Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik

An independent international centre for advanced studies


Marx and Heidegger
26 May 2014 - 30 May 2014
Course directors:
Nikola Petković, University of Rijeka, Croatia
Akeel Bilgrami, Columbia University, United States
Course description:

What Weber called 'disenchantment' is a long process beginning in the seventeenth century, understood both in terms of 'the death of God' as well as ' the decline of magic'. One consequence of this process was a new understanding of the very concept of nature, now a thoroughly de-sacralized nature. From such a transformation of the concept of nature, an entire new conception of political economy and politics was made possible.

This mini-course will look at the various conceptual and institutional agencies which made possible these large-scale transformations and the voices of dissent against them in the centuries that followed. Two remarkable dissenting voices argued not for the re-sacralization of nature but for a secular re-enchantment of nature. The course will look at the unusual convergence of these two intellectual points of view-- of the so-called early Marx and of Heidegger and their antecedents in Romantic philosophy going back to the early dissenting voices of the late seventeenth century itself, through the canonical Romantic thinkers and poets, down to two seminal texts by Marx and Heidegger, The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts and Being and Time.

Through this historical survey, we will consider such fundamental and urgent topics for our time such as the following: How did the descralization of nature also achieve the evacuation of all value from nature and how was this crucial to the current ecological crisis? How are such ecological questions of nature deeply integrated with questions of political economy and political governance? Is it possible to restore a secular, non-sacral, enchantment to nature by viewing nature as containing intrinsic value properties? Does this mean that nature contains properties that natural sciences cannot study? If so, is such a view unscientific? If not, how shall we conceive the relation between science and ethics, politics, and the social sciences?