Very Little…Almost Nothing: Death, Philosophy, Literature (Warwick Studies in European Philosophy)

Critchley portrays an honest and straight-foreward picture of man’s nihilistic state in a harsh and uncertain reality.

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Critchley portrays an honest and straight-foreward picture of man’s nihilistic state in a harsh and uncertain reality. The book begins with an intro to give the reader some background and justification for our meaningless existence in a world absent of God. He then moves on to present the reader three sections/lectures in which he analyzes specific aspects of literature, philosophy, and death in order to set the stage for his synthesis in the end of the third section. The first lecture focuses on Blanchot and Levinas’s concept of the impossibility of death. The second discusses the failure of romanticism (and indirectly transhumanism)through analyzing authors such as Emerson and Cavell. The third lecture, and perhaps my favorite, addresses Beckett’s abstractions of the ungraspable; that of our own finitude and innevitable death. I was somewhat dismayed by the author’s neglect to translate a number of French and some German quotes into English, leaving the reader on his own to look up what it meant if he wasnt fortunate to already know. I sometimes found myself lost at first, having no background information on some of the philosophers that Critchley critiqued (Blanchot, Cavell, etc.). Yet I must insist that the reader push on regardless, because the final synthesis that is presented is overwhelmingly important and original. The author explains to us the failure of religion and of life-affirming existentialisms (via the will to power (Nietzsche) or simply the will (Camus, et al)) and offers what is left, a minimalistic condition, to grab on to in the face of the abyss. This concept earned it my 5-star review – don’t let the bookcover make you pass this one up.

Year: 1989
Language: english
Pages: 229
ISBN 10: 0415128226
ISBN 13: 9780203050118
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