The Bloomsbury Anthology of Transcendental Thought: From Antiquity to the Anthropocene

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What is real? What is the relationship between ideas and objects in the world? Is God a concept or a being? Is reality a creation of the mind or a power beyond it? How does mental experience coordinate with natural laws and material phenomena? The Bloomsbury Anthology of Transcendental Thought is the definitive anthology of responses to these and other questions on the nature and limits of human knowledge by philosophers, theologians, and writers from Plato to Zizek.

The word “transcendental” is as prevalent and also as ambiguously defined as the name “philosophy” itself. There are as many uses, invocations, and allusions to the term as there are definitions on offer. Every generation of writers, beginning in earnest in ancient Greece and continuing through to our own time, has attempted to clarify, apply, and lay claim to the meaning of transcendental thought. Arranged chronologically, this anthology reflects the diverse uses the term has been put to over the course of two and a half millennia. It lends historical perspective to the abiding importance of the transcendental for philosophical thinking and also some sense of the complexity, richness, and continued relevance of the contested term.

The Bloomsbury Anthology of Transcendental Thought, the first anthology of its kind, offers teachers and students a new viewpoint on the history and present of transcendental thought. Its selection of essential, engaging excerpts, carefully selected, edited, and introduced, brings course materials up-to-date with the state of the discipline.

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About the Author:

David LaRocca is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the State University of New York College at Cortland, USA; Visiting Scholar in the Department of English at Cornell University, USA; and Lecturer in Screen Studies in the Department of Cinema, Photography, and Media Arts at the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College, USA. He is the author of On Emerson (2003) and Emerson's English Traits and the Natural History of Metaphor (2013) andEstimating Emerson: An Anthology of Criticism from Carlyle to Cavell(2013).

Review:

"The concept of the transcendental is often invoked in philosophy and literature, but until now its history has been neglected. This volume, bringing together a variety of writings from different disciplines and different traditions, allows us to begin to reflect on the character of this elusive concept. In that sense, this volume is more than an overview of a field of study―it is participating in the creation of one." - Todd May, Class of 1941 Memorial Professor of the Humanities, Clemson University, USA

"A splendid collection of some of the deepest thoughts of which humans are capable. The book is full of insights and surprises." - John Lachs, Centennial Professor of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University, USA

"In the editor's own words, this anthology is at once 'essential' and 'impossible,' since it portends to give textual shape to a topic that has defied the entire tradition of Western philosophy, which concerns the very question from which all philosophizing begins, i.e., the transcendental. In taking up this task, LaRocca assumes more the guise of a curator than an editor, and provides us with a veritable Kunstkammer, that is, a cabinet of curiosities, a theater of memory, a world theater of philosophers, artists, and writers from all ages who have addressed the transcendental as a constant and elemental aspect of philosophy and life." - Gregg Lambert, Dean’s Professor of Humanities, Syracuse University, USA

"The Bloomsbury Anthology of Transcendental Thought brings together an excellent selection of texts from several philosophical perspectives on the question of the transcendental, demonstrating the complexity of the concept's meaning, its rich and often contradictory histories. Edited with great erudition and care by David LaRocca, the collection will be an indispensable handbook for anybody researching the heritage of that tradition." - Branka Arsic, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University, USA

"In this unique and timely collection, David LaRocca offers us a thoughtful reminder that the very possibility and urgent task of thinking, of our acting and judging, ethics and politics, rests upon a willing exposure to an aspect of our everyday and ordinary experience that is hard to grasp and eludes most, perhaps all, epistemic criteria. Metaphysicians, mystics, and moral perfectionists of all stripes have called this 'the transcendental,' thus risking the fatal misunderstanding that this means only 'the transcendent,' leading to the dualist assumption that we are citizens of two separate (earthly and heavenly) cities or (phenomenal and noumenal) worlds. Yet the truth is far more simple, if much harder to accept and then also live by. We are what we are, here and now. Yet we're not, therefore, irrevocably bound by what thus is said 'to be'―much less by the proverbial powers that will always be―in what we can still further imagine and aim or hope for, against the odds, as it were. In this brilliantly edited and introduced anthology, LaRocca presents us with the broadest selection of authors, philosophers, visionaries, and artists, who have expressed this simple, difficult truth and freedom in the most profound and varied of ways." - Hent de Vries, Russ Family Professor in the Humanities and Philosophy, Johns Hopkins University, USA, and Director of the School of Criticism and Theory, Cornell University, USA

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