French Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780198829171

Stephen Gaukroger; Knox Peden
152 ページ
111 x 174 mm
Very Short Introductions



  • Covers the whole period of French philosophy from its origins in the sixteenth century up to the present
  • Analyses the history of French philosophy in its social, political, and cultural context
  • Offers a corrective to narrow treatments of post-war French philosophy
  • Provides introductions to philosophers just now beginning to acquire a readership in English
  • Avoids a sectarian treatment of movements within contemporary French philosophy, showing how each plays a role in maintaining the distinct character of French philosophy, past and present

French culture is unique in that philosophy has played a significant role from the early-modern period onwards, intimately associated with political, religious, and literary debates, as well as with epistemological and scientific ones. While Latin was the language of learning there was a universal philosophical literature, but with the rise of vernacular literatures things changed and a distinctive national form of philosophy arose in France.
This Very Short Introduction covers French philosophy from its origins in the sixteenth century up to the present, analysing it within its social, political, and cultural context. Beginning with psychology and epistemology, Stephen Gaukroger and Knox Peden then move onto the emergence of radical philosophy in the eighteenth century, before considering post-revolutionary philosophy in the nineteenth century, philosophy in the world wars, the radical thought of the 1960s, and finally French philosophy today. Throughout, they explore the dilemma sustained by the markedly national conception of French philosophy, and its history of speaking out on matters of universal concern.


1: Introduction
2: The Origins of French Philosophy
3: Radical Philosophy: the Eighteenth Century
4: Post-Revolutionary Philosophy: the Nineteenth Century and the Third Republic
5: Philosophy in Wartime: Phenomenology and Existentialism
6: Restless Times: Structuralism and Post-Structuralism
7: French Philosophy Today: Competing Ambitions
8: Conclusion
References and Further Reading


Stephen Gaukroger, University of Sydney, and Knox Peden, Flinders University
Stephen Gaukroger, who was educated at the University of London and the University of Cambridge, is Emeritus Professor of History of Philosophy and History of Science at the University of Sydney. He is the author of fourteen books and the editor of nine collections of essays.
Knox Peden is Senior Lecturer in Continental Philosophy at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia. He is the author of Spinoza Contra Phenomenology: French Rationalism from Cavaillès to Deleuze (2014) and has published widely on twentieth-century French thought in historical and philosophical journals.