Abdennour Bidar and the “Absolute Ego”

In “L’Islam face a la mort de Dieu”, the french philosopher Abdennour Bidar returns to the writings of Iqbal. They would provide keys for transcending the limitations of religion, what he refers to as “an exit from religion” (the expression comes from Gauchet) but without a disenchantment. One may wonder if it is not the reverse that we are witnessing the contemporary Islamic world: a disenchantment but without an exit from religion.

Bidar sees in Iqbal’s conception of God as “Absolute Ego” a revolutionary concept with might both free us from the limitations of traditional religiosity and from the pathological sides of modernity which have translated into the secular religions, capitalism and the dream of an unlimited control over nature through techno-science. The question remains open though, whether it is by deepening the modern metaphysics of subjectivity that new sacred horizons will open up. Of if on the contrary, it is by breaking the spell of subjectivism that man can be reconciled with the Sacred.

Significantly enough, Bidar professes a spiritual humanism “after the death of God”, the God of religion. But his position oscillates between an experience of the Self, akin to Vedanta or Akbarian Sufism, and a more problematic exaltation of man, which reflects the influence of Nietzsche or even Feuerbach. Bidar reverses the idea of fana, of an “extinction of man in God”, into an “extinction of God in man”. After the time of the gods, comes the time of the Perfect Man who has become the successor of the gods. But does not this amount to suggesting that God is only a projection of man, of his virtual (or imagined) perfection? Bidar seems to fall short of criticizing the very foundation of humanism.

Bidar ends up with a Promethean millenarianism. He quotes Iqbal but also Aurobindo or Teillard de Chardin. As with Hegel, it seems also that to the extant that he makes God a step in a process of man’s becoming conscious of himself, he cannot help relativizing God or even eliminating Him.  His Muslim existentialism tends toward a secularization of the core assumptions of Islam.

We can perceive a (creative) tension in his writings. We can hope that he will clarify his position in his future works.

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2 thoughts on “Abdennour Bidar and the “Absolute Ego”

  1. Pingback: Vivons-nous dans un monde désenchanté ? | A post-secular age

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