domingo, 5 de outubro de 2014

Nitzan Lebovic on nihilism and Israel

LEBOVIC, Nitzan. The history of nihilism and the limits of political critique (Rethinking History, 2014)

This article by Nitzan Lebovic in the forthcoming edition of Rethinking History discusses the history of the concept of nihilism, later on taking Israel as a case study of its uses. Here are two quotes, the first indicating a general conclusion, the second a more specific one:

“The evolution of the concept of nihilism up until today demonstrates that the concept of nihilism is situated in the crowded crossroad between nothingness, the undermining of authority, the negation of the I, the inherent ambivalence of meaning, the suspension of time, the Death of God, and the end of metaphysics. The revival of nihilism in our own time shows that after ‘the end of time,’ the end of a historical era, the death – literal or metaphorical – of a sovereign, when only a shade of legitimate power is left, a nihilist revolutionary project often represents a desperate confrontation with the frozen time, by striving for an absolute new beginning and assuming the inevitability of a substantial destructive act. When change is stalled, nihilism builds on the stasis of the period and has no problem accelerating its end, with violent means if needed.”

“If nihilism signified during the eighteenth to nineteenth centuries, the ‘annihilation’ of sovereign power, nihilism in the present is nothing more than a critical tactics of undermining legitimacy, used by both the ruler and the ruled. Still, as such, it is a sharp mirror that reflects where the ‘common–exceptional’ or ‘normal–abnormal’ distinctions end. In Israel, the open space for legitimate democratic critique in the public sphere has shrunk dramatically and the ‘abnormal’ is now fully eclipsing the ‘normal’: the continuous refusal of the Israeli government, since 2001, to discuss attainable solutions to a century-long conflict, and the ongoing effort to win larger territory under the guise of weakness and victimhood, signified to this group not only a false argument, but a cynical tactic meant to silence any opposition and critical discourse by labeling it ‘nihilist.’”

Further reading

Catastrophes: The History and Theory of an Operative Concept, edited by Nitzan Lebovic and Andreas Killen

Thomas Dixon. “Emotion”: The History of a Keyword in Crisis

DIXON, Thomas. “Emotion”: The History of a Keyword in Crisis. Emotion Review, Vol. 4, No. 4 (October 2012) 338–344. Link.

Professor Dixon’s article affirms that “emotion” “is certainly a keyword in modern psychology, but it is a keyword in crisis. Indeed […], it has been in crisis, from a definitional and conceptual point of view, ever since its adoption as a psychological category in the 19th century.” (338)

He divides his text “into three sections which correspond to three different dimensions of [the] multiple meanings” often attributed to the term: “categories, concepts, and connotations”.


“The first books written on the subject of “the emotions” appeared between the 1830s and 1850s” (340). Until then, “[t]heorists distinguished especially between “passions” on the one hand and “affections” on the other.” (339) This distinction, Dixon shows, arose in the response of Augustine and Aquinas to the Stoic view of passions as “violent forces that could conflict with reason and lead an individual into sin”. They agreed with that, but “on the other hand, they did not agree that a state of complete Stoic apatheia was one to be wished for”. (340) In different ways, they then proposed a “distinction between passions of the sense appetite and affections of the intellectual appetite”, which “undergirded moral-philosophical thought for many centuries”. (339)

According to Dixon, no substantial change would appear until the 19th century, when Thomas Brown simplified the previous typology:

“The 18th century saw a proliferation of new ideas about sentiments and sensibility, as well as about passions and affections. But in almost all theoretical works, the various feelings and emotions of the human heart and intellect were understood to fall into at least two categories: the more violent and self-regarding “passions” and “appetites” on the one hand, and the milder and more enlightened “interests,” social “affections,” and “moral sentiments” on the other”. (339) “This more differentiated typology was lost with the rise of the capacious new category of ‘emotion’ during the 19th century. The key figure in this transition was the Edinburgh professor of moral philosophy Thomas Brown, whom I have previously designated the ‘inventor of the emotions’ (Dixon, 2003, p. 109). Brown subsumed the ‘appetites,’ ‘passions,’ and ‘affections’ under a single category: the ‘emotions.’” (340) The popularity of Brown’s terminology made impossible for anyone to “devise a single theory, or a simple conceptual definition, that could cover such a wide range of different mental states”. (340)


