SENTENTIA. European Journal of Humanities and Social SciencesReference:
The apophatic project of man
Abstract.The article deals with the apophatic interpretation of man that has taken shape in modern Western literature as negation of all known attributes and properties of Adam’s offspring. The main proposition of new apophaticism, according to the authors, is disappointment in man. He is no longer considered as a measure of all things, as a creature endowed with reason and morality, as an exponent of humanistic consciousness. Human characteristics acquire a negative arrangement. Man is the focus of sinful thoughts, cruel desires, nearly the whole anatomy of destructiveness. Man’s essence is found in his striving for death. In this context, there is a need for comprehension of this tradition, which, as appears, to a considerable extent is inherent in European philosophy in some form or another.The authors are guided by philosophical-anthropological approaches to interpretation of human nature. They use the methodology of classical and postmodernist philosophy.The novelty of the work is in description of the apophatic image of man that has taken shape in modern philosophical anthropology. Conceptions of F. Nietzsche, G. Bataille and other authors are analyzed. The notion of human nature and human integrity is discussed. Human integrity is not rejected by modern philosophical anthropology, neither is it postulated as a preset anthropological property. It is acquired through the incoherence, fragmentariness of human existence. As is shown, the failure of the enlightening model of the ideal man in European culture has caused an irresistible interest to negative, pathological traits in human nature.The authors come to the conclusion that the apophatic project of man has permitted to reveal many real problems of current human existence. At the same time, it turned out that man has an inherent secret desire to rid himself of the idea of his existence, of his essence. The very reproduction of man as a human being is being ousted by machines, clones, prostheses. J. Baudrillard in this context writes about the end of anthropology, which is surreptitiously withdrawn by machines and new technologies.
Keywords: philosophy, human, human nature, the integrity of the person, human project, atavism, apophatics, human being, the phenomena of life, divinity
Nowadays, philosophical anthropology more and more often adds to its armoury apophatic methods. Theological traditions related to comprehension of God through negation of all his attributes and designations, become widespread, first of all, in religious literature. That results from being tired of positive theology, of claims on ultimate knowledge relating not only to God but also to man. The demand for new apophaticism is born. R.Bultmann introduced the project of «demythologisation» of Christianity . P. Tillich was convinced that for understanding the nature of divinity it is extremely important to forget all traditional ideas of God, and may be even the very word [2, p. 165-168]. J. Robinson suggested recasting all religious categories and moral absolutes  for the sake of gaining a different picture of the world. As it appears, apophatic tools in understanding philosophical problems are not new at all, since many outstanding thinkers resorted to their help to them. Philosophy of religion is expressive evidence to it .
Modern philosophical anthropology has inherited and accentuated the idea that philosophy has no right to make final conclusions, whatever they were. Prominent representatives of post-modernism believe that the latter should realize its powerlessness to express ing the things that are inexpressible by definition. The new European cataphaticism of modern culture is intensively criticized. The centuries-long experience of glorification of man, enumeration of his inherent qualities, revelation of elicitation of his intrinsic potential, phenomenology of human nature, delineation of human essence and integrity – everything is called in question. Negativity, contrary thinking, affirmation through negation become now popular now in attempts at understanding all problems related to philosophical comprehension of man. These reflective skills can be found in the works of many post-modernist authors, including A. Artaud, M. Blanchot, G. Bataille, J. Lacan, M. Foucault, G. Deleuze, J. Derrida.
After works of J. Lacan the apophatic image of man began to take shape in general. All his qualities are not presented in their specificity, but turn out to be the result of delusive flickering. Old metaphysical notions should be replaced by others, such as a «game», a «sign». Man is by no means the centre of the universe. He has «lost his way», «gone astray», «lost his own core». And that is not all. Nowadays there is every reason to speak even about the apophatic project of the transformation of man [see: 5]. Man’s negative traits can be used for his own good. It is important, however, not to reject them, but to accept them as the inarguable given. Moreover, negativity, according to G. Bataille, is in general the kernel of human existence.
