Northwestern Events Calendar


"Dialectic of Darkness: The Magical Foundations of Critical Theory"

When: Wednesday, November 18, 2015
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM Central

Where: John Evans Center, 1800 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Rossitza Guenkova-Fernandez   847.491.3611

Group: Religious Studies Department

Category: Academic


"Dialectic of Darkness: The Magical Foundations of Critical Theory"

by Jason Josephson, Professor of the Department of Religion, Williams College

In "Dialectic of Darkness: The Magical Foundations of Critical Theory,"
Josephson aims to upend the commonly received view of critical theory by
locating its origins in the occult milieu of fin de siècle France and Germany,
where an alternative to modernity arose that presented itself in reference to
spiritualism, paganism, hermeticism, mysticism, and magic. Homing in on the
controversial German poet, neo-pagan mystic and graphologist Ludwig Klages
and what he referred to as “magical philosophy” (magische philosophie),
Josephson will gesture at Klages’ influence on the thought of German-Jewish
cultural theorist Walter Benjamin and other key theorists. By doing so, he will
retrieve a version of critical theory or poststructuralism that was not first and
foremost a critique of knowledge, but a vehicle to deliver esoteric wisdom.
Along the way he will expose the metaphysical underpinnings of
poststructuralist anti-metaphysics, unearth the buried ontologies of the antifoundationalists, and recover hints of a vanished utopia that lies only halfsubmerged in this most dystopian of contemporary philosophical terrains.

Reception to follow

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