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Three French Philosophers to watch out for

CLAIRE MARIN - Rupture(s)



Following her work on illness and grief, Claire Marin became interested in rupture and its devastating effects.


Following a break, a point of no return is often reached. The vast majority of separations are of great psychological violence. Yet, we feel a kind of coldness in a society that promotes flexibility. And many are in denial of the suffering a break can cause.


When you lose your job, you may also lose your spouse, friends ...


When you are ill and find it hard to be a good mother, a good companion, wife, lover. One aspect of your identity is devalued, and this has repercussions on other areas.


Today, on the climatic and technological level but also on the professional or conjugal level, what used to be stable threatens to crumble. The safety nets are falling apart.

It seems that the idea of ​​consistency should be abandoned.


Although the ruptures of our time are merciless, something in us resists annihilation. The notion of ​​personal identity is based on the myth of the self as an unshakeable inner fortress. But what if we were more malleable than we want to believe?


Maturity is to consider that we have several lives, that there are several people in us. This perspective offers the possibility of exploration, opening other boxes, deploying other rhythms, other ways of being.


The philosopher, in her recent works, carefully examines the inner tumult and the possible reconfigurations.




ELSA DORLIN - Se défendre


Elsa Dorlin in her work analyses the question of systems of domination (notably colonialist and patriarchal systems). She explains how these systems aim to destroy the power to act of some, but also offers keys to understand and thwart the insidious mechanisms of power and violence. Auto-defence then appears as a way to exist as a subject within a regime.


For the philosopher, the systems in place deny the lived experiences of ordinary violence and create a chemistry of fear. Certain groups (Afro-descendants, women) are moving through the world like hunted preys, permanently on the lookout. The muscles are paralyzed and cognitive attention is constantly drawn to the question: What does this person want? What is he/she doing? Some groups keep trying to anticipate, but in the end, they remain passive. They disintegrate as a subject. The aggressor becomes legitimate.


Should they rely on the state for protection? Yet it is state that allows the violence to continue.


Elsa Dorlin therefore proposes to take rights. Going back in time, she explains the power which can be found in the learning of martial arts by suffragists, the Black Panthers, or the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto.


For example, when English suffragettes learned to master Jujitsu, things changed. Unlike boxing, for example, there is no issue of virile masculinity at stake. Men took no interest and the women suddenly knew how to defend and protect themselves from attacks. The taboo of "violent women", "women who dare transgress a tacit prohibition" still needs to be addressed. They are not hysterical or mad.


"Auto-defense is staying alive"


Faced with state security policies which target certain groups more than others, the argument of "self-defense" has only been granted to privileged groups.

For instance, the lynching of Rodney King, a black taxi driver, by the Los Angeles police in 1991 resulted in an acquittal on the grounds of self-defense. Today, the aggressor is necessarily black, against whom it is legitimate to defend oneself.


Auto-defense is collective. The question is to become aware of this muscular, psychic, vital know-how, and to form a body collectively.


BARBARA CASSIN - La nostalgie


Barbarin Cassin is a sophistry specialist, a great reader of the founding texts of philosophy, translator of Parmenides and Aristotle, responsible for the "Revue des femmes philosophes" published by Unesco, but also a poet and author . In 2012, she received the Grand Prix de philosophie from the French Academy for all of her work, and, in 2018, the C.N.R.S gold medal.


She is interested since the beginning in the notion of “bilingualism”.

Each language is a net cast on the world and, depending on whether one speaks Greek, Chinese, German or French, it is not the same reality that arises. Do you say exactly the same thing when you wish yourself a good day (hello), peace be with you (shalom, salam), be well (vale in Latin) or rejoice (khaire in ancient Greek)? For Barbara Cassin, it is because you never say exactly the same thing in one language and in another that bilingualism is an opportunity. The school should value it, rather than prohibiting migrant children from speaking their mother tongue.


Her latest text brings language and nostalgia together. She questions contemporary patriotism and wonders where one locates its roots.


Through accounts of exiles, Barbara Cassin shows that only language is our "own place".For her, language is the homeland as much as it is the territory. To defend it, she takes as witness Hannah Arendt, the German philosopher exiled in the United States to flee Nazism, who chooses to define herself not in relation to a country nor in relation to a people, but only in relation to her mother tongue, which she missed.In counterpoint, Barbara Cassin also returns to two great founding tales of nostalgia and exile: the Odyssey and the Aeneid.