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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Camus on Hegel(ian themes)

Hegel portrait - Source: wikimediaMore from The Rebel

Animals, according to Hegel, have an immediate knowledge of the exterior world, a perception of the self, but not the knowledge of self, which distinguishes man. The latter is only really born at the moment when he becomes aware of himself as a rational being. Therefore his essential characteristic is self-consciousness. Consciousness of self, to be affirmed, must distinguish itself from what it is not. Man is a creature who, to affirm his existence and his difference, denies. (p. 138)

It is others who beget us. Only in association do we receive a human value, as distinct from an animal value. (p. 138)

Then how can one live, how endure life when friendship is reserved for the end of time? The only escape is to create order with the use of weapons. “Kill or enslave!” – those who have read Hegel with this single and terrible purpose have really considered only the first part of the dilemma. From it they have derived a philosophy of scorn and despair and have deemed themselves slaves and nothing but slaves, bound by death to the absolute Master and by the whip to their terrestrial masters. This philosophy of the guilty conscience has merely taught them that every slave is enslaved only by his own consent, and can be liberated only by an act of protest which coincides with death.
A nihilist for Hegel was only a sceptic who had no other escape but contradiction or philosophic suicide. But he himself gave birth to another type of nihilist, who, making boredom into a principle of action, identified suicide with philosophic murder. [*footnote* This form of nihilism, despite appearances, is still nihilism in the Nietzschean sense, to the extent that it is a calumny of the present life to the advantage of a historical future in which one tries to believe.]
Another sort of follower, who read Hegel more seriously, chose the second term of the dilemma and made the pronouncement that the slave could only free himself by enslaving in his turn. Post-Hegelian doctrines, unmindful of the mystic aspect of certain of the master’s tendencies, have led his followers to absolute atheism and to scientific materialism. But this evolution is inconceivable without the absolute disappearance of every principle of transcendent explanation, and without the complete destruction of the Jacobin ideal. Immanence, of course, is not atheism. But immanence in the process of development is, if one can say so, provisional atheism. [*footnote* In any event, the criticism of Kierkegaard is valid. To base divinity on history is, paradoxically, to base an absolute value on approximate knowledge. Something “eternally historic” is a contradiction in terms.]
“Individuality has replaced faith, reason the Bible, politics religion and the Church, the earth heaven, work prayer, poverty hell, and man Christ.” [Feuerbach]
We must know Feuerbach’s final conclusion in this Theogony to perceive the profoundly nihilist derivation of his inflamed imagination. In effect, Feuerbach affirms, in the face of Hegel, that man is only what he eats, and thus recapitulates his ideas and predicts the future in the following phrase: “The true philosophy is the negation of philosophy. No religion is my religion. No philosophy is my philosophy.” (p. 144-146)


Anonymous said...

Hegel has a significant in Camus essay the rebel. it is being seen in the condition of the worker against to his master. revolt is a meeting point between the oppressed and meaning. absurdity is the experienced of the oppressed while revolt is feeling that the oppressed experienced and realize under the heat of suffering. the act of revolt is an act of man who love his life.

Anonymous said...

good points and the details are more specific than elsewhere, thanks.

- Norman