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

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4.43  ·  Rating Details ·  98 Ratings  ·  12 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 ...more
Hardcover, 148 pages
Published February 17th 2006 by Verso (first published May 1st 2001)
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xDEAD ENDx
May 10, 2013 xDEAD ENDx rated it it was amazing
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
Georgina Koutrouditsou
Sep 22, 2015 Georgina Koutrouditsou rated it it was amazing
Μια εξαιρετική ερμηνευτική προσέγγιση των "Θέσεων για τη Φιλοσοφία της Ιστορίας".
Μας δίνει οπτικές που δεν θα είχαμε φανταστεί!
Ο Walter Benjamin,αν και μιλά απλά,μιλά κυρίως διφορούμενα και με πάρα πολλά μηνύματα.
Οπότε η ερμηνείες είναι πολλές.
Ειδικά για κάποιον που καταπιάνεται για 1η φορά με το έργο του,το παρόν βιβλίο είναι ένας εξαιρετικός οδηγός ανάγνωσης του.

"Η Ιστορία είναι ανοιχτή,το "καινούριο" είναι δυνατό,διότι το μέλλον δεν είναι γνωστό εκ των προτέρων."

"Το έργο του WB φωτίζει έναν ο
...more
Pablo
Oct 09, 2016 Pablo rated it really liked it
De Benjamin solo tenía prejuicios, que no creo que sea algo negativo per se. Son inevitables, y sirven para pararse en un lugar, y poder moverse. El problema es cuando uno no quiere dejar atras los prejuicios, y se queda ahí, a pesar de todos los caminos que se ofrecen.

Esta lectura a través de Löwy de las tesis de la historia de Benjamin, tienen una ventaja: no son objetivas. Y no pueden serlo, ya que están escritas en un lenguaje simbólico y alegórico, que no pueden tener un solo significado. P
...more
Sergio Tejada
Aug 27, 2008 Sergio Tejada rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Daan0306gmail.com
May 06, 2017 Daan0306gmail.com rated it really liked it
4*5
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
yarrow
Jul 26, 2015 yarrow rated it it was amazing
This book offers a really thorough and honestly quite helpful unpacking of Benjamin's final and most brilliant (but therefore quite dense) text. Trivia: the "theses" weren't necessarily meant for public consumption, but rather were a sort of despairing letter written by Benjamin and mailed to his closest friends. In this way, it is almost like a coded message which he is trying to convey in the final hour. (He all but says this in the first thesis). Anyways, Lowy does a really nice job of explai ...more
Ioan Suhov
Jan 29, 2017 Ioan Suhov rated it it was amazing
Perfecly written, a comprehensive presentation of Walter Benjamin's philosophy of history.
Very useful for introductory analysis or research purposes. A must read amidst Adorno's letters ( with Benjamin), for anyone pursuing a better understanding of some of the bases of the critical theory.
While Benjamim can sometimes be hermetical, Lowy definitely is not.
and
Nov 08, 2010 and rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 11, 2012 Jeremy Hurdis rated it it was amazing
Easily the best way to read Benjamin's Theses on History is with Lowy's commentary.
Donavan
Jan 10, 2015 Donavan rated it it was amazing
Redeem the past. Remember. Progress is a storm of destruction. Prepare ye the way!
Luke Echo
Jul 13, 2016 Luke Echo rated it really liked it
A useful and rather detailed reading of Benjamin's notorious "Theses on the Concept of History". Great commentary / companion to Benjamin.
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