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The Importance of Being Civil by John A. Hall

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CHAPTER 7

The Disenchantment of the Intellectuals

Many contemporary artists and intellectuals tell us that we are miserable. We have seen Rousseau’s view of our psychic distress, caused by endlessly seeking to be something or someone else, imagining the grass to be greener on the other side of the fence, always wanting. Nietzsche added tremendous bite to such themes by lending a biological base to a moral critique. The influence of both can be seen in Sartre’s insistence that there is a generalized problem of being. Equally, Heidegger claimed that we face a “void,” particularly given our enslavement to high technology. We have more recently been told that we live in a world of risk in which “the life-world” is “colonized,” and our humanity placed ...

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