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Icarus Fallen: In Search for Meaning in an Uncertain World (Crosscurrents (ISI Books)) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 15. März 2010

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Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Chantal Delsol is professor of philosophy at the University of Marne-La-Vallee near Paris. A prominent political philosopher in France, she is also a novelist and the author of Unjust Justice and The Unlearned Lessons of the Twentieth Century, also available from ISI Books. Delsol was recently elected to the prestigious Academie des Sciences Morales et Politiques (Institut de France).


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5.0 von 5 Sternen Ortega's Heir? 19. Juni 2016
Von John Herndon - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Over eight decades ago, the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset gave his analysis of why the modern man and woman of the 1920s and 1930s seemed so insubstantial compared to the prior generations that had done so much to bring the promises of full-blown modernity into reality for the Western European. His writing is so direct (even in translation) and his insights of such scope that, since 1930, The Revolt of the Masses has never been out of print. Those wondering what Sr. Ortega might have to say about the contemporary man and women of our age will find a similar voice and intellectual vigor in Chantal Delsol's Icarus Fallen. In this work, while she only mentions Ortega in passing, the same passion to understand our own age is clearly in evidence. Ortega's analysis and diagnosis centered on what he termed the "mass man" (and woman), the true child of modernity, expertly trained in the uses of the technologies and detached from real life by the sheer ease of modern existence, and totally focused on enjoyment of the many and varied tools and entertainments placed at his disposal. Delsol, by comparison, writes of the "complacent man," one who, having seen the promises of classical modernity literally crash to earth, now stands amid the ruins of the modern project, wondering what to do now that any form of belief or confidence in the future have been removed from the viable options presented by what is left of Western culture through education, the media and the political establishment. What follows is precisely what the subtitle promises: "The Search for Meaning in an Uncertain World." Least anyone think that she calls for a rejection of the modern project (even after its failure to live up to its promises) and to turn back to some past way of living - what Delsol terms "the danger of returning to essentialism" - she contends that modernity "reveals humanity to itself much more surely than any religion or world system ever could." For Delsol, as with Ortega those eight decades before, the only possible path is to move forward, in a full understanding of what we as a culture have attempted, why it failed where it did, and what must be reformed or rethought to regain a wiser way of living. Such is the depth and insight of this book that I have purchased additional copies for students whose theses I direct. Whether for such as these focused in an academic environment, or for any thoughtful child of modernity (which means all of us), Delsol's Icarus Fallen will repay the time spent in its pages many times over.
5.0 von 5 Sternen Unique Approach For The American Reader- Very Gallic 15. November 2016
Von propertius - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
It is curious to come across a book that is philosophical in content, timely in purpose, and eminently readable. Although ten years old and written for the problems of modern France, it could have been written for present day America.Addressing the problems of modern Western society, it lays an argument that discusses core issues and causes and dares to project into the future without the bated-breath projections of popular savants.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen The wounded soul of Europe 29. April 2010
Von Peter Uys - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
This thought-provoking essay examines the existential uncertainty and bleak spiritual landscape that Chantal Delsol observes in Europe. She depicts the continent's (post)modern cultural confusion in terms of an Icarus who survived his fall but now lies bleeding. The European psyche was first wounded by the loss of Christianity and then more grievously by attempts to replace it with secular salvationist substitutes that led to the totalitarian tragedies of the 20th century. These experiments have left people dazed, disoriented and stripped of certainties. Utopian ideologies weren't the only attempted replacements; these also included science, the arts and reason itself. Delsol elegantly likens these failures to collapsed cathedrals.

She believes Europeans have lost the will to meaning as they now reject all interpretive frameworks. Although the heart's yearning can never be quenched, the fear of absolutes and ideology has understandably bred disillusionment. Rigidity of thought was indeed the cause of the persecutions, the wars, the Holocaust and the Gulag. Without a sense of purpose however, mankind embraces the vapid and fatuous as revealed in banal and clichéd discourse. Delsol calls it the "clandestine" ideology of our time, overt ideology having become taboo. This black market substitute is sickly sentimental, arbitrary and intolerant despite claims to the contrary. Resembling political correctness in the USA, it functions as code language for the European welfare state which freezes its citizens into adolescents that conflate desires with rights. Delsol defines this process as the "sacralization" of rights. What began as freedoms are being transformed into entitlements.

