I Don't understand the following statement (from Pierre Raymond's La Philosophie dans tous ses états):

In french: Par le désir, les hommes seraient ouverts à une surnature, disproportionnée comme eux au monde qui les entoure.

My english translation: Through desire, men could be opened to things superior to nature (supernatural), like them, disproportionate to the World that surrounds them.

2 Answers 2


I know nothing about Raymond, so this answer may be laughably simplistic. But out of context, at least, the statement appears rather straightforward.

Desire by any definition is for that which one does not possess. That which is absent, not present, unavailable.

In the broadest sense, that would mean all that does not presently exist in the "world that surrounds us." If we take this to be the physical, "natural" world observable to science, then the longing for this absent desiderata leads to the "supernatural."

This is a common interpretation of the appeal of religions, divinity, the afterlife, or the purposeful "protosciences" of magic. How Raymond treats the ontological status of such realms is not clear from the quote.

Such imaginative desires, exceeding the constraints of "nature" and "experience," are presumably unique to humankind, thus rendering us "disproportional" to nature as we find it. The square peg in all round holisms.

Such "disproportionality" may become institutionalized in representations of the "supernatural." Or, alternately, may supersede the "natural" through science and technology, methodically actualizing capacities that would surely have appeared supernatural in the past.

Thus, as Hegel observes, we "rationalize the actual" and "actualize the rational." The "natural" itself is remade by our interminable desire to supersede it. I trust that others, familiar with Raymond, will add nuance or correctives to this answer.


I don't have any context, but it seems here that the use of "sur" in "surnature" is more similar to its use in "surhumain" as in "il a fait un effort surhumain", as opposed to "surnaturel". What he means here is not that men can go outside of nature, but somehow more than nature or above nature. He might be talking about something similar to Nietzsche's ubermensh.

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