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Research article

Two Different Approaches to the Relationship between Poetry, History and Philosophy: Walter Benjamin and Martin Heidegger

Author:

Michael Mack

Durham University, GB
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Abstract

This article first shows how an early essay of Walter Benjamin casts poetry as a transcendental mode of potential disruption that swerves away from harmful practices of politics. It then analyses how Benjamin’s understanding of the political dimension of the aesthetic differs from Martin Heidegger’s notion of truth as historical origin. According to Benjamin, art’s as well as technology’s political potential consists in a disturbance of history’s continuity. By breaking the link between the work of art and the aura of its tradition and history, mechanical reproduction helps give birth to the new cosmos of poetry, whose liberating potential Benjamin celebrates in his response to a poem by Friedrich Hölderlin. This article argues that Benjamin is concerned with the social impact of art but in ways different to Heidegger. Rather than subordinating art to historical forces of politics and economics, Benjamin makes us see its intrinsic revolutionary potential.
How to Cite: Mack, M. “Two Different Approaches to the Relationship between Poetry, History and Philosophy: Walter Benjamin and Martin Heidegger”. New Readings, vol. 14, 2014, pp. 1–0. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/newreadings.96
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Published on 01 Jan 2014.
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