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Focusing on a wide range of philosophers and writers, from Nietzsche to Derrida and Flaubert to Borges, this book charts the history of the deployment of the concept of nihilism within the discourses of philosophical and aesthetic modernism and considers the similarities and differences between modernist and postmodernist approaches to nihilism.
At the heart of some of the most influential strands of philosophical, political, and aesthetic modernism lies the conviction that modernity is fundamentally nihilistic. This book offers a wide-ranging critical history of the concept of nihilism from its origins in French Revolutionary discourse to its place in recent theorizations of the postmodern. Key moments in that history include the concept's appropriation by political activists in mid-nineteenth-century Russia, by Nietzsche in the 1880s, by the European avant-garde and 'high' modernists in the early decades of the twentieth century, by conservative revolutionaries in Germany in the interwar years, and by major theorists in the post-Holocaust period. Focusing in particular on the abiding impact of Nietzsche's claim that art is the 'only superior counterforce' to nihilism, Weller argues that an understanding of modernism (and, indeed, of postmodernism) is impossible without a reflection upon the decisive role played by the concept of nihilism therein.
Nihilism, Modernism, and Value consists of three jargon-free lectures addressed to the general reader. It explores a variety of ways in which writers responded to the phenomenon of nihilism in the 19th and early 20th centuries, By "nihilism" here is meant a sense, at times paralyzing, of the instability and perhaps groundlessness of all values. The book goes into some of the factors— psychological, sociological, philosophical—involved in that destabilizing. But its principal focus is on reintegration, and it draws freely on real-world experiences to illuminate concepts and strategies. Among the writers whose names figure in it are Conrad, Nietzsche, Beckett, Woolf, Heidegger, Rhys, Pushkin, Baudelaire, Hemingway, Lessing, Stevens, Valéry, and James (William), with particular attention at one point to Kafka and Borges. But no prior knowledge of them is required for following the argument, with its numerous lively quotations. The author himself is advancing heuristically, not just performing an academic exercise. The problems confronted are as relevant still as they were generations ago. A reviewer of John Fraser's first book spoke of "an extremely agile and incessantly active mind which illuminates almost every subject it touches." A reviewer of the second one, both of them published by Cambridge University Press, called it "a brilliant and utterly absorbing work," and said that "There are not many learned books which have the unputdownable quality of a thriller; this is one of them."
In this volume Robert Pippin disputes many traditional characterisations of the distinctiveness of modern philosophy.
A critique and defense of modern legal theory
A stunning revelation of the eerie likeness between schizophrenic insanity and the sensibility of modern art, literature, and thought, Madness and Modernism presents a vivid and highly original portrait of the world of the madman, along with a provocative commentary on modernist and postmodernist culture. Sass, a clinical psychologist, explores the bizarre experiences of schizophrenia (and related conditions) through a comparison with the works of various artists and writers, including Franz Kafka, Paul Valery, Samuel Beckett, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Giorgio de Chirico, and Marcel Duchamp, and by considering the ideas of philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, William James, Martin Heidegger, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida. The similarities between madness and modernism are striking: defiance of authority and convention; an extreme, often dizzying relativism, which can culminate in paralysis; nihilism and all-embracing irony; a tantalizing, uncanny, but always frustrating sense of revelation; obliteration of standard forms of time and narrative; pervasive dehumanization; and disappearance of external reality in favor of the omnipotent ego or, alternatively, dissolution of all sense of selfhood. This rigorously argued, gracefully written book offers a startlingly new vision of schizophrenia, an illness long recognized as the greatest challenge to psychiatric or psychological understanding. Conventionally seen as a loss of rationality, perhaps involving a return to some infantile or bestial condition, schizophrenia, according to Sass, is better understood as, in a sense, a disease of hyperrationality, with detachment from action, emotions, and the body and entrapment in forms ofacute self-consciousness and heightened awareness. Sass refuses to romanticize the schizophrenic as a heroic rebel, mystic, or passionate Wildman, arguing instead that this condition echoes many of the most alienating aspects of modern life. In an epilogue and appendix, he considers whether modern culture might actively contribute to the genesis or shaping of schizophrenic forms of pathology, and he discusses the possible role of abnormalities of the brain.
A great deal of Buddhist literature and scholarly writing about Buddhism of the past 150 years reflects, and indeed constructs, a historically unique modern Buddhism, even while purporting to represent ancient tradition, timeless teaching, or the "essentials" of Buddhism. This literature, Asian as well as Western, weaves together the strands of different traditions to create a novel hybrid that brings Buddhism into alignment with many of the ideologies and sensibilities of the post-Enlightenment West. In this book, David McMahan charts the development of this "Buddhist modernism." McMahan examines and analyzes a wide range of popular and scholarly writings produced by Buddhists around the globe. He focuses on ideological and imaginative encounters between Buddhism and modernity, for example in the realms of science, mythology, literature, art, psychology, and religious pluralism. He shows how certain themes cut across cultural and geographical contexts, and how this form of Buddhism has been created by multiple agents in a variety of times and places. His position is critical but empathetic: while he presents Buddhist modernism as a construction of numerous parties with varying interests, he does not reduce it to a mistake, a misrepresentation, or fabrication. Rather, he presents it as a complex historical process constituted by a variety of responses -- sometimes trivial, often profound -- to some of the most important concerns of the modern era.

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