Made by Silviu Man.
ISI Books, Wilmington, Delaware, 2003. Translated from the French by Robin Dick
Events shape men, and so does the lack of events.
A society that fears greatness silences its expansive possibilities.
Hope […] indicates a sort of pre-knowledge.
[Man] is caught in a trap of what he is no longer able to come or interpret.
He who knows the why, as Nietzsche said, can tolerate any how.
PART 1 – THE CONDITION DEPRIVED OF MEANING
CHAPTER 1 – EXISTENCE AS A SIGN
One cannot accept death if one does not know why one lives.
Existence […] is no longer a sign of anything.
Liberty would have never have acquired any reality at all if no one had ever become its servant.
Man’s existence and the reference he points to, therefore, are intertwined and grow from each other.
Modern freedom signifies only that the subject is free to choose what he will be responsible for.
... paradoxically, existence actually finds true happiness in the anxiety of unresolved questions, and suffocates in the identification of itself with the object of its expectations.
abandonment in his independence
CHAPTER 2 – THE REJECTION OF THE FIGURES OF EXISTENCE
Man in the modern era, by raising his pretensions a notch upward, found the meaning of his existence in the hope of forever abolishing the antinomies between which his ancestors had always struggled.
CHAPTER 3 – BLACK MARKETS
Decree that religions are obsolete and you will have sects. Deny that human beings seek the good, and the ghost of the good will appear surreptitiously under the guise of correct thinking.
PART 2 – THE REVELATIONS OF THE DEVIL
CHAPTER 5 – THE GOOD WITHOUT THE TRUE
We hold dearly to the good, but we are suspicious of truth.
The good without the true is thus justified by satisfaction.
In a sense, if we do not seek truth, it is precisely because we are afraid we might actually find it. In its excesses it engenders everything we hate. It is as though truth – or what is deemed truth – will inevitably lead to evil.
rejecting all certainties in the name of a hatred for fanaticism.
An absolute good, however, would naturally entail obligation, and this would necessary limit individual freedom. Thus, the morality has been reduced primarily to the act of identifying evil.
Simultaneously with the rejection of any idea of the objective good, a discourse of the obligatory good has developed.
In a world of values, there is no absolute.
Absolute good rests on objective realities, it takes root in truth, in the knowledge of a good from which one cannot escape.
Ortega y Gasset : we have ideas, but we are our beliefs.
Today, however, we refuse to even ask ourselves the question “What is true?” so that the only question that remains for us to ask is, “How can we live well?”
CHAPTER 6 – THE MORALITY OF COMPLACENCY
Our “open-minded” man, in contrast, in characterized by his disowning of any exterior point of reference. This is what makes him historically unique.
Not all Greeks are Socrates, but the existence of Socrates allows other Greeks to name their own existence, and to assign a reason for it.
CHAPTER 7 – A MORALITY OF EMOTION AND INDIGNATION
Thoughtful moral judgement establishes a relationship between a situation and certain points of reference. It compares, weighs and doubts. Every situation takes its place on a scale and is compared to a pre-existing model. Reactive moral judgement, on the other hand, is all that remains – and it is not nothing – after the collapse of scales and models. It instinctively rejects evil, as if it were blinded by it. Its only scale is emotion.
Seeking good while remaining indifferent to truth gives rise to a morality of sentimentality.
CHAPTER 8 – THE CLANDESTINE IDEOLOGY OF OUR TIME
... we are living under a clandestine, unnamed ideology that maintains its power precisely because it remains hidden.
PART 3 – THE URGENT NEED FOR A NEW ANTHROPOLOGY
CHAPTER 9 – IS DEMOCRACY UNSURPASSABLE?
One of the paradoxes about democracy lies in the fact that, as a sort of equilibrium, it must always be legitimized and defended, while as a source of well-being, it tends to numb and sedate its beneficiaries.
In an idolized democracy, the intellectual is replaced by the ideologue.
CHAPTER 11 – THE FEAR OF DECISION-MAKING
Yet we now have a tendency to choose public officials filled with abstract, intellectual knowledge of politics but with little experiential knowledge of society. (exemplul grecilor cu bătrânul lup de mare şi tânărul ce abia a absolvit şcoala navală).
CHAPTER 12 – THE SACRALIZATION OF RIGHTS
While in the past, man spoke of his honor, contemporary man invokes his dignity. […] he now finds both dignity and respect by claiming his rights.
CHAPTER 13 – UTOPIAN EQUALITY
Over a course of two centuries, we have gone from a society of roles to a society of functions. A role is conferred in advance, often described in the destiny of the individual, and alienable. A function is chosen by the individual, is exterior to him, and he appears interchangeable in that function.
A society of roles is hierarchical and differentiated. A society of functions tends toward equality and homogeneity.
PART 4 – MASTERING THE WORLD IN A DIFFERENT WAY
CHAPTER 15 – FALLEN FROM THE HEIGHTS
Progress is probably infinite in its realization, but the resulting good has shown itself to be finite.
CHAPTER 17 – GOD IN EXILE
The astonishing thing is that we know our existence is limited, but do not know relative to what.
Patocka’s man sounds the depths of the sea. We are watchmen of enigmas.
Animals are unaware of enigmas: this is precisely why we have so much trouble today distinguishing what really separates us from them, for we now are also unaware of enigmas, at least for the time being.
The ideologue distroyes life in order to rid it of imperfection.
CHAPTER 18 – THE RETURN OF AN UNCERTAIN WORLD
It is a pretty safe bet that in war-torn Sarajevo or Grozny, no one was particularly concerned with arachnofobia.
In A.D. 256, when the Persian army took Antioch from the Roman Empire, the inhabitants found themselves at the theater, oblivious to the enemy archers who had climbed behind them in the stands, while the actors desperately tried to warn the spectators.
The value of life is proportional to what one is willing to risk for.
Our ancestors, who did not know the kind of security we enjoy today, did know that future held the unexpected within it. As fatalists, they knew to expect the twists and turns of fate, not being able to prevent them.
Life is also nourished by what is missing.