It should be noted that new aphphaticism is often criticized in Russian philosophy. Its provocative and nihilistic character is pointed out. The ideals of classical philosophical anthropology are upheld. The perils entailed by the very process of deconstruction are emphasized. Meanwhile, within the framework of apophaticism, there is, undoubtedly, a productive train of thought allowing a new understanding of traditional themes of philosophical anthropology (the phenomenon of human nature, the problem of human integrity, diagnostics of evil). However, the very apophatic project of man in its totality really stirs up serious perils. Challenges of new philosophical anthropology, the authors believe, do not have a univocal evaluation.
The basic provision of new apophaticism is disappointment in man. He is no longer regarded as a measure of all things, as a creation endowed with reason and morals, as an expression of humanistic consciousness. Human characteristics receive negative arrangement. Man becomes a focus of sinful thoughts, cruel desires, hardly not the whole anatomy of destructiveness [6; 7]. Human essence is found in his strive for death.
In this context, there appears a need for understanding this very tradition, which, as it becomes clear, to a significant extent, in one form of another, is inherent in European philosophy. When Thomas Aquinas uses in his reasoning the phrase that required intellectual courage, supposing that there is no God, he needs this apophatic technique exactly for disavowal of this formulated thought. In the history of philosophy, a negative view of man reflected a yearning for the ideal image of Adam’s offspring. The discovery of the «inhuman in a human being» was combined with idealization of human nature. When Shakespearean Hamlet drops the words loaded with sarcasm: «What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel», we still remain within the positive interpretation of man.
Even «infernalization» of man that has found reflection in the medieval treatise «Hammer of Witches», in European art did not shake the statement of St. Augustine Aurelius that only he can understand the soul of man who created him. And this means that in its depths it is divine. But at what moment did the period end when, in F. Nietzsche’s words, horror was added to the ecstatic rupture, there appeared a paranoid striving to concentrate on man’s harmful qualities?
We realize that Kant, the founder of philosophical anthropology, had no reasons to wholeheartedly get fascinated by human nature. Well-known is his phase that man is created out of such «crooked timber», of which no straight thing was ever made. Kant wrote about man’s natural wickedness, selfishness, about people’s initial disposition to deception, which apparently is rooted in «human nature» [8, p. 824]. The German philosopher emphasized that in all times there were thinkers who vigorously denied the sense of duty in man and saw selfishness in human acts. They with sincere regret pointed out to the instability and wickedness of human nature.
Commenting on Kant’s reflections, N.V. Motroshilova writes: «Apparently, Kant wanted to say that one should not expect very much from real particular individuals, since that from which nature and history have «carved» them (animal instincts, barbarian prehistory) does not inspire hopes for easy victory of positive civilizational principles. Nevertheless, this does not mean for Kant that the theory of «practical reason» (i.e. ethics, philosophy of law and history) in its principles and requirements are to adapt themselves to the «crooked timber» of human nature and inherited illnesses of history» [9, p. 151].
Therefore, classical philosophical anthropology did not attempt at changing the plus to the minus in all cases when we speak of man. On the contrary, it was full of conviction that human nature is capable of transformation, refinement. A sober assessment of human qualities was not regarded as a judgement of man, as conviction in his irreparable damage.
At the same time, in European culture the collapse of the enlightenment model of the ideal man has become evident. There has appeared an overwhelming interest to negative, pathological traits in human nature. This process is especially noticeable in art. Demonization of man began in the time of Kant. The distortion of the image of man is pointed out, for instance, by a well-known German art historian H. Sedlmayr . He writes that the more we study the work of Goya, the more intense grows out conviction that, like Kant in philosophy, Ledoux in architecture, he is one of the great pulverizing destructive forces that bring a new age into being.
Goya for the first time in the history of art openly and unreservedly endows the world of the alogical with Gestalt. Both graphical series «Dreams» and «Madness» begin a new age. Guided by works of art, H. Sedlmayr analyzes the «neglected man», «disfigured man», surrealism in art. But he, too, wonders what do these artistic experiences have to do with the real image of man?
Many principles of new apophatics lean upon F. Nietzsche’s judgements. It seems, however, that a delimiting line should be drawn between that which the German philosopher write and that which is proposed by many modern authors in the form of «cutting of man» as a logical result of Nitzschean heritage. Do we come across in the works of Nietzsche only infringement of the positive characteristic of man? On the contrary, he outlines man’s certain perspectives, the possibility of his self-discovery. Cease being man – quite symbolically can these Nietzsche’s words be interpreted as rejection of Adam’s offspring. «Man is something that shall be overcome» [11, p. 8].
But the very idea of overcoming human nature was not articulated for the first time by F. Nietzsche. Didn’t ancient mystics dream of it? Didn’t gnostics point to the duality of human nature? Doesn’t this idea run through old Oriental practices? Nietzsche is by no means inclined to give man only the negative characteristic. He wrote «In man, creature and creator are united: in man there is material, fragment, clay, dirt, nonsence, and chaos; but in man there is also the creator, form-giver, hammer hardness, spectator’s divinity and seventh day – do you understand this antithesis? And do you understand that your compassion is for the «creature in man», for that which must be formed, broken, forged, torn, burnt, made incandescent, purified, – that which must suffer and shall suffer? And our compassion – do you not grasp whom our reverse compassion is for, when it defends itself against your compassion as against the worst of all pamperings and weaknesses?» [12, p. 346].
Nowadays, post-modernists speak much about evil. This refers first of all to G. Bataille. He believes that it is evil that is the true human nature. At first, his thoughts touch upon mainly the ethic theme. People often do evil to others. But the point is that they are not harried by pangs of conscience. Evil is independent of people. It serves nobody. But gradually Bataille begins to interpret evil not in the moral aspect but in the archaic-religious sense. Ethical evil presupposes personal involvement and responsibility of man for his actions. But evil that strikes Bataille’s characters is impersonal. Its analogue is the very «mana» that ethnologists study. Man’s physical markedness – with blood, sperm or, say, earth – turns out to be a symbol of more mysterious stainedness. Thus evil manifests its universality and in the long run becomes a significant apophatic notion.
What is human nature like? Is evil really its inherent and the most essential charactertistic? Socrates believed that evil is not naturally determined. It was a mistake. It is not man’s predisposition but his ignorance that is the origin of evil. This problem looks different in the light of the Old Testament. The latter asserts that the whole history of mankind begins with the fall. St. Augustine believed that from the moment of the fall human nature became evil-minded. Each new generation becomes cursed because of man’s first disobedience. God’s holy will was replaced in man’s soul by his own sinful arbitrariness, and in his natural state man is a slave to sin. Desires are inevitably drawing him to evil, man is uncapable of assigning himself to good and facilitate his salvation that God’s divine grace accomplishes. Therefore, only God’s grace can restore the lost integrity of human nature.
Augustine’s main opponent, Pelagius, denied that original sin lead to distortion of human nature. Human nature is beautified with the dowry of innocence, held Celestius, one of Pelagius’ pupils. So, there is not difference between the progenitors and us, now man is born the same as he was before the fall. It was not contamination of human nature with evil but just a pernicious example, to which man followed. Whereas now, having the doctrine and example of Christ, man can and should without hindrance strive towards virtue, because, according to V.Solovyov’s definition «God does not demand the impossible, hence, if man must, so he can fulfil the commandments that forbid evil, enjoin good and advise the perfect» [13, p. 106].
Thinkers of the Renaissance and theologists of that time were not so radical. But St. Augustine’s position received support in the doctrines of Luther and Calvin. In social consciousness, there gradually took shape a tendency, which N.A. Berdyaev called «diminution of man». Evil exudes in man as his animal nature or illness. The Russian philosopher believed that there is a divine element in man, and it is suppressed not only by the inferiour nature of man, to which he became a slave, it is also suppressed by religious consciousness that reflected human slavery, by religious sanction of this slavery.
The pain referring to the lost holiness and heroic spirit of man drew together the Russian philosopher and Nietzsche. He wrote: «Let us imagine that the world will be finally without the asceticism of desert-dwellers, war and revolution, without all that presupposes human heroism and self-sacrifice, all violence will disappear but resistance to violence will disappear either, everything related to bellicose, fighting instincts of man will disappear for lack of need, there will be no cruelty related to these instincts, but there will be no related rises either, any orgiasm, mass possession, idolatrous deification of leaders and kings will be gone but also will be gone a dream of a better life, for it will be actualized. People will remain with the already actualized good and there will be no enthusiasm related to struggling with evil. There is something unbearable in this, it will be a satisfied, narrow-minded reign of the middle. The danger of bourgeois spirit awaits any revolution. Nietzsche was tormented by a weakening of fortitude in the human type…» [14, p. 40].
