For Elisabeth Roudinesco, a historian of psychoanalysis and one of France's leading intellectuals, Canguilhem, Sartre, Foucault, Althusser, Deleuze, and Derrida represent a "great generation" of French philosophers who accomplished remarkable work and lived incredible lives. These troubled and innovative thinkers endured World War II and the cultural and political revolution of the 1960s, and their cultural horizon was dominated by Marxism and psychoanalysis, though they were by no means strict adherents to the doctrines of Marx and Freud.
Roudinesco knew many of these intellectuals personally, and she weaves an account of their thought through lived experience and reminiscences. Canguilhem, for example, was a distinguished philosopher of science who had a great influence on Foucault's exploration of sanity and madness-themes Althusser lived in a notorious personal drama. And in dramatizing the life of Freud for the screen, Sartre fundamentally altered his own philosophical approach to psychoanalysis.
Roudinesco launches a passionate defense of Canguilhem, Sartre, Foucault, Althusser, Deleuze, and Derrida against the "new philosophers" of the late 1970s and 1980s, who denounced the work-and sometimes the private lives-of this great generation. Roudinesco refutes attempts to tar them, as well as the Marxist and left-wing tradition in general, with the brush of Soviet-style communism. In Freudian theory and the philosophy of radical commitment, she sees a bulwark against the kind of manipulative, pill-prescribing, and normalizing psychology that aims to turn individuals into mindless consumers. Intense, clever, and persuasive, Philosophy in Turbulent Times captivates with the dynamism of French thought in the twentieth century.
"Beautifully written and translated." — Choice
"Elisabeth Roudinesco presents a fresh and unique view of some of the fundamental books of twentieth-century philosophy, showing the way in which ideas are indebted to contemporary political and biographical events, but also the way in which ideas contribute to shape those events." — Angelica Nuzzo, professor of philosophy, Brooklyn College
"Indispensable for completing our study of French Freud." — Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities and director of the Center for Comparative Literature and Society, Columbia University
Introduction: In Defense of Critical Thought
Note on the Text
1. Georges Canguilhem: A Philosophy of Heroism
2. Jean-Paul Sartre: Psychoanalysis on the Shadowy Banks of the Danube
3. Michel Foucault: Readings of History of Madness
4. Louis Althusser: The Murder Scene
5. Gilles Deleuze: Anti-Oedipal Variations
6. Jacques Derrida: The Moment of Death
About the Author:
Elisabeth Roudinesco is director of research at the University of Paris and director of studies at the École Pratique des Hautes-Etudes, Sorbonne. She is the author of a number of critically acclaimed works, including Columbia University Press's Jacques Lacan and Why Psychoanalysis?William McCuaig is most recently the translator of Gianni Vattimo's The Vocation and Responsibility of the Philosopher.