The Modern Philosophical Revolution: The Luminosity of Existence

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The Modern Philosophical Revolution breaks new ground by demonstrating the continuity of European philosophy from Kant to Derrida. Much of the literature on European philosophy has emphasized the breaks that have occurred in the course of two centuries of thinking. But as David Walsh argues, such a reading overlooks the extent to which Kant, Hegel, and Schelling were already engaged in the turn toward existence as the only viable mode of philosophizing. Where many similar studies summarize individual thinkers, this book provides a framework for understanding the relationships between them. Walsh thus dispels much of the confusion that assails readers when they are only exposed to the bewildering range of positions taken by the philosophers he examines. His book serves as an indispensable guide to a philosophical tradition that continues to have resonance in the post-modern world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[T]his is an astonishingly amazing book, truly revolutionary in modern philosophy about what it is really about, namely, in Walsh's words, "the luminosity of existence," a wonderfully philosophic expression."
- James V. Schall, Georgetown University

"My encounter with The Modern Philosophical Revolution has been one of the most formative experiences in my life as a philosopher. I have no hesitation in placing it along with Bernard Lonergan's Insight and Eric Voegelin's Order and History as one of the greatest works in contemporary English-language philosophy, and I predict its French and German translations will follow even more rapidly than did those of Lonergan's and Voegelin's opera magna."
Brendan Purcell, Dublin, Ireland, The Review of Metaphysics

Library Journal

Walsh argues that Kant, Derrida, Hegel, Schelling, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Lévinas are joined by an existential move away from rationalist metaphysics toward the practical and toward an acceptance of our own role in establishing what is real. His argument draws heavily on Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. Walsh is not the first to suggest that Hegel continued Kant's project more than he opposed it, but readers may wonder if he grasps Hegel's Science of Logic. Many will think he is right in seeing Schelling as "a crucial link between the idealists and the fragmented thinkers who followed," but he picks one strand of many in Schelling's thought. Walsh (politics, Catholic Univ.), the author of two earlier probings of modernity (After Ideology), writes, often insightfully, about politics in relation to basic philosophical outlooks. But linking the democratic Kant; Hegel, who thought the state was "the march of God in history"; Nietzsche, who thought altruism a form of degeneracy; Nazi Party member Heidegger; and Democratic Socialist Derrida makes the head spin, as does Walsh's turgid prose. Allan Megill's Prophets of Extremity: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, Derrida is a useful andidote; still, there is a place for Walsh in academic libraries.
—Leslie Armour

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521898959
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 9/8/2008
  • Pages: 518
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

David Walsh is professor of politics at The Catholic University of America. The editor of three volumes of The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, he has published numerous articles in political science and philosophy journals, as well as essays in anthologies. This is the third volume in a trilogy concerning the modern world that began with After Ideology: Recovering the Spiritual Foundations of Freedom and The Growth of the Liberal Soul.

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Table of Contents

1. Kant's 'Copernican Revolution' as existential; 2. Hegel's inauguration of the language of existence; 3. Schelling on the beyond of existence; 4. Nietzsche: philosophy as existence; 5. Heidegger's achievement despite the betrayal of philosophic existence; 6. Existence without refuge as the response of Levinas; 7. Derrida's dissemination of existence as difference; 8. Kierkegaard: the prioritization of existence over philosophy.

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