Even tolerance has been perverted. Originally signifying a willingness to endure that of which one disapproved, the meaning now encompasses active legitimization and encouragement of ideas and behaviors by the state. Emotion becomes more important than truth when ignoring this vital distinction: Tolerance shown to people is a virtue, but when extended to beliefs and behaviors that are manifestly despicable it becomes cowardice and complicity in crime. A perfect example is when European authorities refuse to enforce the law by ignoring the atrocity of female circumcision amongst certain immigrant communities. Worse still are those Western adherents of multiculturalism who approve of every sadistic practice based on the lie that "no culture is superior to any other."

Now enveloped in a smog of humanistic complacency, Europe pays lip-service to inclusion and equality whilst denying the reality of two societies: one of native Europeans and assimilated immigrants, the other of alienated immigrant populations concentrated in no-go areas for law enforcers and other citizens. There's a type of European piety frequently expressed in hysterical fits of morality by artists and intellectuals. Its relativism, rage and selectivity betray it as mere posturing; it is moreover demonstrably contradictory in the way it clings to moral absolutes whilst affirming the omnipresence of relativism. Delsol considers it a vain, empty morality of despair and withdrawal. To me it looks like grotesque hypocrisy and crude projection, especially when aimed at Israel, the USA, doubters of the climate change scare, smokers and conservative Christians.

Relativism has not - owing to the nature of reality - succeeded in eliminating ideas of enduring significance: questions of good and evil, truth and falsehood and the eternity of the divine. To my great relief, Delsol does not advocate a facile repudiation of the modern or blind regression to premodern forms of meaning, wisely observing: "The great difficulty will be to protect the gains of modernity while simultaneously struggling against its excesses. For taking a simplistic approach is always the first reflex, and the great temptation of this disappointed era could easily be complete rejection, a return to the besieged cocoon of a priori certitudes or purity-seeking fundamentalism which is just another form of utopian delusion."

Concluding the essay with a call for increased vigilance and a revived sense of responsibility, she recommends a more direct and open engagement with life's fragility and contradictions. No role for metaphysics or theology is explicitly suggested. This shows admirable restraint and wisdom but man being an emotional animal, I have little confidence in the efficacy of these proposed antidotes. Delsol admits to an insufficient, fragmented knowledge of other Western societies but assumes that they resemble Europe. Icarus may indeed be falling in the Anglosphere outside of the UK although in North America for example, the affliction is generally restricted to the large cities and to particular spheres like academia where it thrives amongst the tenured termites, in the mass media and amongst narcissistic entertainers.

Delsol offers outsiders a compelling view of the contemporary European soul. She thinks a return to Christianity would be remedial but considers it impossible. I am not so sure of its impossibility and deeply distrustful of its salutary potential. History attests to organized religion as a frequent carrier of evil. I do not only mean the current and past crimes of Islamism or the Church in its Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant varieties, but more comprehensively the Salvationist idea itself which was the driving force behind the entire continuum of collectivist ideologies that caused so much misery. One of its prominent contemporary manifestations is the neo-pagan environmental movement: The First Church of the Boiling Globe.

The danger is that a hedonistic, nihilistic Europe's habit of appeasement will attract escalating demands, compliance with which will destroy its civilizational cornerstones like freedom of speech. The demographic implosion amongst native Europeans is far advanced making more immigration unavoidable. Threatened by a hostile and increasingly barbaric Russia in cynical alliance with other oil producers and rogue states like Iran and destabilized within by its unassimilated alien communities, Europe might simultaneously become the target of massive terror attacks. Such a scenario is not improbable; should it come to that, the past reveals the future. Betrayed by the Brussels Eurocracy and all their consensus-seeking politicians of the centre right and left, suffering economic hardship plus urban unrest and panicked by acts of terror, desperate Europeans might return to their religion en masse and with great fervour, before you can say "Black Madonna." And should there appear a powerful charismatic leader in the Christian tradition offering solutions and order, they will hail and revere him like a risen Constantine.

Icarus Fallen has a translator's preface and author's preface to the English edition and concludes with bibliographic notes and an index. Unlike many prominent French philosophers that deliberately obfuscate, Delsol admirably elucidates with her descriptive clarity, elegant style and arresting imagery.
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