BA - Philosophy

Die Philosophie der Antike [Philosophy in Antiquity]. München: Beck. 23 cm. (Geschichte der Philosophie, 1).

Vol. 1. Von Thales bis Demokrit [From Thales to Democritus]. Wolfgang Röd. 3d rev. and updated ed. 2009. 279 p. ISBN 978-3-406-59253-9. EUR 22.90

Wolfgang Röd is the chief editor of the projected 14-volume series Geschichte der Philosophie [History of Philosophy] published by Beck continuously since 1976, and not yet complete. The three-volume Philosophie der Antike, also the first three volumes of the series, has appeared in two previous editions, 1976-1986 and 1988-1995. The present, third edition of volume 1 is basically unchanged from the second revised edition of 1998 and was updated only in the bibliographical citations. Thus there are no alterations in the content or inclusion of new research, and new secondary literature could not be considered due to the authors‘ other projects. The book reflects the state of research in the 1970s; this is not necessarily bad since the main task in philosophy is to understand the content of foreign thought and the questions it seeks to answer.

An introduction on the methodology of reconstructing early Greek philosophy is followed by chapters on Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Pythagoras, Xenophanes, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Zeno, Melissus, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, and older Atomism (Leucippus and Democritus). Röd also always discusses the position of Aristotle, who often referred to Pre-Socratic philosophy. His book offers a solid and readable presentation of Pre-Socratic philosophy and also refers to modern research. It is profitable for any reader with an interest in Greek philosophy. It gives important Greek quotations and concepts in the original as well as in translation. The bibliography is selective; the index of names is supplemented by a two-part subject index with concepts in German and in Greek. Thus it is a solid aid to intensive study of philosophy before and up to Socrates and can be most warmly recommended. [tk/gh]

Einführung in die antike Philosophie: Hauptprobleme und Lösungen, dargelegt anhand der Quellentexte [Introduction to Classical Philosophy: Principal Problems and Solutions, Explicated in Primary Texts]. Horst Seidl. Freiburg im Breisgau: Alber, 2010. 378 p. ill. 22 cm. ISBN 978-3-495-48407-4: EUR 24

The philosopher Horst Seidl, who teaches in Rome, is an Aristotle expert, well known for his many editions and commentary of the writings of Aristotle. His Einführung demonstrates his continued interest in topics he has addressed previously and his pursuit of a systematic understanding of religious/philosophical questions. Seidl does not aspire to write a complete history of classical philosophy, nor does he aim to give a comprehensive summary of the scholarship in this field. Rather, he focuses on the primary texts of antiquity, which he discusses in terms of the essential philosophical problems raised therein and the solutions worked out by the authors. Thus, Seidl‘s book can be considered a pathfinder to the basic philosophical texts of classical antiquity, which the reader can use as a basis for further reading of scholarly works about them. The problems that interest Seidl fall into the realm of metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, encompassing such questions as the contrast between the physical and the intellectual, appearance and being, or such ethical issues as moral good and natural justice. He believes that a rediscovery of the insights of the ancients would be useful for the solution of contemporary problems, since the latter have become insoluble on the basis of modern philosophical concepts. Seidl maintains that the study of classical philosophy is still relevant today, because it offers universally valid and timeless insights.

Seidl's discussion is chronologically organized. He begins with the pre-Socratic philosophers, Heraclitus, Parmenides, and the Sophists, then moves on to Socrates and Plato. The author‘s explanations do not examine all aspects of Plato‘s works, only those that interest him; thus, some important points are left out. Likewise, his discussion of Aristotle does not aim to be comprehensive, but focuses on the relationship of Aristotelian logic to reality. Other classical philosophers, such as Epicurus, the Stoics, the skeptic Sextus Empiricus, and the philosophers of late antiquity, Plotinus and Proclus, are similarly discussed. While Seidl‘s introduction to classical philosophy has its limits as a reference work, it presents the philosophical problems that preoccupied classical thinkers in a systematic, stimulating, and engrossing way and invites the reader to further inquiry. [tk/akb]

Philosophisches Wörterbuch [Philosophical Dictionary]. Begun by Heinrich Schmidt. Ed. Martin Gessmann. 23d, completely rev. ed. Stuttgart: Kröner, 2009. x, 790 p. 22 cm. ISBN 978-3-520-01323-1: EUR 49.90

