Critique of Journalistic Reason: Language and History in Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Benjamin

Vandeputte, Thomas. 2017. Critique of Journalistic Reason: Language and History in Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Benjamin. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This dissertation examines the significance of a theme that recurs throughout the work of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Benjamin but has remained largely overlooked: their preoccupation with journalism. I aim to show that the numerous reflections on journalism that punctuate their writings cannot be separated from their philosophy ‘proper’. On the contrary: as I will argue, this preoccupation plays a pivotal role in the philosophical work of each of these thinkers – in particular their reflections on the philosophy of history. This pivotal role is best understood by examining the theme of journalism in the context of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Benjamin’s inquiries into the conditions and possibilities of historical experience. For each of the three thinkers discussed here, the structure of our experience of history is crystallised in an exemplary manner in the figures of the journalist and the newspaper reader. To understand the conditions under which historical experience becomes possible, so their reflections on the topic suggest, would require a study of journalism and its language, its subjective types and figures, its characteristic sense of time. As such, the figure of journalism will play a distinctly ambivalent role: for Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Benjamin alike, it will mark both the site of the breakdown of historical experience and of its possible renewal. Each of the thinkers discussed here will understand journalism as the exemplary expression of a collapse of the main categories of the philosophy of history after Hegel. At the same time, however, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Benjamin will treat journalism as a site from which a new experience of history may be wrested. As I will show, the images of market criers and angelic messengers, errant reports and rumours, pamphlets and ephemera that are scattered throughout their work can be seen to harbour the elements of a new conception of historical time and experience.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00022570

Keywords:

Philosophy, journalism, Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Benjamin, historical time, the instant, untimely, actuality

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)

Date:

30 November 2017

Item ID:

22570

Date Deposited:

13 Dec 2017 14:56

Last Modified:

01 Sep 2021 01:26

URI:

https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/22570

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