Augenblick : The Concept of the 'Decisive Moment' in 19th- and 20th-Century Western Philosophy book cover
1st Edition

The Concept of the 'Decisive Moment' in 19th- and 20th-Century Western Philosophy

ISBN 9780754660972
Published January 28, 2008 by Routledge
208 Pages

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Book Description

Augenblick, meaning literally 'In the blink of an eye', describes a 'decisive moment' in time that is both fleeting yet momentously eventful, even epoch-makingly significant. In this book Koral Ward investigates the development of the concept into one of the core ideas in Western existential philosophy alongside such concepts as anxiety and individual freedom. Ward examines the whole extent of the idea of the 'decisive moment', in which an individual's entire life-project is open to a radical reorientation. From its inception in Kierkegaard's works to the writings of Jaspers and Heidegger, she draws on a vast array of sources beyond just the standard figures of 19th and 20th century Continental philosophy, finding ideas and examples in photography, cinema, music, art, and the modern novel.

Table of Contents

Chapter One Of Time and The Eternal, Søren Kierkegaard’s Moment, Øieblik; Chapter Two The Gateway named Augenblick: its place in Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of Eternal Return; Chapter Three Karl Jaspers’ ‘pure eye’ of the ‘fleeting moment’; Chapter Four Martin Heidegger’s Augenblick as ‘moment of vision’, and the Redemption of Being; Chapter Five Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Images à la Sauvette, Images on the Run], and the Image as Still; Chapter Six A Decisive Epoch and the ‘Existential Moment’, der Augenblick der Existenz ] in Art; Chapter 7 Conclusion;

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Koral Ward teaches at Murdoch University, Western Australia. She also has an art practice which focuses on text: in writing, performance, installation and situational works.


'Koral Ward's book is a genuinely original contribution to the understanding of 19th- and 20th-Century philosophy and art. It is the first book-length treatment in English of the intriguing idea of the Augenblick - of those 'decisive moments' which, while forcefully confirming to us our temporal existence, also intimate our relationship to what transcends the temporal. Ward's achievement is to demonstrate how central and organizing this idea has been in the existential philosophical tradition from Kierkegaard to Heidegger, and in the work of artists as diverse as Kandinsky, Schoenberg and Cartier-Bresson.' David E. Cooper, University of Durham, UK. 'This is the only book I know of that treats the entire extent of the philosophical concept of the decisive moment from its inception in Kierkegaard’s works to the writings of the Existentialists, such as Heidegger, Jaspers, and Sartre in the 1920s and 1930s. Koral Ward draws on a vast array of sources, and not just works by standard figures in 19th- and 20th-century philosophy; she also finds strong support for her interpretation of this idea in autobiographies, the modern theatre, photography, cinema, the surrealists, and the modern novel. She carries off this hugely ambitious project with scholarly skill and literary flair, making some heavily worn texts seem fresh and alive, and bringing out others you would never have imagined. The basic concept of the decisive moment, in which an individual’s entire life-project is open to radical reorientation, is not just confined to the scholarly reaches of recondite works from an earlier period, but resonates deeply today as well. Her book should appeal to a wide audience of readers interested in contemporary philosophy, existential themes, modern literature, modern theatre, and the visual arts.' Paul S. MacDonald, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia