Christian Metaphysics & Neoplatonism has 24 ratings and 1 review. Christian said: Very interesting analysis, particularly when he actually touches on Plo. Christian Metaphysics and Neoplatonism. Albert Camus with Ron Srigley, trans and introduction, and Rémi Brague, epilogue. South Bend, IN. Albert Camus’ moral philosophy and his search for a humanistic ethics find their basic premises in the academic dissertation that he wrote on Christian.

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Christian Metaphysics & Neoplatonism (Eric Voegelin Institute Studies in Religion & Politics)

Log In Sign Up. Albert Camus, Christian Metaphysics and Neoplatonism. University of Missouri Press, The handwritten title on a surviving typescript calls it Hellenism and Christianity: Augustine, which gives a slightly better indication of the young author’s preoccupations.

He aims to find what is original about Christianity, and then how it was combined with Greek reason, via Augustine’s appropriation of Plotinian Neoplatonism, to produce both doctrinal Christianity and Christian metaphysics. It is an intriguing episode in the long history of appropriations of Augustine’s thought, opening a window on neoplaotnism scholarly basis of Camus lifelong attraction to and rejection of Catholic Christianity, which he largely identified with Augustinianism.

Christian metaphysics and neoplatonism – University of Missouri-St. Louis Libraries Archives

As scholarship, it is apprentice-work, both derivative and not quite reliable. On the other ans, as Camus’ first engagement with themes that would remain central to his own philosophy, it is fascinating. Here one sees Camus operating as patristic scholar, quoting Scripture, the Apostolic Fathers, Justin Martyr, Hippolytus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian and Athanasius interestingly, not Irenaeus or any of the Greek fathers after Athanasiusas well as Plotinus, all in French, and Augustine, mostly in Latin often inexact.

He sees Augustine’s Neoplatonism as an unlikely fusion of incompatible commitments, a “second revelation” that combines the Christian obsession with evil and salvation, sin and grace, with a Hellenic emphasis on coherence, order, limit and reason.


Camus identifies the Incarnation as the “center of Christian thought” p. But for Camus, Incarnation does not signal a divine commitment to the goodness of the material world but hope for a spiritual kingdom in which to find salvation from its evils, sin and especially death.

Its meaning is summed up in the cross, “the terrifying image of torture that Christianity has erected as a symbol” p. One hears Camus’ own preoccupation with the problem of death in his description of early Christian pessimism in the face of “the humiliation and anguish of the flesh” and “the physical terror before this appalling outcome” of death p.

Camus’ counter-portrait of Hellenism is strikingly incoherent.

Albert Camus on Christian Metaphysics and Neoplatonism | Larson | Prajñā Vihāra

Much of the contrast he develops between Christianity and Hellenism depends on the old Schillerian portrait of the cheerful, innocent Greeks, “the Greece of light” as he calls it p.

But at the same time Camus was also absorbing the newer, Nietzschean portrait of “the Greece of nsoplatonism which he takes to be a pessimistic strand of Hellenism represented by the Greek mystery cults and strengthened by the influx of oriental religions in the Roman empire.

This dark side of Hellenism, with its deep desire for God, opens the Mediterranean world to the Christian Gospel. Gnosticism represents for Camus a kind of misfire, an failed attempt to combine Christianity and Hellenism by solving Christian problems of salvation using Greek formulas of knowledge. This relaxation of the harsh cxmus of reason, making room for an emotional desire for God to be cast in Greek logical forms, is also essential to the Athanasian doctrine of the Trinity as Camus understands it.

Then comes Augustine, like an Algerian from Camus’ lyrical essays, “highly passionate, sensual. Greek in his metapphysics for coherence, Christian in the anxieties of his sensitivities” p.

Camus’ Christian Metaphysics and Neoplatonism

His concept of the intelligible Word is thoroughly Plotinian, but the union of Word with flesh in the Incarnation is of course miraculous, contradictory, a sheer fact of history–in a word, Christian p. Moreover, Augustine makes a dogma of the Christian sense of faith as emotional dependence, giving us the doctrines of original sin and an arbitrary, predestined grace.


Ever afterward, the term “grace,” with its overtones of human inadequacy, humiliation and dependence on God, sums up everything Camus finds objectionable in Christianity. A long translator’s introduction sets this early work in the context of Camus’ oeuvre, particularly The Myth of Sisyphus and The Anv.

McBride’s Camus is more familiar–the atheist whom Christians love, because his philosophy of the absurd rests on the longing for an ultimate intelligibility that is missing from the world only because God does not exist. Srigley’s Camus is more Nietzschean, less captive to nostalgia for Christianity, looking to the ancient Greeks as noplatonism alternative both to Christianity and to its offspring, modernity.

The incoherences of Camus’ immature scholarship lend support to both views, but in the end a Nietzschean interpretation seems a better fit.

Young Camus clearly does not like the murky emotional dependence he sees in Christian faith and grace; its only attraction is the promise of a solution for the problem of death, which he evidently treats, already in this text, as a temptation to be resisted in the name of lucidity.

In his concluding portrait of Augustine, his fellow Algerian converted to a new faith, he sums up all the emotional and metaphysical power he rejects. Phillip Cary Eastern University. Remember me on this computer.

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