WALTER BENJAMIN

WALTER BENJAMIN

by Eli Friedlander
     
 

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Walter Benjamin is often viewed as a cultural critic who produced a vast array of brilliant, idiosyncratic pieces of writing with little more to unify them than the feeling that they all bear the stamp of his “unclassifiable” genius. Eli Friedlander finds an overarching coherence and a deep-seated commitment to engage the philosophical tradition.See more details below

Overview

Walter Benjamin is often viewed as a cultural critic who produced a vast array of brilliant, idiosyncratic pieces of writing with little more to unify them than the feeling that they all bear the stamp of his “unclassifiable” genius. Eli Friedlander finds an overarching coherence and a deep-seated commitment to engage the philosophical tradition.

Editorial Reviews

Choice

This highly original study by Friedlander is a rare attempt to expose the philosophical infrastructure of the thought of Walter Benjamin. Rather than a collection of disjointed observations on culture, the Benjaminian corpus turns, on Friedlander's reading, into a singular testimony to the fragile and liminal possibility of philosophy that refuses to assimilate the singular under the umbrella of universal abstraction...Friedlander pays special attention to Benjamin's relation to Immanuel Kant and Karl Marx, accentuating the problems of temporality, historicity, and a philosophically robust materialism. A laudable achievement, this volume is an exquisite dialogue between philosophy and its others, between totality and constellation, and between the universal and the singular.
— M. V. Marder

Bookforum

Friedlander believes the tendency to fetishize Benjamin's style has become an obstacle to grasping his philosophical rigor. In Walter Benjamin: A Philosophical Portrait, Friedlander attempts to remedy this misreading, portraying him not as a lone literary genius, but as part of a canon of post-Kantian philosophers...If this book loses touch with the ways in which Benjamin wasn't always rational or clear-cut, then it makes up for that by illuminating his thought in a new scholarly light.
— David Winters

David E. Wellbery
Friedlander's pellucid exposition brings to light, for the first time, the systematic unity, depth, and originality of Benjamin's philosophical vision. The book will transform Benjamin studies. Perhaps more importantly, scholars for whom Benjamin's thought has become an indispensable guide in their own research will find here new sources of gripping inspiration.
Los Angeles Review of Books

Benjamin is not, for Friedlander, just a writer or a thinker, he is a philosopher of world-historical significance, and his work is a vessel of the highest truth.
— Brian Hanrahan

Richard Eldridge
Drawing together Benjamin's responses to and revisions of Plato, Leibniz, and Kant, Friedlandershows how, for Benjamin, a historically situated glimpse of free and meaningful life is possible, without collapsing into either escapist fantasy or documentary despair. This is thus the first fully philosophical work on Benjamin, directed at a philosophical and human problem of the first importance. It will be unavoidable not only for Benjamin scholars, but also for anyone concerned with the critical understanding of human freedom in history.
Bookforum - David Winters
Friedlander believes the tendency to fetishize Benjamin's style has become an obstacle to grasping his philosophical rigor. In Walter Benjamin: A Philosophical Portrait, Friedlander attempts to remedy this misreading, portraying him not as a lone literary genius, but as part of a canon of post-Kantian philosophers...If this book loses touch with the ways in which Benjamin wasn't always rational or clear-cut, then it makes up for that by illuminating his thought in a new scholarly light.
Choice - M. V. Marder
This highly original study by Friedlander is a rare attempt to expose the philosophical infrastructure of the thought of Walter Benjamin. Rather than a collection of disjointed observations on culture, the Benjaminian corpus turns, on Friedlander's reading, into a singular testimony to the fragile and liminal possibility of philosophy that refuses to assimilate the singular under the umbrella of universal abstraction...Friedlander pays special attention to Benjamin's relation to Immanuel Kant and Karl Marx, accentuating the problems of temporality, historicity, and a philosophically robust materialism. A laudable achievement, this volume is an exquisite dialogue between philosophy and its others, between totality and constellation, and between the universal and the singular.
Howard Eiland
Friedlander's new book provides a decisive clarification of some of the most vexing issues confronting us in the texts of Walter Benjamin: the nature of the dialectical image as force field, the meaning of historical awakening and historical afterlife, the monadological character of truth. Through penetrating and wide-ranging analyses, he demonstrates the consistency of Benjamin's thinking over the course of his career. It is a truly important contribution to Benjamin studies and an impressive piece of critical thinking.
Los Angeles Review of Books - Brian Hanrahan
Benjamin is not, for Friedlander, just a writer or a thinker, he is a philosopher of world-historical significance, and his work is a vessel of the highest truth.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674063020
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
01/15/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
300
File size:
0 MB

What People are saying about this

David E. Wellbery
Friedlander's pellucid exposition brings to light, for the first time, the systematic unity, depth, and originality of Benjamin's philosophical vision. The book will transform Benjamin studies. Perhaps more importantly, scholars for whom Benjamin's thought has become an indispensable guide in their own research will find here new sources of gripping inspiration.
David E. Wellbery, University of Chicago
Howard Eiland
Friedlander's new book provides a decisive clarification of some of the most vexing issues confronting us in the texts of Walter Benjamin: the nature of the dialectical image as force field, the meaning of historical awakening and historical afterlife, the monadological character of truth. Through penetrating and wide-ranging analyses, he demonstrates the consistency of Benjamin's thinking over the course of his career. It is a truly important contribution to Benjamin studies and an impressive piece of critical thinking.
Howard Eiland, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Richard Eldridge
Drawing together Benjamin's responses to and revisions of Plato, Leibniz, and Kant, Friedlandershows how, for Benjamin, a historically situated glimpse of free and meaningful life is possible, without collapsing into either escapist fantasy or documentary despair. This is thus the first fully philosophical work on Benjamin, directed at a philosophical and human problem of the first importance. It will be unavoidable not only for Benjamin scholars, but also for anyone concerned with the critical understanding of human freedom in history.
Richard Eldridge, Swarthmore College

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