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Postmodernism, French critics of

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DE022-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

Article Summary

French anti-postmodernism emerged with the generation of philosophers that came of age in the late 1970s and early 1980s and counts among its ranks some of the most visible and prolific young scholars in France. Unlike schools of thought such as phenomenology, existentialism or Marxism, French anti-postmodernism has no founding figure, central text or core doctrine; anti-postmodernism (a term seldom, if ever, used by the French) therefore is less a philosophical school than a characterization for a diverse group of thinkers who react against those trends that have dominated French intellectual life since the Second World War, especially Marxism, structuralism, existentialism and deconstruction. These trends, grouped together under the heading of ‘postmodernism’, are seen by anti-postmodernists as the last episodes in a failed intellectual adventure whose origins go back at least to the French Revolution.

Critical of nineteenth-century philosophy as having produced, on the one hand, totalizing, speculative philosophies such as those of Hegel and Marx, and, on the other hand, the anti-rationalism of Nietzsche and his postmodern scions, anti-postmodernists (or neo-moderns as the French prefer to say) represent a return to the concept of the individual and of history as the product of free human agency. Reaffirming the efficacy of public, rational discourse, they tend to be interested in political philosophy, taking democracy and its ideals as a model for raising and addressing philosophical issues. Pluralist in their outlook, they value the disciplinary structure of scholarly work; fields such as epistemology, theology, philosophy of science and the history of ideas which were neglected or marginalized by much postmodern thought have enjoyed renewed prestige and interest among the anti-postmodernists.

Citing this article:
Lilly, Reginald. Postmodernism, French critics of, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DE022-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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