Toward messianic nature. From Cohen to Benjamin

Journal title PARADIGMI
Author/s Peter Fenves
Publishing Year 2017 Issue 2017/1 Language English
Pages 13 P. 13-25 File size 185 KB
DOI 10.3280/PARA2017-001002
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This essay argues that Benjamin expands and transforms Cohen’s concept of experience on the basis of a supposition ? here called a "hypothesis" ? that experience is constitutively continuous. After proposing this hypothesis in his essay "On the program of the coming philosophy", Benjamin adds two supplements, which together suggest how the "doctrine" (Lehre) of the physical science can be continuous with "the doctrine that comes from religion". The essay concludes by showing how Benjamin was able to expand on his "program for the coming philosophy" only after encountering Arthur Eddington’s Nature of the Physical World, which identifies entropy as the sole source of "time’s arrow". In response to Eddington’s exposition of temporal directionality Benjamin identifies the messianic character of nature and makes it into the central concept of the so-called "Theological-political fragment", which, I argue, should be called the "Thermodynamic-political fragment".�

Keywords: Walter Benjamin, Hermann Cohen, Doctrine, Experience, Messianic Nature, Thermodynamic.

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Peter Fenves, Toward messianic nature. From Cohen to Benjamin in "PARADIGMI" 1/2017, pp 13-25, DOI: 10.3280/PARA2017-001002