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Philosophy As FictionSelf, Deception, and Knowledge in Proust$
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Joshua Landy

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195169393

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195169393.001.0001

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Self-Deception (Albertine's Kimono)

Self-Deception (Albertine's Kimono)

(p.85) 2 Self-Deception (Albertine's Kimono)
Philosophy As Fiction

Joshua Landy (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

While the first stage of Proust's training consists in bringing the acolyte to recognize the importance of “subjective truth” — rule-governed distortion of the data of sense by an individual perspective — over objective fact, the second stage goes further, introducing this time the necessity of full-blown self-deception. If Marcel's experiences of love and jealousy are anything to go by, knowledge of others is often inaccessible and sometimes unendurable. Should we wish to sustain love, therefore — and there are good reasons for doing so — imagination and illusion are going to be indispensable. Yet our illusions must also be lucid, if we are to maintain our dignity; and our illusions are fragile, requiring convoluted strategies for their protection. This is what lies behind the otherwise unaccountable behavior of Marcel with regard to Albertine, object of his love and fierce suspicion. On the one hand, Marcel obsessively investigates her behavior; on the other, he bypasses opportunities that seem to promise him decisive information, and routinely relies on sources that he knows to be untrustworthy. The only possible explanation is that Marcel, at a certain level, does not want to know the truth; if he appears to seek it, it is only in order to give himself the impression that he is attempting to resolve his doubts. Thus, his will to knowledge, as Nietzsche would say, paradoxically ends up serving his will to ignorance, being itself driven by a second-order will to ignorance: a drive to remain unaware of just how much one does not know.

Keywords:   love, jealousy, Albertine Simonet, Friedrich Nietzsche, lucid self-delusion, will to ignorance, will to knowledge, necessary illusion, subjective truth

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