Fire Alarm: Reading Walter Benjamin's 'On the Concept of History'
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Fire Alarm: Reading Walter Benjamin's 'On the Concept of History'

4.38 of 5 stars 4.38  ·  rating details  ·  52 ratings  ·  5 reviews
Revolutionary critic of the philosophy of progress, nostalgic of the past yet dreaming of the future, romantic partisan of materialism... Walter Benjamin is in every sense of the word an “unclassifiable” philosopher. His essay ‘On the Concept of History’ was written in a state of urgency, as he attempted to escape the Gestapo in 1940, before finally committing suicide.

Hardcover, 148 pages
Published February 17th 2006 by Verso (first published May 1st 2001)
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For the past two months I have been participating in a weekly Benjamin study group. We mostly read the more philosophical writings, taking them line by line to work out what exactly this mysterious writer is actually saying. "On the Concept of History" has by far been the most opaque essay for us. We pored over each thesis, while planning for more informed discussions after reading Benjamin's writings that are referenced in the Theses, along with Löwy's book.

This book is incredibly useful for un...more
Sergio Tejada
This book is about Walter Benjamin's approach to marxism and historic materialism, as shown in "On the concept of history". Benjamin introduces the idea of "redemption" into revolution, that is, a teological approach to the memory of all the vanquisheds in history as the motor for future revolutions. He also fight the faith in "progress", even within the leftists, and thinks that progress already contains barbarities as the Holocaust.
William West
Benjamin was a beautiful, if gnomic writer. In his book, Lowy offers an eloquent and convincing interpretation of Benjamin's particularly challenging "On the Concept of History". I would synopsize Lowy's interpretation on Benjamin's exceptionally quirky take on Marxism thusly: Rather than reveal a path of dialectical progress through history leading to an egalitarian society (as positivist schools of socialsim claim), the authentic historical materialist instead finds in the study of history one...more
this book gives an excellent insight and interpretation to an almost indecipherable essay. the concepts of open history etc are way too fucking awesome- this essay is so important and reading this book helps one understand its relativity to today
Jeremy Hurdis
Easily the best way to read Benjamin's Theses on History is with Lowy's commentary.
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