Critique Janvier 1980, no. 392. - review by Peter Dews

Peter Dews

The Latest Revolution

Critique Janvier 1980, no. 392.

 

The Parisian Left Bank is accustomed to rapid changes in intellectual fashion. Shortly after the Liberation, Catholics and Communists found themselves allied in their denunciation of the existentialist doctrines which had enthralled the youth of the capital, while in the early 60s phenomenologists and existential Marxists were in turn obliged to denounce structuralism as a veiled apologetics for the new technocracy. Since about the middle of the 70s a fresh upheaval has been taking place in Paris, this time however with significant differences. For the latest revolution has consisted primarily not in the replacement of one set of philosophical premises by another, but in an invasion of the publishing houses, the press and – more importantly – the popular medium of television by a new substitute for philosophy, composed in roughly equal parts of metaphysics, political journalism, and sibylline imprecation.

The philosophical profession in France has had some difficulty in placing itself in relation to this development. Did these writings belong to some genre other than philosophy? – in which case they could be disdainfully ignored. Or did they represent a teratological growth within philosophy? – in which case they

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