The Persistence of Subjectivity examines several approaches to, and critiques of, the core notion in the self-understanding and legitimation of the modern, 'bourgeois' form of life: the free, reflective, self-determining subject. Since it is a relatively recent historical development that human beings think of themselves as individual centers of agency, and that one's entitlement to such a self-determining life is absolutely valuable, the issue at stake also involves the question of the historical location of philosophy. What might it mean to take seriously Hegel's claim that philosophical reflection is always reflection on the historical 'actuality' of its own age? Discussing Heidegger, Gadamer, Adorno, Leo Strauss, Manfred Frank, and John McDowell, Robert Pippin attempts to understand how subjectivity arises in contemporary institutional practices such as medicine, as well as in other contexts such as modernism in the visual arts and in the novels of Marcel Proust.
• Interpretation of what Hegel might have meant by claiming that philosophy 'is its own age comprehended in thought' • Avoids the usual alternatives in discussions about the nature and very possibility of subjectivity • Deals with a wide range of figures and topics including Hegel and Adorno
1. Introduction: 'bourgeois philosophy' and the problem of the subject; Part I: 2. The Kantian aftermath: reaction and revolution in modern German philosophy; Part II: 3. Necessary conditions for the possibility of what isn't: Heidegger on failed meaning; 4. Gadamer's Hegel: subjectivity and reflection; 5. Negative ethics: Adorno on the falseness of bourgeois life; 6. The unavailability of the ordinary: Strauss on the philosophical fate of modernity; 7. Hannah Arendt and the bourgeois origins of totalitarian evil; 8. On not being a neo-structuralist: remarks on Manfred Frank and romantic subjectivity; 9. Leaving nature behind: or, two cheers for subjectivism: on John McDowell; Part III: 10. The ethical status of civility; 11. Medical practice and Social authority in modernity; Part IV. Expression: 12. The force of felt necessity: literature, ethical knowledge, and the law; 13. What was abstract art? (from the point of view of Hegel); 14. On becoming who one is: Proust's problematic selves.
'… Pippin is one of the most original and imaginative philosophers now at work. … I can think of no other philosopher writing today who is so consistently illuminating on such a wide range of topics. We can learn a lot from Pippin.' Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews