Dying for Ideas: The Dangerous Lives of the Philosophers

Dying for Ideas: The Dangerous Lives of the Philosophers


By (author) Costica Bradatan

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  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Format: Hardback | 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 138mm x 216mm 454g
  • Publication date: 26 February 2015
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1472525515
  • ISBN 13: 9781472525512
  • Illustrations note: 10 illus
  • Sales rank: 802,874

Product description

What do Socrates, Hypatia, Giordano Bruno, Thomas More, and Jan Patocka have in common? First, they were all faced one day with the most difficult of choices: stay faithful to your ideas and die or renounce them and stay alive. Second, they all chose to die. Their spectacular deaths have become not only an integral part of their biographies, but are also inseparable from their work. A "death for ideas" is a piece of philosophical work in its own right; Socrates may have never written a line, but his death is one of the greatest philosophical best-sellers of all time. Dying for Ideas explores the limit-situation in which philosophers find themselves when the only means of persuasion they can use is their own dying bodies and the public spectacle of their death. The book tells the story of the philosopher's encounter with death as seen from several angles: the tradition of philosophy as an art of living; the body as the site of self-transcending; death as a classical philosophical topic; taming death and self-fashioning; finally, the philosophers' scapegoating and their live performance of a martyr's death, followed by apotheosis and disappearance into myth. While rooted in the history of philosophy, Dying for Ideas is an exercise in breaking disciplinary boundaries. This is a book about Socrates and Heidegger, but also about Gandhi's "fasting unto death" and self-immolation; about Girard and Passolini, and self-fashioning and the art of the essay.

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Author information

Costica Bradatan is Associate Professor of Humanities in the Honors College at Texas Tech University and Honorary Research Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Queensland, Australia. He is the author and editor of eight books, and has written for The New York Times, The New Statesman, Times Literary Supplement, Dissent, Boston Review, Christian Science Monitor, The Globe & Mail amongst others. Bradatan serves as the Religion/Comparative Studies Editor for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Review quote

One of the greatest merits of Costica Bradatan's book is that it explores a cluster of topics that represent the untold, the unuttered, almost the unutterable in contemporary philosophy: death, dying, sacrifice and self-sacrifice. Ours is a culture of 'happy endings' and, in this respect, most philosophers of today are the spokespersons of their time. Bradatan is a dissenter. His book approaches death head-on. Indeed, what makes this project fascinating is the fact that, while the book purports to be about 'dying for an idea,' it in fact sings praise to life. Death, in Bradatan's view, is something that brings new meaning to life, a renewed intensity to the act of living. Simon Critchley, New School for Social Research, New York, USA. A thoroughly stimulating exploration of philosophers and their courageous deaths, pushing us to reflect on the fascinating question: what is philosophy for? Sarah Bakewell, author of 'How to Live: A Life of Montaigne' Written with verve and humor, at once deeply learned and wickedly ironic, this book explores how philosophy is not only an art of living but also an art of dying - and dying well! Original and irreverent! Seyla Benhabib, Eugene Meyer Professor for Political Science and Philosophy, Yale University, USA

Table of contents

Introduction Chapter One: On the very definition of philosophy i)Philosophy as production ofknowledge vs. philosophy as an art of living- ii)Philosophy and the fashioningof the self iii)Pierre Hadot, Michel Foucault,Alexander Nehamas "To philosophize is to learn how to die" Chapter Two: Philosophy in the flesh i)The body as a philosophicalproblem ii)The body of the philosopher iii)The case of Simone Weil iv)On the political uses of adying body v)The martyred body asself-expression Chapter Three: Philosophy and the experience of death i)Melete thanatou ii)Three philosophers on death& dying:Martin Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (1927); Paul-Louis Landsberg Essai sur l'exp rience dela mort (1936);VladimirJank l vitch, La mort (1966) Chapter Four: The philosopher's encounter with death i)Types of encounter ii)The fear of death iii)Boethius: De Consolatione Philosophiae iv)Thomas More's Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation Chapter Five: The making of a philosopher-martyr i)The performance ii)The story-telling iii)The audience Conclusions: To die laughing Bibliography Index