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.
Subjects: Philosophy, Psychology
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