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Prior to Law and Subsequent to Understanding: Benjamin as a Student of the Law

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journal contribution
posted on 22.05.2017 by Stephanie Polsky
Over the course of his intellectual career, the cultural critic Walter Benjamin became preoccupied with analysing certain political and philosophical trends within German society that indicated a pending collapse of society itself and the eventual annihilation of its inhabitants. Through careful observation he concluded that the German people were subject to systematic violence brought on by collective forces in government and ideology. A conspicuous absence of esteem for individual agency, coupled with an unconditional adherence to the group mentality, signalled a decline in their social conscience. As a result of this individuals were left profoundly vulnerable within their communities. This collective character of acquiescence paved the way for their society to stagnate politically and ideologically, eventually resulting in the rise of German fascism.

History

Publication date

2008

Issue

16

Pages

49-79

Document type

Article

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