Security: Politics, Humanity, and the Philology of Care

Princeton University Press
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From national security and social security to homeland and cyber-security, "security" has become one of the most overused words in culture and politics today. Yet it also remains one of the most undefined. What exactly are we talking about when we talk about security? In this original and timely book, John Hamilton examines the discursive versatility and semantic vagueness of security both in current and historical usage. Adopting a philological approach, he explores the fundamental ambiguity of this word, which denotes the removal of "concern" or "care" and therefore implies a condition that is either carefree or careless. Spanning texts from ancient Greek poetry to Roman Stoicism, from Augustine and Luther to Machiavelli and Hobbes, from Kant and Nietzsche to Heidegger and Carl Schmitt, Hamilton analyzes formulations of security that involve both safety and negligence, confidence and complacency, certitude and ignorance. Does security instill more fear than it assuages? Is a security purchased with freedom or human rights morally viable? How do security projects inform our expectations, desires, and anxieties? And how does the will to security relate to human finitude? Although the book makes clear that security has always been a major preoccupation of humanity, it also suggests that contemporary panics about security and the related desire to achieve perfect safety carry their own very significant risks.
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About the author

John T. Hamilton is professor of comparative literature at Harvard University. He is the author of Music, Madness, and the Unworking of Language and Soliciting Darkness: Pindar, Obscurity, and the Classical Tradition.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jun 21, 2013
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9781400846474
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Language
English
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Genres
Language Arts & Disciplines / Linguistics / Semantics
Literary Criticism / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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MORE THAN 15 YEARS OF WORK TO PREPARE THIS UNIQUE DICTIONARY


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In the romantic tradition, music is consistently associated with madness, either as cause or cure. Writers as diverse as Kleist, Hoffmann, and Nietzsche articulated this theme, which in fact reaches back to classical antiquity and continues to resonate in the modern imagination. What John Hamilton investigates in this study is the way literary, philosophical, and psychological treatments of music and madness challenge the limits of representation and thereby create a crisis of language. Special focus is given to the decidedly autobiographical impulse of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, where musical experience and mental disturbance disrupt the expression of referential thought, illuminating the irreducible aspects of the self before language can work them back into a discursive system.

The study begins in the 1750s with Diderot's Neveu de Rameau, and situates that text in relation to Rousseau's reflections on the voice and the burgeoning discipline of musical aesthetics. Upon tracing the linkage of music and madness that courses through the work of Herder, Hegel, Wackenroder, and Kleist, Hamilton turns his attention to E. T. A. Hoffmann, whose writings of the first decades of the nineteenth century accumulate and qualify the preceding tradition. Throughout, Hamilton considers the particular representations that link music and madness, investigating the underlying motives, preconceptions, and ideological premises that facilitate the association of these two experiences. The gap between sensation and its verbal representation proved especially problematic for romantic writers concerned with the ineffability of selfhood. The author who chose to represent himself necessarily faced problems of language, which invariably compromised the uniqueness that the author wished to express. Music and madness, therefore, unworked the generalizing functions of language and marked a critical limit to linguistic capabilities. While the various conflicts among music, madness, and language questioned the viability of signification, they also raised the possibility of producing meaning beyond significance.

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