La Humanidad Perdida

por Alain Finkielkraut


IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY is a stark, provocative reflection on the history of humanism and the relationship of this philosophical tradition to the rise of totalitarianism in the twentieth century. Alain Finkielkraut begins by reviewing the famous debates about what makes man human, tracing the arguments from Plato and Aristotle to Sartre and Hannah Arendt. He believes that one can no longer express unqualified enthusiasm for the Enlightenment idea of universal man. How was it possible for a great philosophical tradition, celebrated for affirming the unity of mankind to end up inspiring political systems of such dehumanizing proportions. In order to grasp the magnitude of the question, Finkielkraut contrasts eyewitness accounts with ideological justifications of the mechanized carnage of the First World War, the horror of concentration camps (in their Nazi and Soviet manisfestations), and campaigns of ethnic cleansing in many parts of the world today. He also reveals in humiliating detail how inadequate, even useless, our humanitarian responses to these atrocities have been. Finkielkraut cheers the downfall of Soviet Communism but warns that totalitarian thinking is still with us.

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