Showcase: Walter Benjamin

Walter Benjamin (15 July 1892 – 26 September 1940) was a German philosopher, and a cultural critic, combining elements of German Idealism, Romanticism, Marxism, and Kabbalah. He was associated with the Frankfurt School.

Benjamin was early on keen on art. He saw in photography a democratic form of art. He considered that the photographic reproduction of an artwork (a poster or a postcard for example) was of higher social value than the original (only viewed in a gallery) because the artwork in question could be possessed and enjoyed (very democratically) by the art lover in a time and place that suits them. He sensed that a copy was of higher social significance on postmodern thought and has influenced (in one way or other) a number of late-20th-century art movements, including Pop art and Conceptual art.

Whereas high art needed the intervention of an art expert or critic to explain its true meaning, Benjamin was an admirer of Hollywood cinema because the sound film could be enjoyed collectively by the public without the need for a critic to explain its meaning: “the greater the decrease in the social significance of an art form,” he said of the Hollywood film, “the sharper the distinction between criticism and enjoyment by the public.”

In the same frame of thought, Benjamin helped explain urbanization in terms of an historical and ideological shift from a culture of production to a culture of consumption and commodification.

Showcase: Gilles Deleuze

Gilles Deleuze was a 20th century French philosopher (1925-1995) who, from the early 1950s until his death in 1995, wrote on philosophy, literature, film, and fine art. His most popular works were the two volumes of Capitalism and SchizophreniaAnti-Oedipus (1972) and A Thousand Plateaus (1980), both co-written with psychoanalyst Felix Guattari. His work has influenced a variety of disciplines across the humanities, including philosophy, art, and literature, as well as movements such as post-structuralism and postmodernism.

Here is a list of my posts on Gilles Deleuze:

Gilles Deleuze on the world and space dilemma

Gilles Deleuze and his views on people

Gilles Deleuze on desire, becoming an Idiot and dismantling systems

The Idiot: Deleuze’s political concept to crack the system’s wall

Le nomade, le migrant et le sédentaire chez Gilles Deleuze et Félix Guattari Reading WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY? (17): Spectres and Personae (Deleuze and Derrida)

The body in philosophy

White Man vs white men

Yoga or the deleuzian Body without Organs !

How the War Made Wittgenstein the Philosopher He Was ‹ Literary Hub

A century ago, Ludwig Wittgenstein changed philosophy forever.

Wittgenstein’s field of interest is mainly language, communication, and the truth behind people’s interactions and understanding each other’s.

He said “What we can’t tell, should kept silent”; something to remind us the limit of language and the limit of the world.

In his quest for limits, he decided to enrol in the WWI to experience life when faced to death and that changed him for good.

This article describes the troubled and troubling thinker that he is and the main ideas of his theory:

“How the War Made Wittgenstein the Philosopher He Was ‹ Literary Hub” https://lithub.com/how-the-war-made-wittgenstein-the-philosopher-he-was/

J-P Sartre: La conscience est intentionnalité

La conscience et le monde sont donnés d’un même coup : extérieur par essence à la conscience, le monde est, par essence, relatif à elle. C’est que Husserl voit dans la conscience un fait irréductible qu’aucune image ne peut rendre. Sauf, peut-être, l’image rapide et obscure de l’éclatement. Connaître, c’est « s’éclater vers », s’arracher à la moite intimité gastrique pour filer, là-bas, par-delà soi, vers ce qui n’est pas soi, là-bas, près de l’arbre et cependant hors de lui, car il m’échappe et me repousse et je ne peux pas plus me perdre en lui qu’il ne se peut diluer en moi : hors de lui, hors de moi. Est-ce que vous ne reconnaissez pas dans cette description vos exigences et vos pressentiments ? Vous saviez bien que l’arbre n’était pas vous, que vous ne pouviez pas le faire entrer dans vos estomacs sombres et que la connaissance ne pouvait pas, sans malhonnêteté, se comparer à la possession. Du même coup, la conscience s’est purifiée, elle est claire comme un grand vent, il n’y a plus rien en elle, sauf un mouvement pour se fuir, un glissement hors de soi ; si, par impossible, vous entriez « dans » une conscience, vous seriez saisi par un tourbillon et rejeté au-dehors, près de l’arbre, en pleine poussière, car la conscience n’a pas de « dedans » ; elle n’est rien que le dehors d’elle-même et c’est cette fuite absolue, ce refus d’être substance qui la constituent comme une conscience. Imaginez à présent une suite liée d’éclatements qui nous arrachent à nous-mêmes, qui ne laissent même pas à un « nous-mêmes » le loisir de se former derrière eux, mais qui nous jettent au contraire au-delà d’eux, dans la poussière sèche du monde, sur la terre rude, parmi les choses ; imaginez que nous sommes ainsi rejetés, délaissés par notre nature même dans un monde indifférent, hostile et rétif ; vous aurez saisi le sens profond de la découverte que Husserl exprime dans cette fameuse phrase : « Toute conscience est conscience de quelque chose. » […] Que la conscience essaye de se reprendre, de coïncider enfin avec elle-même, tout au chaud, volets clos, elle s’anéantit. Cette nécessité pour la conscience d’exister comme conscience d’autre chose que soi, Husserl la nomme intentionnalité.

