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This Is Enlightenment$
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Clifford Siskin and William Warner

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780226761473

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226761466.001.0001

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The Present of Enlightenment

The Present of Enlightenment

Temporality and Mediation in Kant, Foucault, and Jean Paul

(p.189) The Present of Enlightenment
This Is Enlightenment

Helge Jordheim

University of Chicago Press

This chapter analyzes how Kant, Foucault, and Jean Paul negotiate a central contradiction of Enlightenment. On the one hand, each insists, within their distinct discursive itinerary, that the value and promise of Enlightenment consists in the way it allows us to think the present, the distinctness of the present age, and build a “now” that requires a certain ethos: “a voluntary choice made by certain people; in the end, a way of thinking and feeling; a way, too, of acting and behaving that at one and the same time marks a relation of belonging and presents itself as a task” (Foucault). Without this sense of a present, how could a task like political revolution be attempted? The chapter demonstrates that each of these writers, in their different ways, runs up against the inevitability that the “present” of Enlightenment not only entails temporal deferrals and spatial differences. Crucially, Enlightenment can only materialize within the various mediations of speech, writing, print, and image.

Keywords:   political revolution, Enlightenment, temporal deferrals, spatial differences, mediation, speech, writing, print, image

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