9613 - Death and Desire in Western Philosophy - Leo Stan
Arthur Schopenhauer, arguably the major Western thinker who consecrated and gave systematic expression to the idea that the universe and everything that is originates in a blind, irrational, capricious, and ungodly will to life, is the one who realized that, although the will to exist is fully manifest in and through desire, the latter, however, is indicative of an ongoing discord, want, and lack, in short, of a paradoxical longing for extinction. The present course will attempt to reconstruct the complex intellectual history of the tension and link between desire and death, between the affirmation of existence and the melancholy allurement of self-annihilation. We will start very early on, namely in the ancient Greek culture, and explore the intricate dialectic between eros and thanatos in two of Plato’s most famous dialogues. We will then take a vast temporal leap, seeing how the abovementioned tension is tackled in the works of Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. Next, while shortly changing the disciplinary perspective, albeit without losing sight of the philosophical ground, we will discuss the ordeals and contradictions of emotional attachments vis-à-vis the experience of loss in Freud’s “Mourning and Melancholia.” The remaining part of the course will be dedicated to Heidegger’s phenomenological-existential analysis of mortality in the context of the world’s finitude; and to George Bataille’s elaboration of the unfathomable interdependence between common human interrelations (economic or otherwise) and transgressive impulses, gratuitous collective acts, or sacred rites.
Also from this web page: