Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisorWalsh, Philip D.
dc.creatorCicalo, Jordan Christopher
dc.date.accessioned2015-12-16T19:20:01Z
dc.date.available2015-12-16T19:20:01Z
dc.date.copyright2015-07-07
dc.date.issued2015-12-16
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10315/30674
dc.description.abstractTheodor Adorno's writings on the interdependence of subject and object provided the impetus for this project. Following Adorno the work argues that agency comes from an awareness of the limitations of one's conception of the world and more generally of the existence of an external world beyond human determinations. In order to avoid the pitfalls of an unintelligible jargon through an abstract discussion that runs the risk of becoming esoteric, I then looks at concrete examples, instances in the past, of individuals struggling to find what they took to be an authentic subjectivity and, intertwined with this, a means of coming to terms with otherness. At the same time, I attempt to show by way of these examples—the point of origin for what I take to be ideologies that sought to eliminate the place for the subject. My intention is to examine the genesis of the Western expectation that otherness was something ephemeral, or illusory, something that could be definitively overcome. By virtue of the interdependence of subject and object, and in turn of agency as a product of the recognition of the non-identical, I argue that it is by tracing this moment and its implications that one can also find the starting point for, and thus have a better understanding of, contemporary attempts to eliminate, or constrain, the subject. As with Adorno's negative dialectics I want to clear a path to otherness through showing the failure of man's conceptions, but in this case through showing the failures of man's conceptions of himself rather than the failures of his conceptions of the external world. It is my contention that Saint Augustine’s theology, with his City of God especially as its culmination, present a kind of threshold for this kind of thinking, a point at which the wave of humility before the object and doubts about man’s place in the universe and his destiny, that perhaps prior to him had risen and fallen, finally broke and never rolled back. Every component of his thought was geared toward not simply transcending but definitively solving otherness. Augustine envisioned human beings as actually responsible for non-identity's existence and so as capable of doing away with it through orientating their action in such a way as to remedy the primordial error that was its cause. Paradoxically for Augustine it was agency itself that was the problem, man's self assertion had caused him to fall away from his divine nature, yet the error that accompanied Adam's agency could be cancelled out by obedient human action. Totality, obedience, and man as the cause of otherness were interlinked, inextricable elements of his approach. Following the discussion of Augustine's theology I proceed to examine the origins and characteristics of three other transformative ideologies or worldviews in Western history; the idealistic, the social, and the transcendental of Francesco Petrarch, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Arthur de Gobineau respectively. The crux of my argument is that the unique characteristics of Augustine's search for certainty created a sort of sure and stable foundation on which later ideologies which restricted the subject, so as to solve non-identity, could build and flourish. I show how each stemmed from individual attempts to come to terms with the otherness that overshadows human existence by putting forth definitive answers to the question of what man is. By contrasting the figures I then show, in the conclusion of this work, that Augustine's approach while powerful and reassuring was ultimately self-destructive. This is because Augustine's monolithic conception of human nature limited man's ability to appreciate and work with otherness and at the same time it created an expectation that human understanding should ultimately be error free. As becomes clear at the end of the project, the restriction of agency to contend with non-identity ultimately had the effect of eliminating non-identity itself. Reality came increasingly to be perceived as mundane and self-evident as the importance attributed to the subject diminished in the later figures, thereby demonstrating by way of example the interdependence of the two as Adorno argued. While the works examined constitute a niche in intellectual history it is nonetheless a highly influential one. This dissertation, at the very least, identifies an approach to non-identity and a conception of the subject that was a counterpart, perhaps even a predecessor or progenitor, to the rationality that predominates in modernity and which the critical theorists of the Frankfurt School criticized so vociferously.
dc.language.isoen
dc.rightsAuthor owns copyright, except where explicitly noted. Please contact the author directly with licensing requests.
dc.subjectEpistemology
dc.subjectEuropean history
dc.subjectSociology
dc.titleSolving the Unsolvable: Western Responses to Otherness From Saint Augustine
dc.typeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation
dc.degree.disciplineSociology
dc.degree.namePhD - Doctor of Philosophy
dc.degree.levelDoctoral
dc.date.updated2015-12-16T19:20:01Z
dc.subject.keywordsEpistemology
dc.subject.keywordsEthics
dc.subject.keywordsTheodor Adorno
dc.subject.keywordsWalter Benjamin
dc.subject.keywordsMax Horkheimer
dc.subject.keywordsDialectics at a Standstill
dc.subject.keywordsCritical Theory
dc.subject.keywordsFrankfurt School
dc.subject.keywordsSubject Object Problem
dc.subject.keywordsSubject Object Divide
dc.subject.keywordsSubject
dc.subject.keywordsObject
dc.subject.keywordsAgency
dc.subject.keywordsNon-Identity
dc.subject.keywordsExternality
dc.subject.keywordsOntology
dc.subject.keywordsInstrumental Rationality
dc.subject.keywordsInstrumental Reason
dc.subject.keywordsDialectic of Enlightenment
dc.subject.keywordsAlienation
dc.subject.keywordsOtherness
dc.subject.keywordsPhilosophy of History
dc.subject.keywordsDehumanization
dc.subject.keywordsHistoriography
dc.subject.keywordsSaint Augustine
dc.subject.keywordsPetrarch
dc.subject.keywordsJean-Jacques Rousseau
dc.subject.keywordsArthur de Gobineau
dc.subject.keywordsIntellectual History
dc.subject.keywordsHistorical Consciousness
dc.subject.keywordsIdeology
dc.subject.keywordsWorldview
dc.subject.keywordsOriginal Sin
dc.subject.keywordsChristian Theology
dc.subject.keywordsAuthenticity
dc.subject.keywordsSubjectivity
dc.subject.keywordsCreativity
dc.subject.keywordsEuropean History
dc.subject.keywordsGarden of Eden
dc.subject.keywordsParadise
dc.subject.keywordsFreedom
dc.subject.keywordsDeliverance
dc.subject.keywordsReconciliation
dc.subject.keywordsSalvation
dc.subject.keywordsFall of Rome
dc.subject.keywordsParadigm Shift
dc.subject.keywordsObjectivism
dc.subject.keywordsNeo-Platonism
dc.subject.keywordsChristian History
dc.subject.keywordsWestern History
dc.subject.keywordsTotality
dc.subject.keywordsUniversalizing Theories
dc.subject.keywordsHuman Nature
dc.subject.keywordsLate Antiquity
dc.subject.keywordsModernity
dc.subject.keywordsTotalitarianism
dc.subject.keywordsBenedetto Croce
dc.subject.keywordsR. G. Collingwood
dc.subject.keywordsHistorical Methodology
dc.subject.keywordsImmediacy
dc.subject.keywordsHuman Triumphalism
dc.subject.keywordsHuman Exceptionalism
dc.subject.keywordsWestern Triumphalism
dc.subject.keywordsWestern Exceptionalism
dc.subject.keywordsRace
dc.subject.keywordsRacialism
dc.subject.keywordsRace Theory
dc.subject.keywordsAryans
dc.subject.keywordsAryanism
dc.subject.keywordsSocial Contract
dc.subject.keywordsEmile
dc.subject.keywordsState of nature
dc.subject.keywordsDiscourse on Inequality
dc.subject.keywordsDiscourse on the Arts and Sciences
dc.subject.keywordsRenaissance
dc.subject.keywordsAutarkei
dc.subject.keywordsAutarchy
dc.subject.keywordsScholasticism
dc.subject.keywordsJudgement Day
dc.subject.keywordsCity of God
dc.subject.keywordsDe Civitate Dei
dc.subject.keywordsOn the Trinity
dc.subject.keywordsDe Trinitate
dc.subject.keywordsConfessions
dc.subject.keywordsSecretum
dc.subject.keywordsDe Remediis Utriusque Fortunae
dc.subject.keywordsRemedies for Fortunes Fair and Foul
dc.subject.keywordsNegative Dialectics
dc.subject.keywordsAesthetic Theory
dc.subject.keywordsOntological Subject
dc.subject.keywordsPhilosophers
dc.subject.keywordsTranscendental
dc.subject.keywordsEighteenth Century France
dc.subject.keywordsThe Social
dc.subject.keywordsAporias
dc.subject.keywordsProblematics
dc.subject.keywordsIdentity
dc.subject.keywordsIdentity Thinking
dc.subject.keywordsHerbert Marcuse
dc.subject.keywordsOne Dimensional Man
dc.subject.keywordsDiscovery of Society
dc.subject.keywordsDiscovery of Individuality
dc.subject.keywordsChurch Dogma
dc.subject.keywordsMiddle Ages
dc.subject.keywordsDark Ages
dc.subject.keywordsEnlightenment
dc.subject.keywordsNationalism
dc.subject.keywordsNation-State
dc.subject.keywordsCitizen of Geneva
dc.subject.keywordsHumanism
dc.subject.keywordsHumanist
dc.subject.keywordsManichaeism
dc.subject.keywordsChurch Fathers
dc.subject.keywordsFathers of the Church
dc.subject.keywordsBishop of Hippo Regius
dc.subject.keywordsFall of Man
dc.subject.keywordsThe Fall
dc.subject.keywordsPrimordial Error
dc.subject.keywordsPrimordial Past
dc.subject.keywordsAugustinian Studies
dc.subject.keywordsRace Conflict
dc.subject.keywordsHumanist Movement
dc.subject.keywordsFrancesco Petrarch
dc.subject.keywordsThe Fall of Man
dc.subject.keywordsNew Adam
dc.subject.keywordsMax Weber
dc.subject.keywordsThird Reich
dc.subject.keywordsHouston Stewart Chamberlain
dc.subject.keywordsNazism
dc.subject.keywordsSystems of Thought
dc.subject.keywordsEschatology
dc.subject.keywordsChiliasm
dc.subject.keywordsMillennialism
dc.subject.keywordsGerman Reich
dc.subject.keywordsPan-Germanism
dc.subject.keywordsPrimeval Error
dc.subject.keywordsWestern History
dc.subject.keywordsEuropean History
dc.subject.keywordsWestern Intellectual History
dc.subject.keywordsEuropean Intellectual History
dc.subject.keywordsTheories of Knowledge


Files in this item

Thumbnail

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record


All items in the YorkSpace institutional repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved except where explicitly noted.