The Nitzschean tradition in interpreting man was supported by psychoanalysis. Nobody before Freud had paid so much attention to observation and study of irrational, subconscious forces that determine human behaviour to a significant degree. He and his followers in modern psychology did not only discover the subconscious layer in human psyche – the very existence of which was denied by rationalists – but they showed that these irrational phenomena comply with certain laws and therefore they can be quite rationally explained. Freud was one of the first authors who, as soon as in 1914, revealed an amazing «collapse of illusions», negation of all limitations, to which people obey in peacetime. He showed that the «blind fury», nested in the subconsciousness of our civilizations, tramples on all that comes in its way, as though there were to be no future and no peace after it.
At that time, the father of psychoanalysis begins to figure out the mysterious «death drive». It is taking shape step-by-step, beyond the principle of delight, coiling and curling under noisy cooing and playful pranks of Eros. But after the first and second world wars, the image of man became incomprehensible, and the idea of humanity acquired ambiguity.
In the dark shadow of planetary barrows of dead bodies there appear tentative questions: what is inhuman in a human being? What makes us fall into dispair? These questions should be answered in the first place. Freud’s «collapse of illusions» can be regarded as disappointment and as a sudden insight. Terrible ordeals tear people out of deceptive shelters, pull out of sweet rose-coloured dreams. A tragically cruel lesson of reality shows up. And yet, Freud did not succeed in comprehending the full measure of man’s fall. Fromm remarks that he was so imbued with the spirit of his culture that he could not surpass the definite, conditioned limits. «These very limits became limitations for his understanding even of the sick individual; they handicapped his understanding of the normal individual and of the irrational phenomena operating in social life» [15, p. 30].
But From was faced with the same difficulties, too. He was inclined to relate the phenomenon of destructiveness to man’s sadomasochistic strivings. On the one hand, he tried to distinguish them from destructiveness, on the other – underlined their interrelationship. Destructiveness, according to Fromm, is different since it aims not at active or passive symbiosis but at elimination, removal of its object. But the roots of these phenomena are the same – individual powerlessness and isolation. If I cannot escape the feeling of my own powerlessness in comparison with the world outside, – let’s try to reconstruct the logic of a vandal – then I can destroy it. To be sure, if I succeed in removing it, I remain alone and isolated, if not crushed at all. But it will be a splendid isolation. In this isolation I cannot be crushed by the overwhelming power of the objects outside myself. The destruction of the world is the last, desperate attempt to save myself from being crushed by it. Sadism aims at incorpotation of the object, destructiveness at its removal. Sadism trends to strengthen the atomized individual by the domanation over others, destructiveness by the absence of any threat from the outside.
Here is one more paradox, to which E. Fromm pays attention. Destructiveness is almost always dressed in rationalistic clothes. In other words, it does not merely exist, but also is rationalized, acquiring its own reasons and arguments. As a matter of fact, there is virtually nothing that is not used as a rationalization for destructiveness, – remarks Fromm. Love, duty, conscience, patriotism have been and are being used as diguises to destroy others or oneself.
But Fromm holds that we must differentiate between two different kinds of destructive tendencies. There are destructive tendencies which result from a specific situation: as reaction to attacks on one’s own or others’ life, or on ideas which one is identified with. This kind of destructiveness is the natural and necessary concomitant of one’s affirmation of life. But there is another kind of destructiveness. It is a constantly lingering tendency within a person which waits only for an opportunity to be expressed. The destructive impulses are a passion within a person and they always succeed in finding some object. If for any reason other persons cannot become the object of an individual’s destructiveness, his own self easily becomes the object.
So, for many centuries the impression has been formed that man is a reasonable being. Certainly, philosophers knew about the existence of evil, but they supposed that man basically lives in the dimension of good. Even such a philosopher as T. Hobbes, who regarded desire for power and people’ hostility towards each other as the driving force of hisory, did not insist on the complete «perversity» of man. He explained the irrationality of human behaviour by the dictate of individual interests. Since people equally strive for happiness, he believed, and social riches are insufficient to satisfy all in equal degree, then the struggle is inevitable. People strive for power to ensure that they will have in future that which they have today.
However, good and evil are not born irrespective of man. As soon as there appears the question, where the sources of evil are, thought inevitably turns to philosophical comprehension of man: whether he is good or evil by his very nature. Fromm considers the phenomenon of destructiveness through Freud’s image of Thanatos. The Austrian psychiatrist understood that destructive tendencies are as important as sexual ones, he came to the conclusion that there are two basic desires in man: strive for life, more or less identical with sexual «libido», and the instinct of death, aiming at destruction of life. Freud believed that the death instinct, blended with sexual energy, might be directed against man himself, or against his objects. Also, he hypothesized that the death instinct is biologically rooted in all living organisms and therefore it is a necessary and inalterable part of life in general.
The French philosopher A. Glucksmann attempts at tracing the anthropological sources of cruelty. He remarks that nihilism hovers over human, too human differences, it is beyond good and evil, being and nonbeing, trith and falsehood. «Nietzsche, much more euphoric than he is said to be, discovered three stages of giving consent to cruelty in order to glorify their triumphant sequence: after the camel who suffers there comes the lion who trespasses and destroys, at last – the child, «innocence and oblivion», eternal return, allowing himself anything, since he does not know dealth. Let us learn to discern the black nihilism of escalation of the end of the world behind the rosy nihilism of Zarathustra, when adults, pretending to be children, having freed themselves by the «holy word of statement» with the stunning easiness are transformed into killers of these very children and shout that they are not guilty of the slaughter of the innocents» [6, p. 40].
Conclusing the book, A. Glucksmann lists the seven flowers of hate. Hate esists even if it is not recognized. Hate is disguised by tenderness. It is satiable. Hate promises paradise. It wants to be God-Creator. Hate loves to death. It is nourished on its devastation.
Despite impressive illustrations of evil human nature, we can state that Adam’s offspring is actually neither good nor evil. The choice between life and death is a fundamental existential alternative. As a matter of fact, it is a demarcation between productiveness and destructiveness, between virtue and vice. But it would be naïve to deny the rootedness of the inhuman in man. M. Heidegger emphasized this in his «Letter on humanism». He showed that science, technology and war are not antihuman. They are permeated with human will to power. From these positions the German philosopher, like Nietzsche, critically assesses humanism, morality and philosophical comprehension of man.
With great difficulty can we accept the idea of new apophaticism that Nietzsche revises the clasical conception of philosophical anthropology about the wholeness of man, declaring this wholeness to be unattainable. In fact, the German philosopher, on the contrary, raises this theme with intellectual fearlessness, fixing the total splitness of human existence in the modren world. Nietzsche inherits the philosophical-anthropological intuition of Schopenhauer. Man is really biologically degenerate. Many explorations of human nature are indicative of the fact that man is an extremely eccentric creature. It is not that his intrinsic characteristics are at the same time very different and mutually contradictory. The point is that human nature is complex in general. The uncommonness of man as a being is conditioned by the fact that he in many respects is taken off the organic matter of the natural world, though rooted there. Human characteristics are paradoxical, which gives rise to the understanding of man as a unique creature. Man is a natural being but at the same time he is of foreign nature. He is a natural being but at the same time he falls out of its bosom. Man is born in nature but lives in society. He has instincts but he also has another – social, cultural – programme of orientation. Consciousness and the unconscious also create radically other forms of world perception.
Nietzsche ponders over whether one can think human integrity as strainful combination of unique traits of different epochs? He answers this question negatively. And it is very significant because in the 19th century many outstanding authors saw the task of philosophical anthropology exactly in attempting to «grasp» the integral image of man on the basis of comparative research. W. Humboldt, for instance, developed a plan of comparative anthropology. He proceeded from the idea that man, even regarded as a species, is undoubtedly a link in the chain of physical nature. As other animals, human beings are subdivided into races, these races from generation to generation transfer their peculiar specificities and might cross with each other. Apparently, in this and in other such cases natural factors that cannot be avoided should be properly used and directed. In this respect, man is undoubtedly part of nature.
W. Humboldt insists that researchers should begin comprehensive research of the biological nature of man. Philosophical anthropologists will start realization of this vital project only in the beginning of the 20th century, when they constitute themselves as an autonomous philosophical school in Germany. On the other hand, W. Humboldt does not reduce the task of comparative anthropology to the physiological complex of knowledge. He even believes that the scope of comparative anthropology coincides with that of the whole humanity in general. He means a comparativist consideration of various ethnic groups.
But even W. Humboldt makes a conclusion that the very attempt at description of the internal and significant uniqueness makes sense only for few human communities. Possibly, none of these communities is not mature enough for this description to be a success, taking into account all obstacles inherent in the very object and our knowledge about it. It appears that real tasks for philosophical anthropology are absent so far? No, W. Humboldt believes that philosophical anthropology cannot be content with less. It should strive for a whole, complete image; contrary to physiological anthropology a mere pursuit of multiple differences is alien to it. Therefore, while the latter, first of all, soars into the most far-away celestial spheres, where the most striking differences can be found, the former confines itself mainly to a small sphere of high culture, where unique traits are manifested in the most definite and complete form.
Nietzsche, unlike Humboldt, is not disposed to enlightening illusions. He does not see human wholeness in choosing the most appropriate from the cultural arsenal of mankind. Defending the ideal of human wholeness, he points to hardly surmountable difficulties of the realization of such an ideal. Nietzsche’s idea is very productive: man is not capable of showing his completeness at a time. Moreover, each epoch or culture can express only the splitness, fragmentariness of human being. Shall we stop at this statement? No, according to Nietzsche, it is but a prologue to realization of the human project. He writes: «The majority of men are a fragmentary and exclusive image of what humanity is, you have to add them up to obtain a man. Entire epochs, entire peoples have in this sense something that is fragmentary; it may be necessary to the growth of man that he only develops bit by bit. But that should not make one forget for a moment that the real issue is the production of the synthetic man; lower men, the tremendous majority are merely preludes and rehearsals out of whose medley the whole man appears here and there, the milestone man who indicates how far humanity has advanced so far» [16, p. 467-468].
Therefore, human integrity is not rejected nor is it postulated as a preset anthropological property. It is acquired through splitness, fragmentariness of human existence. And in this sense any wholeness might be broken, smashed to pieces, creating thus the possibilities of subsequent cohesion. The idea of K. Jaspers about the multiplicity of existence, as seems, is related to this insight of F. Nietzsche.
Nietzsche debunks the idea of the ideal man. It is in radical criticism of all forms of praising man that we can see the apophatic train of thought of the German philosopher. He literally juggles with refined biologism and vitalism. Evaluations of man as God’s creation stir up especial sharpness in Nietzsche. He writes: Formerly, one sought the feeling of the grandeur of man by pointing to his divine origin; this has now become a forbidden way, for at its portal stands the ape, together with other gruesome beasts, grinning knowingly as if to say: no further in this direction! One therefore now tries the opposite direction: the way manking is going shall serve as proof of his grandeur and kinship with God» [17, p. 31].
Any becoming is fraught with disappearance. Shall we be looking for exception from this perpetual game? In other words, can we suppose that the Earth as a «little planet» is also doomed to possible death. And we can say say about one of the species living on Earth – human beings. But still, human nature, in Nietzsche, is not dissolved in the river of hopeless apophaticism. He is convinced that in man there is something that needs to be moulded, broken, forged, torn, burnt, seared, and purified…
The anthropological project of apophaticism
Are these ideas of Nitzsche and prominent psychoanalysts inherited by modern representatives of new apophaticism? No doubt. However, they undergo such radicalization, that, in fact, acquire a directly opposite meaning. According to Bataille, man carries fragmentation as a yoke. He will always exist only as a soldier, a professional, a man of learning, but not as a total human being. According to G. Bataille, it is not sociality, not transcendence and even not coupling of fragmentarinesses that are in focus in human entirety. He writes: «Fundamentally, an entire human being is simply a being in whom transcendence is abolished, from whom whom there’s no separating anything. An entire human being is partly a clown, partly God, partly crazy…» [18, p. 23]).