This work originally by Heinrich Schmidt, first published in 1912, is the most widely used single-volume German-language philosophy lexicon. It has seen many editions (the last one published in 1991) under different editors since Schmidt‘s death in 1935. It has now been issued in a completely new edition edited by Hegel scholar Martin Gessmann. Only a small number of entries have been taken unchanged from earlier editions. According to the foreword, this edition is intended to satisfy the new requirements of philosophical lexicons arising from the changing state of philosophical inquiry and from the ubiquity of Internet search engines, which do not provide information with adequate context. The foreword does not provide details as to which specific changes have been made, but it appears that a small number of new entries have been added and a considerable number removed. Among items eliminated is a series of articles on German professors of philosophy (who in any case would more appropriately merit inclusion in a Who's Who). For 20th-century figures one might disagree as to who should be included and who not. For example, Hannah Arendt is included but Leo Strauss is not; Ernst Jünger is included but not his brother Friedrich Georg, although the latter had his own article in the previous edition. Similarly Georg Picht is included but not Josef Pieper, although Pieper's influence is not insignificant. In Alois Halder's 2008 Philosophisches Wörterbuch (see RREA 14:65), the situation is reversed: Pieper is included, but not Picht. As with other philosophical lexicons there are also entries for thinkers (such as Walter Benjamin) or theologians (Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann) who are not philosophers in the strict sense but whose work has strongly influenced philosophical discourse.

As far as contemporary philosophers are concerned, it is not easy to discern the criteria used for inclusion. For example Judith Butler and Slavoj Žižek are included, but not Martha Nussbaum or Charles Taylor. Like the similar work by Alois Halder mentioned above, this lexicon also contains, in addition to the entries on persons, information on concepts and current trends. Although the Halder work includes a number of thinkers missing in the Gessmann work (and vice versa), the latter is preferable because of its generally more thorough entries. As a rule the articles are clearly written and, despite the omission of some figures who deserve consideration, the new edition of this reliable lexicon is a solid reference work that belongs in any library, especially thoseused by scholars of cultural and intellectual matters. [tk/jc]

Handbuch Staatsdenker [Handbook of Political Philosophers and Theorists]. Rüdiger Voigt. Ed. Ulrich Weiss. Stuttgart: Steiner, 2010. 462 p. 25 cm. (Rechtsphilosophie). ISBN 978-3-515-09511-2: EUR 44.00

This bio-bibliographic handbook of philosophers and political figures who have helped to shape the idea of statehood is a welcome new publication with a fresh approach. The world‘s most influential political thinkers—and one could argue about those included— are introduced in substantial articles. The focus is not on political theory in general, but on the concept of the state and nationhood in particular. Even some utopian thinkers and anarchists are included. Others could be classified as „state practitioners,“ rather than philosophers, like Frederick II., Bismarck, and Lincoln, as well as controversial figures like Stalin, Hitler, and Mao, included because of their enormous historical impact. There is some geographical diversity, although it is uneven. Arab and Chinese figures are heavily represented, but Indian, Japanese, and African theorists much less so.

The editors hope that the conflicting views represented in the volume might serve as a stimulus for a dialogue about statehood and a means of refining readers' views of this concept. Rüdiger Voigt is well suited to serve as the editor, having treated the subject of statehood in other publications, such as Den Staat denken [Inventing the State] (Baden-Baden, 2009—see the on-line review in IFB 10-1).

The articles are written by a number of competent authors. Each entry includes a short description of the person‘s concept of statehood, a biographical sketch, an analysis of the person‘s ideas in historical context, an evaluation of the person‘s ideas in terms of their importance for a contemporary understanding of statehood, and a short bibliography. Entries vary considerably in length. Some figures, like Lincoln, receive only a cursory treatment. The well-known European political philosophers—Hobbes, Locke, Fichte, Thomas Aquinas, Tocqueville—are discussed at length. Some names are less familiar— Samuel Huntington, Russell Kirk, Albert Jay Nock, and Ernst Jünger. Not every person included has a systematic theory of statehood, nor is it always a consistent one. What is called the „state“ here is a broad concept, which appears in many different forms, depending on its historical and cultural context. This work would be of interest to historians, jurists, legal and political philosophers, sociologists, political scientists, and other scholars. [tk/akb]

