Current French Philosophy in Difficult Times

A special issue of Philosophies (ISSN 2409-9287).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2022) | Viewed by 19619

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Philosophy, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, CO 80918, USA
Interests: philosophy

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Guest Editor
Department of Philosophy and Religion, Appalachin State University, Boone, NC 28608, USA
Interests: contemporary continental philosophy; subjectivization; aesthetics of race; gender; disability; social practices and power relations, critical race theory, philosophy and language

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

As philosophers engaged with current French philosophy, we are profoundly aware of the difficult times in which we live. This is also because of the pandemic and its new and dangerous variants. Given the general feeling of crisis, many pre-existing issues have gained new prominence. This includes rising populism and nationalism, looming environmental catastrophe, forced migration and its limitations, the spread of disinformation and accompanying paranoia, limitations on freedom of thought and speech, and the tenuous position in society of thought in general and philosophy in particular. Additionally, we are concerned about the general disregard for anything new, as well as the ensuing hesitation to posit new structures and ideas, and to examine previously neglected methods and subjects in philosophy. If we are situated between the static order of the past and the seeming chaos of the future, the question will be, “How can we embrace complexity?”, that is, “How can we, without falling into chaos, make use of its resources to allow for the emergence of new ideas capable of taking measure of these difficult times?”. Therefore, this Issue does not seek to replicate standard readings of contemporary French philosophy as presented by often cited primary and secondary sources. Instead, it seeks innovative approaches to current French philosophy from creative and imaginative scholars who wish to show what is possible in these difficult times.

Prof. Dr. Dorothea Olkowski
Dr. Michael Eng
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • subjectivization
  • affective life
  • aesthetics
  • language
  • race
  • gender
  • social practices
  • cognition
  • complexity

