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Philosophy and Contemporary Critical Theory MA student John Merrick will be speaking at the The Philosophy of Walter Benjamin Conference which is taking place at Goldsmiths on the 14th and 15th of December 2012. His paper is entitled Benjamin’s non-Hegelian dialectics. Here is the abstract:
Benjamin’s early engagement with Kant, and his meta-critique of the Kantian concept of experience as paradigmatic of the Enlightenment, was an attempt to make Kant “messianic” by opening the Kantian architectonic to an experience of the infinite. This extension of experience to encompass the ephemeral allows for the messianic irruption of the infinite into the finite through the pinching of two temporal moments; and hence to a metaphysical political temporality. This concept shall be read through Benjamin’s work as a whole in an attempt to analyse Adorno’s repeated characterisation of Benjamin as never grasping the distinctly Hegelian concept of mediation.
This essay shall argue that it is precisely the messianic politicisation of temporality that prevents the mediation of history in Benjamin’s work, and hence his critique of progressive philosophies of history shall be re-read in light of the forced reconciliation of the pinching of temporal moments. Crucial to this task is the question of Benjamin’s relation to Hegel and the German dialectical tradition, which shall be analysed, firstly, through Benjamin’s early desire to create a non-Hegelian post-Kantian philosophy, and secondly, through mediation in Adorno. and Benjamin’s concept of “technique”, as a re-working of dialectical mediation.
John will be giving is paper on friday 14th at 2:30 pm in a panel on Walter Benjamin and Hegel.