The Intellectual Background

  • Julian Roberts
Part of the Contemporary Social Theory book series


Benjamin’s work drew on two very disparate theoretical traditions. On the one side lay German academic philosophy and the rich ideological milieu in which his own thought first developed. On the other was the Bolshevism which he first encountered in the years after the First World War. Some understanding of this context is necessary if we are to follow the path along which Benjamin’s thinking developed. It is particularly important if we are to make sense of the unattributed citations which fill Benjamin’s writings; failure to identify these citations, and to recognise the ideological background which for Benjamin himself gave them their political colouring, can lead to serious misunderstanding of his point of view.


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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    One of the strengths of traditional German intellectual history was its recognition of (a) the cyclically and (b) the historical relativity of metaphysical systems. See, for example, Adolf v. Harnack, History of Dogma, trans. William McGilchrist (London: Williams & Norgate, 1899) VII, 7, on NominalismGoogle Scholar
  2. and a parallel discussion in G. Ficker, H. Hermelink, Handbuch der Kirchengeschichte, II (Das Mittelalter) (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1929) 196ff.Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    See J. F. Roberts, Ideology and the University (Cambridge: Broadsheet, 1978).Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    Leopold von Ranke, Die grossen Machte (Leipzig: Insel n.d. (1916)) 4.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    Christofer Zöckler, Dilthey und die Hermeneutik (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1975) 235.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    G. Lukacs, Die Zerstörung der Vernunft (Darmstadt: Luchterhand, 1974) II, 99.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Heinrich Rickert, Kulturwissenschaft und Naturwissenschaft (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1910) 10.Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    Georg Simmel, Philosophic des Geldes (Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1907) Preface, viii.Google Scholar
  9. 14.
    Wilhelm Dilthey, Einleitung in die Geisteswissenschaften (Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1922) I, xix.Google Scholar
  10. 18.
    Gunter Reiss (ed.),Materialien zur Ideologiegeschichte der deutschen Literaturwissenschaft (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1973) I, 57.Google Scholar
  11. 22.
    Wilhelm Dilthey, Das Erlebnis und die Dichtung (Leipzig: Teubner, 1922) 13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 25.
    See the cited texts by Zöckler and Lukács, and Werner Krauss, ‘Literaturgeschichte als geschichtlicher Auftrag’ in Studien und Aufsätze (Berlin: Rutten & Loening, 1959).Google Scholar
  13. 27.
    See, for example, Rickert in Logos II, 2, 132; in Kulturwissenschaft, 10; Husserl in Logos, I, 1, 293 and 340; Carl Schmitt, Politische Theologie (Munich: Duncker & Humblot, 1934) Preface.Google Scholar
  14. 28.
    Emil Lask, Gesammelte Schriften (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1923) II, 25.Google Scholar
  15. 29.
    Gillian Rose, Hegel Contra Sociology (London: Athlone, 1981) 9.Google Scholar
  16. 30.
    Martin Heidegger, Gesamtausgabe (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1978) I, 55.Google Scholar
  17. 32.
    Rickert, Der Gegenstand der Erkenntnis (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1928) 6th edition, 208.Google Scholar
  18. 71.
    Edmund Husserl, Ideas, trans. Boyce Gibson (London: Allen & Unwin, 1969) 54.Google Scholar
  19. 79.
    See Selections from Medieval Philosophers, ed. R. McKeon (New York: Scribner, 1930) II, 430.Google Scholar
  20. 94.
    H. -G. Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode (Tübingen: J. C. B.Mohr, 1960) 450.Google Scholar
  21. 102.
    Georg Lukacs, History and Class Consciousness, trans. Rodney Livingstone (London: Merlin, 1971) xviii.Google Scholar
  22. 105.
    Georg Lukács, Lenin: A Study in the Unity of his Thought (London: New Left Books, 1970) 79.Google Scholar
  23. 106.
    V. I. Lenin, What is to be Done? (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1975) 92.Google Scholar
  24. 113.
    A. Bogdanov, Allgemeine Organisationslehre (Berlin: Organisation, 1926) 86.Google Scholar
  25. 116.
    Lenin, Selected Works (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1975) II, 308.Google Scholar
  26. 132.
    See the essay by Henri Deluy in A. Bogdanov, La Science, L’Art et la Classe Ouvrière (Paris: Maspero, 1977).Google Scholar

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© Julian Roberts 1982

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  • Julian Roberts

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