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Article

A superfluous man

Russian Studies in Philosophy. 2016. Vol. 54. No. 2. P. 113-128.

The article considers a fundamental contradiction between a hypertrophied desire to freely pursue one's goals and the insuperability of fate that is inherent in Mikhail Lermontov's novel Hero of Our Time [Geroi nashego vremeni] in which the drive for “freedom” precipitates meaningless rebellion. The collision between thought (awareness contradiction) and the vital impulse (élan vital) causes the identity of the hero to split: thought turns out to be fruitless and life hopeless. This contradiction is symptomatic of cultural degeneration, and of the transformation of cultural values into “simulacra”—the “superfluous man” is a simulacrum of identity.