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

15 pages, 311 KiB  
Article
Bensaïd’s Jeanne: Strategic Mythopoesis for Difficult Times
by Bryan Smyth
Philosophies 2023, 8(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies8010012 - 31 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1574
Abstract
In this essay, I consider the significance of Daniel Bensaïd’s work on Jeanne d’Arc with regard to dealing with the “difficult times” in which we live. (1) I first consider some of the background in early critical theory in order to show that [...] Read more.
In this essay, I consider the significance of Daniel Bensaïd’s work on Jeanne d’Arc with regard to dealing with the “difficult times” in which we live. (1) I first consider some of the background in early critical theory in order to show that Bensaïd’s aim to recover Benjamin’s notion of a “weak messianic power” requires following through with Horkheimer and Adorno’s critique of enlightenment, and that this implies a critical rehabilitation of myth and mythopoesis. (2) Approaching Bensaïd’s account of Jeanne in the light of Blumenberg’s notion of “work on myth”, I show how he portrays her in a way that establishes a concrete connection between the discordant temporalities of contingency and necessity, but that this is best understood in the radically immanent terms of prereflective embodied action as based on the corporeal sedimentation of an intercorporeal ethical habitus. Bensaïd’s account of Jeanne thus offers a new lens of historical perception that can help reveal otherwise hidden possibilities for transformative historical agency in embodied coexistence today. (3) By way of conclusion, I briefly consider the deeper meaning and significance of this in terms of offering a non-Promethean mythico-political framework. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current French Philosophy in Difficult Times)
16 pages, 263 KiB  
Article
Tracing the Influence of Simone de Beauvoir in Judith Butler’s Work
by Deniz Durmuş
Philosophies 2022, 7(6), 137; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7060137 - 5 Dec 2022
Viewed by 5870
Abstract
Beauvoir’s existentialist ethics relates to and informs eminently contemporary accounts of feminist ethics in the Western continental feminist canon. To date only a few scholars have emphasized this connection. In this work, I show the centrality of Beauvoirian philosophy to contemporary philosophical discussions [...] Read more.
Beauvoir’s existentialist ethics relates to and informs eminently contemporary accounts of feminist ethics in the Western continental feminist canon. To date only a few scholars have emphasized this connection. In this work, I show the centrality of Beauvoirian philosophy to contemporary philosophical discussions by elucidating the influence of Beauvoir’s existentialist ethics on Judith Butler’s feminist philosophy. While I acknowledge other possible influences, especially by French philosophers, on Butler’s work, I find it important to emphasize Beauvoir’s contributions as they have not received the attention they deserve. My paper shows how Beauvoir’s account of agency as an ambiguous becoming reverberates in Butler’s theory of gender performativity developed in her early writings. I consider Butler’s theory of gender performativity to have existentialist roots based on the existentialist perception of the subject as a becoming that never coincides with itself. I also discuss how Butler takes on some basic ethical questions which Beauvoir already accentuates in her writings. I focus on three main points of intersection between the two philosophers, which are vulnerability and interconnectedness, violence and inevitability of ethical failure, and finally the ambiguity and opaqueness that come with situated ethics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current French Philosophy in Difficult Times)
16 pages, 251 KiB  
Article
Building a Way: Becoming Active in One’s Own Subjectivation through Deleuze and Xunzi
by Michael J. Ardoline
Philosophies 2022, 7(5), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7050098 - 1 Sep 2022
Viewed by 1711
Abstract
While Continental thought has no shortage of criticism and diagnosis of social, political, and ethical issues, it tends to avoid offering guidance on what to do about such issues. In Reconsidering the Life of Power, Garrison argues for a radical new alternative [...] Read more.
While Continental thought has no shortage of criticism and diagnosis of social, political, and ethical issues, it tends to avoid offering guidance on what to do about such issues. In Reconsidering the Life of Power, Garrison argues for a radical new alternative for the Continental tradition: it ought to stage an encounter with the Confucian tradition. This is because, he argues, both traditions have at the center of their political thought a focus on the social formation of subjects, that is, the process of subjectivation. While Continental thought often takes this process to empty the subject of all but nominal forms of autonomy, the Confucian tradition sees subjectivation as the very source of real human autonomy. This paper explores one such possible encounter by synthesizing Deleuze’s account of individuation with the constructivist reading of Xunzi’s view that artifice is the source of human autonomy and virtue. Ultimately, I argue that coupling Deleuze’s defense of the possibility of the New with Xunzi’s transformational account of human nature provides an understanding of subjectivation that is optimistic about the shaping of human autonomy as well as practical guidance for how to do so. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current French Philosophy in Difficult Times)
14 pages, 1022 KiB  
Article
Diabolical Diagramming: Deleuze, Dupuy, and Catastrophe
by Corry Shores
Philosophies 2022, 7(4), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7040074 - 4 Jul 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2439
Abstract
Jean-Pierre Dupuy argues that our failure to prevent the looming climate catastrophe results from a faulty metaphysics of time: because we believe the present can proceed down one of the many branches that extend into the future, some of which bypass the catastrophe, [...] Read more.
