Very Little-- Almost Nothing: Death, Philosophy, Literature

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Very Little ... Almost Nothing puts the question of the meaning of life back at the centre of intellectual debate. Its central concern is how we can find a meaning to human finitude without recourse to anything that transcends that finitude. A profound but secular meditation on the theme of death, Critchley traces the idea of nihilism through Blanchot, Levinas, Jena Romanticism and Cavell, culminating in a reading of Beckett, in many ways the hero of the book.
In this second edition, Simon Critchley has added a revealing and extended new preface, and a new chapter on Wallace Stevens which reflects on the idea of poetry as philosophy.

 

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Contents

Preamble Travels in Nihilon
1
a Philosophy begins in disappointment
2
b PreNietzschean nihilism
4
cNietzschean nihilism
8
five possibilities
11
e Heideggers transformation of Nietzschean nihilism
15
f Heidegger contra Jiinger
18
Adorno on nihilism
21
c Romantic ambiguity
123
Thefragment
125
ii Wit and irony
131
The nonromantic essence of romanticism
135
dCavells romanticism
138
ii Emerson as the literary absolute
141
Digression II Why Stanley loves America and why we should too
147
f Cavells romanticism
154

hLearning how to die the argument
29
I1 y a
35
b How is literature possible?
40
cOrpheus or the law of desire
48
exteriority as desire exteriority as law
52
e11 y a the origin of the artwork
56
Hegel avec Sade
57
Second slope ajate worse than death
63
Hi Ambiguity Blanchots secret
71
f The impossibility of death or how would
77
ft
85
Atheist transcendence
89
Unworking romanticism
99
Kantian fragmentation
102
ii Deepest naiveté political romanticism
105
Hegel Schlegel
110
iv Romantic modernity
113
Digression I Imagination as resistance Wallace Stevens
114
I live my scepticism
155
Cavells tragic wisdom
157
Finiteness limitedness
161
Lecture 3 Know happiness on Beckett
165
b The dredging machine Derrida
169
c The meaning of meaninglessness and the paradoxical task of interpretation Adorno I
172
d Hope against hope the elevation of social criticism to the level of form Adorno II
181
e Nothing is funnier than unhappiness Becketts laughter Adorno III
184
f Storytime time of death Molloy Malone Dies
188
The Unnameable
195
h Who speaks? Not I Blanchot
202
i No happiness? Cavell
207
The philosophical significance of a poem on Wallace Stevens
215
Notes
237
Acknowledgements
270
Index
273
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About the author (2004)

Simon Critchley is Professor of Philosophy in the Graduate Faculty, New School University, New York and at the University of Essex. He is author and editor of many books including The Ethics of Deconstruction and On Humour
(also published by Routledge).

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