Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ludwig Feuerbach 8: Lectures

Where all good things come from divine goodness, all evil must necessarily stem from diabolical malice. The two notions are inseparable. But to blame an evil will for the natural phenomena that are opposed to my egoism is an obvious sign of barbarism. To convince ourselves that this is so, there is no need to go back to Xerxes, who, according to Herodotus, punished the Hellespont with three hundred lashes in his rage at the disobedience of the sea; there is no need of a trip to Madagascar, where babies who give their mothers trouble and pain during pregnancy and childbirth are strangled, since they must obviously be evil. Right before our eyes we can see how our barbarous and ignorant governments put the blame for every historical necessity and human development that is not to their liking on the ill will of individuals; we see ignorant boors mistreat their cattle, their children, their sick, simply because they take the failings or peculiarities of nature for willful obstinacy, and everywhere we see the rabble gleefully attributing a man’s natural failings, which he cannot possibly help, to his ill will. Accordingly, it is also a sign of men’s ignorance, barbarism, egoism, and their inability to look beyond themselves, when they attribute the benefits of nature to a good or divine will.

Diflerentiation—I am not you, you are not I—this is the basic condition and principle of all culture and humanity. But the man who attributes the workings of nature to someone’s will fails to differentiate between himself and nature, and consequently his attitude toward nature is not what it should be. The proper attitude toward an object is an attitude consonant with its nature and its dissimilarity to myself; such an attitude is not a religious one, but neither is it irreligious as is supposed by the vulgarians, learned or common, who are able only to distinguish between belief and unbelief, religion and irreligion, but are unaware of a third and higher principle above them both. Kindly give me a good harvest, dear earth, says the religious man; “whether the earth wants to or not, it must yield me fruit,” says the irreligious man, Polyphemus. But the true man, who is neither religious nor irreligious, says: The earth will give me fruit if I give it what is appropriate to its nature; it does not will to give, nor must it give—“must” implies reluctance and coercion—no, it will give only if I for my part have fulfilled all the conditions under which it can give, or rather produce; for nature gives me nothing, I myself must take everything, at least everything that is not already a part of me—and moreover I must take it by extreme violence. With intelligent egoism we forbid murder and theft among ourselves, but toward other beings, toward nature, we are all murderers and thieves.

Who gives me the right to catch a rabbit? The fox and the vulture are just as hungry as I, just as much entitled to exist. Who gives me the right to pick a pear? It belongs just as much to the ants, the caterpillars, the birds, the four-footed animals. To whom then does it really belong? To the one who takes it. Is it not sufficient that I live by murder and theft—should I in addition thank the gods? How foolish! I have reason to thank the gods if they can show me that I really owe them my life, and this they will not have done until pigeons fly ready roasted into my mouth. Did I say roasted? No, that is not enough; I should say chewed and digested, for the tedious and unaesthetic operations of mastication and digestion are unbefitting the gods and their gifts. Why should a God who at one stroke makes the world out of nothing in a twinkling need so much time to provide me with a bit of chyme? Here again it becomes evident that the Godhead consists as it were of two components, one originating in man’s imagination, the other in nature. “You must pray,” says the one component, the god differentiated from nature. “You must work,” says the other, the god who is not differentiated from nature and merely expresses the essence of nature. For nature is a worker bee, while the gods are drones. How can I derive the image and law of industry from drones? To derive nature or world from God, to maintain that hunger comes from satiety, need from abundance, gravity from levity, work from sloth—is attempting to bake common bread from ambrosia and to brew beer from the nectar of the gods.

