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Peter E. Gordon

Resident Faculty & Seminar Co-chair (on leave 2021-2022)

Europe is more than its political history; it is also a philosophical canon – a repository of contested ideals and critical practices that express our yearning for a more enlightened, more inclusive humanity.

Peter E. Gordon

Resident Faculty & Seminar Co-chair (on leave 2021-2022)

Biography

Peter E. Gordon

Peter Gordon is Amabel B. James Professor of History at Harvard University and resident faculty at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies (CES), where he co-chairs the Harvard Colloquium for Intellectual History. He is also a faculty affiliate in the department of Germanic languages and literatures as well as the department of philosophy. Gordon works chiefly at the intersection of modern European intellectual history and continental philosophy. His most recent book, Migrants in the Profane: Critical Theory and the Question of Secularization (Yale University Press, 2020), is based on the Franz Rosenzweig Lectures in Modern Jewish Thought that Gordon presented at Yale University. His forthcoming book Prekäres Glück: Adorno über Negativität und Normativität will be published in German by Suhrkamp Verlag (see more below).

Gordon's previous books include Rosenzweig and Heidegger: Between Judaism and German Philosophy (2003); The Cambridge Companion to Modern Jewish Philosophy (2007); The Modernist Imagination: Essays in Critical Theory and Intellectual History (2008); Continental Divide: Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos (2010); Weimar Thought: A Contested Legacy (2013); and Adorno and Existence (2016). His book Continental Divide: Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos was awarded the 2010 Jacques Barzun Prize from the American Philosophical Society. In 2005 he received the Phi Beta Kappa Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Affiliations

  • Amabel B. James Professor of History, Harvard University
  • Resident Faculty & Seminar Co-chair, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
  • Faculty Affiliate, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University
  • Faculty Affiliate, Department of Philosophy, Harvard University

Recent Book

In "Migrants in the Profane: Critical Theory and the Question of Secularization," Peter Gordon explores the role of religion in secular, modern politics. For reviews, see here.

“It is an extraordinary achievement to explain and illuminate the deepest and darkest thought which motivated the work of the most prominent representatives of the original Frankfurt school ... Peter E. Gordon brilliantly succeeds in disentangling the different interpretations of this explosive idea in the works of Walter Benjamin, Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno.”

— Jürgen Habermas


Notable Lectures

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Theodor W. Adorno's death in 1969, Peter Gordon delivered the Adorno Vorlesungen (Adorno Lectures) at the Institute for Social Research at the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt in June 2019/ The theme of this three-part lecture series was "Adorno and the Sources of Normativity." The lectures were widely reviewed in the German press, including the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (see article here), and will be published by Suhrkamp Verlag under the title Prekäres Glück: Adorno über Negativität und Normativität.

"Adorno is no theorist of total darkness, no Mephistopheles. He had hope."

– Peter E. Gordon, Adorno Vorlesungen, June 2019.


Recent Collections

Select Articles

Other Books

  • Rosenzweig and Heidegger: Between Judaism and German Philosophy (University of California Press, 2003)
  • Continental Divide: Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos (Harvard University Press, 2010)
  • Adorno and Existence (Harvard University Press, 2016)
  • Authoritarianism: Three Inquiries in Critical Theory, co-authored with Wendy Brown and Max Pensky, (University of Chicago Press, 2018)
  • Migrants in the Profane: Critical Theory and the Question of Secularization (Yale University Press, 2020)
 
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