The Lyrical Age: Reconfiguring Metaphysics, Modernity, and Poetry in the Thought of Martin Heidegger

Dissertation, Villanova University (2004)

Ammon Allred
University of Toledo
"The Lyrical Age: Reconfiguring Metaphysics, Modernity and Poetry in the Thought of Martin Heidegger," focuses on the intersections in 19th and 20th century philosophy between metaphysics and aesthetics, and the influence they have on Martin Heidegger's understanding of the history of philosophy. Kant's Critique of Judgment suggested that the experience of art should play a central role in synthesizing theoretical and practical forms of knowledge. This suggestion played a crucial role in the development of post-Kantian philosophy. My dissertation analyzes Heidegger's response to Hegel's speculative understanding of art and poetry. For Hegel, the death of art was a critical moment in the development of absolute spirit. The critique of the notion of absolute spirit is one of the central motifs of Heidegger's work. It depended on showing the continued relevance of art to philosophy. I argue that his own efforts involved appropriation certain Hegelian gestures and accepting a classical model for art. In Part One, I trace this model from Aristotle, through Hegel and Nietzsche and up to Heidegger. I show how these assumptions form the basis for some of the most important criticisms of Heidegger's ontology and his theory of poetry. I examine the deconstructionist critiques of Jacques Derrida, Veronique Foti, and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe. Because I argue that Heidegger follows Hegel in implicitly adopting an epic model of poetry along with a classical model of art, I end Part One by suggesting the need for a lyrical theory of poetry more suited to the exigencies of modernity. In Part Two, I propose an original solution to these criticisms by re-reading Heidegger's philosophy of language in light of his interpretation of ancient Greek philosophy and the poetry of Friedrich Holderlin. In the course of this re-reading, I develop a theory of lyric poetry and a compatible theory of modern philosophy. In Part Three, I end the dissertation by applying this theory to the philosophy of Martin Heidegger and the poetry of Paul Celan, who explicitly poses new challenges to major motifs in Heidegger's philosophy, such as the significance of ambiguity and the meaning of nihilism in modernity
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