Weakness: A Literary and Philosophical History

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Overview

Examining the nature of weakness has inspired some of the most influential aesthetic and philosophical portraits of the human condition. By reading a selection of canonical literary and philosophical texts, Michael O'Sullivan charts a history of responses to the experience and exploration of weakness.

Beginning with Plato and Aristotle, this first book-length study of the concept explores weakness as it is interpreted by Lao Tzu, Nietzsche, Derrida, the Romantics, Dickens and ...

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Weakness: A Literary and Philosophical History

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Overview

Examining the nature of weakness has inspired some of the most influential aesthetic and philosophical portraits of the human condition. By reading a selection of canonical literary and philosophical texts, Michael O'Sullivan charts a history of responses to the experience and exploration of weakness.

Beginning with Plato and Aristotle, this first book-length study of the concept explores weakness as it is interpreted by Lao Tzu, Nietzsche, Derrida, the Romantics, Dickens and the Modernists. It examines what feminist writers Simone de Beauvoir and Luce Irigaray have made of the gendered biomythology constructed around the figure of the "weaker vessel" and it considers related notions such as im-potentiality, a "syntax of weakness" and human vulnerability in the work of Agamben, Beckett and Coetzee.

Through analysis of these differing versions of weakness, O'Sullivan's study challenges the popular myth that aligns masculine identity with strength and force and presents a humane weakness as a guiding motif for debates in ethics.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781441162991
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 8/2/2012
  • Series: Continuum Literary Studies Series , #178
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael O'Sullivan is Assistant Professor in English at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is author of Michel Henry: Incarnation, Barbarism and Belief (Peter Lang, 2006).

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Table of Contents

Introduction \ Part I: Philosophy \ 1. Akrasia and Fragile Goodness \ 2. The Flesh is Weak: Incarnating the Word \ 3. Daoism and Weakness: "Weakness is the means dao employs": \ 4. Nietzsche's Revaluation of Power - Kierkegaard's Despair of Weakness \ 5. Gender theory and weakness: is there a "weaker vessel"? \ 6. Why is Derrida's sign violent? Radical passivity and givenness \ Part II: Literature \ 7. Negative Capability and Romantic Indolence \ 8. Dickens and the "experience of the common" \ 9. Joyce's "Words of Silent Power" \ 10. Beckett and "The Authentic Weakness of Being" \ 11. Vulnerability and "the animal" in Coetzee \ Conclusion - Humane Weakness\ Bibliography \ Index

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