Preface / 1. Materialism / 2. Neo-Kantianism / 3. The Young Benjamin / 4. Romanticism and Goethe / 5. The Materialist Turn / Bibliography / Index
Benjamin's relationship to then pervasive influence of Neo-Kantian thought has not been carefully explored in English language scholarship. Phillip Homburg addresses this need with both nuance and an eye for historical detail. He carefully delineates the thought of the now mostly forgotten Neo-Kantians before concluding with a discussion of the much better known German Romantics. In so doing, he recreates the fervor of ideas out of which Benjamin's remarkable thought emerged. This is an important historical study that enriches our sense of Benjamin and his world.
Through clear and detailed exposition of key philosophical texts spanning the century from Kant and Hamann to Heinrich Rickert and Hermann Cohen, Homburg brings to light the full extent of Benjamin’s debt to—and transcendence of—the Neokantian tradition in which he was educated.
Speaking directly to modern minds torn between scientific, reductionistic accounts of material existence and those abstract ideals contesting them, Homburg offers a major re-examination of Benjamin’s materialist notion of the idea. He deftly addresses historical arguments that divided post-Kantian philosophies, particularly in their neo-Kantian and Romantic forms, all while significantly and richly illuminating a rarely examined influence upon Benjamin’s early writings on experience.