Day Conference on French Philosophy

10am – 5pm, Saturday September 8th 2018

Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn, London, WC1R 4RL

The aim of this conference is to discuss the development of and the fault-lines within the French philosophical tradition — its breadth and richness, its style, and its cultural impact. We shall examine the very idea of a national philosophy. We shall consider a number of examples of what might prove to be a specifically French approach to certain philosophical topics – from our understanding of beauty, to the relation between humans and animals, the nature of human desire, and the more abstract question of the relation between activity and passivity.


We shall discuss the question of language, and to what extent a national tradition — if such a thing exists — may be unified by anything other than the simple (or perhaps not so simple) fact of a having a language in common: how should language should be used by philosophy, and what type of language should it use? Should we employ a highly technical formal language, a kind of lingua franca that is not simply identical with any particular language, or should we embrace natural languages, with all their idiomatic peculiarities, and use them to express our philosophical explorations? What is at stake in this choice?


Talks and Speakers


Sexual Desire in Scruton, Althusser, and Lacan

Alison Assiter

University of the West of England


The Very Idea of a National Philosophy

Michael Lewis

University of Newcastle


The Contribution of French Philosophy since World War 2 to Aesthetics’

Jean-Baptiste Dussert

Ecole du Louvre, University of Paris-Sud – Jean Monnet Faculty


Blanchot and Passivity

Paul Davies

University of Sussex



£15 payable on the day

Students and the Unwaged – Free

Organiser: Michael Bavidge (

All are Welcome

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