Very Little-- Almost Nothing: Death, Philosophy, Literature

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The 'death of man', the 'end of history' and even philosophy are strong and troubling currents running through contemporary debates. Yet since Nietzsche's heralding of the 'death of god', philosophy has been unable to explain the question of finitude.
Very Little...Almost Nothing goes to the heart of this problem through an exploration of Blanchot's theory of literature, Stanley Cavell's interpretations of romanticism and the importance of death in the work of Samuel Beckett. Simon Critchley links these themes to the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas to present a powerful new picture of how we must approach the importance of death in philosophy.
A compelling reading of the convergence of literature and philosophy, Very Little...Almost Nothing opens up new ways of understanding finitude, modernity and the nature of the imagination.

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Preamble: Travels in Nihilon 1
(a) Philosophy begins in disappointment 2
(b) Pre-Nietzschean nihilism 3
(c) Nietzschean nihilism 6
(d) Responding to nihilism: five possibilities 9
(e) Heidegger's transformation of Nietzschean nihilism 13
(f) Heidegger contra Junger 15
(g) Impossible redemption: Adorno on nihilism 18
(h) Learning how to die - the argument 24
Lecture 1 Il y a 31
(a) Reading Blanchot 31
(b) How is literature possible? 35
(c) Orpheus, or the law of desire 42
(d) Blanchot's genealogy of morals: exteriority as desire, exteriority as law 45
(e) Il y a - the origin of the artwork 48
(f) The (im)possibility of death - or, how would Blanchot read Blanchot if he were not Blanchot? 65
(g) Holding Levinas's hand to Blanchot's fire 73
Lecture 2 Unworking romanticism 85
(a) Our naivete 85
(b) Digression I: Imagination as resistance (Wallace Stevens) 98
(c) Romantic ambiguity 105
(d) Cavell's 'romanticism' 118
(e) Digression II: Why Stanley loves America and why we should too 125
(f) Cavell's romanticism 131
Lecture 3 Know happiness - on Beckett 141
(a) Beckett and philosophical interpretation 141
(b) The dredging machine (Derrida) 145
(c) The meaning of meaninglessness and the paradoxical task of interpretation (Adorno I) 147
(d) Hope against hope - the elevation of social criticism to the level of form (Adorno II) 154
(e) Nothing is funnier than unhappiness - Beckett's laughter (Adorno III) 157
(f) Storytime, time of death (Molloy, Malone Dies) 160
(g) My old aporetics - the syntax of weakness (The Unnameable) 165
(h) Who speaks? Not I (Blanchot) 172
(i) No happiness? (Cavell) 176
Notes 181
Acknowledgements 206
Index 208
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