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Difference between French and English thinkers

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TheDiplomat View Drop Down
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  Quote TheDiplomat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Difference between French and English thinkers
    Posted: 07-Jun-2007 at 04:13
The French political thinkers called for a major, sweeping change, The English for a gradual, cautious change. The French political thinkers fundamentally hated their government, The English did not.
 
what else could you say?Wink


Edited by TheDiplomat - 07-Jun-2007 at 04:14
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  Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2007 at 05:15
You summarise French Marxists very well and non-English Marxists too. But if you were talking about English Marxists and French non-Marxists your argument could be reversed.
 
I tend to think the difference is Occam's razor. The French apply it in reverse. Look at Structuralism and compare that to Orwell.
 
 
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  Quote TheDiplomat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2007 at 05:23
well, I had Voltaire, Montesquie, Rousseau, Locke, Burke in my mind
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  Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2007 at 05:48
What about Tom Paine, Gerald Winstanley and John Lilburne?
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  Quote TheDiplomat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2007 at 06:13
They are not famous as much as the philosophers I named. I assume those, who read their works, number much less than those who read Montesquie, Voltaire, Rousseau, Locke and Burke... Therefore I suppose that Tom Paine, Geral Winstanley and John Liburne would me much less influential in terms of shaping the minds of the people

Edited by TheDiplomat - 07-Jun-2007 at 06:14
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  Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2007 at 08:24
When I think of French philosophers, I tend to think much closer to our own time in the 20th century. You see French thinking mirror the state of French civilisation. French thinking increasingly engages in nihilism, a brilliant example is Albert Camus's book The Outsider. I wonder perhaps whether this is a reflection of French attitudes as their homeland is conquered, their land ravaged and finally most of their empire breaks away. Such a mode of thinking fits in nicely with a people disillusioned in the wake of such a blow to their prestige.

Finally, the concept of post-modernism with Foucault develops, where the individualistic perception of reality is taken a step further from nihilism's rejection of conventional social values.
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  Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2007 at 08:52
This goes back to myoriginal argument, Foucalt, Camus ect. Occam's razor in reverse. I think Orwell provides a far more nihilist vision and a better reading of the 21st century. Whereas the French view a little dated, building pseudo 18th century rationalist systems. Less mirroring their history, more trying to recapture their past.
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  Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2007 at 09:18
Regarding Orwell, I see his works as being similar to Shakespeare in a way. They try to warn society about what their government may turn into, Shakespeare warned of violent revolution and Orwell warns against the evil of totalitarianism.

In this way, I see English thinkers as being positivist. They seek to mobilise action for the common good through creating awareness of possible dangers. I see French thinkers encouraging an individualistic perspective, seeking comfort and joy in one's own perception than that which is commonly accepted by the general public as the state of affairs in the world.

Of course, I am certainly no expert, this is simply what jumps out at me when I see the different perspectives.
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  Quote Maharbbal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2007 at 09:26
I think Alexis de Tocqueville got it right (and it is still true) when comparing English and French people. The Brits don't expect much from their government, the French expect everything, hence it makes sense that the former don't what to change it while the latter do. But as soon as a Brit thinker minded about government he is just as critical as a French would be (see Thomas Moore).
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  Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2007 at 10:09
Well, over the centuries there have been lots of British philosophers who followed French ones, and vice versa, and lots of both who followed Germans.
 
Generally speaking though there has been a tendency, dating back right to the middle ages (think Ockham and either Bacon vs Aquinas and Descartes), to prefer observation and empiricism over reason in Britain, and to see it the other way round in France.
 
With many, many exceptions, 'typically' French philosophers reason, while 'typically' British philosophers experiment.
 
