In this major reinterpretation, Howard Caygill argues that all of Benjamin's work is characterized by its focus on a concept of experience derived from Kant but applied by Benjamin to objects as diverse as urban experience, visual art, literature and philosophy. The book analyzes the development of Benjamin's concept of experience in his early writings showing that it emerges from an engagement with visual experience, and in particular the experience of colour. By representing Benjamin as primarily a thinker of the (...) visual field, Caygill is able to bring forward previously neglected texts on inscription and the visual field and to cast many of his more familiar texts, for instance the Work of Art in an Age of Mechanical Reproduction in a new light. (shrink)
Whatever it is, bad weather or good, the loss of a friend, sickness, slander, the failure of some letter to arrive, the spraining of an ankle, a glance into a shop, a counter-argument, the opening of a book, a dream, a fraud - either immediately or very soon after it proves to be something that "must not be missing"; it has a profound significance and use precisely for us. Is there any more dangerous seduction that might tempt one to renounce (...) one's faith in the gods of Epicurus who have no care and are unknown, and to believe instead in some petty deity who is full of care and personally knows every little hair on our head and finds nothing nauseous in the most miserable small service? Nietzsche The Gay Science § 2771. (shrink)
Chapter traces the theme of hyperaesthesia and its correlates throughout Bergson’s work, arguing for a reading of his contributions to psychic research in the context of his theory of perception. It also shows that the experience of expanded perception was central to Bergson’s expansive understanding of inherent human powers and their development.
Howard Caygill systematically explores for the first time the relationship between Levinas' thought and the political. From Levinas' early writings in the face of National Socialism to controversial political statements on Israeli and French politics, Caygill analyses themes such as the deconstruction of metaphysics, embodiment, the face and alterity. He also examines Levinas' engagement with his contemporaries Heidegger and Bataille, and the implications of his rethinking of the political for an understanding of the Holocaust.