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Forum Philosophicum

Volume 24, Issue 1, Spring 2019

Thinking with René Girard

Andreas Wilmes
Pages 91-126

Demystifying the Negative
Rene Girard’s Critique of the “Humanization of Nothingness”

This paper will address René Girard’s critique of the “humanization of nothingness” in modern Western philosophy. I will first explain how the “desire for death” is related to a phenomenon that Girard refers to as “obstacle addiction.” Second, I will point out how mankind’s desire for death and illusory will to self-divinization gradually tend to converge within the history of modern Western humanism. In particular, I will show how this convergence between self-destruction and self-divinization gradually takes shape through the evolution of the concept of “the negative” from Hegel to Kojève, Sartre and Camus. Finally, we shall come to see that in Girard’s view “the negative” has tended to become an ever-preoccupying and unacknowledged symptom of mankind’s addiction to “model/obstacles” of desire.

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