Tuesday, August 02, 2005 +

The Last Man

. . . Kojève's disposition to the culmination of universal history is radically ambivalent. On the one hand, he follows Marx by seeing in idyllic terms the post-historical world, one of universal freedom, emancipation from war and want, leaving space for “art, love, play, etc., etc., etc.,; in short, everything that makes Man happy”. However, Kojève is simultaneously beset by pessimism. In his philosophical anthropology, man is defined by his negating activity, by his struggle to overcome himself and nature through struggle and contestation. This is the ontological definition of man, his raison d’être. Yet the end of history marks the end of this struggle, thereby exhausting man of the activity which has defined his essence. The end of history ushers in the “death of man”; paradoxically, man is robbed of the definitional core of his existence precisely at the moment of his triumph. Post-historical man will no longer be “man” as we understand him, but will be “reanimalized”, such that the end of history marks the “definitive annihilation of Man properly so-called”. . . . Fukayama follows Kojève in tying the triumph of capitalism to the satisfaction of material human needs. Moreover, he sees it as the primary mechanism for the provision of recognition and value. Consumerism and the commodity form [sic], for Fukayama, present the means by which recognition is mediated. Humans desire to be valued by others, and the means of appropriating that valuation is the appropriation of the things that others themselves value; hence lifestyle and fashion become the mechanisms of mutual esteem in a post-historical world governed by the logic of capitalist individualism.
—Majid Yar, “Alexandre Koj√®ve (1902-1968)”, The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

One needn't read Kojève or Fukuyama to no longer be man.

True, the age will get darker, but that doesn’t prevent me from inventing new sources of light. Besides, it’s later than we think, since we have gotten used to the dusk.