What if man had repressed his soul?
Robert Redeker, born in 1954, is a philosophy professor. He has taught in Toulouse at National Academy of Civil Aviation, he is also a member of the editorial board of the philosophy revue Les Temps Modernes as well as an active member of the organization Reporters Without Borders. Redeker achieved world notoriety when, in 2006, he published an inflammatory editorial on fundamentalist Islam and became the victim of a fatwa. He lives currently under police protection. A great number of French (and international) intellectuals rallied around him and his protection, regardless of whether or not they agreed with his views on Islam. One of his most recent books published is titled Is Sport Human?, which chronicles the contemporary sports industry that has “industrialized” its athletes to the point that they “look like humans but lack humanity”. His most recent book Egobody, is the natural follow-up.
In Egobody, Redeker tries to prove that soul and being are nowadays confused with body: “Unbeknownst to us, a new man has arisen…a being whose “me” has been engulfed by the body. We call him: Egobody”: a being who has lost his interior, who is merely a shell. This new being provokes, according to him, a preservation of the body at the cost of the soul (“taken in hand by exercise, medicine, social security, the State, aesthetic, sexual and moral pharmacology, gyms, advertisements…” themes that are the subject of various chapters). Internet is not spared from a healthy critique either, which Redeker sees an “instrumental network that swallows its user: instead of remaining exterior to the tool, the user is integrated within it.” The author reminds us that “interior consciousness and the body for years made up the two poles of humanism. Humans were directed from within…this direction was expressed in different philosophical terms: the soul (Plato, St. Augustine, Descartes), the conscience (Rousseau, Bergson), the categorical imperative (Kant).” This interior is today put into question, in particular by the tyranny of transparence: is “Homo Communicans” still compatible with “Homo Humanus”? According to Redeker (whose point of view seems very debatable on this aspect), Internet, and in particular sites like Facebook trace the contours of a new type of human, disconnected from the writing of thoughts: “he has neither interior nor exterior”. For Redeker, this new planetary man consumes his time instead of living it. He has lost “one of the dimensions of the horizon”: time, “under the tyranny of desire and the present that lock him in the present moment.” We live in the time of “body-ego”, the Egobody where the human “ignores the man inside him”. This fascinating book (knowingly?) seems to ignore the many positive aspects of progress. However, it’s written in such a way that you are rarely indifferent. I am personally against Redeker’s assertion that humans “no longer write, no longer think, they tweet” as I am someone who believes thinking and tweeting are NOT mutually exclusive. 😉