection of original essays by many of today's preeminent interpreters of Continental philosophy explores the question of whether Western thought and culture have been dominated by a vision-centered paradigm of knowledge, ethics, and power. It focuses on the character of vision in modern philosophy and on arguments for and against the view that contemporary life and thought are distinctively "ocularcentric." Can it be argued that in the period we call modernity this ocularcentrism has assumed a distinctively "modern" historical form? What remains today of the rational vision of the Enlightenment? How does vision figure in the methodology of the social sciences - in its hermeneutics of positions, perspectives, and horizons? Is visualism implicated in the problematics of relativism? In what sense is vision complicit with the exercise of power or the practice of a dangerous politics? The authors examine these ideas in the context of the history of philosophy and consider the character of visual discourse in the writings of Plato, Descartes, Hegel, Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, Benjamin, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, Derrida, Foucault, Gadamer, Wittgenstein, and Habermas. Ranging from the philosophical canon to such cultural oblects as television and the paintings of Manet, their essays provide an excellent guide to the many debates around ocularcentrism. All the chapters are previously unpublished except for Hans Blumenberg's classic 1954 essay, "Light as a Metaphor for Truth," included here in its first English translation. Of equal interest to philosophers, intellectual historians, and readers in cultural and gender studies, Modernity and the Hegemony of Vision will surely generate discussion and controversy among all concerned with the meaning of vision in the modern world.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520079731
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 11/8/1993
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 422
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

David Michael Levin is Senior Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University. His most recent book is The Listening Self (1989).

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Light as a Metaphor for Truth: At the Preliminary Stage of Philosophical Concept Formation 30
2 Vision, Representation, and Technology in Descartes 63
3 Vision, Reflection, and Openness: The "Hegemony of Vision" from a Hegelian Point of View 87
4 In the Shadows of Philosophy: Nietzsche and the Question of Vision 124
5 Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and the Search for a New Ontology of Sight 143
6 Decline and Fall: Ocularcentrism in Heidegger's Reading of the History of Metaphysics 186
7 Time's Cinders 218
8 Derrida and the Closure of Vision 234
9 The Face and the Caress: Levinas's Ethical Alterations of Sensibility 252
10 Foucault and the Eclipse of Vision 273
11 Ocularcentrism and Social Criticism 287
12 Dream World of Mass Culture: Walter Benjamin's Theory of Modernity and the Dialectics of Seeing 309
13 The Despotic Eye and Its Shadow: Media Image in the Age of Literacy 339
14 Assisting at the Birth and Death of Philosophic Vision 361
15 His Master's Eye 379
Index 405
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