We Have Lost Christopher Hitchens

Terrible news:

Christopher Hitchens—the incomparable critic, masterful rhetorician, fiery wit, and fearless bon vivant—died today at the age of 62. Hitchens was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in the spring of 2010, just after the publication of his memoir, Hitch-22, and began chemotherapy soon after. His matchless prose has appeared in Vanity Fair since 1992, when he was named contributing editor.

“Cancer victimhood contains a permanent temptation to be self-centered and even solipsistic,” Hitchens wrote nearly a year ago in Vanity Fair, but his own final labors were anything but: in the last 12 months, he produced for this magazine a piece on U.S.-Pakistani relations in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, a portrait of Joan Didion, an essay on the Private Eyeretrospective at the Victoria and Albert Museum, a prediction about the future of democracy in Egypt, a meditation on the legacy of progressivism in Wisconsin, and a series of frankgraceful, and exquisitely written essays in which he chronicled the physical and spiritual effects of his disease. At the end, Hitchens was more engaged, relentless, hilarious, observant, and intelligent than just about everyone else—just as he had been for the last four decades.

“My chief consolation in this year of living dyingly has been the presence of friends,” he wrote in the June 2011 issue. He died in their presence, too, at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. May his 62 years of living, well, so livingly console the many of us who will miss him dearly.

Your Thoughts? Your Memories of Hitch? Your Considerations of His Legacy? Your Favorite of His Videos and Articles?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Derek

    And so ends the life of one of the most courageous and vibrant men of our age.

  • StevoR

    My condolences to his friends and family.

    The world is much the poorer without him. I will raise a beer or two in his honour tonight. Awful news if hardly unexpected.

    Vale Christopher Hitchens. Farewell and thankyou.

  • HumanisticJones

    I started off of my path from a weak deism into full on atheism after I saw Richard Dawkin’s “Root of All Evil” and read “The God Delusion”. But it was “God is Not Great” by Hitchens that took me out of the mourning for my lost faith period into being proud of getting out and his debates with prominent theists that drove home some of the better arguments against faith. His style had a way of lighting a fire under those that listened to him, and his opponents either feared or respected him because he could stand up to all arguments they threw his way and did it with style.

  • Manly Bowler

    “God is not great” is one of best books I’ve ever read. It opened the door to his writings which I’ve hadn’t noticed so far. The man was a giant of political writing, someone you can’t pass over even if you didn’t agree with him.
    I’d always hoped he would survive the chancer and be around to verbally kick some more butt.
    Farewell, Hitch.

  • Paddy

    One of our most valiant warriors in the fight for reason. This is a sad day, but I’m glad he lived among us.

  • Stacy

    I first became aware of him in 1990, when I read his brilliant article for Harper’s on the (first) Gulf War, Why We are Stuck in the Sand.

    He opposed that war, and wrote masterfully of the history and politics behind it. When he came out in favor of GWB’s Iraq War I was inclined to give his opinion a lot of weight, for a time. After all, he clearly knew a lot about the region. When I grew disillusioned by his arguments in favor of that war, I felt the disappointment you feel when someone you admire lets you down.

    Since then I’ve read him, been pissed at him, sometimes hated him, and been gobsmacked by his eloquence, time and again. I’ll miss him.

    We’ve lost him much too soon.

  • meanmike

    I only became aware of Christopher Hitchens in the last few years, but have enjoyed his thoughts and use of language immensely, and will continue to do so in the future. I could never decide if I preferred reading his works or listening to him speak. He was a master of both.

  • gwen

    Christopher Hitchens is one of the most eloquent wordsmiths I have ever had the privilege of listening to or reading. He will be sorely missed. I shall raise a hearty glass of Johnny Walker to his memory.

  • Purbrookian

    So passes the finest essayist since Montaigne, the sharpest wit since Wilde, and the greatest debater ever.


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