“The word “emotion” first arrived on British shores from France in the early 17th century. […] In both its French and English forms, “emotion” was a word denoting physical disturbance and bodily movement.” “Increasingly, during the 18th century, “emotion” came to refer to the bodily stirrings accompanying mental feelings.” (340) “Finally, from the mid-18th century onwards, ‘emotion’ moved from the bodily to the mental domain. As early as 1649, Descartes had attempted to introduce the term émotion as an alternative to passion”, but “[h]is suggestion was not generally followed”. (340)

According to Dixon, Thomas Brown,  a Scottish “physician and poet as well as a philosopher, was the first to treat “emotion” as a major theoretical category in the academic study of the mind, and his use was the most systematic and most influential of the period.” Dixon even adds: “Here, then, in the lecture halls of Edinburgh University in the years between 1810 and 1820, we arrive at the key moment in the history of our modern concepts of ‘emotion.’” (340)

One problem with Brown’s terminology is that it lacked precision: “’The exact meaning of the term emotion,’ Brown told his students, ‘it is difficult to state in any form of words.’” But he did try to elucidate its meaning, claiming that, in Dixon’s words, “unlike sensations, which were caused directly by external objects, emotions were caused by the mental ‘consideration’ of perceived objects; and, unlike intellectual states, they were defined as noncognitive ‘vivid feelings’ rather than as forms of thought.” (340)

Brown’s lectures, according to Dixon, “exercised a very wide influence in the decades between 1820 and 1860”. “Two hundred years later, we are still living with this legacy of Thomas Brown’s concept of ‘emotion’” (340), a “strongly noncognitive” one. “His stark separation between intellectual thoughts and emotional feelings”, says Dixon, “was endorsed by many of the leading psychologists of the late 19th century.” (341)

Dixon then adds – somewhat suddenly – “a second key figure” in the historical trajectory of the concept, “another Edinburgh physician and philosopher, Charles Bell.” “Where Brown was the key theorist of ‘emotions’ as vivid mental feelings with mental causes, in Bell’s work we find a concept of ‘emotion’ which for the first time gave a constitutive role to bodily movements.” (341) Dixon points out that Bell’s work on expression and emotion provided foundations for Darwin’s and James’ later ones.  According to his definition:

“For Bell an “emotion” was a movement of the mind. His brief definition of the term was that “emotions” were “certain changes or affections of the mind, as grief, joy, or astonishment,” which could become visible through “outward signs” on the face or body (Bell, 1824, p. 19). The additional interest of Bell’s work, however, is the importance he gave to bodily movements, especially of the heart and lungs, as not only outward signs, but also as constitutive causes of emotional experience.” (341)

So there were two different models, and the tensions between them “were never fully resolved” (341): “For centuries, theorists have debated what should be considered the true seat of the emotions: the soul or the body; the heart or the brain [Dixon credits here Bound Alberti’s 2010 Matters of the heart]. In view of the importance of Brown and Bell in this conceptual history, I would suggest that the true seat of the “emotions” was in fact the University of Edinburgh, circa 1820 (Dixon, 2006).” (341)


“Passion” and “affection”, now replaced by “emotions”, “were both terms whose etymology and core meanings emphasised passivity, suffering, and disease.” (341) “Since the key early “emotion” theorists, including Brown and Bell, were almost all trained medics, it is significant that they chose to use a word for the vivid mental feelings which detached them from this medical thought-world and its pathological associations [...]” (341) Alongside with that, what also happened was “the detachment of ‘emotion’ from the established languages of morality and religion”. So far, “[m]any of the most influential theorists of “passions” and “affections” had been moral philosophers, clergymen, or both.” But, unlike these and other terms, “emotion” and “emotions” “were detached from the linguistic worlds of theology and moralism.” (342)

“The linguistic shift from ‘passions’ and ‘affections’ to ‘emotions’ thus both reflected and enabled shifts in institutional and intellectual authority. By the end of the 19th century the view was on the rise in European and American universities that a properly scientific account of the human mind would be produced only through a thoroughly physiological investigation.” (342)

