The Philosopher's Self-Image as a Guiding Thread for Philosophy of Culture?

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The question of the place, role and tasks of philosophers in postmodernity is perplexing and complicated. I am going to talk here about French and American thinkers, but always having Central Europe in mind. And the question of the social, cultural and political status of philosophers in postmodernity is one of the most intriguing today, especially considering its self-referentiality: philosophers asking questions about themselves... Let us refer here first to several points of interest, several catchwords that evoke the whole complicated heart of the matter: Martin Heidegger, one of the greatest philosophical minds in the twentieth century, with his Nazi illusions in 1933 and later, Paul de Man, the future founder of the American deconstructionist school of literary criticism, in the years of 1940-42 and later (that "later" being no less important for current discussions), the Historikerstreit in Germany among German historians and philosophers in the eighties. I would say the following: the material for the discussions that are of interest to me today are the most traumatic events of the twentieth century and the behavior of the philosopher, or in broader terms, the intellectual, associated with them. We can add to them Sartre's conception of the "committed literature", Georges Batai- lle's fascinations with the war, Maurice Blanchot's fascist texts from the prewar "Combat" journal, "Maoist" involvement of the French intellectuals in the hot sixties, Michel Foucault's enthusiasm with respect to the Iranian "spiritual revolution", Noam Chomsky's (as well as Jean Beaufret's) basically positive attitude to "revisionist" historians who negate gassing in Auschwitz etc. If we add that all, we can see a certain complex of questions and issues the penetration of which may be one of today's "tasks of thinking", one of organizing principles within philosophy of culture.




philosopher's self-image, intellectual, French philosophy, postwar philosophy, political engagement, philosophy and power


Zeszyty Filozoficzne, 8(2000), Poznań: Humaniora, pp. 119-123.



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Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego