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The Sea as Mirror: Essayings in and against Philosophy as History
by Wu Yi
Diaphanes, 2021
eISBN: 978-3-0358-0375-4 | Paper: 978-3-0358-0368-6

ABOUT THIS BOOK | AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY | TOC
ABOUT THIS BOOK
The Sea as Mirror traces the pressing and repressed material and symbolic presence of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean from Plato to Heidegger. To do so, Wu Yi employs the maritime as a lens to understand the drive of philosophy as both a response to and moment within the impetus of Western colonization. Yi examines how philosophy has again and again constructed itself as a genre in opposition to the movement of deterritorialization and fluidity of mimesis. She does so via the method (meta, “after” + hodos, “way, journey”) of a series of essayings (in the original sense of trial, measure, attempt) across a geopolitical topography of discourses.
 
These include philosophical texts drawn from a constellation of historical topoi at the critical moments of their encounter with the maritime: Plato and Euripedes’s work from fifth-century Athens; Augustus and Plautus’s writings from republican and early imperial Rome; Shakespeare’s creations from Elizabethan England; Kant and Rousseau’s texts from enlightenment continental Europe; and the thinking of Husserl and Heidegger from interwar Germany of the twentieth century. For each historical topos, Yi juxtaposes different representations of and responses to the maritime through the reading of a philosophical text vis-à-vis the reading of a literary text. In so doing, she lays bare the deep political and moral ambiguity attributed to the ocean in Western philosophical and literary imaginaries.
 

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