Therefore, wholeness becomes unsteady, illusory, twinkling. But if «partly», then it is non-wholeness yet. There appears understanding of man as a simple, divisible being. He is embodied in a kind of a construction set, that is, a mechanism that undergoes assembly and disassembly. There is born an analogy with Buddhist descriptions of man as a dynamic flow of changeable and mutually overflowing dharmas. The use of the notion «singularity» with respect to comprehension of human nature permits to characterize a subject as an «impersonal and pre-individual field».
Schizophrenia of an individual is regarded as a natural analogue of the «splitness» of society. A particular individual looses his self-identity whatsoever.
Bataille reveals the tragedy and dramaticism of this theme, but in fact deprives man of a constant desire to overcome his fragmentariness. In Russisn literature, there is a view that Nitzsche allegedly was a philosopher of the «will to power». He allegedly declared that, and he was interpreted exactly like that. For example, I.A. Monina writes: «F. Nietzsche developed a peculiar conception of power. He pointed out that we are accustomed to think that existence is a huge mass of forms compatible with their origination from some oneness» [19, p. 125]. Nietzsche, in fact, wrote: «My theory would be that will to power is the primitive form of affect, that all other affects are only developments of it» [20, p. 281]. According to Nietzsche, all driving force is will to power, there is no other physical, dynamic or psychic force except this [20, p. 282].
But in world literature, interpretation of will in Nietzschean philosophy also presupposes some fragmentary man, captured by passion alone. Certainly, researchers note that Nitzschean «will to power» by no means implies only a «romantic» desire and striving of something yet powerless to seizure of power. «Will to power», as it turns out, is the power’s self-authorization for surpassing itself. «Will to power» is designation of the fundamental feature of being and the essence of power.
True, F. Nietzsche often speaks about «force», giving cause for misunderstanding. He points to the fundamental feature of being as the will to power. All being, to the extent as it is and as far as it is, is the «will to power». If all being is the will to power, then only that which power makes up for in its essence «has» value and «is» «value».
F. Nietzsche declared the «will to power» to be the driving force of history – a creative instinct of leaders, who overcome the instinct of the crowd with the help of their superhuman qualities. However, he regarded the notion «will to power» in a broader ontological aspect, and not аctually only as an anthropological given. Nietzsche’s ideas about the «overman», about lower people, about death of the weak are dictated not by speculations about human nature, but about formation of the world, to which man should strictly obey.
In spite of these anthropological reflections about the nature of passion, Nietzsche still goes beyond the scope of philosophical comprehension of man. He believes that love of power is the essence of the universe. And he even asks the question: why does not man see being? He himself stands on the road, covering being. George Bataille, evaluating these reflections, emphasizes that Nietzsche was not a philosopher of the «will to power». Rather, he was a philosopher of evil. I think of him more as a philosopher of evil . For him the attraction and value of evil, it seems to me, gave significance to what the intended when he spoke of power." «It seems to me, – he writes, – that it is exactly the attraction and value of evil… gave significance to what he intended when he spoke of power» [18, p. 15].
According to the French philosopher, Nietzsche had an aversion for people who were guided by the will to power. If he would not enjoy, even under the pressure of necessity, defying generally accepted morality, then he undoubtedly would not have an aversion for forces of oppression (for police). Bataille justified his own hatred of the good by that it is a condition of freedom. If life is integral, then it cannot be parcelled out, put to service of good, even if this good is for the other, for God or for myself.
Therefore, Bataille, as a matter of fact, renounces the problem of totality in human beings. He believes it is an excessive, empty striving. «If I want to realize totality in my consciousness I have to relate myself to an immense, ludicrous, and painful convulsion of all of humanity. It is shock in all meanings» [18, p. 23-24]. According to Bataille, existence as entirety is beyond meaning, it is the conscious presence of man in the world inasmuch as this is nonmeaning, having nothing to do other than be what it is, no longer able to go beyond itself or give itself some kind of meaning through action.
