Stephen L. Gardner
Kant, Hegel and nineteenth-century thought; twentieth-century phenomenology and existentialism; classical and modern aesthetics and the theory of popular culture.
Key critical issues:
My work focuses on the relations of philosophy to history, politics, the social sciences, and modern culture.
Current book project:
The Sublime Lie of History: The Quixotic Imperatives of Democratic Desire. This aims to show how critics and defenders of “bourgeois” society (such as Marx, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, and Freud, for example) are driven by a conceit of “life as literature” (in the phrase of Alexander Nehamas, who applied it to Nietzsche) or “existence as an aesthetic phenomenon” (Nietzsche). This conceit intimates the democratic phenomenon of the modern public, in terms of which such figures implicitly cast their own “self” creation as writers or thinkers. It is both a prophylactic against and a reflection of this distinctively modern “social power,” the media-based and market-driven public, to which the modern notion of a “self” is a defensive reaction. In the process and contrary to intent, they generated constitutive myths of democratic culture, including such myths of freedom as an idea of history in terms of the “sublime” (an aesthetic notion) and an idea of the “self” modeled on authorship.
Education and Degrees Earned
- Ph. D. in Philosophy, The Pennsylvania University, 1984
- M. A. in Philosophy, The Pennsylvania State University, 1980
- B. A. in Philosophy, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, 1975
- The Colloquium on Violence and Religion, Board Member
- International Society for the Study of European Ideas
- ACLA/ICLA (past)
- American Philosophical Association (past)