Book Event Announcement – Mythology, Madness and Laughter: Subjectivity in German Idealism

Owing to the recent Dundee conference and the continuing importance of German Idealism for contemporary Continental philosophy and radical theology we have decided that our next book event will by Markus Gabriel and Slavoj Žižek’s Mythology, Madness and Laughter: Subjectivity in German Idealism [Amazon US] [Amazon UK]. The book came out in 2009 and puts major thinkers in German Idealism in conversation with many contemporary problems. For those who are very au courant there is even an implicit debate between Hegel, Schelling and Quentin Meillassoux.

The event will begin on May 10th, giving those who want to participate a month to get a copy of the book. We’re still experimenting with pacing, but I think our Malabou event was a bit too leisurely and so am thinking we will do this event every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

19 thoughts on “Book Event Announcement – Mythology, Madness and Laughter: Subjectivity in German Idealism

  1. Great book. Read it during winter and very much enjoyed Markus Gabriel’s essay on Schelling and Mythology. So naturally I’m looking forward to the book event.

  2. Anthony, Brian, or others: do you think this book would be a good read for someone with little background in German Idealism? I’m very mildly familiar with Schelling and German Romanticism, and I’m confident in my philosophy chops, but if it’s a pretty “inside conversation,” then I don’t know if I’ll be up for the commitment.

    This is pretty good timing, though, because I’m about 95% sure that I’ll be taking a course in German Idealism this fall.

  3. Dave, I think the simple answer would be no. As for a good place to start (caveat: I don’t [yet!] consider myself an expert of any sort), that’s a good question. It’s a complex topic, but I think the best way to tackle German idealism is to conceive of it as a conversation, rather than a bunch of disaggregated and heterogeneous philosophies. So, perhaps check out Dieter Henrich’s Between Kant and Hegel: Lectures on German Idealism. You can get it here for like $25:

    This is a great introduction to many of the well-known figures of German Idealism (very heavy on Kant and Fichte, light on Schelling, and a decent amount of Hegel), as well as lesser-known figures like Jacobi, Schulze, and Reinhold, as well as the role played by German Romanticists like the Schlegel brothers, Novalis, and Hölderlin (names you might be more familiar with). Henrich covers the historical and personal contexts of all of the figures he discusses, but I would say a majority of the lectures are spent dealing with their actual ideas.

  4. (A slight correction: they are *heterogeneous*, what I meant to say was that I think if you’re beginning to learn about German idealism, it’s easier to grasp it through intellectual historical context and the “wider dialogue” than to delve straight into the seemingly obscure depths of their idiosyncratic philosophical language.)

  5. Thanks Bryan (also, sorry for misspelling your name, I was rushing). That’s kind of what I was thinking, and I do plan to check that book out. I am somewhat more familiar with the Romantics you listed, and am very briefly familiar with names such as Fichte and Jacobi, but I’m also familiar enough to know that I should be more familiar to deal with anything in depth on them, if that makes any sense.

  6. Dave,
    I’m going to politely disagree with Bryan and say that you could probably get a lot out of this book. It’s a short book, so if you read it at the pace of the reading event I’m sure that you would get a lot out of it and find it quite interesting.

    Just my two cents.

  7. I don’t want to be seen as actively discouraging anyone from reading the book–by all means, I say let a thousand flowers bloom and everyone should read it, etc., etc. I just thought I would let Dave know that I thought Gabriel’s essay was extremely dense (an opinion which seems to be echoed by Ben’s comment) and (in my opinion) presupposes quite a bit of background knowledge of German idealism, and felt I could suggest an easier starting point. That’s all!

  8. The best way to learn is to dive in, so read around some primer’s before the book event (if you have time) and then just do your best. None of us are specialists in German Idealism (save for Brad perhaps) so we’ll all be groping along together.

    Thanks Bryan for the book recommendation. May check it out myself before we get started on this.

  9. If you are at all interested in a primer, I recommend giving Bowie’s book on Schelling & Modern Philosophy book a look. I’m not totally sold on his reading, but his introductory material is very solid and presented clearly. He also has a fine book on Romanticism — the early chapters, esp. There are, in my experience, more accessible introductions to Frühromantik than there are on Schelling, so you take what you can get w/ the latter.

    Another very good book — and perhaps even better than the Bowie stuff — is Terry Pinkard’s German Philosophy, 1760-1860. Very good introduction.

  10. Great choice. As a random sidenote both myself and Michael Burns will be at Gabriel’s Bonn summer school. So this is doubly helpful personally.

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