The Concept of Historical Reason in Recent French Philosophy

Andrew Gibson

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Explores the concept of historical intermittency in 5 recent French philosophers

Andrew Gibson engages with five recent and contemporary French philosophers, Badiou, Jambet, Lardreau, Françoise Proust and Rancière, who each produce a post-Hegelian philosophy of history founded on an assertion of the intermittency of historical value. Gibson explores this `anti-schematics of historical reason' and its implication for politics, ethics and aesthetics in a wide range of modern intellectual contexts, finding its necessary complement and most powerful expression in a wealth of modern art, chiefly modern literature. The result is a sustained reflection on the possible character of a contemporary philosophy of history and an important contribution to our knowledge of contemporary French philosophy.

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Preface, Jean-Jacques Lecercle
Kojève's Hegel
An Anti-Schematics of Historical Reason
Sartre: History and Hysteresis
The Example of Orwell
1. The Logic of Intermittency: Alain Badiou
The Structure of Intermittency
Custos, Quid Noctis?
The Example of Flaubert
2. Sporadic Modernity: Françoise Proust
The Beginnings of Modernity
Catastrophe in Permanence
Explosions of Justice
The Example of Wordsworth
3. A Counter-Phenomenology of Spirit: Christian Jambet
The Great Resurrection of Alamut
The Paradoxical One
The Dark Event
The Example of Rimbaud
4. Alternances Indépassables: Guy Lardreau
The Remains of History
Art and the Moment of Spirit
The Example of Kleist
5. Intermittency and Melancholy: Jacques Rancière
Egalitarian and Democratic Events
Historical Decompositions
Aesthetics and Partage
The Example of Rossellini
Conclusion: Prolegomena for a Critical Synthesis
Badiou and Speculative Realism
The Question of Rarity
The Unerasable Conviction
The Necessity of Literature
The Example of Sebald
Appendix: Lardreau: Philosophization, Negation and Veracity
This book is to my knowledge the most subtle and original study of a crucial orientation in French philosophy that took place after the heyday of the best-known great masters, now dead (Althusser, Derrida, Foucault, Lacan etc.), but which refused to ally itself with the nouvelle philosophie (Lévy, Finkielkraut and their followers). Gibson clarifies what the principal representatives of this orientation have in common, what separates them, and why thought must set out from them today, even if it preserves – as Gibson does – a real critical distance from them. The book is without equal or rival anywhere, including France.
Alain Badiou

Gibson is not merely a skilful interpreter of texts, not merely a passeur, who enables us to discover new vistas in contemporary French philosophy, but also a philosopher in his own right... the book you are going to read is not merely a book, it is a landmark.

Jean-Jacques Lecercle
Andrew Gibson is Research Professor of Modern Literature and Theory at Royal Holloway, University of London, and a member of the Conseil scientifique of the Collège international de philosophie in Paris. He is the author of Beckett and Badious: The Pathos of Intermittenccy (Oxford University Press, 2006), James Joyce: A Critical Life (Reaktion, 2006) and Towards a Postmodern Theory of Narrative (EUP, 1996).

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