Postnational Identity: Critical Theory and Existential Philosophy in Habermas, Kierkegaard, and Havel

Overview

The Second Edition

Contradictory interpretations have been applied to history-making events that led to the end of the Cold War: Václav Havel, using Kierkegaardian terms, called the demise of totalitarianism in East-Central Europe an "existential revolution" (i.e. an awakening of human responsibility, spirit, and reason), while others hailed it as a victory for the "New World Order." Regardless of one's point of view, however, it is clear that the global landscape has been ...

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Overview

The Second Edition

Contradictory interpretations have been applied to history-making events that led to the end of the Cold War: Václav Havel, using Kierkegaardian terms, called the demise of totalitarianism in East-Central Europe an "existential revolution" (i.e. an awakening of human responsibility, spirit, and reason), while others hailed it as a victory for the "New World Order." Regardless of one's point of view, however, it is clear that the global landscape has been dramatically altered. Where once the competition between capitalism and communism provided a basis for establishing political- and self-identity, today the destructive forces of nationalist identity and religious and secular fundamentalism are filling the void.

Offering the most extensive examination of Habermas's and Kierkegaard's critiques of nationalist identity available, Postnational Identity dramatically confronts the traditional view of existential philosophy as antisocial and uncritical. This book shows how Kierkegaardian theory and practice of radically honest communication allows us to rethink the existential in terms of Habermas's communicative action, and vice versa. As the author explains, the foundations of his work in the critical theory and existential philosophy, brought together in this book, engender two forms of suspicion of the present age. The critical theorist, such as Jürgen Habermas, unmasks the forms in which social and cultural life become systema-tically distorted by the imperatives of political power and economic gain. The existential critic, like Søren Kierkegaard and Václav Havel, is suspicious of the various ways in which individuals deceive themselves or other people. This study aims to integrate Kierkegaard's and Havel's existential critique of motives informing human identity formation with Habermas's critique of the colonialization of fragmented, anomic modern life by systems of power and money... The author's argument is that existential critique and social critique complement each other and overcome their respective limitations.

One of the first works to treat seriously the existential thought of Havel, the book will hold enormous appeal for students and professionals involved in existential philosophy, critical theory, philosophy, and, more generally, political science, literary theory, communications, and cultural studies.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780988373280
  • Publisher: New Critical Theory
  • Publication date: 1/1/2013
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Martin Beck Matustik was eleven when the Soviet tanks invaded Prague in 1968. At twelve, he published a photo from the funeral of Jan Palach, a Charles University philosophy student who immolated himself in protest of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. While a first-year student at Charles University, at nineteen, he signed Charta 77, the Czechoslovak manifesto for human rights, issued in January 1977 by Vaclav Havel, Jan Patocka, and Jiri Hajek. He became a political refugee in August of that year. As a Fulbright student of Juergen Habermas in Frankfurt in 1989, he witnessed the historical November fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia that led to the election of Havel as the first Czechoslovak president after the fall of the Iron Curtain. He lectured at Prague's Charles University as a Fulbright fellow in 1995.

After earning his PhD from Fordham University in 1991, he taught in the Department of Philosophy at Purdue University. In 2008, he joined Arizona State University as Lincoln Professor of Ethics and Religion and Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Arizona State University. His research and teaching specialties range from critical theory, Continental philosophy, literature, phenomenology, and existentialism to post-Holocaust and reparative ethics, social theory, and spirituality.

Matustík has published six single-author books, edited two collections, and co-edited New Critical Theory, a series from Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. Among his publications are Specters of Liberation: Great Refusals in the New World Order (1998); Juergen Habermas: A Philosophical-Political Profile (2001); Kierkegaard in Post/Modernity (1995), co-edited with Merold Westphal; and Radical Evil and the Scarcity of Hope: Postsecular Meditations (2008). Martin Beck Matustik's memoir, Out of Silence: Repair Across Generations completed in 2012 (manuscript), depicts a journey that spans three generations and four continents as one man tries to define himself based on a past he never knew he possessed.

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