Große Philosophen [Great Philosophers]. Ed. Andreas Graeser. 6 vols. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2010. 176, 164, 174, 164, 169, 162 p. 23 cm. ISBN 978-3-534-23300-7: EUR 49.90

This is a six-volume special edition of a seven-volume work published 10 years ago by the Primus-Verlag in Darmstadt under the general editorship of Andreas Graeser. Six of those seven volumes were reviewed in RREA 6:73-78. This new set features slimmed-down volumes, and builds on the Primus-Verlag's Große Philosophen [Great Philosophers] (2001—see IFBIIFB 01-2-265) and Philosophen im Porträt [Portraits of Philosophers] (2004—see IFB 04-2-430), without completely duplicating the contents of either of these two volumes.

The six-volume set provides coverage of 56 philosophers in total, not all of whom, it must be said, necessarily merit the appellation „great.“ The work provides a useful overview of the history of philosophy from ancient to modern times; however, libraries already owning the original seven volumes published by Primus in the 1990s will probably not want to acquire this new edition, because the content has not been revised for re-publication. This is to be lamented, particularly because the 2010 edition therefore fails to include the most recent secondary scholarship on the history of philosophy. More useful would be the volumes in the series Geschichte der Philosophie outlined in the review of Die Philosophie der Antike (see RREA 15/16:63). [tk/cjm]

Die Frankfurter Schule und Frankfurt: eine Rückkehr nach Deutschland [The Frankfurt School and Frankfurt: A Return to Germany]. Ed. Monika Boll and Raphael Gross. Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2009. 301 p. ill. 28 cm. ISBN 978-3-8353-0566-3: EUR 24.90

As with other exhibition catalogs, this one is no substitute for attending the actual exhibit of the same name held 2009-2010 at the JüdischUes Museum in Frankfurt. The exhibit was able to provide a full sensory experience of the Frankfurt School critics through video, audio, and other media. Unfortunately, print representations do not generally lend themselves to such a thorough and engaging experience. Nevertheless, it is commendable that this volume covers topics and critics normally only discussed marginally in other works. For example, Hendrik Niether‘s chapter covers intellectuals and critics in East Germany, such as Hans Mayer, Ernst Engelberg and Henryk Grossmann. Another chapter discusses Gretel Adorno, Monika Plessner, Helge Pross, and other women involved with the Frankfurt School.

Although the exhibition was organized chronologically, covering emigration and the years in America, the return to Frankfurt, and the impact of the Frankfurt School in the early years of the Federal Republic, the catalog chapters are divided into thematic sections: „Return to Frankfurt and New Beginnings,“ „This Side of Metaphysics and Philosophy of History,“ „The Frankfurt School and Judaism,“ „Contentious Neighbors,“ „Beyond the National,“ and „Outlook.“ As the connections between the Frankfurt School and Judaism are rarely given adequate attention, the section discussing this topic is particularly welcome. Micha Bumlik‘s chapter on Erich Fromm, Zvi Rosen‘s on Max Horkheimer, and Tobias Freimüller‘s on Horkheimer and the Jewish community in Frankfurt are all exceptional. [mb/bwv]

Descartes und Deutschland = Descartes et l'Allemagne [Descartes and Germany]. Ed. Jean Ferrari. Hildesheim: Olms, 2009. 394 p. 24 cm. (Europaea memoria: Reihe 1, Studien, 71). - ISBN 978-3-487-14237-1: EUR 49.80

This collection of 22 essays highlights the multi-faceted interrelationship between Cartesian philosophy and German thought. The papers were originally delivered during conferences held in three cities—Mainz, Luxemberg, and Dijon—in May, 2008. This trilateral colloquium follows the example of an earlier colloquium on Kant et la France-Kant und Frankreich [Kant and France]. There are 10 contributions in German and thirteen in French.