But a conceptual consensus was never achieved:

“So, when W. James famously asked in 1884, “What is an emotion?” he was not engaging with an age-old conundrum, but was seeking to define a psychological category that had been in existence only a couple of generations. James’s answer to his own question, one which revealed his indebtedness to Brown, Bell, and Darwin, was that emotions were vivid mental feelings of visceral changes brought about directly by the perception of some object in the world.” (342) But “James’s theory had a curious early career”: “On the one hand, it became, along with the similar theory of the Danish psychologist Carl F. Lange, the flagship emotion theory of the fledgling science of psychology. On the other hand, the theory entirely failed to create consensus among the psychological community except, perhaps, a consensus that it was wrong.” (342) “So, by the 1890s, although the idea that “emotion” was the name of a psychological category had become entrenched, the nascent psychological community had neither an agreed definition of the extent of the category, nor a shared idea of the fundamental characteristics of the states that fell within it.” (342) “The founders of the discipline of psychology in the late 19th century bequeathed to their successors a usage of “emotion” in which the relationship between mind and body and between thought and feeling were confused and unresolved, and which named a [very broad] category of feelings and behaviours […]”. (342)

So contemporary theorists of emotion, for Dixon, still face the need “to articulate the assumed relationships between physiological processes and mental experiences, and between states of feeling and states of thought.” (344) For him, the history of the concept might shed some light on the problem:

“[…] [P]erhaps now that the definitional crisis in “emotion” theories has reached a new peak, the time has come to reinstate in psychological science some version of that distinction between ‘passions’ and ‘affections’ which structured modern thought about mind and morality for so many centuries. […] If the lessons of history and philosophy are taken on board, then, it is just possible that the ideas of Augustine and Aquinas might yet turn out to be just what is needed to inspire a new scientific paradigm of emotions research for the 21st century.” (343)

Further reading

Augustine. The City of God.
Carroll E. Izard. The Many Meanings/Aspects of Emotion: Definitions, Functions, Activation, and Regulation. Emotion Review, October 2010, v. 2, n. 4, pp. 363-370.
Thomas Dixon. From Passions to Emotions: The creation of a secular psychological category. The article above summarized seems to draw on the longer argument of the book, according to the description available at the Cambridge University Press’ website:

“Today there is a thriving ‘emotions industry’ to which philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists are contributing. Yet until two centuries ago ‘the emotions’ did not exist. In this path-breaking study Thomas Dixon shows how, during the nineteenth century, the emotions came into being as a distinct psychological category, replacing existing categories such as appetites, passions, sentiments and affections. By examining medieval and eighteenth-century theological psychologies and placing Charles Darwin and William James within a broader and more complex nineteenth-century setting, Thomas Dixon argues that this domination by one single descriptive category is not healthy. The over-inclusivity of ‘the emotions’ has hampered attempts to argue with any subtlety about the enormous range of mental states and stances of which humans are capable. […]”

See also Professor Dixon's other texts in this link.

Gerhardt Stenger: Diderot's intellectual biography (in french)

On the occasion of the publication of his book Diderot: Le Combattant de la Liberté, Gerhardt Stenger gave this lecture (in french) about the book. It is a nice introduction to Diredot's life and thought, covering his activities as philosopher, romancist, editor of the Encyclopedia, and political thinker.

Further reading
Denis Diderot. Political Writings (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought)
Denis Diderot. Rameau's Nephew and D'Alembert's Dream (Penguin Classics)
Robert Darnton. The Business of Enlightenment: Publishing History of the Encyclopédie, 1775-1800
James Fowler (Ed.). New Essays on Diderot
Gerhardt Stenger. Diderot (in french)

sábado, 4 de outubro de 2014

International conference “Intellectual History. Traditions and Perspectives” (Bochum, 17-19 November 2014)

Here's the description of the aim of the forthcoming conference "Intellectual History: Traditions and Perspectives", that will be held at Ruhr-Universität Bochum in november. Professor Quentin Skinner will deliver the keynote adress.

