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CURRENT FRENCH PHILOSOPHY / Vol. 49, No. 2 (Summer 1982)

Peter Caws, Guest Editor
Arien Mack, Journal Editor

The Winter 1980 issue of Social Research (Philosophy: An Assessment) brought together a number of texts by professional philosophers practicing in the United States, texts designed to expound but also to exemplify current trends in philosophical work. The use of expression “philosophical work” is meant to signify a certain conception of what philosophy is, namely, an enterprise carried on by workers in a more or less well defined intellectual domain, who character is determined at any given time less by some eternal or abstract or doctrinaire conception of what it ought to be than by actual interests and preoccupations of its practitioners.

Two hypotheses about chance: First: everything is destined to encounter everything, only chance has it that they do not meet. Second: everything is scattered and things are indifferent to one another, only chance has it that from time to time they meet. The last hypothesis is familiar—the other is paradoxical, and more interesting.

At the beginning of the century, in 1901, the French philosopher Henri Bergson made a remark about what he called “our word representation,” our French word representation. “Our word representation is an equivocal word which ought never, according to its etymology, to designate an intellectual object presented to the mind for the first time. It ought to be reserved…”

Speech act theory holds itself out as a general theory of language. Starting from a pragmatic interpretation of language -language is a means used to do something—it suggests that the general theory of language should be part of a general theory of action, speaking but one of many ways of doing. The project of a pragmatics of language assumes that we already know what action is. The various pragmatics suggested are worth whatever the action they bring forth is worth.

“From the day when the words mine and thine were brought into the world by the law, community was finished. From that day was born the thief.” This text, which one could well believe to be contemporary with Proudhon’s unforgettable cry, precedes it by 17 centuries. In a few words, it contains no less than the essence of communist utopia, and by the same token what it suggests is that this utopia, being beyond immediate historical determinations for the most part, is also, so to speak, a uchronia.

Could the expression “formal content” be anything other than one of those oxymorons philosophers so willingly fabricate? Does it conceal, under the play of words, a notion, or rather a problem worthy of interests?

To respect women, is this simply to obey the categorical imperative which requires respect with regard to the other as moral personage? Are women solely and simply special cases, models or examples of the moral law which they present and make visible, acquiring by that same law, as all moral persons do, an unalienable dignity which puts them above all price?

What was it in Heidegger’s thought that made possible—or more exactly what was it in Heidegger’s thought that did not forbid—the political engagement of 1933? This article discusses the evolution of the philosophy of Martin Heidegger that resulted in his political commitment and engagement in 1933, and his theory of mimesis.

This article refutes ideas of Gaston Bachelard regarding "scholarly" utopias, as presented in his 'La Formation de l'Esprit Scientifique' (1975); and discusses Bachelard's misconceptions regarding the role of education and society in creating models of utopias.

The history of philosophy is a typically European, not to say French, discipline whose importance in the course of studies, research, and more generally, in the whole climate of philosophical activity is difficult for Anglo-Saxon philosophers, more preoccupied with the immediate confrontation of the theses of the great philosophers or more impatient to set out on their own undertakings, to understand. The article continues to discuss methodological problems of the history of philosophy as a discipline, including problems in conceptualization of philosophies.

The author begins with a preliminary remark: Hegel should not be considered here in his singularity, or as one example of a political philosopher among others. In this question, the author addresses himself in fact to a limiting point of political philosophy in general and of philosophical politics, a limiting point to which Hegel, for reasons which are unrelated to his final position in philosophy gives special relief and sharpness.

Methods inspired by computerized lexical statistics lead to multiple applications for the study of philosophical and literary texts: diagrams of genetic influence, the appearance and disappearance of lexical forms, structural profiles, the flexibility of verbal clusters or the hardening of systematic syntagmata, the construction of idiosyncratic terminologies or of word lists for individual authors, etc. Classical commentary has everything to gain by making use of these resources of a well-equipped history of philosophy.

The coming about of a certain real requires, in sum, the setting aside of a certain other real, something like the elimination of another candidate for the accession to reality, the short-circuiting of a rival all the more pressing as he is more credible. So that the real that finally takes place is another from the one it would normally have been, produced only through the aid (or the treason) of this intervention exterior to the thing which everyday language designates by the expressions “a thumb on the scales” or “having friends in court.”

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