Visiting Research Professor St Andrews Fellow of Blackfriars Hall Oxford
In post-war France we have witnessed an upsurge in philosophical and quasi-philosophical literature, much of it nonsense and all of it radically politicised. What is the explanation of this? I advance the thesis that the post-1968 literary scene expresses a bid for a new kind of social membership, and that it is the hunger for membership that explains not only the intellectual structure of this literature but also its world-wide influence. I also suggest that there survives in this literature both an intellectual agenda and a historical memory, in which the war-time experience of France is all-important. In the course of my argument I try to explain the radical difference between analytical philosophy, which permits its practitioners to have unorthodox (i.e. non-left-wing) political views, and a particular post-war French intellectual tradition, which has until recently allowed no such deviation from its tacit norms.
Roger Scruton is a writer and philosopher, whose books include Xanthippic Dialogues, The Aesthetics of Music and Beauty: A Short Introduction. He lives as a free-lance writer in rural Wiltshire.