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AfternessFigures of Following in Modern Thought and Aesthetics$
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Gerhard Richter

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231157704

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231157704.001.0001

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Afterness and Experience (II)

Afterness and Experience (II)

Crude Thinking Rethought

(p.169) 9 Afterness and Experience (II)

Gerhard Richter

Columbia University Press

This chapter explores a different experience of afterness: the mode of thinking that differentiates between subtle and crude analysis. During the time of afterness, when so much has come and gone, has been assumed and left behind, at a time when so little still seems capable of really surprising us, it is perhaps not superfluous to recall that at the origin of all philosophy, all love of wisdom, lies the moment of thaumazein, the feeling of astonishment and wonder that gives rise to questioning and reflection. Taking its cue from Bertolt Brecht’s concept of “crude thinking” (plumpes Denken) and Walter Benjamin’s theoretical commentary on it, the chapter considers the afterness of a specific modality of thinking as a test case for modernity’s political investments. What plumpes Denken ultimately would require of us in the uncontainable Greek event of thaumazein and its afterness would also be to remain faithful to its opposite, subtlety and refined thinking, without simply betraying crude thinking.

Keywords:   afterness, thaumazein, astonishment, Bertolt Brecht, crude thinking, Walter Benjamin, modernity, plumpes Denken, subtlety, refined thinking

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