"Historians currently working in the field of intellectual history can take pleasure in the increasing acceptance of this discipline amongst other historians. There have been increasing indications of its renewal and reevaluation, especially in Germany, since the last decade so that one might say that intellectual history is currently enjoying a high reputation, greater than it has known for decades. But with the rising popularity also comes the need to take stock of the methodological tools that are in use as well as the position intellectual history has within the general historical discipline. The international conference “Intellectual History. Traditions and Perspectives” seeks to intervene in this current debate. It will explore what traditions are still alive today and which perspectives should be opened to intellectual history. The following aspects will be addressed at the conference:

(a) Traditions: What methodologies and theories that have underpinned research in intellectual history in the past remain alive and vital today? Which ones should be sanctioned? What traditional methodologies within intellectual history must be course corrected or reevaluated? Where do schools such as conceptual history, Cambridge School, or discourse analysis stand in the field of intellectual history today?

(b) Perspectives: Can intellectual history learn anything from the „spatial turn“ or the “practical turn”? What new fields of research should be sought and extended? Should global history, science studies, actor-network theory or entangled history give intellectual historians cause to rethink approaches to intellectual history? What new methodologies and theories should be integrated into the current practice of intellectual history?"

More info is available at the event's website:

sexta-feira, 26 de setembro de 2014

An interview with Dominick LaCapra at Intellectual History Review

COUTO, Cristiano Pinheiro de Paula. 2014. Interview with Dominick LaCapra. Intellectual History Review, Volume 24, Issue 2, 2014, pp. 239-237.

Volume 24, Number 2 of the Intellectual History Review contains an interview with Dominick LaCapra, conducted by Cristiano Pinheiro de Paula Couto back in 2012. Professor LaCapra discussed several aspects of his voluminous work, marked by a persistent willingness to investigate the boundaries between history and other disciplines.

Here is a link to the interview. I selected some quotes:

On the possibility of a (in Couto’s words) “dialogue with the dead”, disagreeing with Sebald’s claim that “only in literature […] can there be an attempt at restitution over and above the mere recital of facts, and over and above scholarship”:

“History at some level is always a dialogue with the dead, but the dialogue may be mostly like a monologue when it is restricted to empirical research and reporting the facts with a kind of antiseptic analysis of the facts, that’s when the dialogue becomes most like a monologue, us talking about the dead as something we understand only in narrowly objective terms. But it is possible for history to be at least comparable to literature when it has other dimensions, such as the dimension of the elegy, awareness of political assumptions and effects, and possible implications for the future. To the extent that history has these other performative, ethical, and political dimensions, it is also in essence an “attempt at restitution” – not necessarily redemption but you are in a way bringing back the past and its dead and finding them to be still living in a way that has an impact on how people live today and shape the future.” (241)

Intellectual historians as intellectuals:

“The intellectuals in the United States who tend to be most influential are people who are directly engaged in government and in political processes, as well as people who are in some sense affiliated with corporations.” But this is rarely the case with intellectual historians: “I think the role of people like intellectual historians is much more indirect, and here it is interesting how significant education is for students. The role of the university, of certain courses, and of certain professors may be noteworthy in their lives. That can be something which is pretty significant. It may also be the case that they do something subsequently that takes them very far away from what they did in the university, but it may also be the case that the way they started thinking in the university engaged processes of thought that may nonetheless play a role in what they do in life. I had in class people who later worked on the stock market. Or there was one person, for example, who flew a plane in the navy. These are people who continued to think about things that didn’t really fit in with their own activities but on some level still helped to shape their thought processes.” (242-243)


“The most prominent thing, I think, is the way in which people with whom you work may go on themselves to be educators, sometimes on university levels but not always, and they in a way continue to transmit to other students not what you’ve told them but processes that they developed during interactions with you and other people in classes.” (243)

Two comments on the interaction between discourses of different disciplines:

“What always happens, which is to some extent fortunate and to some extent unfortunate, is that certain kinds of discourses tend to be developed, and once there is more conflict people within those discourses tend to believe that they are under siege. And so they flock together to help protect themselves against external pressures, and to some extent that happens within deconstructive discourse, and poststructuralist discourse in general, as well as psychoanalytic discourse, and the problem is that there may be a decline in mutual cross-fertilization, in the kind of interaction that those within the tendency and those outside the tendency see as challenging.” (244)