Bataille’s existential position is that he characterizes man as having lost perspectives of action. He is without means, without support, he collapses. Here the French philosopher again turns to the philosophy of Nietzsche. He remarks that if we dispose of the ambiguity of the «will to power», then destiny offered by Nietzsche to man cannot be broken: no return is possible. In Nietzsche’s last completed work «Ecco Home» he insists on the absence of any goal, on the author’s disobedience to any design.
It appears that Nietzsche has a definition of the integral man. This is he whose life is unmotivated celebration, celebration in all meaning of the word: laughter, dancing, orgy, the rejection of subordination, and sacrifice that scornfully puts aside any consideration of ends, property, and morality. However, what is left for an ordinary man, who is not involved into the celebration? What are the feasible possibilities that permit a human being to overcome fragmentariness?As has already been pointed out, according to Bataille, negativity is a core of human existence. But the challenge to European culture is not exhausted by that. The philosopher thinks that human inner experience cannot be reproduced and transferred to others with the help of rational means. If we describe man in his real life presence, then we have to devoid him of heroism, remove from him the halo of exclusiveness and selfless devotion. We can name the fundamental facets of human being. Among them, Bataille names desire for ruin, work, consciousness, death. We would remind that of the above parameters of human existence two – work and death – already were discussed in works of E. Fink» [21, p. 357-402]. Fink asks: what are there human reasons for man to be constantly jumping over his human destiny, human nature, seeming capable of rejecting his limb, could master super-human abilities, dream of the absolute reason or absolute power, could think up the real and contrive the unreal, was capable of freeing himself from hardships of our life – burden of labour, acuteness of struggle, shadow of death and torments of love?
Bataille points to a certain anthropological paradox: productive labour makes man human, but unproductive expenditure turns out to be its essential definition. Indeed, social philosophers show that all spheres of social life nowadays suffer from superfluity [see: 22]. Economic production manufactures such a redundance of goods that they do not find their consumer, thus threatening with crisis. Significant financial flows are directed to realization of particular social tasks that do not find realization and are not spent according to their purpose. The flow of information production exposes spiritual emptiness. Banks give loans that have a devastating effect. There appears a possibility of creating so many political parties that it exceeds the needs of civil society and is not necessitated by social expediency. The officials reproduce themselves with geometrical enthusiasm. Reforms give rise to fear by their unthinkable arm-twisting. The authorities try to broaden their sphere to unthinkable horizons. Politics invades such spheres as sports, municipal economy, private life, international cultural relations. The depth and inexhaustibility of social relations is replaced by rapidly developing communication technologies.
Here is what the French philosopher J. Baudrillard writes in this connection: «The idea of wealth that production once connoted has disappeared yet production itself continues more vigorously than ever. Indeed, it picks up speed precisely in proportion to its increasing indifference to its original aims. Of the political sphere one can say that the idea of politics has disappeared but that the game of politics continues in secret indifference to its own stakes. Of television, that it operates in total indifference to its own images (it would not be affected, in other words, even were mankind to disappear» [7, p. 6].
Oil prices have no effect on the strain of the budget in Russia. The abundance of social projects thrown into the ideological market do not contribute to elaboration of a well-considered course of modernization of the society. An incessant train of reforms in various spheres of social life does not bring positive results, but rises more difficult problems. The growing number of oligarchs makes the problem of social stratification and poverty especially blatant. Continual appearances of representatives of the authorities on TV screens do not further the formation of national unity.
In Bataille’s opinion, sovereignty of the personality comes into being only if man transgresses the limits of the permissible. In this case, he becomes a rebel, a subject who turns out to be hostage to desire. This train of thought arouses interest in the figure of Marquis de Sad, who outstripped Lacan with his idea of the diversity and infinity of desire.
The apophatic project of man permitted to reveal many real problems of human existence in our time. Rejection of basic human characteristics, revelation of their reverse side have certainly broadened the horizons of philosophical anthropology. At the same time, it turned out that in man there is a secret desire to get rid of the idea of his existence, of his essence. The very reproduction of human beings as live creatures began to be ousted by machines, clones, prostheses. In this context, J. Baudrillard writes about the end of anthropology, now being conjured away by the most recent machines and technologies.
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