New Philosophers

New Philosophers

The New Philosophers (French nouveaux philosophes) is a term which refers to a generation of French philosophers who broke with Marxism in the early 1970s. They include André Glucksmann, Alain Finkielkraut, Pascal Bruckner, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Jean-Marie Benoist, Christian Jambet, Guy Lardreau and Jean-Paul Dollé. They criticised Jean-Paul Sartre and post-structuralism, as well as the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger.



The term was created by Bernard-Henri Lévy in 1976. Most of the philosophers he included in that description had a previous history of Maoism, but came to reject Marxism. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's writings on The Gulag Archipelago had a profound effect upon many of these former Leftists.

Basic characteristics

The New Philosophers rejected what they saw as the power-worship of the Left, a tradition which they traced back to at least Hegel and Marx. They argued that various "Master Thinkers" had created the foundations for systems of oppression. More recently Pascal Bruckner has targeted multiculturalism.


Because they are defined by a negative quality (i.e., the rejection of systems of authoritarian power) the New Philosophers are very disparate. In 1978, Michael Ryan argued that they exist in name only; their "homogeneity derives from their espousal of heterogeneity."[1] They have been described as "a brand name" for an "extremely heterogeneous group of about ten intellectuals who are held together more from without than from within... they do not serve as representatives of any clearly defined political movement or force."[2]


They were attacked as superficial and ideological by critics such as Gilles Deleuze (who called them "TV buffoons"), and Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Alain Badiou, Jean-François Lyotard and Cornelius Castoriadis.


  1. ^ Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Michael Ryan (June 1978) "Anarchism Revisited: A New Philosophy". Diacritics, 67-68
  2. ^ Oskar Negt and Jamie O. Daniel (1983) "Reflections on France's 'Nouveaux Philosophes' and the Crisis of Marxism". SubStance 11(4), 56-67

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