How the French Think: An Affectionate Portrait of an by Sudhir Hazareesingh

By Sudhir Hazareesingh

Why are the French such an excellent country? Why do they suspect they're so unheard of? The French take pleasure within the proven fact that their heritage and tradition have decisively formed the values and beliefs of the trendy global. French principles are not any much less precise of their shape: whereas French idea is summary, trendy and infrequently opaque, it has constantly been daring and artistic, and pushed through the relentless pursuit of innovation.

In How the French Think, the internationally-renowned historian Sudhir Hazareesingh tells the epic and tumultuous tale of French highbrow proposal from Descartes, Rousseau, and Auguste Comte to Sartre, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and Derrida. He exhibits how French pondering has formed primary Westerns principles approximately freedom, rationality, and justice, and the way the French state of mind is in detail attached to their very own approach of life—in specific to the French tendency in the direction of individualism, their ardour for nature, their get together in their old background, and their fascination with demise. Hazareesingh explores the French veneration of dissent and skepticism, from Voltaire to the Dreyfus Affair and past; the obsession with the safety of French language and tradition; the rhetorical aptitude embodied through the philosophes, which today’s intellectuals nonetheless attempt to recapture; the wonderful effect of French postmodern thinkers, together with Foucault and Barthes, on postwar American schooling and existence, and in addition the turning out to be French nervousness a couple of globalized global order below American hegemony.

How the French Think sweeps apart generalizations and simple stereotypes to supply an incisive and revealing exploration of the French highbrow culture. Steeped in a colourful variety of resources, and written with heat and humor, this publication will entice all fanatics of France and of eu tradition.

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Extra resources for How the French Think: An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectual People

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34 Despite their best efforts to offer a collective (and optimistic) horizon for their doctrine, existentialist thinkers struggled to define their conception of the free life and the ensemble of values and virtues they thought desirable. The “humanism” to which Sartre appealed in 1945 was essentially a reprise of German idealism, and in the ensuing years he abandoned his project of constructing a system of morality. The solution eventually came through a progressive ethic of liberation—an obvious philosophical extension of the experiences of the Resistance.

44 There was a certain tension among these different communist conceptions of reason. The humanist version reflected the party’s genuine belief in the value of learning and its commitment (through its extensive network of associations) to the popular dissemination of French high culture; in this respect, the communists were the true inheritors of the republican tradition. The “scientific” Descartes, however, was potentially problematic, as he tapped into the party’s dogmatic instincts on fundamental moral and philosophical questions.

But this principle removes man from his solitude. It is a common theme which gives value to all human endeavors. ”37 In her philosophy Beauvoir drew considerably from the Resistance (like Sartre, she did this partly as an overcompensation for her political inactivity during the war years). The heavy potential cost of freedom was illustrated in her 1945 novel Le Sang des autres (The blood of others), where the character Blomart, the head of a Resistance network, wrestles with the dilemma of sending those under his command to their deaths.

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