And please note I said many, many exceptions.
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  Quote Dan Carkner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2007 at 11:32
I think people in the French education system are much more well versed in philosophy, logic, etc. than people in English-speaking countries (or French-speaking Canada).    Maybe that affects it to a degree.
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  Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2007 at 11:46
I'm pretty sure that's true now.
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  Quote TheDiplomat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Jun-2007 at 05:15
whose philosophers have been much more influential you think? Roussea, Montestuqie, Voltaiere or Locke, Burke, Hobbes?
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  Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Jun-2007 at 08:59
They have all been influential at various times in various places.
 
However, in terms of which are still influential in political systems, I'd say that Locke and Burke are. Unless you think Hobbes has more of an influence on Marx than Locke did, which would be an interesting question to think about.
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  Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Jun-2007 at 10:36
At the moment France is the only country with a strong Philosophical tradition and the only country I know where they have philosophy shows on TV and philosophers as celebrites on chat shows.
 
But I think this subject a little strange, you are comparing Britain's philosophers from the 17th and 18th century to France's from the 18th and not considering philosphers from the two countries from any other era, then asking this to give a picture of the difference between English and French thought. It will hardly give anything but a highly one-eyed  one.


Edited by Paul - 09-Jun-2007 at 10:39
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  Quote TheDiplomat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Jun-2007 at 14:06
Originally posted by Paul

At the moment France is the only country with a strong Philosophical tradition and the only country I know where they have philosophy shows on TV and philosophers as celebrites on chat shows.
 
But I think this subject a little strange, you are comparing Britain's philosophers from the 17th and 18th century to France's from the 18th and not considering philosphers from the two countries from any other era, then asking this to give a picture of the difference between English and French thought. It will hardly give anything but a highly one-eyed  one.
 
I think your point about France and the value she places on philosophy is very valid. French thinking has been the engine of many international projects.. However, to what extend they participate in these projects once they were established is mootLOL
 
As for your second paragraph, I concantrated on the age of reasonWink


Edited by TheDiplomat - 09-Jun-2007 at 14:07
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  Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Jun-2007 at 08:34
 
Originally posted by Paul

At the moment France is the only country with a strong Philosophical tradition and the only country I know where they have philosophy shows on TV and philosophers as celebrites on chat shows.
 
 
Well footballers are celebrities in England and there's plenty of TV devoted to football. But that doesn't mean England is going to win the European cup. Or even qualify. Cry
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  Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Jun-2007 at 08:38
What makes this tricky if it's generalised to other than named philosophers is that many French and English (not so much Scots) philosophers are heavily influenced by Germans of various schools, especially in the nineteenth century, which, though it's sometimes looked on as the heyday of English liberal, empirical thought, actually includes Germanic philosophers from Carlile to Bradley and co.
 
If you stop with the eighteenth century that problem tends to go away a bit.
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  Quote TheDiplomat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Jun-2007 at 09:16
Originally posted by gcle2003

What makes this tricky if it's generalised to other than named philosophers is that many French and English (not so much Scots) philosophers are heavily influenced by Germans of various schools, especially in the nineteenth century, which, though it's sometimes looked on as the heyday of English liberal, empirical thought, actually includes Germanic philosophers from Carlile to Bradley and co.
 
 
 
No wonder why the  motto of German public diplomacy is that Deutschland- die Land der Ideen= Germany- The Land of Ideas
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  Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Jun-2007 at 10:31
Originally posted by gcle2003

What makes this tricky if it's generalised to other than named philosophers is that many French and English (not so much Scots) philosophers are heavily influenced by Germans of various schools, especially in the nineteenth century, which, though it's sometimes looked on as the heyday of English liberal, empirical thought, actually includes Germanic philosophers from Carlile to Bradley and co.
 
If you stop with the eighteenth century that problem tends to go away a bit.
 
I think the 20th century should be reguarded as one of the strongest for German influence on french philosphy. French existentialism was born out of German and the Frankfurt school had enourmous influence on French postwar thought.
 
Ironically with Britain, though German thought exercised little influence over British 20th century thought, two of the most influential British philosophers of the century were Austrian born.
 
 
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