Philosophy in Turbulent Times

Philosophy in Turbulent Times: Canguilhem, Sartre, Foucault, Althusser, Deleuze, Derrida

Elisabeth ROUDINESCO
TRANSLATED BY William McCUAIG
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 208
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/roud14300
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  • Book Info
    Philosophy in Turbulent Times
    Book Description:

    For Elisabeth Roudinesco, a historian of psychoanalysis and one of France's leading intellectuals, Canguilhem, Sartre, Foucault, Althusser, Deleuze, and Derrida represent a "great generation" of French philosophers who accomplished remarkable work and lived incredible lives. These troubled and innovative thinkers endured World War II and the cultural and political revolution of the 1960s, and their cultural horizon was dominated by Marxism and psychoanalysis, though they were by no means strict adherents to the doctrines of Marx and Freud.

    Roudinesco knew many of these intellectuals personally, and she weaves an account of their thought through lived experience and reminiscences. Canguilhem, for example, was a distinguished philosopher of science who had a great influence on Foucault's exploration of sanity and madness-themes Althusser lived in a notorious personal drama. And in dramatizing the life of Freud for the screen, Sartre fundamentally altered his own philosophical approach to psychoanalysis.

    Roudinesco launches a passionate defense of Canguilhem, Sartre, Foucault, Althusser, Deleuze, and Derrida against the "new philosophers" of the late 1970s and 1980s, who denounced the work-and sometimes the private lives-of this great generation. Roudinesco refutes attempts to tar them, as well as the Marxist and left-wing tradition in general, with the brush of Soviet-style communism. In Freudian theory and the philosophy of radical commitment, she sees a bulwark against the kind of manipulative, pill-prescribing, and normalizing psychology that aims to turn individuals into mindless consumers. Intense, clever, and persuasive, Philosophy in Turbulent Times captivates with the dynamism of French thought in the twentieth century.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51885-7
    Subjects: Philosophy, Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. INTRODUCTION: {In Defense of Critical Thought}
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    We are certainly living in strange times. The commemoration of great events, great men, great intellectual achievements, and great virtues never stops; we’ve had the year of Rimbaud, the year of Victor Hugo, the year of Jules Verne. And yet, never have revisionist attacks on the foundations of every discipline, every doctrine, every emancipatory adventure enjoyed such prestige. Feminism, socialism, and psychoanalysis are violently rejected, and Freud, Marx, and Nietzsche are pronounced dead, along with every kind of critique of the norm. All we are entitled to do, it would seem, is to take stock and draw up assessments, as...

  4. NOTES ON THE TEXT
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. 1. GEORGES CANGUILHEM: {A PHILOSOPHY OF HEROISM}
    (pp. 1-32)

    In the last article he approved for publication, two months before dying, Michel Foucault expressed his deep respect for Georges Canguilhem, emphasizing the position he had held in the history of philosophy in France:

    This man, whose oeuvre was austere, narrowly bounded by choice, and carefully focused on a particular area within the history of science—which is not, in any case, regarded as a spectacular discipline—still found himself involved, to a certain extent, in debates in which he himself was careful never to intervene. But screen out Canguilhem and you will not be able to make much sense...

  6. 2. JEAN-PAUL SARTRE: {PSYCHOANALYSIS ON THE SHADOWY BANKS OF THE DANUBE}
    (pp. 33-64)

    On the eve of world war two, jean-paul sartre had already published Nausea, one of the major novels of the twentieth century. In it he narrates the subjective epic of an individual, one Antoine Roquentin, whose profound melancholy is linked to the melancholy of a world in disintegration.

    Having resided in Berlin and witnessed the triumph of Nazism, Sartre apparently wanted to express metaphysical truths he had derived from his reading of the great phenomenological texts of the period, from Husserl to Heidegger, in the form of an excursion into self-analysis by a narrator who is adrift. In the course...

  7. 3. MICHEL FOUCAULT: {READINGS OF HISTORY OF MADNESS}
    (pp. 65-96)

    In the years following the publication of History of Madness criticism of it by psychiatrists, psychologists, and historians of psychopathology was both aggressive and ambivalent. Michel Foucault was denouncing all the ideals informing their knowledge, shattering the longue durée of Philippe Pinel’s humanitarianism, and declaring war on all varieties of institutional reformism: “This book did not set out to do the history of mad folk alongside that of their counterparts, the reasonable folk, nor the history of reason in its opposition to madness.The goal was to do the history of the incessant, ever-modified division between them. . . . It...

  8. 4. LOUIS ALTHUSSER: {THE MURDER SCENE}
    (pp. 97-132)

    Alfred hitchcock shot murder scenes like love scenes and love scenes like murder scenes. In each of his films, with ferocious skill, the master of suspense places the viewer in a troubling situation, sometimes making him the author of a crime of which he is no more than the virtual witness, sometimes the central character in a carnal relationship in which, by definition, she can never participate. As for Hitchcock’s heroes, whether killers or victims, Prince Charmings or Cinderellas, spies or assassins, they are always prey to a sort of logic of surrender to impulse that makes them strangers to...

  9. 5. GILLES DELEUZE: {ANTI-OEDIPAL VARIATIONS}
    (pp. 133-142)

    “One day, perhaps, the century will be deleuzean.” Michel Foucault made this prophecy in 1969, when Difference and Repetition and The Logic of Sense were published.¹ The philosopher of the pathways of night was implying that, of all those with whom he had debated, Gilles Deleuze alone would one day have the privilege, not of entering the Pantheon or founding a school, but of being seen as one who had renewed philosophy, and thus as one of the greatest of the moderns.

    Strongly committed to the left, never having been either a phenomenologist or a critical reader of Heidegger, Deleuze...

  10. 6. JACQUES DERRIDA: {THE MOMENT OF DEATH}
    (pp. 143-154)

    The time has come to bid farewell (ADIEU) to the dead, to these philosophers of rebellion so different from one another, who never stopped arguing with and loving one another, and whose heirs, like it or not, we are. That is why I close this book by rendering homage to Jacques Derrida, to the man who was my friend for twenty years. The last survivor of this generation, he was the last to die, but also the only one to have bid his own farewell, in a book,¹ to most of those who formed this generation, and to many others...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 155-176)
  12. SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 177-184)