Histoire de la philosophie moderne et contemporaine [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 48 (2):393-394 (1994)
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It is a good while since French intellectual life has seen the publication of a one-volume history of modern philosophy. The author of the present book is young. He has previously written on Tocqueville, Schopenhauer and Bataille, and has also proposed a renewed version of humanism, based upon a combination of science, ecologism, and the traditional values of literary culture. The present volume is interesting both in its structure and in its overall intentions. Up to a point Besnier accepts the postmodernist thesis on the demise of "grand narratives," of all-encompassing and all-explaining theoretical systems. Nevertheless, he seems to think that on pragmatic grounds we can continue to treat the history of philosophy as a valid and coherent object of research. The secret is, Besnier suggests, to look back upon the historical unfolding of philosophical conversation from the vantage point of topics and thematics important to our contemporary curiosity and urges.



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Virgil Nemoianu
Loyola Marymount University

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