Monday, May 30, 2005

French Philosophy

I just got the following email from some group of French "philosophers":
If you can read French, go directly to:

French philosophers fight back!
Determined to oppose the slanderous campaign which followed the publication of the outrageous essay by Emmanuel Faye (insinuating Martin Heidegger to have inspired Hitler and Heydrich), some of the most eminent french philosophers, translators and experts of Heidegger's works and thought, answer online in a special project put out on the website dedicated to litterature and philosophy entitled "Paroles des Jours".

A manifesto in 13 languages :

is being sent to departments of philosophy and philosophical sites all over the world.
Sorry if you already received it or if you don't feel involved.

I then realized why France produces such crap that it calls "Philosophy". The reason is that they spend so much time sucking up to their heros that they have no time for real original thinking.

In contrast take analytic Anglo-American philosophy. The hero for us is Frege. Frege started philosophy of language, modern logic, philosophy of mathematics, then philosophy of mind. Frege was also a proto-Nazi. He was a virulent anti-Semite, and anti-Catholic. That is all clear. We know this because he left over a diary where he wrote some real bizarre things (only recently translated to English by someone I know). Is what he said defensible? I am sure with the right twists of logic (which would be real ironic) you can construe him as not evil. But for analytic philosophers, that is hardly the point. Maybe he was a bad guy, maybe he wasn't. Who cares? A philosopher is supposed to really be above that. In France they have not gotten past this hero worship. In France, and Germany too, it is way more important for a philosopher to believe in the goodness of the greats than to do philosophy. That is the equivalent of talking about the sex lives of politicians and calling yourself a political theorist. Political theory is about countries and their interactions, etc. Philosophy is about arguments, not their proponents. The sooner the continent stops confusing gossip with thought, the better off they will be.

Added 6/8/05: As if French philosophers don't hero worship enough, a book about the film of Derrida just came out with the complete screenplay.

Also, keep in mind that Faye's book was not even the only book this year to come out on this topic. A more apologetic reading was given by James Phillips. (Though this book actually contains philosophy, not just comments about Heidegger.) Moreover, Heidegger was also the subject of a well received "documentary" The Ister.

No comments: