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 mess ups, significant philosophers corresponding to Kojève, Levinas, Heidegger, Koyré, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Hyppolite argued that guy may possibly not fill the void left through the "death of God" with out additionally calling up the worst in human historical past and denigrating the distinction of the human topic. In reaction, they contributed to a brand new trust that guy should still now not be considered because the foundation for life, proposal, and ethics; relatively, human nature turned depending on different techniques 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 proposal. This highbrow background of those advancements argues that at their center lay a brand new atheism that confounded humanism as inadequate and eventually violent.

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Treating thought and experience as always engaged with the world and dependent on moods and structures that elaborate our familiarity with the world into an interpretation of it, and iii. postulating the entirety of subjective experience as shared in Being-with-others—that is to say, denying its subjectivity and individuality. In this context, the humanity of man is an important aspect of Dasein, but it is neither separate from the problematic of Dasein per se, nor more basic than or capable of surpassing its “ontic” determination and moving toward an ontico-ontological one.

Two moments of this development are as crucial as they are misunderstood. First, the combined effect of phenomenology and quantum-physics epistemology in the early work of, among others, Alexandre Kojève and Jean Wahl, which produced an antifoundational realism and provided an epistemological ground out of which a new anthropology could emerge. Second, through a parallel reading of Alexandre Koyré’s early-1930s foundation of modern science in metaphysics and Martin Heidegger’s 1930 treatment of “world” I foreground the two influential thinkers’ mistrust of transcendental and naturalist claims and show their  Man Under Erasure shared vision of the modern human condition as based on an oppressed metaphysical foundation and past that modern rationalism and science have systematically sought to undo and failed to improve.

By working on different sorts of moments—at times diachronically, at times by centering on specific texts, moments, or intellectual events, at times emphasizing philosophical analysis and at others cultural history—I hope to address a number of different historiographical questions, such as, How does one trace something like a transformation of atheism? Could philosophical projects as different as the ones considered here be seen to participate in Introduction  such a transformation? How does such a transformation bring to life the midcentury political critiques of humanism, and how does it affect, and get shaped by, frequently unsystematic and even quotidian contemporary conceptions of “the human”?

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