L’Enfance Nue (1968) – Truth beneath Theory

Back in the early 00s, I was studying the philosophy of science.  Studying philosophy is very similar to being one of the generals, comfy in a French chateau miles away from the front and seeing the world purely in terms of previous wars fought by previous generations.  I was taught the history of philosophy in terms of rationalism vs. empiricism rather than within a proper historical context (I did not truly understand the point of Leibniz’s philosophy until I read Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle).  Sometimes we would hear news of young South American Logicians doing wonderful things with multi-variant logical systems and the smarter kids had sensed a shift in academia’s prevailing winds and hitched their philosophical wagon to actual scientific research rather than debates held by angry young graduate students who were now port-soaked emeritus professors.  However, one battle I was all too eager to fight was the one between science and continental philosophy, part of the wider academic clash of empires known as the Science Wars.  In all the books, all the arguments and all the pages of incommensurable bickering that went on, I still remember someone pointing out that, for all the political anger of critical theorists, no member of the working class had ever actually benefited from a piece of critical theory.  This is something of a cheap shot as the suggestion is that, as academic debate is an irredeemably bourgeois activity, leftist critical theorists are all hypocrites of the highest order.  One might well quibble with this rather haughty and dismissive comment but it does seem to be close to the opinions held by Maurice Pialat.

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