What have we lost by forgetting the teachings of Antiquity? And what can we find out for our own time by rediscovering the Classics?
On 25 June 1984, Michel Foucault died of AIDS-related complications at a hospital in Paris. Since then, his reputation and influence - already great during his lifetime - have not ceased to grow. Whether his subject was asylums, prisons or the history of sexuality, Foucault always tried to understand the organising forces behind prevalent social attitudes, by which a society defines itself, so as to disrupt the existing order. A philosopher as well as a historian, Foucault was an unclassifiable, unpredictable, subversive thinker, and the inventor of a new style of intellectual investigation. He rarely spoke of himself, or of his goals, or of his relations to his own writing, experiences and intellectual development. He did, however, talk about himself in a series of interviews that he gave me in June 1975, a few weeks after the publication of Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Wishing to pay homage to his memory, I have gathered here three of those interviews, which were previously published in the press, along with some of my memories and thoughts about him, writes Roger-Pol Droit. Roger-Pol Droit is a research fellow in philosophy at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and a columnist for the French daily newspaper Le Monde. He is the author of La Compagnie des philosophes, La Compagnie des contemporains, 101 Expériences de philosophie quotidienne and Dernières nouvelles des choses.
"Can you learn anything from ordinary objects the things you use in your daily life? The answer is: yes, more than you can imagine. During the course of one year, I assigned myself a sort of adventure: I kept a diary of my encounter with objects, and I suggest you do the same. Briefly, my goal was to try to find the words that are hidden inside objects, to discover the questions that lie at the heart of things. My journey took place in four stages: surprise, groping, panicking, feeling soothed. This experience, touched with humour and a hint of folly, also follows the itinerary of an unexpected spiritual journey," Roger-Pol Droit is a research fellow at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
In this book, Droit reviews the works of some major contemporary thinkers: Bourdieu, Foucault, Girard, Habermas, Lévi-Strauss, Serres, and Vernant, among others. The interviews included here allow the reader to encounter biologists and sociologists, as well as anthropologists and psychoanalysts. Philosophers are well represented, but all the humanities have been included, and practically all major contemporary issues are considered, from bio-ethics to the end of history, from the construction of Europe to the rise of violence, from globalisation to the environment, from the development of science to political and religious extremism. Roger-Pol Droit is a philosopher and researcher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.
In this book, the authors, Dominique and Jean-Toussaint Desanti, relate their lives of active political and intellectual commitment to Roger-Pol Droit. The story begins with Dominique and Jean-Toussaints first meeting, their lives as an open couple, their involvement in the French Resistance and, later, in the Communist Party, their support of the FLN during the Algerian war of independence, their participation in the events of May 1968 in France and the United States, and their espousal of the feminist movement. They also discuss the numerous works they have written literature in Dominiques case, philosophy in Jean-Toussaints. Their political path is one that was shared by many French intellectuals of their generation. The enthusiasm of many young people for left-wing causes had first been stirred by the Popular Front government. The Soviet victory at Stalingrad (rather than support of Marxist thought) later fanned this enthusiasm, with the result that many French intellectuals joined the Communist Party. Each event in the authors lives is recounted individually from each ones point of view, before being retold by both of them in unison. This manner of telling their story fully respects each writers personality and style, and has resulted in an especially intense book. Dominique Desanti is a journalist, essayist and novelist. Jean-Toussaint Desanti is a philosopher and professor emeritus at the University of Paris I-Sorbonne.
This highly original book consists of 101 short texts, each describing an experiment or something to do. Although the practical exercises are easy to accomplish, they are often disconcerting and will make the reader aware of how strange an apparently banal action can seem. Their purpose is philosophical: the goal being to experience the unexpected through simple actions and events. Roger-Pol Droit intends to shake up the certainties that underlie our identity, speech, relations to time and space, and memory, and enable us to feel issues that are generally regarded as abstract. In his highly readable, incisive style he has succeeded in transforming ideas into feelings. Roger-Pol Droit is a philosopher and researcher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.
What ideas can we expect to see develop in the coming years? And how will they modify our conceptions of thought? What impact will they have on our personal existence, our daily reality, our rules for life? Will the intellectual models that are now emerging soon be influencing policy decisions? At a moment as symbolic as the beginning of a new millenium, we wanted to bring together the elements of thought which permit us to better respond to these questions." Roger-Pol Droit and Dan Sperber Both authors work at the Centre National de Rècherche Scientifique.
Roger-Pol Droit takes the reader on a voyage through time, spanning the centuries from Antiquity to the present, in a series of intellectual portraits of great and usual or remarkable thinkers, beginning with Socrates and Plato and ending with Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze. A major part of this volume is devoted to modern philosophers, from Kant to Heidegger. The author's goal is to stimulate new thought and to bring to life for the reader the vital ideas of past thinkers.