Facing the absurd: on Lev Shestov's Angel of Death

Ogden, M. G. (2019) Facing the absurd: on Lev Shestov's Angel of Death. European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling, 21(1), pp. 5-21. (doi: 10.1080/13642537.2018.1563907)

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2018 marks one hundred and fifty two years since the birth of the Russian religious existential thinker Lev Shestov (1866–1938), whose name is counted amongst the most influential European philosophers of the 20th century. A paradoxical and provocative writer, Lev Shestov searched for ways to diminish the burden of psychological and existential suffering in the life of the individual. His parable about receiving ‘the mysterious gift’ of ‘a new pair of eyes’ from the Angel of Death engaged the existential problems of facing uncertainty, the unknown and death with the possibility of a creative transformation, which could allow an individual to see things outside the law of reason and ‘preconceived self-evident truths.’ Drawing on Shestov’s analysis of Dostoevsky, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, as well as Camus and Lovtsky’s observations, I argue that Shestov’s interest in the human psyche manifested in his writing, in which he often strove to ‘psychoanalyse’ his characters, found common ground with the psychoanalytical approach. However, unlike Freud’s psychoanalysis, which was grounded in reason and analytical systematisation, Shestov’s philosophy aspired to find a cure to enable an individual to withstand the pressure of the absurd reality of human existence by breaking free from the constraints of rational thought.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ogden, Dr Marina
Authors: Ogden, M. G.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Journal Name:European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN (Online):1469-5901
Published Online:20 February 2019

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