Nature is the first God, the first object of religion; but religion does not look upon it as nature; religion views it as a human being, characterized by emotion, imagination, and thought. The secret of religion is “the identity of the subjective and objective," that is, the unity of man and nature, but this unity is arrived at in disregard of their true character. Man has many ways of humanizing nature and, conversely (for man and nature are inseparable), of objectifying and externalizing his own being. Here, however, we shall confine ourselves to two of these ways, to the metaphysical form and the practical-poetic form of monotheism. The latter is characteristic of the Old Testament and the Koran. The God of the Koran as of the Old Testament is nature or the world, its real, living being as opposed to artificial, dead, man-made idols.* He is not any part of the world or fragment of nature, such as the stone which the Arabs before Mohammed worshiped, but all nature, immense and undivided. In the tenth Sura of the Koran, for example, we read: “Say: ‘Who provides food for you from the earth and the sky? Who has endowed you with sight and hearing? Who brings forth the living from the dead, and the dead from the living? Who ordains all things?’ They will reply: ‘Allah.’ Say: ‘Will you not take heed then?’” Or the sixth Sura: “Allah splits the seed and the fruitstone. . . . He kindles the light of dawn. He has ordained the night for rest and the sun and the moon to measure time. Such is the ordinance of Allah, the Mighty One, the All-Knowing. . . . He sends down water from the sky and with it we bring forth the buds of every plant, green foliage and close-growing grain, palm trees laden with clusters of dates, vineyards and olive groves and all manner of pomegranates. Behold their fruits when they ripen. Surely in these there are signs enough for true believers.” And the thirteenth Sura: “It was Allah who raised the heavens without resting them on visible pillars. . . . It was He who spread out the earth and placed upon it rivers and unchangeable mountains. He gave all Plants their male and female parts and drew the veil of night over the day. . . . It is He who makes the lightning flash upon you, inspiring you with fear and hope, and makes the clouds heavy with rain. The thunder sounds His praises and the angels too for awe. He hurls His thunderbolts and crushes whom He pleases. Yet the unbelievers wrangle about Allah. Stern is His punishment.”

Thus the signs or effects of the true God—the original God as opposed to His copies the idols—are the workings of nature. An idol cannot bring forth living things, tasty fruits, fruitful rain, or terrible storms. This can be done only by the God who is not fashioned by man but is God by nature, and who therefore not only appears to be but is a real living being. But a God whose signs and works are the works of nature is nothing more than nature. Yet, as we have said, He is not a part of nature which is in one place and not another, which is here today and gone tomorrow and which for that very reason man makes eternally present in an image; He is the whole of nature. “When night drew its shadow over him [Abraham],” we read in the sixth Sura, “he saw a star. ‘That,’ he said, ‘is my God.’ But when the star faded into the morning light, he said: ‘I will not worship gods that fade.’ When he beheld the rising moon, he said: ‘That surely is my God.’ But when it, too, set, he said: ‘If Allah does not guide me, I shall surely go astray.’ Then, when he beheld the sun shining, he said: ‘That must be my God: it is larger than the other two.’ But when it, too, set, he said to his people: ‘I am done with your idols. I will turn my face to Him who has created the heavens and the earth.’”

Thus eternal omnipresence is a hallmark of the true God; but nature, too, is everywhere. Where there is no nature, I am not, and where I am there is also nature. “Whither shall I go” from thee, O Nature? “And where shall I flee” from thy being? “If I fly heavenward, Nature is there. If I bed myself in hell, Nature is there too.” Where there is life there is nature, and where there is no life, there too is nature; everything is full of nature. How, then, would you escape from nature? But the God of the Koran, as of the Old Testament, is nature and at the same time not nature, for He is also a subjective, i. e., personal being, knowing and thinking, willing and acting like man. As an object of religion, the works of nature are at the same time works of human ignorance and imagination, the being or cause behind them is a product of human ignorance and imagination. Man is divided from nature by a gulf of ignorance; he does not know how the grass grows, how a child forms in the womb, what causes rain, thunder and lightning. “Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth?” we read in Job. “Declare if thou knowest it all. . . . Hast thou seen the treasures of the hail? . . . . Hath the rain a father? . . . . Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven?”

Because man does not know what the works of nature are made of, where they come from and under what conditions, he regards them as the works of an absolutely unconditioned and unlimited power, to which nothing is impossible, which even brought forth the world out of nothing, just as it continues to bring forth the works of nature from nothing, the nothing of human ignorance. Human ignorance is bottomless, and the human imagination knows no bounds; deprived of its foundations by ignorance and of its limits by the imagination, the power of nature becomes divine omnipotence.

*Jalal-ud-din relates that Mohammed sent a zealous Mohammedan to convert an unbeliever to Islam. “What manner of being is your God?” the unbeliever asked him. “Is He of gold, silver, or copper?” Lightning struck the godless man and he was dead. This is a crude but convincing lesson on the difference between the living God and the man-made god.

— Ludwig Feuerbach, Lectures on the Essence of Religion, translated by Ralph Manheim (New York: Harper & Row, 1967), Additions and Notes, pp. 315-320.

