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New French Thought: Political Philosophy
Edited by Mark Lilla
Princeton University Press, 1994, 231 pp.
Despite the traditional insularity of Anglo-American political and philosophical thought, American intellectual life has been profoundly affected in recent years by new developments from France like structuralism and deconstructionism. Many postmodernists have become entrenched in the American academy in recent years. They will be surprised to learn that their perspective has become a spent intellectual force in its country of origin. For the past decade, at least, the latest fashion from Paris has been a serious discussion of liberalism, human rights, and democratic political institutions. This excellent volume brings together the writings of the younger generation of French writers and intellectuals who have broken with the two earlier waves in French thought, derived from Marx and Nietzsche, and who for virtually the first time have accepted the legitimacy of liberal democracy as a political order. Of particular interest are the critique of Michel Foucault by Luc Ferry and Alain Renaut, Pierre Manent's essay on the role of rational discourse in the rise of the modern state, the reconsideration of Tocqueville by Marcel Gauchet, and Mark Lilla's helpful overview.
Source URL: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/reviews/capsule-review/1994-11-01/new-french-thought-political-philosophy