An Atheism that Is Not Humanist Emerges in French Thought by Stefanos Geroulanos

By Stefanos Geroulanos

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French philosophy replaced dramatically within the moment region of the 20 th century. within the wake of global battle I and, later, the Nazi and Soviet failures, significant philosophers corresponding to Kojève, Levinas, Heidegger, Koyré, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Hyppolite argued that guy may well not fill the void left via the "death of God" with no additionally calling up the worst in human background and denigrating the glory of the human topic. In reaction, they contributed to a brand new trust that guy may still not be seen because the foundation for life, suggestion, and ethics; quite, human nature turned depending on different ideas and constructions, together with Being, language, idea, and tradition. This argument, which used to be to be paramount for existentialism and structuralism, got here to dominate postwar notion. This highbrow historical past of those advancements argues that at their middle lay a brand new atheism that defied humanism as inadequate and eventually violent.

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S pessimism while turning the book’s earlier core dilemmas and form into a preparation of this concluding declaration. 7 On the Right, Spengler’s positions were partly prefigured by the Counter-Enlightenment since Joseph de Maistre, and by conservatives since Maurice Barrès and the early years of Charles Maurras. 8 The novelty for France of The Temptation of the West was Malraux’s transformation of a traditionally right-wing analysis of cultural decline into a vaguely leftist censure of the political establishment and the course of secular culture.

This reading allows us to understand Kojève’s cardinal place in the theological and philosophical construction of French antihumanism. Chapter 4, “Inventions of Antihumanism (1935),” approaches the maturation of the early phenomenological attack on transcendence and classical humanism as this took place in writings of Emmanuel Levinas, Georges Bataille, and Jean-Paul Sartre in the period 1935–36. These authors worried about the reality in which man finds himself trapped as a result of the demise of transcendence.

I wonder whether that is necessary. 47 For Nancy, humanism postulates a meaning for man and identifies this meaning with the system that produces meaning in the community, with the “we” through which this community speaks. 48 Whatever its specific rights and wrongs, every humanism is fundamentally bound to the community’s self-regulation; it is thus arbitrary, auto-productive, and all but tautological. If such are among the most famous definitions of “antihumanism,” they are by no means the only ones, and their force in the French context itself relies on the very development of antihumanism in the broader history that emerges out of left- and right-leaning critiques of Enlightenment and socialist humanisms around the turn of the century and culminates in the crisis of humanism articulated from the 1930s through the 1970s.

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