Student Profile: Dave Mesing

Name: Dave Mesing
School: Villanova, 2nd year doctoral student
Discipline: Philosophy
Enrollment: Taking for credit
Research Interests: Spinoza, Marx, history of materialism, Italian workerism, contemporary continental philosophy, history of philosophy, early Frankfurt school critical theory
Academia Profile: https://villanova.academia.edu/DaveMesing

My interests are focused around the challenge of articulating a contemporary critical theory that is grounded in the history of philosophy. Within this framework, I am primarily influenced by the history of western Marxism, especially in the various legacies of the appropriations of Spinozism in the work of Althusser and Negri, as well as the students and other thinkers who follow them down this path. More specifically, my recent research interests have been on the concept of critique throughout Marx’s writings with a specific eye to the challenges of temporality. This has led to some necessary background work in the German critical tradition, and although I am fairly familiar with Hegel and crashing right into the first critique alongside this course, I am convinced that Schelling is also an important and neglected pre-Marxist thinker for critical theorists to carefully study. In particular, based on the work I’ve been doing, my hunch is that a deeper engagement with Schelling in various Italian thinkers as well as their own teachers makes the interaction between Italian Marxism and German idealism more complicated than other western Marxisms (although it’s readily apparent in Adorno, Benjamin, and Bloch). I am presently engaged in a longer project on the politicization of language and world in Badiou and Paolo Virno, as well as an investigation into Agamben’s flirtation with Italian workerism in the early 1990s, which also considers concepts of language and world, as well as the varied religious overtones in this current, which are also present (to differing degrees) in Badiou and Virno.

I’m interested in the concept of revolution because of its central and contentious place in the history of western Marxism and anarchism, and because I’m persuaded that a rethinking of the specific historical conditions of revolution is necessary today. I do not yet have a research agenda for this course. An interesting text by Furio Jesi (a fascinating 20th century Italian essayist who started his career as an Egyptologist when he was only 15 years old) on the Spartakus League was supposed to be released in December, but the translation has been pushed back until March. I may attempt to work through Negri’s recently translated book from the 1970s on Lenin and strategy, which he dedicates to Indignatos and Occupy militants in the preface to the English edition, and/or I may look into recent and contemporary Venezuelan politics, starting with this book by George Ciccariello-Maher.

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