Thinking the Poetic Measure of Justice


By Charles Bambach

Subjects: Philosophy, Continental Philosophy, Hermeneutics, Heidegger, Poetry
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Paperback : 9781438445809, 346 pages, January 2014
Hardcover : 9781438445816, 346 pages, May 2013

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Introduction: Thinking Poetic Measure
Measuring the Poetic Measure of Justice
Heidegger’s Poetic Measure: An Ethics of Haunting
Hölderlin’s Heraclitean Measure
Celan and the (Im)possibility of Justice
1. The Hölderlinian Measure of Poetic Justice
“The Signs of the Times”: “Patmos”
“The Evening of Time”: “Peace” (Der Frieden)
The Böhlendorff Logic
The Ethos of Guest-Friendship and the “Oriental Other“
The Ister: The Ethical Measure of Dwelling
The Pindaric Measure
The Hölderlinian Justice and the Mediation of Difference
The Measure of the Incommensurable: “In lovely blueness”
2. Heideggerian ‘Justice’ as Dike
The Strangeness of Justice
The History of Being and the Question of Justice
Dwelling Amidst the Ruins: Ethos, Originary Ethics, and the Abode of Human Being
Aristotelian Ethos Before the Kehre
Anaximander’s Dike and the Question of Justice
Nietzsche, Heraclitus, and Justice
Dike and Originary Ethics
Heidegger’s Poetic Measure: The Hölderlinian Ethos of Dwelling
3. Paul Celan: The Poetics of Caesura
Of a Justice to Come: Derrida, Celan, and the Aporetics of Justice
Celan’s Pneumatic Jewish Identity
“Tübingen, Jänner”
Zur Blindheit über-redete Augen”
“Todtnauberg”: The Conditions of the (Im)Possibility of Dialog
“Todtnauberg”: A Reading
The Jerusalem Poems: Eros as Eschatology
“Zeitgehöft”: Homestead of Time

A new reading of justice engaging the work of two philosophical poets who stand in conversation with the work of Martin Heidegger.


What is the measure of ethics? What is the measure of justice? And how do we come to measure the immeasurability of these questions? Thinking the Poetic Measure of Justice situates the problem of justice in the interdisciplinary space between philosophy and poetry in an effort to explore the sources of ethical life in a new way. Charles Bambach engages the works of two philosophical poets who stand as the bookends of modernity—Friedrich Hölderlin (1770–1843) and Paul Celan (1920–1970)—offering close textual readings of poems from each that define and express some of the crucial problems of German philosophical thought in the twentieth century: tensions between the native and the foreign, the proper and the strange, the self and the other. At the center of this philosophical conversation between Hölderlin and Celan, Bambach places the work of Martin Heidegger to rethink the question of justice in a nonlegal, nonmoral register by understanding it in terms of poetic measure. Focusing on Hölderlin's and Heidegger's readings of pre-Socratic philosophy and Greek tragedy, as well as on Celan's reading of Kabbalah, he frames the problem of poetic justice against the trauma of German destruction in the twentieth century.

Charles Bambach is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Dallas. He is the author of Heidegger's Roots: Nietzsche, National Socialism, and the Greeks and Heidegger, Dilthey, and the Crisis of Historicism.