“[…] I think the role of intellectual historians is not simply to learn the discourses and be able to speak like Foucault or Derrida, but to engage in a process of translation. There should be, at least in intellectual history, a kind of translation going on between the discourse that seems alien and the discourse that’s been developed as more or less current within the historical field. History is often if not typically very close to common sense, a commonsensical language. So there has to be a kind of mutual give-and-take with interactive inflections made with respect to “ordinary” or commonsensical language and the distinctive discourses or special languages of critical theory. In this way problems seen as significant within the discipline may be rethought in part through an appeal to discourses experienced as alien by historians and in part as these “alien” or unfamiliar discourses are affected by certain problems – including the problems studied in detail by historians – so that critical-theoretical discourses don’t simply go their own way by developing a very, very abstract, involuted orientation that is not affected by certain problems that people in history or government or sociology see as significant problems. There has to be that kind of mutual interaction, which is always a form of translation with both the gains and losses of translation. In a very broad sense these are issues that have both obvious political ramifications and more subtle political ramifications in terms of the constitution of and interactions among disciplines.” (244-245)


Again on the idea of history as a “dialogue” with the past, now with an emphasis on the concept of “transference”:

“I would begin by pointing out that I have never seen history (in the sense of historiography) only as an exchange or “dialogue” with the past. I have also insisted that any exchange is tensely bound up with reconstruction requiring research. So a dialogue is mediated and even checked in multiple ways – by disciplinary protocols that are both constraining and enabling, by exchanges with other inquirers investigating the same object or subject, and by the results of research. It may also be limited or blocked by various forces – differences in power, unconscious processes (including projective tendencies), and the obscurity or opacity of the object.” (245)

“ transference I mean primarily one’s implication in the other or the object of study with the tendency to repeat in one’s own discourse or practice tendencies active in, or projected into, the other or object, for example, having a ritualistic, phobic response to ritual or replicating a scapegoat mechanism in an analysis of scapegoating (say, with respect to historians or other analysts who disagree with your approach). This dimension of transference is, I think, less developed in the literature than the interpersonal bond, which is often centered overmuch on the relation between psychoanalyst and analysand. Transferential processes are most pronounced and difficult to manage with respect to the most affectively charged or ‘cathected’ issues, for example, topics such as the Holocaust, slavery, colonialism, or, until recently in France, the French Revolution. I think that clinical, Oedipally centered transference is best understood as a subcase of this broader tendency to repeat.” (245-246) “Transference is related to a certain excess in relations between self and other that calls for understanding and representation yet is not fully open to mastery or knowledge. In this sense one cannot say exactly what one means by transference if by “exactly” one means a definition or set of criteria that provide adequate knowledge and a full grasp of the problems involved. Such a definition of transference would eliminate the problem of transference. One can only be as precise and comprehensive as the problems allow. And one can call for greater reflection and self-reflection about them on the part of those implicated in them – reflection that may revise, supplement, or contest one’s own formulations.” (246)

Answering the question: “Is it possible to apply psychoanalysis, which is a theory about the individual, to history, a field of knowledge about the human collective, social life through time?” (246)

“I have been trying to argue that it is possible, and I think that the belief that psychoanalysis is a theory about the individual is itself dogmatic and open to question. I would argue that the basic concepts of psychoanalysis, such as transference, repression, disavowal, acting-out and working-through undercut the opposition between the individual and the collective and are individuated or collectivized to varying degrees as they apply in different contexts […]”. (247)

On his “primary motivation in criticizing the opposition between history and memory”: (247)

“It is rather to place in question a conception of history that defines its own putative critical, secular rationality by opposing itself to a homogeneous, indiscriminate, even phobic idea of memory as its other. This deceptive conception of history effaces or denies the very possibility both of a critically tested memory and of possibly fetishized aspects of historiography itself (for example, a certain idea of the archive or the document). In brief, I argue that history and memory are modes of inscription that certainly should not be conflated, but neither should they simply be opposed.” (247)

