From Romanticism to Critical Theory

From Romanticism to Critical Theory : The Philosophy of German Literary Theory

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From Romanticism to Critical Theory explores the philosophical origins of literary theory via the tradition of German philosophy that began with the Romantic reaction to Kant. It traces the continuation of the Romantic tradition of Novalis, Friedrich Schlegel and Schleiermacher, in Heidegger's approaches to art and thruth, and in the Critical Theory of Benjamin and Adorno.
Andrew Bowie argues, against many current assumptions, that the key aspect of literary theory is not the demonstration of how meaning can be deconstructed, but rather the relevation of how questions of language and literature change modern philosophical conceptions of thruth. He shows how the dialogue between literary theory, hermeneutics and analytical philosophy can profit from a re-examination of the understanding of language, thruth and literature in modern German philosophy.
From Romanticism to Critical Theory will provide a vital new introduction to central theoretical questions for students of philosophy, literature, German studies, cultural and social theory.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 156 x 234 x 22.86mm | 567g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0415127637
  • 9780415127639
  • 745,912

Table of contents

Introduction: Renewing the Theoretical Canon The roots of literary theory Literature, aesthetics and ideology The Romantic heritage The truth of literature 1. Philosphical Origins: Kant, Jacobi, and the Crisis of Reason New frameworks Kant and the critique of the "ready-made world" Jaobi: "being" and the critique of metaphysics "Pure reason listens only to itself": from metaphysics to literary theory 2 Shifting the Ground: "Where Philosphy Ceases Literature must Begin" "The philology of philosophy" (Friedrich Schlegel) Judgement, schema, and language "To begin with one only spoke in poetry" 3 The Philosophy of Critique and the Critique of Philosophy: Romantic Literary Theory "The ridiculous mistake, that people think they speak for the sake of things" "All highest truths of every kind are thoroughly trivial" "Transcendental literature" The aesthetic and the hermeneutic imperatives 4 Interpretative Reasons The "anarchy of convictions" Spirit and letter Knowing what we mean: the semantic and herneneutic alternatives 5 The Ethics of Interpretation: Schleiemacher Beginning in the middle Playing by the rules "Thought" and "feeling" "There is no such thing as a language"/"there is no such thing as literature" 6 Being True: Dilthey, Husserl and Heidegger Heideggerian questions Understanding and explaining Understanding being 7 The Truth of Art: Heidegger The turn to art Putting the truth into the work The Subject of art 8 Understanding Walter Benjamin Language and origins "The concept of art-critique in German Romanticism" Salvaging the truth Redemption or illusion? 9 The Culture of Truth: Adorno Adorno and Benjamin: paradigms of modern aesthetics "Dreamlike anticipation": Adorno's earliest philosphy The "dissolution of what has up to now been called philosophy" Words put in question Art, schematism and philosphy Literature, truth and the critique of "identity".
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Review quote

`Bowie argues brilliantly and persuasively for the continued relevance of the romantic project for contemporary the past few years I have found few books that display such a sovereignty with regard to the most difficult philosophical and aesthetic issues of the past two centuries.' - Robert Holub, University of California, Berkeley

`Bowie's study is an impressive and thoughtful contribution to an important debate...he provides a rich intellectual context for the understanding of modern and postmodern culture in general and of recent critical theory in particular' - Martin Swales, University College, London

'Bowie manages to tease out insights from the thinkers he discusses with remarkable dexterity,' - Austin Harrington, Radical Philosophy

'Bowie's splendid book ... remains at all times demanding, intelligible and highly readable ... immensely impressive ... the book is certain to be referred to for a long time to come and should be acquired by all university libraries.' - BARS Bulletin and Review

'This is an essential contribution to Romantic studies, and one that should set the terms of the debate for many years to come.' - Romanticism
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