[SydPhil] [Philosophy at UWS seminar] Alison Ross: The figures of ‘hope’ and ‘redemption’ in Benjamin’s ‘Goethe’s Elective Affinities’ essay, April 2, 2014

Philosophy@UWS Philosophy at uws.edu.au
Thu Mar 27 17:30:38 AEDT 2014

Philosophy @ UWS Seminars 2014
The Writing and Society Research Centre and Philosophy @ UWS present:

Associate Professor Alison Ross
ARC Future Fellow, Monash University

TITLE: The figures of ‘hope’ and ‘redemption’ in Benjamin’s ‘Goethe’s Elective Affinities’ essay

DATE/TIME: Wednesday April 2, 3.30 pm - 5.00 pm

PLACE: University of Western Sydney, Bankstown Campus, Building 3, Room 3.G.27  [How to get to Bankstown Campus]<http://www.uws.edu.au/campuses_structure/cas/campuses/bankstown>

In ‘Goethe’s Elective Affinities’ (1924/5) Benjamin tackles the question of how Goethe’s novel presents the feeling of hope for redemption. The essay sets out a contrast between the anxiety and paralysis that Benjamin identifies as features of the mythic life and the transcendent breach of the revelation. The mythic life is guided by ambiguous sensible forms, which are presumed to contain meaningful communication. In contrast to myth, Benjamin describes the feeling of hope for redemption as akin to a caesura or break with the self-sufficient sensible form. The essay thus pivots on a polemic against aesthetic form, which Benjamin treats in the pejorative vocabulary of semblance and bourgeois choice. Nonetheless, Benjamin’s treatment of the feeling of hope for redemption has striking similarities with the aesthetic feeling of the sublime, as this is described in Kantian aesthetics. As such, the mark of the exit from the captivating semblance is arguably another aesthetic figure, rather than a transcendent breach. The point is admittedly a complicated one, especially if we take into account the fact that the sublime, in its Kantian articulation, is a feeling that does not require sensible presentation. Such a feeling, I will argue, nevertheless carries by virtue of its context and implications, the qualities of the aesthetic that Benjamin’s essay otherwise denounces as grounded in myth.

Alison Ross<http://www.monash.edu.au/research/people/profiles/profile.html?sid=3227&pid=3385> is an ARC Future Fellow in the Philosophy Department at Monash University. She works on the history of modern philosophy, contemporary French and German thought, and aesthetics. Her publications include The Aesthetic Paths of Philosophy: Presentation in Kant, Heidegger, Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy (2007). Most recently, she has published the co-edited study Jacques Rancière and the Contemporary Scene (with Jean-Philippe Deranty, 2012). Her new book Walter Benjamin’s Concept of the Image is due out later this year.

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For future research seminars on Philosophy, please visit www.uws.edu.au/philosophy/seminars2014<http://www.uws.edu.au/philosophy/seminars2014>

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Mariana Fragueiro
Administration Coordinator, Philosophy Research Initiative
University of Western Sydney
Bankstown Campus Building 5
Locked Bag 1797
Penrith NSW  2751
+61 2 9772 6190

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