“Indeed one of the ways history is not merely professional or a matter of research, which of course does not imply denigrating research, is that it undertakes to create a critically tested, accurate memory as its contribution to a cognitively and ethically responsible public sphere.” (248)

On what is entailed by the deconstruction of binary oppositions:

“One of the dubious understandings of deconstruction itself, which has had an influence even on tendencies critical of deconstruction, is the idea that the deconstruction of binary oppositions necessarily entails the undoing or blurring of all distinctions. On the contrary, I argue that the deconstruction of binaries, which is fruitful in undoing the bases of a scapegoat mechanism and, more generally, in questioning overly sharp boundaries, for example, between disciplines, does not entail a collapse of all distinctions or a conception of all thought as entering into a gray zone or an area of free play. Rather it poses in accentuated terms the problem of elaborating distinctions in examining empirical reality or history, criticizing the manner in which distinctions are often compulsively converted into binaries, developing what one argues to be more desirable distinctions, assessing their strength or weakness, and carefully exploring their relations to what Derrida terms undecidability.” (249-250)

On the current state of the field:

“I would say that at the present time an important concern is that intellectual and even cultural history may be in the process of being de-institutionalized within the discipline of history.” (254)

“The elimination or down-sizing of theoretically alert intellectual or cultural-intellectual historians from departments of history would deprive the discipline of a certain leaven, and it would impair the sustained critical interaction between theoretical reflection and practices of research addressed to specific problems.” (254)

segunda-feira, 11 de agosto de 2014

Bevernage, Delanote, Froeyman, and Van de Mieroop on contemporary historical theory’s relation with its past

Commented reading: Journal of the Philosophy of History, 2014, 8, 3 – Part 1

Berber Bevernage, Broos Delanote, Anton Froeyman, Kenan Van de Mieroop. Introduction: The Future of the Theory and Philosophy of History, pp. 141-148.

International Network for Theory of History’s inaugural conference took place in Ghent, Belgium, last year, “around the central theme of the future of the theory and philosophy of history.” (141) The current edition of the Journal of the Philosophy of History gathers some of the papers presented there.

In this introduction, the authors ask themselves: “[…] what do these articles tell us about the future of philosophy of history?” (146) “[T]he first thing we see”, they say, “is that creating the future requires one to deal with the heritage of the field: the programs, projects and problems of the previous generation.” They evaluate, in short, that new philosophers of history assume “a moderate stance in relation to the tradition”. (146)

The authors point out that the history of the discipline is “is so often emplotted in a conventional narrative form: depending on one’s feelings about positivism and the ‘scientific’ interpretation of the writing of history, this story will almost inevitably take the form of either a comedy or a tragedy.” (146-147) Further, they specify: “If we understand the story of our field as a series of paradigm shifts which were affected by singular heroic acts of intellectual innovation, then it is easy to see how it can be hard to position oneself as a young researcher.” (147) Although the claim seems to me unquestionably accurate, it seems to leave out the what is most essential: the fact that the narrativists thesis not only substantially broadened our understanding of historical epistemology, but are also articulable with, and even openly stimulate, a whole array of new questions.

The editors identify a shift in the field, “from epistemological and methodological questions towards ethical, political and existential questions.” Now, as Herman Paul has shown (in Hayden White: The Historical Imagination), although White's work has generated countless epistemological discussions, it was itself much more worried about issues of “ethical, political, and existential” character. Then, I’d suggest the younger authors’ relation with the tradition of the field is also the result of the merits of their (in W. B. Gallie’s term) “original exemplars”. Danto proposed that “a first test of a philosophical theory should be that it account for itself whenever relevant” (The Decline and Fall of the Analytical Philosophy of History, p. 73): according to him, Kuhn’s paradigm theory could do so, but Hempel’s deductive-nomological model  could not. Here in this introduction, is worth noticing that the authors deliberately explained the “heroic” position often attributed to White resorting to White’s own theories. I would take this as an example of the power of the tools his oeuvre puts at our disposal – although not in an intrinsically heroic way. Continuing the comparison: for Danto, the pre-narrativist debate about the applicability of the covering law-model to history was not solved, but simply abandoned: Hempel’s proposals, for him, were still valid; they merely lost their relevance. Now, as to narrativist debate, seems possible to me to state that the situation is somewhat different: the epistemological discussions lost their relevance, but, on the other hand, other aspects of the tradition kept it – maybe because of its malleability, since narratives and representations permeate both history as process and history as writing and are (arguably, at least) directly related to topics such as memory, experience, trauma, and others.