The collection is divided into three parts. The first part is concerned with „Descartes‘ Predecessors and the Initial Reception of Cartesian Philosophy in Germany,“ the second with the „Reception of Descartes‘ Philosophy in Classical German Philosophy and its Milieu,“ and the third with the „Reception of Descartes‘ Philosophy in Contemporary German Philosophy,“ which includes the former East Germany and Hannah Arendt.

Topics and philosophers discussed include Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia, Johannes Clauberg, Leibniz, Thomasius, Andreas Rüdiger, Wolffianism, first philosophy, Reinhold, Schelling, Hegel, Brentano, Hans Blumenberg, and neoscholasticism . Several essays deal with the relationship between Kant and Descartes. The editors call particular attention to two „commissioned“ essays that fill gaps: one essay on Descartes and music theory and another on the surprisingly scant influence of Descartes in East Germany.

A bilingual keyword index is provided, making the volume useful as a reference source. The editors have gathered a rich harvest from the fertile field of research on both Descartes and the Enlightenment. [tk/rc]

Briefwechsel 1932-1975: Martin Heidegger und Kurt Bauch [Correspondence between Martin Heidegger and Kurt Bauch, 1932-1975]. Freiburg im Breisgau: Alber, 2010. 267 p. ill. 22 cm. (Martin-Heidegger-Briefausgabe: Abt. 2, Wissenschaftliche Korresponden, 1). ISBN 978-3-495-48409-8: EUR 59

This is the first volume of the second series of an edition of Heidegger‘s correspondence. This particular volume contains Heidegger‘s scientific correspondence with the art historian Kurt Bauch. According to the preface, this is not a complete critical edition of the correspondence but only includes „significant“ correspondence from and to Heidegger in a „uniform edition of high quality.“ Selected correspondence „of biographical or philosophical importance“ is included. Further volumes are planned which will include Heidegger‘s correspondence with his parents, his sister and her family, and with other individuals from the academic world.

Notes appear under the number assigned to each letter and provide such information as document type (postcard, letter) and references to further correspondence or secondary literature. Occasionally, the notes in connection with persons named in the letters point forward to the notes for a later letter where that individual is discussed. This is awkward because the letters are only identified in the notes by date and not by the number of the letter; thus it becomes necessary to page back and forth to locate the relevant annotation.

The volume includes a chronology for both Heidegger and Bauch, a select bibliography of Bauch‘s writings, lists of reproduced documents and photograph credits, and an index of personal names. Overall, this is a solid and successful edition of Heidegger‘s correspondence that helps fill out the portrait of this thinker. [tk/rc]

Husserl-Lexikon [Husserl Lexicon]. Ed. Hans-Helmuth Gander. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2010. 335 p. 25 cm. ISBN 978-3-534- 16493-6: EUR 79, EUR 49.90 (members' price)

The philosophy of Edmund Husserl has achieved a major place in 20th-century thought. Husserl was an extraordinarily prolific writer, producing some 40,000 pages of manuscript, though only a small fraction of this corpus was published during his lifetime. Beginning in 1950, his works have been gradually edited and published in the series Husserliana. His ideas can be difficult to understand, as he himself admitted, and also underwent development over time. So a lexicon like the one reviewed here is a necessary aid for delving into his philosophy.

The volume‘s editor, Hans-Helmuth Gander, is Director of the Husserl-Archiv in Freiburg, Germany. The articles are lengthy, to the point of constituting small essays. The lexicon‘s goal is to offer an explication of all the fundamental concepts in Husserl‘s philosophy. Each concept is presented in depth, and its evolution over time is traced from the beginning to the end of Husserl‘s career, with explicit reference to occasions on which Husserl used the same term with divergent meanings. The articles do full justice to the complexity of Husserl‘s thought, and the lexicon is thus valuable not only to those making their first acquaintance with the philosopher, but also to those who know his works well. The articles contain numerous citations to the Husserliana, making it easy to find the pertinent passages in its many volumes. The lexicon contains bibliographical references, but these are kept succinct; a comprehensive bibliography was felt to be beyond the scope of this volume. The focus of this work is on the concepts of Husserl‘s philosophy themselves, rather than on the reception and impact of Husserl‘s thought. This is a sensible limitation, in view of the massive amount of literature that has already been written about Husserl and his phenomenology. All in all, the acquisition of this work can certainly be recommended. [tk/crc]

