Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Everyone Knows that 20th Century French Philosophy has Utterly No Value Whatsoever Except as a Scheme to Pick Up Chicks, So Why is Pope Francis So Into It?

Michel de Certeau, S.J.

I'm referring to a recent interview Pope Francis gave to a leftist French newspaper where he name drops not one, not two but five 20th century French philosophers.

The Pope also said that the "Arab invasion" (his term) of Europe is a good thing, and France should become more secular in order to be more attuned to the transcendent. Or this and that or some such.

But I digress. 

Despite the post title, this is not a criticism of France or the French or even 20th century France or the French.

20th century Analytical Philosophy (mainly English) was about applying logical techniques to analyze words or concepts in order to clarify their meanings.

20th century Continental Philosophy (largely French but also German) was about talking or writing pretentious bull in order to pick up chicks.

Okay, scruples on sexual morality aside, it's pretty obvious to me that one of those two above is clearly superior in, you know, a practical sense. See, I'm not being critical of the French.

Now some guys don't have to talk or write pretentious bull to pick up chicks. But if you look like John Paul Sartre, then you do what you can...

I'm not judging.

What is truly moronic, however, is taking that pretentious bull seriously as anything other than a scheme to pick up chicks. I assume that Pope Francis is not at this point interested in picking up chicks. Therefore, Pope Francis is...well, you know.

Here are some of the names the Pope cited in that interview:

Emmanuel Lévinas
Emmanuel Mounier
Henri de Lubac (Yeah, I know Ignatius published him. They were wrong.)
Paul Ricœur
Michel de Certeau
Plato (not French, but a proto-20th century bullsh*tter if there ever was one)

And here are some of their most renowned works:

From Existence to Existents
Time and the Other
Alterity and Transcendence
The Personalist and Communitarian Revolution
The Awakening of Black Africa (okay, that's not strictly philosophy but still)
Time and Narrative
Interpretation Theory: Discourse and the Surplus of Meaning
Aspects of Buddhism, Vol. 2 (Vol. 1 was a bust)
Teilhard de Chardin: the Man and His Meaning
Culture in the Plural
Heterologies: Discourse on the Other

Man, it's enough to make you want to drink a six-pack of Pabst and vote for Donald Trump.


Hannah Arendt coined the term "banality of evil." And it so richly fits. It wasn't just about mediocre clerk types who became Nazis. It was also about 1960's Jesuit intellectuals. Or so it seems to me. And Arendt currently isn't in any position to disagree. But I hope she went to Heaven solely for that definition.

Would you like to come upstairs and see my Hannah Arendt collection?


  1. "Man, it's enough to make you want to drink a six-pack of Pabst and vote for Donald Trump."
    I just spit coffee out my nose;
    and with today's reading from Jeremiah, I wept.

    1. Agreed. Hound owes me a new keyboard for the Pabst and Trump line.

  2. I enjoyed de Lubac's Four Senses of Scripture, and found it quite useful and insightful (Eerdman's published that). On patristics, de Lubac is not without value.

    His Christology, however...the less said, the better.

    Ignatius publishes de Lubac in no small part because its editor, Fr. Joseph Fessio, was de Lubac's assistant back in the 60's.

  3. How did he miss Michel Foucault? He could have discussed his thought, then mentioned his addiction to gay bath houses and S&M and shrugged, saying, "but who am I to judge?"

    And what about Jacques Derrida? He could have dropped the word "semiotics" and used a post-modern essay generator to come up with copy.

    (Try it. It's hilarious.)

    I suspect he had his staff pick out a few appropriate names and a couple of talking points for each so he could cut an impressive philosophical figure.

    1. Jacques Derrida is a favorite of mine. After deconstructionism, nothing will ever be the same. He actually gave the game away that modernism was in fact psycho babble, trying to to clean up mess the structuralists left behind. And let's not forget his contributions to phenomenology. Think JPII the Great.


  4. "The Pope also said that the "Arab invasion" (his term) of Europe is a good thing, and France should become more secular in order to be more attuned to the transcendent."

    Shit--he really said that? Well he's your pope not mine. And no thanks, I'll have a Heineken.

    Seattle kim

  5. Oh, boy, does this take me back to my highschool days in the 70s! As a Canadian, I had to study French, and so we read Sartre and Camus. They were hip, they were controversial, they were cutting edge, they were... so borrrrrring! No one I knew ever mentioned them again after the class ended. And Francis is just enough of a vain tart to think that touting this pretentious, past-its-sell-by-date claptrap is proof that he's the most with-it pope the world has ever seen. Groovy, baby!

  6. Here is one possible explanation for why Francis is into post-modernist French "philosophy".