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CAMUS AND HEIDEGGER: ANARCHISTS GRAEMB NICHOLSON What I intend to argue is that existentialist philosophy has a component of anarchism in it. I hope in this manner to establish the meaning of its key notion, 'existence.' My objective here is mere interpretation, to illuminate the statements of others, and not to make a statement myself, although the interpretation is of the freer variety. If existentialism is a philosophical theory and anarchism a political movement and ideology, then to say that the latter is a component in the former is to say that a certain political choice is a presupposition of this theory. It does not follow from this that existentialism cannot be true in a theoretical, philosophical sense. It merely follows that those who call themselves 'existentialists' without being anarchists do not know what it is they hold. The general question of the relationship between political choices and philosophical truth is too vast for a general solution here. I hope only to show that this dependence holds in the particular case of existentialism, without however intending to cast doubts upon its status as a philosophical theory. What I shall try to show is the nature of an anarchist political choice: revolt for an unorganized commune. Then I shall attempt to show that such a choice is present within the idea 'existence : so as to determine its meaning. As a spokesman for a certain sort of anarchism, I shall select Albert Camus. Camus' book The Rebel presents an image of man in revolt. Camus introduces the topic, and hedges it about repeatedly, with the question of violence, particularly institutional violence. Subsequent discussion has shown, however, that Camus is far from having a clear conception of violence, for which reason he is constandy slipping into the viewpoint of bourgeois moralism. What I shall argue is that the core of his work, which must be taken seriously, is a political thesis and not a moral one. A rebel is a man who says no, who refuses, who draws a line. Rebellion may be provoked by some demand which is in fact milder than many others that had been accepted in the past, but there COmes a point where a line is drawn: the rebel says 'Thus far perhaps, but no further!' Revolt, refusal, or rebellion might be thought to be merely particular attitudes Volume XLI, Number IJ Autumn 1971 CAMUSANDHEIDIlGGIlR: ANARcmSTS 15 adopted under certain circumstances on one grounds or another, sometimes being rational and sometimes not. Acceptance and agreement would be other possible attitudes to given circumstances. But the image of man in revolt offered by Camus is intended as an intepretation of man possessing universal significance. It is Camus' effort to counter an opposing image of man found throughout traditional literature: man as governor, master, or philosopher-king. This traditional image embodies an interpretation of man through suggesting certain relations of man to other men and of man to nature. Camus' image of the rebel suggests absolutely different relations . He uses the terminology of master and slave, and, while this reveals a certain archaizing, mythopoeic tendency, it also serves to situate his argument in relation to the famous argument of Hegel on lordship and bondage. Camus agrees with Hegel in saying that it is the slave, not the master, who has a future, but the slave's future COmes to him not through obedience and work, as Hegel said, but through rebellion. The revolt of a subject against a ruler is always more than merely that It is also the refusal of a particular type of society. 'The revolt is not only slave against master, but man against the world of master and slave.' The world of master and slave has two particular features for Camus. First, in the master-slave relation, the master possesses unlimited freedom. Secondly , there can be no communication between master and slave. Silence prevails. The rebellion is made not only against this world or society, it is made for a world: the rebellion has a precise intention. Camus maintains that in the revolt itself there emerges a new form of solidarity among the rebels: 'Je me revolte, donc nous sommes.' This is not merely owing to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 14-23
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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