The Hidden God: A Study of Tragic Vision in the Pensées of Pascal and the Tragedies of Racine
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A new edition of a major philosophical work
This remarkable text, first published in 1964, was a landmark of its era and remains, in the words of Michael Löwy, a work of “remarkable richness.” Drawing on Georg Lukács’ History and Class Consciousness, Lucien Goldmann applies the concept of “world visions” to flesh out the similarities between Pascal’s Pensées and Kant’s critical philosophy, contrasting them with the rationalism of Descartes and the empiricism of Hume.
For Goldmann, a leading exponent of the most fruitful method of applying Marxist ideas to literary and philosophical problems, the “tragic vision” marked an important phase in the development of European thought, as it moved from rationalism and empiricism to the dialectical philosophy of Hegel, Marx and Lukàcs. Here he offers a general approach to the problems of philosophy, of literary criticism, and of the relationship between thought and action in human society.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
paradoxes of the Incarnation, of an incomprehensible and hidden God, and of original sin. It is the only religion that provides an explanation for these paradoxes and which does not contradict reason. Christianity is venerable, and even true, precisely because it presents itself as being both absurd and obviously true, both certain and uncertain. Here, however, the paradox is quite apparent: what is both certain and uncertain is God’s existence, and the possibility of giving meaning to human
For in Kant this ‘as if’ suddenly reminds us of the fact that a whole set of hopes which play an important part in his philosophy are, in the last resort, quite impossible to achieve. I have already said that in spite of its importance, this difference concerns less the general structure of the two philosophies than the way in which Kant talks about the phenomenal world and the quantitative position that it occupies in his work. I should, perhaps, recall once again that for dialectical thought
abandoned since the Greeks. The fact remains that the tragedy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—and, for the rest of this book, the words ‘tragedy’ and ‘tragic’, except when otherwise stated, will indicate the tragedy of refusal characteristic of these two centuries—does, like other forms of tragic creation and awareness, express a crisis in human relationship between certain groups of men and the cosmic and social world. I have already said that the central problem of this tragedy is
belonged to a ruling class, to keeping his privileges and administering and increasing his wealth. As I have already said, an individual can doubtless separate his ideas and intellectual aspirations from his daily life; the same is not true of social groups, for as far as they are concerned, their ideas and behaviour are rigorously and closely related. The central thesis of dialectical materialism does nothing more than affirm the existence of this relationship and demand that it should be given
citizens think even more highly of him than they did of Faust himself. Wagner, however, is not taken in by his own success, and still venerates Faust in exactly the same way. Despising purely external achievements, he devotes himself entirely to research in his laboratory, where he achieves remarkable success in making an artificial man. Once created, however, this man escapes Wagner’s control. Moreover, it is not simply a fantasy on Goethe’s part which brings Faust back to Wagner’s laboratory,