(Even the most “radical” of the proposals set at the conference, the attempt to effectuate a “a rehabilitation of speculative philosophy of history”, was openly advocated by White in Metahistory, whose first “general conclusion” claims that “there can be no ‘proper history’ which is not at the same time ‘philosophy of history’ [p. xi]. More recently, David Carr proposed a “metaphilosophy of history”, developed in dialogue with Danto’s and White’s paradigmatic thesis [not to mention his own, more clearly stated in Time, Narrative, and History], in which the “classical philosophy of history” is understood not as a cognitive or theoretical embodiment of the teleological structure, but as a practical embodiment of it.” [Re-Figuring Hayden White, p. 25])

The authors also acknowledge what has just been said: in the end, they look for support in the notion of “practical past” – borrowed by White from Michael Oakeshott –, as an antidote to the fact, pointed out by Gabrielle Spiegel, that “the concepts of memory and memory studies in general are in danger of losing their critical perspective”: “What we advocate,” they say, “is a more reflective approach that is closer to what Hayden White has called the ‘practical past’. We welcome White’s call to embrace the practical past provided that the term ‘practical’ is interpreted in a double way: on the one hand as a denotation of a study object (the way the past is used to change or conserve the present), but on the other hand also, and maybe even more importantly, as an urge to make our research practically relevant.” (147-148) Bevernage's History, Memory, and State-Sponsored Violence: Time and Justice is an excellent example of this approach.

sexta-feira, 17 de janeiro de 2014

Links: E. P. Thompson, Ernst Jünger, Tim Button's The Limits of Realism, Ann Laura Stoler and a call for papers

Past & Present has mabe avaiable for free, until the end of March, fifteen texts on E. P. Thompson's work:
(Thanks to Prof. André Joanilho)

"Jünger in Paris: A Writer’s Wartime Account in the City of Lights", an excerpt from Allan Mitchell's The Devil’s Captain: Ernst Jünger in Nazi Paris, 1941-1944

Tim Button's The Limits of Realism (Oxford University Press, 2013) reviewed by Lieven Decock.

Friday, February 7th, at CUNY: Imperial Debris: Roundtable with Ann Laura Stoler

Call for papers “Democracy: Historical and Semantic Transformations”, to be held at the University of Glasgow, September 3-6th, 2013.

quinta-feira, 16 de janeiro de 2014

Critical Inquiry, Volume 40, Issue 2, Winter 2014

The Psychoanalytical Method and the Disaster of Totalitarianism: Borderline States as the Psychical Equivalent of the Discontent in Civilization?
François Villa

Music and Melancholy
Michael P. Steinberg

Avant-Garde in a Different Key: Karl Kraus's The Last Days of Mankind
Marjorie Perloff

Courbet, Incommensurate and Emergent
James D. Herbert

Phenomenology of the Scream
Peter Schwenger

China's Last Communist: Ai Weiwei
Christian Sorace

On the Partiality of Total War
Paul K. Saint-Amour

Another Literary Darwinism
Angus Fletcher

Agamben, the Thought of Sterēsis: An Introduction to Two Essays
Kalpana Seshadri

The Power of Thought
Giorgio Agamben

Vocation and Voice
Giorgio Agamben


quarta-feira, 15 de janeiro de 2014

Journal of the History of Ideas, Volume 75, Number 1, January 2014

Euripides’s Orestes and the Concept of Conscience in Greek Philosophy
Jed W. Atkins

Competing Traditions in the Historiography of Ancient Greek Colonization in Italy
Lela M. Urquhart

Vitoria’s Ideas of Supernatural and Natural Sovereignty: Adam and Eve’s Marriage, the Uncivil Amerindians, and the Global Christian Nation
Toy-Fung Tung

Francis Bacon, Violence, and the Motion of Liberty: The Aristotelian Background
Peter Pesic

Sir John Davies’s Agrarian Law for Ireland
D. Alan Orr

Differing Interpretations of la conscience collective and “the Individual” in Turkey: Émile Durkheim and the Intellectual Origins of the Republic
Hilmi Ozan Özavcı

Review-Essay: Religion and Enlightenment
Simon Grote


For updates about new journal editions and books, please join our Facebook page. : )

terça-feira, 14 de janeiro de 2014

Rethinking Modern European Intellectual History, edited by Darrin M. McMahon and Samuel Moyn


Out today, January 14h.

