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The spirit of Europe: Heidegger and Valéry on the "End of Spirit"

Bjarke, Morkore Stigel Hansen (2017) The spirit of Europe: Heidegger and Valéry on the "End of Spirit". PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.4sau3t84kv3w


‘Entirely oblivious to the events unfolding on the “other shore,” Europe tolerated that the Mediterranean, her sea, would turn into a graveyard,’ (Cacciari 2016: viii) These words from the Italian philosopher Massimo Cacciari’s 2016 study on Europe and Empire indicate to us how Europe today still suffers from a “historical emphysema.” This thesis addresses the question of how these pulmonary difficulties of Europe are related to the process of a history in which the name of Europe comes to be related to and even identified with what is called “spirit.” As is well known, Europe has been conceived as ‘no more than a geographical accident, the peninsula that Asia shoves into the Atlantic’ (Sartre 1988: 292). However, the thesis argues that another definition of Europe, even if intimately bound up with its geography, comes to the fore as the spirit of Europe. In order to bring to light the “spiritual geography” of Europe, I focus primarily on two strands of the twentieth century philosophical inquiry into the notion of “Europe;” one by the German philosopher Martin Heidegger and the other by the French poet and thinker Paul Valéry. The argument is that what these two thinkers achieve in their thought testifies to the history of an ambiguous relation between Europe and spirit. For both thinkers Europe appears as such only as it is shaped and reshaped by this spiritual relation, one which Europe today retains in its absence, that is, in its spiritlessness.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2017 Bjarke Morkore Stigel Hansen
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Sets: Departments > European Institute
Supervisor: Glendinning, Simon

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