Saturday, May 30, 2009


This is more of a note to myself than a blogpost.
I just started reading William Barrett's "Irrational Man: A study in existential philosophy".
I have merely read through 30-40 pages, but I can feel that same sense of excitement, that I had encountered when I was first introduced to Postmodernist thought. In a sparsely populated classroom of a fourth year IIT elective, a most lucid and wonderful teacher had introduced the engineer to Beckett and Camus.

Now, as I try to make sense of postmodernist thought, trying to break through the shackles of fashionable jargon mongering that much of this field is believed to be about, I find in Barrett, the most able guide.

Dostoyevsky seems to make more sense to me now. Raskalnikov's critique of the liberal rationalism that was pervading Russia at the later half of the 19th century seems more fathomable. With the advent of the modern industrial age, as science made inroads into the very depths of the human mind, faith, with all its elaborate rituals and symblisms which had given man strength and purpose, was slowly eroding away from human cosciousness. The great void, a nothingness,surrounded this loss of faith. For the rationalist philosophies which emerged out of this churning never adressed mankind's most intimate issues.
Marxism believed in religion as the opium of the masses, the sigh of the opressed, and it sought to drown the individual within rigid definitions of class. However, what the rationalist philosophies failed to capture was the despair of the modern man, the irrational being whose consciousness transcended the mere mechanics of rational beliefs, whose thoughts were much more than elements made of simple building blocks that the English empiricists loved to play with.

And the journey of the modern man has not been easy, as he has traversed to fill this void that the disappearance of faith has created. Through Nietzsche's sufferings, through Dostoyevsky,Kiekergaard we finally come to the existentialists.

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