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The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism, Second Edition

Richard Wolin



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Princeton University Pres
01 March 2019
Social & political philosophy; Politics & government; Fascism & Nazism; Political structures: totalitarianism & dictatorship
Ever since the shocking revelations of the fascist ties of Martin Heidegger and Paul de Man, postmodernism has been haunted by the specter of a compromised past. In this intellectual genealogy of the postmodern spirit, Richard Wolin shows that postmodernism's infatuation with fascism has been extensive and widespread. He questions postmodernism's claim to have inherited the mantle of the Left, suggesting instead that it has long been enamored with the opposite end of the political spectrum. Wolin reveals how, during in the 1930s, C. G. Jung, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Georges Bataille, and Maurice Blanchot were seduced by fascism's promise of political regeneration and how this misapprehension affected the intellectual core of their work. The result is a compelling and unsettling reinterpretation of the history of modern thought. In a new preface, Wolin revisits this illiberal intellectual lineage in light of the contemporary resurgence of political authoritarianism.
By:   Richard Wolin
Imprint:   Princeton University Pres
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 156mm, 
ISBN:   9780691192352
ISBN 10:   0691192359
Pages:   424
Publication Date:   01 March 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Richard Wolin is Distinguished Professor of History and Comparative Literature at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His books include The Wind From the East and Heidegger's Children (both Princeton).

Reviews for The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism, Second Edition

[A] lively, learned, and wide-ranging work. . . . Wolin's subjects have exercised a remarkable impact on certain academic and cultural fields in the U.S. in the last several decades.--Choice This is a wide-ranging and hard-hitting critique of postmodern thinking--especially of its political limitations and failures--based on broad reading and straight thinking. The author adds relevance to his critique of thinkers by juxtaposing those thinkers with interesting accounts of contemporary European politics. --Jerrold Seigel, New York University I recommend this powerful critique with great enthusiasm. It is that infrequent book that is of enduring scholarly significance while deserving of a broad readership outside the academy. It also offers American readers insights into French and German mentalities at a time of transatlantic irritations. --Jeffrey Herf, University of Maryland Richard Wolin demonstrates conclusively that contempt for liberalism and parliamentary government, whether it comes from the right or the left, whether it is anti-modern or postmodern, is very bad politics. His learned and provocative 'genealogy' of contemporary anti-Americanism should cause deep anxiety among its intellectual purveyors in Europe and here at hometoo. --Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study Richard Wolin's superb book is urgent reading for those who would toss the Enlightenment out with Descartes. In this tour d'horizon, as deep as it iswide, Wolin refuses to be impressed by the glamour of extremity. He shines light into many dark corners where intellectual fraud, self-deception, and hauteur passed for liberty during a murderous century. Talk about genealogy! Unreason will never be the same. --Todd Gitlin, Columbia University, author of The Twilight of Common Dreams Wolin's book will provide much food for thought for the disinterested reader and a veritable feast for critical self-reflection for the post-modern thinker--especially the North American academic who hasn't done his or her genealogical homework.---Jeff Mitscherling, European Legacy This author's excellent study provides the reader with an informed survey of some of the more important intellectual trends of the twentieth century, employing the writings of a selection of Europe's avant-garde authors.---A. James Gregor, The Historian The topic of Richard Wolin's book is the nexus between postmodernism and politics. . . . Wolin's book raises the right questions at the right time. He forces us to think critically about the deepest philosophical underpinnings of our moral and political ideals. We simply cannot rest content with an unmeasured assault on reason.---Andy Wallace, Ethics In this impressive book Wolin does for the Left what Bloom did for the Right; he makes a powerful case for a return to moral seriousness.---Daniel P. Murphy, Magill's Literary Annual 2005 For anyone who has passed through the academic humanities in the last quarter-century and has been exposed to the dubious legacy of postmodernism, The Seduction of Unreason is an indispensable book. It is another important installment in what has become one of the major intellectual enterprises of our time: Richard Wolin's principled defense of liberalism against its most sophisticated enemies.---Adam Kirsch, New York Sun The Seduction of Unreason is a wide-ranging yet subtle consideration of the intellectual's abiding fascination with absolutism, and as such it is a perceptive, compelling and invaluable document. His indignation at the folly and perversity of so many major European thinkers is wholly justified and peculiarly invigorating.---John Banville, The Irish Times

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