Ludwig Feuerbach 7: Lectures

Thus, because religion rules over life and death, heaven and hell, because it transforms laws into the commandments of an all-powerful being—the essence of all human wishes and fears—religion gains control of, or is favored by, human egoism and so exerts a terrible power over man, especially uncivilized man, a power beside which the power of ethics, especially of abstract, philosophical ethics, pales to nothingness, and which for this reason seems indispensable.

But no one can fail to see that religion exerts this power through the imagination alone, that its power resides solely in the imagination; for if the power of religion were anything more than imaginary, if religion were really the positive foundation and support of justice and ethics, the promises and punishments of religion would have sufficed for the founding and preservation of states, men would never have devised all the many exquisitely cruel punishments they employ for the prevention of crime. Or if you will, we acknowledge that religion is the foundation of states, but with this limitation: only in the imagination, in belief, in opinion, for in reality states, even Christian states, are built not on the power of religion, though they have used it too (i. e., credulity, man’s weak point) as a means to their ends, but on the power of bayonets and other instruments of torture. In reality men act out of entirely different motives than their religious imagination leads them to suppose. In his chronicle of Louis XI, the pious Philippe de Commines writes: “All evils or transgressions come from lack of faith; if men firmly believed what God and the Church tell us about the eternal and terrible torments of hell, they could not do what they do.”

But whence comes this weakness of faith? From the fact that the power of belief is nothing other than the power of imagination, and that reality is an infinitely greater power, directly opposed to the imagination. Like the imagination, faith is hyperbolic; it moves only in extremes, in exaggerations; it knows only of heaven and hell, angels and devils; it tries to make more of man than he should be, and consequently makes less of him than he could be; it tries to make him into an angel and consequently, given the opportunity, makes him into a true devil. Faced with the resistance of prosaic reality, the hyperbolic fantasies of faith shift into their direct opposite! Human life would be in a bad way if law and ethics had no other basis than religious faith, which so easily turns into its opposite, because, as even the greatest heroes of faith have confessed, it flies in the face of sensory evidence, natural feeling, and man’s innate tendency to disbelief. How, indeed, can anything built on constraint, on the forcible repression of a sound inclination, anything exposed at every moment to the mind’s doubts and the contradictions of experience, provide a firm and secure foundation? To believe that the state—I mean of course the state as such, not our artificial, supranaturalistic political edifices—cannot exist without religious faith is to believe that our natural legs are not sufficient for man to stand or walk on, that he can only stand and walk on stilts. And these natural legs, the support of ethics and law, are love of life, self-interest, egoism.

Accordingly, nothing is more groundless than the fear that the distinction between right and wrong, good and evil, must vanish with the gods. The distinction exists and will continue to exist as long as there is a difference between me and thee, for this is the source of ethics and law. My egoism may permit me to steal, but my fellow man’s egoism will sternly forbid me; left to myself I may know nothing of unselfishness, but the selfishness of others will teach me the virtue of unselfishness. My masculine egoism may be inclined to polygamy, but feminine egoism will oppose my inclination and champion monogamy: I may be unaware of the beam in my own eye, but the merest mote in it will be a thorn in the critical eye of others. In short, though it may be of no concern to me whether I am good or bad, it will always be a matter of concern to the egoism of others.

Who has always been the ruler of states? God? Good heavens, no! The gods rule only in the heavens of the imagination, not on the profane ground of reality. Who then? Egoism and egoism alone, though not simple egoism, but the dualistic egoism of those who have devised heaven for themselves and hell for others, materialism for themselves and idealism for others, freedom for themselves but servitude for others, enjoyment for themselves but resignation for others—the egoism of those who as rulers punish their subjects for the crimes they themselves have committed, who as fathers visit their own crimes on their children, who as husbands punish their wives for their own weaknesses, who in general forgive themselves all offenses and assert their egos in all directions, but expect others to have no egos, to live on air, to be as perfect and immaterial as angels. Not the limited egoism to which the term is ordinarily confined but which is only one variety, though the most common; but the egoism which comprises as many varieties as there are aspects of human nature, for there is not only a singular or individual egoism, but also a social egoism, a family egoism, a corporate egoism, a community egoism, a patriotic egoism. True, egoism is the source of evil, but it is also the source of good, for what else but egoism gave rise to agriculture, commerce, the arts and the sciences? True, it is the source of all vices, but also the source of all virtues, for what gave rise to the virtue of honesty? Egoism, through the prohibition of theft! What molded the virtue of chastity? The egoism of those who did not wish to share their beloved with others, through the prohibition of adultery. What produced the virtue of truthfulness? The egoism of those who do not wish to be deceived and cheated, through the prohibition of lying.

Egoism was the first lawgiver and promoter of the virtues, though only out of hostility to vice, only out of egoism, only because what opposes my egoism strikes me as a vice—just as conversely, what to me is a blow against my egoism is to others an affirmation of theirs, and what to me is a virtue is to them a benefit. Moreover, vices are just as necessary, if not more so, for the preservation of states, at least of our despicable, unnatural and inhuman states, as are virtues. To cite an example that is close to me because I am writing on Bavarian soil, though not in a Bavarian spirit (or in a Prussian or Austrian spirit either, for that matter): if Christianity in our country were anything more than a clerical phrase, if the spirit of Christian asceticism and subjugation of the senses should take hold of the Bavarian people, leading them to abstain from beer drinking, or only from immoderate beer drinking, what would become of our Bavarian state? And despite its “substantial faith,” the Russian state finds its chief source of revenue in poison—in vodka. Without beer, then, there would be no Bavaria, and without distilled liquor no Russia or even Bo‑Russia.*

* The Latin form of “Prussia.”—TR.

— Ludwig Feuerbach, Lectures on the Essence of Religion, translated by Ralph Manheim (New York: Harper & Row, 1967), Additions and Notes, pp. 302-304.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ludwig Feuerbach 6: Lectures

THE OBSERVATION that intelligence in certain spheres of life can exist side by side with the most unintelligent superstition, political freedom with religious servitude, scientific, industrial progress with religious stagnation and even bigotry, has led some to the superficial view and contention that religion is without bearing on life, and especially on public, political life, and that consequently our only goal in this connection should be absolute freedom to believe what we wish. To this I reply that a state of affairs in which political freedom is combined with religious prejudice and bigotry is not satisfactory. I for my part don’t care a farthing for a political freedom that leaves me enslaved to my religious prejudices and imaginings. True freedom is present only where man is also free from religion; true culture is present only where man has become master over his religious prejudices and imaginations. But the state can have no other aim than to form complete, authentic men, though of course this is not meant here in any Utopian sense; consequently a state whose citizens, while enjoying free political institutions, are not free in a religious sense, cannot be a truly human and free state. The state does not make men, men make the state. As men are, so is their state. Once a state exists, to be sure, the individuals who by birth or immigration become its citizens, are molded by it; but what is a state in relation to the individuals who come to it if not the sum and combination of the people who already constitute it, who through the means at their disposal, through the institutions they have created, mold newcomers to their spirit and will? Thus, where men are politically free but unfree in religion, the state is not perfect or not yet complete.

As to the second point, freedom of faith and conscience, the first condition of a free state is indeed that “every man may be saved in his own way,” that every man may believe what he likes. But this is a secondary and empty freedom; for it means nothing more than each man’s freedom or right to be a fool in his own way. True, the state, in the present sense of the word, can do no more than refrain from all intervention in the field of faith—than grant unrestricted freedom in this respect. But man’s task in the state is not only to believe what he wishes, but to believe what is reasonable, not only to believe, but to know what he can and must know if he is to be a free and cultivated man. Here no barrier to human knowledge can excuse us. In the realm of nature, to be sure, there are still many things we do not understand; but the secrets of religion spring from man himself, and he is capable of knowing them down to their remotest depths. And because he can know them, he ought to know them. Finally, it is an utterly superficial notion, refuted every day by history and even by daily life, to suppose that religion is without influence on public life. This view has originated only in our own day, when religious faith has ceased to be anything more than a chimera. Obviously, where religious faith has ceased to be a truth in man, it can have no practical consequences, it no longer inspires deeds of world-shaking importance. But where this is the case, where faith has become a mere lie, man is involved in the ugliest contradiction with himself and the consequences of faith are at least morally disastrous. Modem theism is just such a lie. The elimination of this lie is the condition for a new, energetic mankind.

The above-mentioned observation that piety in the common sense of the word is often combined with diametrically opposed traits, has led many to suppose that man has a special organ of religion, a specific religious feeling. We should be more justified in assuming the existence of a specific organ of superstition. Religion, that is, the belief in gods, in spirits, in so-called higher invisible beings who rule over man, has been said to be as innate in man as his other senses. Translated into the language of honesty and reason, this would only mean that, as Spinoza has already maintained, superstition is innate in man. But the source and strength of superstition are the power of ignorance and stupidity, which is the greatest power on earth, the power of fear and the feeling of dependency, and finally the power of the imagination.

— Ludwig Feuerbach, Lectures on the Essence of Religion, translated by Ralph Manheim (New York: Harper & Row, 1967), 24th lecture (excerpt), pp. 218-220.

Ludwig Feuerbach 5: Lectures

What then has faith in common with love, religion with ethics? Nothing; they have no more in common than have the God to whom man is bound by faith and the fellow man with whom he is united by love; for according to religious faith, there is the most violent opposition between man and God: God is a nonsensuous being, man a sensuous being, God is perfect, man is wretched, pitiful, worthless. How then can love flow from faith? It cannot, any more than wretchedness can spring from perfection, want from abundance. Yes, ethics and religion, faith and love are exact opposites. He who has once loved a God can no longer love any human being; he has lost his feeling for mankind. But the converse is also true: he who has once loved man, truly and from the bottom of his heart, can no longer love a God, he can no longer permit his living humanity to seep away in a vacuum of infinite objectlessness and unreality.

— Ludwig Feuerbach, Lectures on the Essence of Religion, translated by Ralph Manheim (New York: Harper & Row, 1967), Additions and Notes, p. 298.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ludwig Feuerbach 4: Lectures

Continuing here on Feuerbach's Lectures on the Essence of Religion (1851). While all of Lecture I is available on the Marxists Internet Archive, I have added the second half of this lecture to my own web site:

Lectures on the Essence of Religion #1 (Part II: On Jakob Böhme, Spinoza, and Leibniz)

For Feuerbach, Spinoza
is the only modern philosopher to have provided the first elements of a critique and explanation of religion and theology; the first to have offered a positive opposition to theology; the first to have stated, in terms that have become classical, that the world cannot be regarded as the work or product of a personal being acting in accordance with aims and purposes; the first to have brought out the all-importance of nature for the philosophy of religion.
In contrast, here is how Leibniz is presented:
. . . the first modern German philosopher earned the honour, or dishonour, of having once again tied philosophy to the apron strings of theology. In this respect Leibniz, in his celebrated Theodicy, outdid all others. [. . . . ]Leibniz sat on the fence between the two parties, and for this very reason satisfied neither. He wished to offend no one, to hurt no one's feelings; his philosophy is a philosophy of diplomatic gallantry. Even the monads, the entities of which in his view all sensible beings consist, exert no physical influence on one another, lest any of them suffer injury.

But a man who is determined to offend no-one – even unintentionally – can have no energy, no force; for it is impossible to take a step without trampling on some creature or other, or to drink a sip of water without swallowing a quantity of small organisms. Leibniz is an intermediary between the Middle Ages and modern times; he is, as I have called him, the philosophical Tycho Brahe, but precisely because of his indecision he remains to this day the idol of all those who lack the energy to make up their minds.
I also added to my web site:

Lectures on the Essence of Religion: #2

Spinoza begins with Pierre Bayle, continues on the topic of immortality, and emphasizes the antagonism between religion and philosophy, also in opposition to Hegelianism's pretension to reconcile the two:
The more recent philosophers differ in one striking respect from their predecessors. For the earlier philosophers separated philosophy and religion and even set them in opposition, arguing that religion is grounded on divine wisdom and authority, while philosophy is grounded solely on human wisdom—or, as Spinoza put it, that religion aims solely at the advantage and welfare of man, while philosophy aims at the truth; while the most recent philosophers stand for the identity of philosophy and religion, at least as far as content and substance are concerned. It was this identity that I set out to attack. As early as 1830, when my Thoughts on Death and Immortality appeared, I found myself involved in an argument with a dogmatist of the Hegelian school, who maintained that there is only a formal difference between religion and philosophy, that philosophy merely raised to the level of the concept what religion possessed in the form of images. I replied in the following verse:
Essence itself is form. You therefore destroy the content of
Faith by destroying the image, its own appropriate form
I criticized the Hegelian philosophy for regarding the essential as nonessential and the nonessential as essential in religion. The essence of religion, I declared, is precisely what philosophy regards as mere form. 
A work deserving of special mention in this connection is a short pamphlet which appeared in 1839 under the title: On Philosophy and Christianity. Despite all attempts at compromise, I wrote, the difference between religion and philosophy is ineradicable, for philosophy is a matter of thought, of reason, while religion is a matter of emotion and imagination. But religion does not, as Hegel maintains, merely translate speculative ideas into emotionally charged images, but also contains an element that is distinct from thought, and this element is not merely its form but its very essence. This element can in one word be termed sensuousness, for emotion and imagination are also rooted in sensibility.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ludwig Feuerbach redux

I have just updated my bibliography of works in the English language:

Ludwig Feuerbach: A Bibliography

Aside from the addition of print works, there are now links to YouTube videos.

Here are a few stray quotes gleaned from the Internet, not yet sourced:

‎"The present age . . . prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, fancy to reality, the appearance to the essence . . . for in these days illusion only is sacred, truth profane."

‎"'Faith moves mountains!' Certainly! Faith does not solve difficult problems; it only pushes them aside."

‎"The pious one bases faith on human weakness. How weak must be something that is supported by weakness."

And here is a very interesting quote from Feuerbach's Principles of the Philosophy of the Future (1843), Part II: Critique of Hegel, § 21 (different translation):

‎"The Hegelian philosophy is the last magnificent attempt to restore Christianity, which was lost and wrecked, through philosophy and, indeed, to restore Christianity—as is generally done in the modern era—by identifying it with the negation of Christianity."

Feuerbach constantly highlights the tug of war between philosophy and theology, and which won wins out within the thought of particular philosophers. Here though note also that Feuerbach's remark is applicable to liberal, (partly) demythologized religion.

From a quick scan of Feuerbach's works in English, I've concluded that I first most need to read Lectures on the Essence of Religion (1851).This is a later work than his other noted works on religion and by this time he has revised some earlier views. Also, it seems to be the most general treatment of religion beyond Christianity, with some interesting remarks about philosophers. Lectures I & XXX are available at the Marxists Internet Archive. Both are worth checking out. Lecture I has some interesting commentary on Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz, for example. I intend to scan Lecture II, which begins with a treatment of Pierre Bayle. Lecture XXX is "Atheism alone a Positive View."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Paul Nizan on humanism & other matters

Paul Nizan (7 February 1905 – 23 May 1940) was an eminent French writer, an erstwhile Communist, who left the party as a reaction to the Soviet-Nazi pact and died fighting the Germans.

I first became aware of Nizan via his philosophical work The Watchdogs: Philosophers and the Established Order, translated by Paul Fittingoff (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1972; original publication, 1960).  Here is a relevant excerpt:

The Philosopher's Mission by Paul Nizan / Misio de la Filozofo (my Esperanto translation)

Here Nizan distinguishes between two types of philosophy, which he judges differently. He accepts strictly technical philosophers, particularly in philosophy of science, as they are, making no ideological demands upon them. But those who make broader assertions about human existence have proven themselves philosophically bankrupt, and those bourgeois philosophers are roundly condemned.

Nizan was also a prize-winning novelist. His last novel The Conspiracy, translated by Quintin Hoare, with an Afterword by Jean-Paul Sartre, and Appendix by Walter Benjamin (translated into English for the first time) has just been published in English by Verso.

Translations of some of Nizan's essays can be found at the Marxists Internet Archive.

Now I want to call your attention to Nizan's 1935 essay "On Humanism". The term "humanism" applies to several historical periods and schools of thought, and in even in English one must be attentive to the vagaries of the term. But "humanism" has a special meaning and basis of contention in French intellectual culture, known to Americans only through the unfortunate importation of postmodernism. If one were to think solely of the American humanist movement, Nizan's reference to "humanism" would be meaningless. The French reference to "humanism" reflects a traditionalist bourgeois culture that came under attack from multiple directions in the 20th century. Its attackers and defenders came from both right and left.

To get more of an idea of this background, follow the links on my web page:

Badiou and the Bankruptcy of Fashionable French Philosophy

. . . and on my "Studies in a Dying Culture" blog:

Bergson, apostle of reactionary irrationalism