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Félix Duque

Night over the city URL:

The title of the conference refers to the oil painting of 1913 by Otto Dix: Nacht in der Stadt. We will examine it in regards to the cultural and philosophical basis of a fascinating and dark time period for Germany and the rest of the world: between the fatuous Wilhelminian empire and the settlement of the fearful Third Reich, and through the painful failure of the "experimental" Weimar Republic. The connecting thread goes from the courses imparted by a young Martin Heidegger in Freiburg im Breisgau and in Marburg, up to the sadly famous Speech of the Rectorate in 1933. In Heidegger, indeed, we find the reflection of all the contradictions of a time that still echoes in our present, although the mood and state of mind with which the current society faces the establishment across the planet of economic liberalism and technology, seems radically contrary to the revolutionary impulse -either from the left of from the conservatives, but a statist model in any case- with which the German intellectuals of between wars attempted to discard an entire culture. A culture that on words of the Count Yorck (one of its maximum critics) was "ready to be buried".

With all of this, and going beyond a "traditional" philosophical exposition, that connecting thread could be used to join around it the problems of its time such as the sense of life and the human existence, the radical contrast between objectivist and scientifistic philosophy and another one of Nietzschean inspiration. Also the generalized sense of the fall of an entire time period -like in Kraus' Die letzten Tage der Menschheit-, and the nervous hope around the violent emergence of the "new order". These problems will be illustrated through the artistic manifestations of that time, around the expressionism and the "New Objectivity" (Neue Sachlichkeit), finalizing in a very relevant date: 1937, the year in which Heidegger begins writing a deep self-criticism: the Contributions to Philosophy (Beiträge zur Philosophie), while in Munich the exhibition degenerate art was being shown. A sinister and viscous world denounced and reviled by those who, consciously or unconsciously, participated in it and helped giving it shape..., but also destroying it. The place were differentiating between greatness and infamy is difficult to make.

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