Jean-Pierre Dupuy argues that our failure to prevent the looming climate catastrophe results from a faulty metaphysics of time: because we believe the present can proceed down one of the many branches that extend into the future, some of which bypass the catastrophe, we do not think it is absolutely urgent to take drastic action now. His solution to this problem of demotivation is “enlightened doomsaying” in “projected time”, which means that we affirm the coming catastrophe as something real in the future rather than being a mere possibility; thus, we regard it seriously enough that we are motivated to take the needed actions to prevent it. One potential obstacle to this proposal is that it requires the forming of consensus and coordination with the powerful players who benefit from our current path and whose apparently near-total grip on this catastrophic future may itself discourage action. We then consider an alternative model based on Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy of the present–future relation. Although it has the branching structure that Dupuy is wary of, it may not suffer from the same problem of demotivation on account of the way it conceives the complex structure of the present event. For this reason, the Deleuzian model may be more suited to motivating action in a world where the future must be fought for rather than unanimously agreed upon. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current French Philosophy in Difficult Times)
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21 pages, 318 KiB  
Article
Desire, Delirium, and Revolutionary Love: Deleuzian Feminist Possibilities
by Janae Sholtz
Philosophies 2022, 7(3), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7030061 - 8 Jun 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3321
Abstract
In Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus volumes, revolution, social transformation, and the possibility of a new future are all linked to desire: minimally, to the freeing of desire from the false refuges of Oedipalization and its constructs of molar sexuality. Everywhere, they seek to [...] Read more.
In Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus volumes, revolution, social transformation, and the possibility of a new future are all linked to desire: minimally, to the freeing of desire from the false refuges of Oedipalization and its constructs of molar sexuality. Everywhere, they seek to uncover the potential of desire, sexuality, and love, asking us to consider that what we take to be the most personal is impersonal, how the most intimate is the collective and social. Thus, it calls us to rethink our material and affective relations and reconceptualize the sphere of intimacy itself. I develop the concepts of delirium and revolutionary love, suggesting that we interpret these as perpetual processes of transformation and conjugation, initiating relations of intimacy and advocate for more nuanced, complex forms of subjectivity and to become more sensitive to the varying relational complexes within a given space. Revolutionary love gains its newness from both the extension of Deleuzian desire and from its return to several heritages of feminisms which have themselves been marginalized in the forward sweep of new materialist and posthumanist discussions. The point is to sharpen our focus on the conditions that produce certain social bodies, certain kinds of consciousness, and certain molar identities—not to deny the realities of the socius or reject subjectivity, but to move from a majoritarian to a minoritarian politics that widens our purview of what forces and desires exist within these spaces so that we may transform and build less fascistic, more attuned relational complexes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current French Philosophy in Difficult Times)
13 pages, 259 KiB  
Article
Vectors of Thought: François Delaporte, the Cholera of 1832 and the Problem of Error
by Samuel Talcott
Philosophies 2022, 7(3), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7030056 - 26 May 2022
Viewed by 1726
Abstract
This paper resists the virality of contemporary paranoia by turning to “French epistemology”, a philosophical ethos that embraces uncertainty and complexity by registering the transformative impact of scientific knowledge on thought. Despite its popular uses describing phenomena of communication today, the idea of [...] Read more.
This paper resists the virality of contemporary paranoia by turning to “French epistemology”, a philosophical ethos that embraces uncertainty and complexity by registering the transformative impact of scientific knowledge on thought. Despite its popular uses describing phenomena of communication today, the idea of virality comes from biomedicine. This paper, therefore, investigates the extent to which an epidemiological concept of viral transmission—the disease vector—can comprehend and encourage new possibilities of thought beyond paranoia. Briefly, I attempt to analyze thought as a vector. I pursue this by examining Delaporte’s important, but neglected, study of the 1832 Parisian cholera epidemic. First elucidating his reconstruction of the ways tentative epistemological progress intertwined with and supported projects of working-class and colonial control. My vectorial analysis then considers how his argument infects contemporary readers with doubts that undo the bases of paranoia. I pursue this analysis further via a methodological examination of Delaporte’s study as both carrier of predecessors’ methods and host in which they alter, becoming newly infectious. I conclude by reflecting on this formulation of thought as disease vector and what Delaporte’s singular treatment of the problem of error reveals about an ethos committed to registering the impact of knowledge on thought. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current French Philosophy in Difficult Times)
17 pages, 314 KiB  
Article
The Politician: Action and Creation in the Practical Ontology of Gilles Deleuze
by Julian Ferreyra
Philosophies 2022, 7(3), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7030050 - 6 May 2022
Viewed by 1734
Abstract
This paper addresses an action that, from a Deleuzian perspective, is capable of modifying the despairing current social situation in which we are immersed, through the creation of political Ideas. Even though Deleuze conceives social Ideas as vast civilizing structures, we propose to [...] Read more.
This paper addresses an action that, from a Deleuzian perspective, is capable of modifying the despairing current social situation in which we are immersed, through the creation of political Ideas. Even though Deleuze conceives social Ideas as vast civilizing structures, we propose to bring into the political domain the logic of other acts of creation, such as the artistic or the philosophical, where the monumental coexists with minor figures that are nonetheless capable of introducing novelty into the world. The politician is the figure of those who are capable of having an Idea that allows to break the habits that perpetuate the current situation, and gives consistency to the intensive forms of life that continually create and dissolve themselves in the flow of becoming. Thus, macro- and micro-politics do not oppose each other, but offer in their immanence an alternative to social nihilism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current French Philosophy in Difficult Times)
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