InvestigationThe entry into Western modernity was marked by a major paradigm shift: belief in God was no longer taken for granted. But the bankruptcy of the secular ideals that left religious beliefs, by depriving the individual of a metaphysical horizon, gave way to a void.
“Do I believe in God?” Yes, when I work Matisse wrote in 1947. He, the agnostic painter, is about to literally set off in body and soul in what he would consider his greatest masterpiece, the mass of sacred art he has thought and refined. In the smallest details: Rosary chapel in Vence. Picasso is surprised: “But why would you do these things? I would agree if you were a believer. Otherwise, I think you have no moral right to do so.” And Mattis to confess to him this: “Essentially, Picasso, we must not be smart. You are like me: what we all strive for in art is the climate of our first company.”
This conversation between these two sacred beasts in the drawing says a lot about the paradigm shift that characterizes XXe Century: Faith—embedded in God, understood in the most classical sense of the term—is no longer self-evident. And if adherence to Christianity has so far shaped society in all directions, from politics to intellectual, artistic and cultural life, then this century will be a century of transformation. In a very symbolic way, the law begins with the Separation of Churches and State Act, passed in 1905, which lays the foundations for a secular society. “Very Christian France” is dead, long live freedom of conscience!
A hard-earned freedom, after centuries of religious control over French society. But freedom that is not without creating a faint nostalgia, a metaphysical hiatus, as Matisse’s confidence in Picasso suggests. Feeling that we have forever left the Age of Innocence, where we spontaneously believed what we learned. Where we naturally depended on God. “The massive absence, everywhere present”, Regretted by philosopher Alan.
Certainly, such a rupture did not happen overnight. It is the result of a slow boom that began in France in the sixteenth centurye A century to peak today, it seems. At least this is the observation made by the philosopher Camille Riquier, who, in 2020, published an article worthy of its title Diagnostic: We no longer know how to believe (Disclay de Breuer). for him, God’s question (…) It has been uprooted from so many pronouns, that some do not even know the meaning of “faith.”
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