Anxiety: A Philosophical History

ISBN : 9780197539712

Bettina Bergo
528 Pages
165 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jan 2021
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Anxiety looms large in historical works of philosophy and psychology. It is an affect, philosopher Bettina Bergo argues, subtler and more persistent than our emotions, and points toward the intersection of embodiment and cognition. While scholars who focus on the work of luminaries as Freud, Levinas, or Kant often study this theme in individual works, they seldom draw out the deep and significant connections between various approaches to anxiety. This volume provides a sweeping study of the uncanny career of anxiety in nineteenth and twentieth century European thought. Anxiety threads itself through European intellectual life, beginning in receptions of Kant's transcendental philosophy and running into Levinas' phenomenology; it is a core theme in Schelling, Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche. As a symptom of an interrogation that strove to take form in European intellectual culture, Angst passes through Schelling's romanticism into Schopenhauer's metaphysical vitalism, before it is explored existentially by Kierkegaard. And, in the twentieth century, it proves an extremely central concept for Heidegger, even as Freud is exploring its meaning and origin over a thirty year-long period of psychoanalytic development. This volume opens new windows onto philosophers who have never yet been put into dialogue, providing a rigorous intellectual history as it connects themes across two centuries, and unearths the deep roots of our own present-day "age of anxiety."


Introduction: The Ambiguities of Anxiety: Select History of a Theme in 19th century and 20th Century Philosophy and Psychology
Chapter 1. The New Philosophy: Kant's Transcendental Revolution and the Fate of Emotions in German Philosophy
Excursus I. From Kant to Hegel via Philippe Pinel
Chapter 2. Anxiety, Freedom, and Evil: Schelling and Groundless Life
Chapter 3. The Dialectics of Affect: Anxiety and Despair in Kierkegaard
Excursus II. The Universality of Emotions? Darwin's The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872)
Chapter 4. Schopenhauer, Life, and the Affects of the Noumenal
Chapter 5. Nietzsche and the Intensification of the Dialectic of Anxiety: Mourning and Transvaluation
Chapter 6. Freud and the Three Anxieties
Excursus III: Husserl: The Problem of Affective Forces, Einfuhlung, and a Phenomenological Un-conscious
Chapter 7. Heidegger I: Angst in Heidegger's Fundamental Ontology: The Debts to Husserl and Kierkegaard
Chapter 8. Heidegger II Angst, the Temporalization of Dasein, and the Temporality of Life
Chapter 9. Emmanuel Levinas and the Anxiety of Intersubjective Origins
General Conclusion

About the author: 

Bettina Bergo is Professor of Philosophy at the Universite de Montreal, and author of Levinas between Ethics and Politics (Springer, 1999) and co-editor of several collections, including Levinas and Nietzsche: After the Death of a Certain God (Columbia University Press, 2008). She has translated works from Emmanuel Levinas, Marlene Zarader, and Didier Franck, among others. She is the author of numerous articles on phenomenology, psychoanalysis, the history of psychology, and in critical race theory.

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