Jean-Paul Sartre, « Une idée fondamentale de la phénoménologie de Husserl : l’intentionnalité », Situations [1947], Gallimard, 2010, p. 10-11.?

J. Krishnamurti Freedom from the Known-Book summary

Jiddu Krishnamurti “Freedom from the known” is a hand-book meant to transform the human life by projecting the mistakes humans are committing, in various fields of social, political, religious, personal and relationships. Krishnamurti has focused on changing the perspective or thinking of an individual. We mostly live our life based on old beliefs, ideals, truth, […]

J. Krishnamurti Freedom from the Known-Book summary

Carl Schmitt: The Concept of the Political

Carl Schmitt is one of the most notorious and important political philosophers of the 20th century. He is an enigma. An unrepentant Nazi Party member, he refused de-Nazification after the war. Despite this, he is a mainstay in the political canon—and, ironically, it is the New Left that has taken up the mantle of Schmitt […]

Carl Schmitt: The Concept of the Political

Walter Benjamin on mass distraction!

Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) was a German philosopher who committed suicide for not being able to escape under sieged France. The text was below was taken from his books The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1936), an essay on cultural criticism on mass reproduction that undervalues the uniqueness of art.

“The mass is a matrix from which all traditional behavior toward works of art issues today in a new form. Quantity has been transmuted into quality. The greatly increased mass of participants has produced a change in the mode of participation. The fact that the new mode of participation first appeared in a disreputable form must not confuse the spectator. Yet some people have launched spirited attacks against precisely this superficial aspect. Among these, Duhamel has expressed himself in the most radical manner. What he objects to most is the kind of participation which the movie elicits from the masses. Duhamel calls the movie “a pastime for helots, a diversion for uneducated, wretched, worn-out creatures who are consumed by their worries a spectacle which requires no concentration and presupposes no intelligence which kindles no light in the heart and awakens no hope other than the ridiculous one of someday becoming a ‘star’ in Los Angeles.” Clearly, this is at bottom the same ancient lament that the masses seek distraction whereas art demands concentration from the spectator. That is a commonplace.

Distraction and concentration form polar opposites which may be stated as follows: A man who concentrates before a work of art is absorbed by it. He enters into this work of art the way legend tells of the Chinese painter when he viewed his finished painting. In contrast, the distracted mass absorbs the work of art. This is most obvious with regard to buildings. Architecture has always represented the prototype of a work of art the reception of which is consummated by a collectivity in a state of distraction. The laws of its reception are most instructive.

The distracted person, too, can form habits. More, the ability to master certain tasks in a state of distraction proves that their solution has become a matter of habit

Reception in a state of distraction, which is increasing noticeably in all fields of art and is symptomatic of profound changes in apperception, finds in the film its true means of exercise”. 

Heidegger: “Being-in-the-World” as “Being-With”

The opening chapters of Heidegger’s Being and Time establishes the structural reality of existential being.  Again, Heidegger is attempting several things in his great treatise, but the boiled down “to the point” project is that Heidegger is attempting to recover the philosophy of metaphysical ontology (being) and, by this recovery, avoid the problems of nihilism, relativism, and […]

Heidegger: “Being-in-the-World” as “Being-With”

Heidegger and the Crisis of Philosophy

Martin Heidegger rose to prominence with the publication of his magisterial ontological treatise Being and Time.  The work opens with a reflection on the nature of being, “Being is the most universal concept,” Heidegger declares, and that the question of being “has today been forgotten.”  Why did Heidegger write his seemingly incomprehensible work and to whom […]

Heidegger and the Crisis of Philosophy