Table of Contents
(Source: OUP)

Introduction: Interim Intellectual History, Darrin M. McMahon and Samuel Moyn

1. The Return of the History of Ideas?, Darrin M. McMahon
2. Contextualism and Criticism in the History of Ideas, Peter E. Gordon
3. Does Intellectual History Exist in France?: The Chronicle of a Renaissance Foretold, Antoine Lilti
4. On Conceptual History, Jan-Werner Müller
5. Scandalous Relations: Supplementing Intellectual and Cultural History, Judith Surkis
6. Imaginary Intellectual History, Samuel Moyn
7. Has the History of the Disciplines Had Its Day?, Suzanne Marchand
8. Cosmologies Materialized: History of Science and History of Ideas, John Tresch
9. Decentering Sex: Reflections on Freud, Foucault, and Subjectivity in Intellectual History, Tracie Matysik
10. Can we see ideas? On Evocation, Experience, and Empathy, Marci Shore
11. The Space of Intellect and the Intellect of Space, John Randolph
12. The International Turn in Intellectual History, David Armitage
13. Global Intellectual History and the Indian Political, Shruti Kapila
14. Intellectual History and the Interdisciplinary Ideal, Warren Breckman

sábado, 11 de janeiro de 2014

Books on "Presence"

The topic of the "presence" of the past, alongside with others such as the historical experience, the ethical relationship between present and past, the human-animal relation, etc., has gained increased attention in the last decade by historical theorists, providing a most welcome supplement to the previous discussions focused on the production of meaning. 

Here is a short bibliography on the topic, which also includes some more empirical-oriented studies about the twentieth-century history that deal with "persistent pasts". Suggestions are welcome!

GHOSH, Ranjan & KLEINBERG, Ethan (Eds.). Presence: Philosophy, History, and Cultural Theory for the Twenty-First Century. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013.

GUMBRECHT, Hans Ulrich. After 1945: Latency as Origin of the Present. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2013.

ANKERSMIT, Frank. Presence. In: Meaning, Truth, and Reference in Historical Representation. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012.

MUNSLOW, Alun. The Presence of the Past. In: A History of History. London and New York: Routledge, 2012.

FROEYMAN, Anton. Frank Ankersmit and Eelco Runia: the presence and the otherness of the past. Rethinking History, Volume 16, Issue 3, 2012, pp. 393-415.

BEVERNAGE, Berber. History, Memory, and State-Sponsored Violence: Time and Justice. London: Routledge, 2011.

LORENZ, Chris. Unstuck in Time. Or: the sudden presence of the past. In: TILMANS, Karin, VREE, Frank Van & WINTER Jay (Eds.). Performing the Past: Memory, History and Identity in Modern Europe. Amsterdan: Amsterdan University Press, 2010, pp. 67-102.

PIETTE, Albert. L’acte d’exister : Une phenomenographie de la presence. Socrate Promarex, 2009.

BEVERNAGE, Berber. Time, Presence, and Historical Injustice. History and Theory, vol. 47, n. 2, 2008, pp. 149–167.

RUNIA, Eelco & BROUWER, Elizabeth (Eds.). History and Theory. Forum: On Presence. October 2006, pp. 305-375.

RUNIA, Eelco. Presence. History and Theory, v. 45, n. 1, February 2006, pp 1-29.

GUMBRECHT, Hans Ulrich. Production of Presence: What meaning cannot convey. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004.

HUYSSEN, Andreas. Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003.

NANCY, Jean-Luc. The Birth to Presence. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993.

STEINER, George. Real Presences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989.

Roger Chartier - Seven Questions interview with Sudev J Sheth

Disqus - Prefigurations