"Constructive destruction" as response to suffering. Prolegomena to a "concept" of salutary disaster on the crossroad of philosophy, philosophy of religion and literature

Schmidt, Jochen (2006) "Constructive destruction" as response to suffering. Prolegomena to a "concept" of salutary disaster on the crossroad of philosophy, philosophy of religion and literature. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b2411926


The following thesis develops the idea of 'constructive destruction' in close readings of selected texts by Soren Kierkegaard, Theodor W. Adorno, Franz Kafka, Gershom Scholem and Philip Roth.
1. The focus on the study is on 'suffering' and 'constructive destruction' in the 'modern' period, which means that 'suffering' is being understood primarily as internal (respectively)- existential suffering.
2. Kierkegaard's "The Sickness unto Death" is a typical example of this very kind of suffering. Kierkegaard's theoretical treatise of suffering in this writing is problematic, though I argue that a close inspection of his literary strategy of pseudonymity allows for a more positive evaluation of his contribution.
3. The reading of Adorno's reading of Kierkegaard introduces the idea of constructive destruction, for Adorno has attempted to wring the positive out of the collapse of Kierkegaard's 'system'.
4. Kafka's aphorisms are the source of the term 'constructive destruction'. They were written in a time of severe crisis, and they develop this idea particularly in reflections about the im/possibility of dying. Kafka's work was related to philosophical and religious ideas of constructive destruction by Maurice Blanchot and, more extensively, by Gershom Scholem: Scholem sees Kafka's work as a (in his times) contemporary form of heretical Kabbalah, for which Sabbatianisms is a prime example; Sabbatianism, again, enacts constructive destruction.
5. Philip Roth's novel "Sabbath's Theatre" may or may not play with the name of founder of this Jewish sect. Either way it can be read as a contemporary reflection of the logic of constructive destruction as response to suffering.
6. My selection of texts and my method of reading are unconventional but not random. The method is located at the crossroad of philosophy of religion and literature and inspired by what I call differential analogy. The result of my reading is not a recipe for the overcoming of suffering; rather, I provide models for meaningful responses to suffering that can inspire our perceptions of the conflicts that we may (quite likely) face in one way or another.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Modern literature, philosophy of religion, suffering.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities
Supervisor's Name: Supervisor, not known
Date of Award: 2006
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2006-9062
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 02 May 2018 15:39
Last Modified: 20 May 2021 10:50
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/9062

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