Nietzsche-Lexikon [Nietzsche Lexicon]. Ed. Christian Niemeyer. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2009. 472 p. 25 cm. ISBN 978-3-534- 20844-9: EUR 79

Christian Niemeyer, editor of this lexicon, states in his preface that, when he went searching through the voluminous Nietzsche literature for an actual lexicon, there was none to be found. This work attempts to fill that lacuna. Niemeyer notes that the critical literature on Nietzsche has often been shaped by his „worst“ (i.e. least careful) readers, and he hopes that this lexicon will teach the virtues of slow, careful, and exact reading.

The lexicon is conceived as an alphabetical list of topics. All the fundamental concepts in Nietzsche's work receive an entry, for example Werden (becoming) and ewige Wiederkunft (eternal return). Additionally, famous mottos and sayings coined by Nietzsche receive an entry, such as „Werdet hart!“ („Become hard!“). There are also entries devoted to a (selective) list of persons who stood in some significant relation to Nietzsche, whether as a source of ideas, an influence, a disciple, a correspondent, and so on. Included here are those persons who have played an important role in the critical reception of Nietzsche, such as Stefan George, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Martin Heidegger. Also to be found here are entries on localities that played a significant role in Nietzsche's life, such as Sils-Maria, Rome, and Basel.

Each entry closes with a list of abbreviated citations that refer the reader to the general bibliography printed at the end of the volume. Readers are also referred to the multivolume Weimarer Nietzsche-Bibliographie (see RREA 11:68). Quotations from Nietzsche‘s works and from the secondary literature are provided with citations that include page numbers, making it easy for readers to consult the original sources.

It is clear that some material could have been treated in more detail, but in view of the constraints on the size of this publication, the editor and his team of 142 collaborators have achieved excellent results. This is a highly useful and well-produced work that well deserves a place in library reference collections. [tk/crc]

Freunde, Jünger und Herausgeber: zur Geschichte der ersten Nietzsche-Editionen [Friends, Disciples, and Editors: The Story of the First Nietzsche Editions]. Ralf Eichberg. Frankfurt am Main [et al.]: Lang, 2009. 200 p. ill. 21 cm. (Europäische Hochschulschriften: Reihe 20, Philosophie, 733). ISBN 978-3- 631-59599-2: EUR 39.80

An interesting facet of Nietzsche reception, dealing with the editorial and publishing realms, is the focus of this work, which is based on the author‘s 2009 dissertation at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Because of the unfortunate role played by Nietzsche‘s sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, as well as by some scholars, in the publication of early editions of his work, and because issues concerning the meanings of his texts are central to the interpretation of his writings, it is helpful to take a look at this complex.

Ralf Eichberg, Director of the Nietzsche-Gesellschaft [Nietzsche Society], surveys the research done in the field to date and discusses the singular position between bestsellers and vanity-press publications occupied by Nietzsche‘s writings. Especially interesting is Eichberg‘s detailed discussion of the format and appearance issues in book production that were of great concern to Nietzsche. They were related to his concept of his readership, how he felt his books should be read (slowly), and how he read his own works. He was interested in the selection of type font (Antiqua versus Gothic) as well as how the text was presented with regard to interlineal space. His special wishes added to the cost of production; for example he asked for a smaller number of lines per page, experimented with the formulation and layout of titles, and changed these even at the last minute. In this context Eichberg also discusses changing publishing and binding practices in the second half of the 19th century, when a series of important technical advances led to more efficient production.

The inclusion of 23 pictures is helpful in illustrating the issues of text format and book production that are discussed, but their quality is sometimes streaky, perhaps a result of poor scanning. There are some oddities in spelling, and often words and periods are missing in the text. An appendix offers a practical collection of citations concerning questions of text design, etc., taken mostly from letters to or from Nietzsche.

The bottom line is that Eichberg's work is a readable and informative book about the history of the texts and the production of Friedrich Nietzsche's works. It should be acquired by research libraries. [tk/nb]

Next Section
Previous Section
Table of Contents

Comments, suggestions, or questions
Last update: January 2013 [LC]
© 2013 Casalini libri - VAT no. IT03106600483