Michel Onfray

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Michel Onfray
Michel Onfray no Fronteiras do Pensamento Santa Catarina 2012 (8212742449).jpg
Born (1959-01-01) 1 January 1959 (age 59)
Chambois, Orne, France
Alma materUniversity of Caen Lower Normandy
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolMaterialism
Hedonism
Atheism
Main interests
Atheism, religion, ethics, Cyrenaic school, hedonism, Epicureanism, pleasure, history of philosophy, materialism, aesthetics, bioethics
Notable ideas
The principle of Gulliver (le principe de Gulliver)

Michel Onfray (French: [miʃɛl ɔ̃fʁɛ]; born 1 January 1959) is a contemporary French writer and philosopher who defends a hedonistic, epicurean and atheist world view. He is a highly prolific author on philosophy, having written more than 100 books.[2][3]

He has gained notoriety for writing such works as Traité d'athéologie: Physique de la métaphysique (translated into English as Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), Politique du rebelle: traité de résistance et d'insoumission, Physiologie de Georges Palante, portrait d'un nietzchéen de gauche, La puissance d'exister and La sculpture de soi for which he won the annual Prix Médicis in 1993.

His philosophy is mainly influenced by such thinkers as Nietzsche, Epicurus, the cynic and cyrenaic schools, and French materialism.

Life[edit]

Onfray in Spain in 2009

Born to a family of Norman farmers, Onfray was sent to a weekly Catholic boarding school from ages 10 to 14. This was a solution many parents in France adopted at the time when they lived far from the village school or had working hours that made it too hard or too expensive to transport their children to and from school daily. The young Onfray, however, did not appreciate his new environment, which he describes as a place of suffering. Onfray went on to graduate with a teaching degree in philosophy. He taught this subject to senior students at a high school that concentrates on technical degrees in Caen between 1983 and 2002. At that time, he and his supporters established the Université populaire de Caen, proclaiming its foundation on a free-of-charge basis and on the manifesto written by Onfray in 2004 (La communauté philosophique).

Onfray is an atheist[4] and author of Traité d'Athéologie (Atheist Manifesto), which "became the number one best-selling nonfiction book in France for months when it was published in the Spring of 2005 (the word 'atheologie' Onfray borrowed from Georges Bataille). This book repeated its popular French success in Italy, where it was published in September 2005 and quickly soared to number one on Italy's bestseller lists."[4]

In the 2002 election, Onfray endorsed the French Revolutionary Communist League and its candidate for the French presidency, Olivier Besancenot.[5] In 2007, he endorsed José Bové, but eventually voted for Olivier Besancenot, and conducted an interview with the future French president Nicolas Sarkozy, whom he declared was an "ideological enemy" for Philosophie Magazine.[6]

His book Le crépuscule d'une idole : L'affabulation freudienne (The Twilight of an Idol: The Freudian Confabulation), published in 2010, has been the subject of considerable controversy in France because of its criticism of Freud. He recognizes Freud as a philosopher, but he brings attention to the considerable cost of Freud's treatments and casts doubts on the effectiveness of his methods.[7]

In 2015, he published Cosmos, the first book of a trilogy. Onfray considers ironically that it constitutes his "very first book".[8]

Philosophy[edit]

Onfray writes that there is no philosophy without self-psychoanalysis. He describes himself as an atheist[9] and considers theist religion to be indefensible.

View on the history of Western philosophy and philosophical project[edit]

Onfray has published 9 books under a project of history of philosophy called Counter-history of Philosophy. In each of these books Onfray deals with a particular historical period in western philosophy. The series of books are composed by the titles I. Les Sagesses Antiques (2006) (on western antiquity), II. Le Christianisme hédoniste (2006) (on Christian hedonism from the Renaissance period), III. Les libertins baroques (2007) (on libertine thought from the Baroque era), IV. Les Ultras des Lumières (2007) (on radical enlightenment thought), V. L'Eudémonisme social (2008) (on radical utilitarian and eudomonistic thought), VI. Les Radicalités existentielles (2009) (on 19th and 20th century radical existentialist thinkers) and VII.La construction du surhomme: Jean-Marie Guyau, Friedrich Nietzsche (on Guyau´s and Nietzsche´s philosophy in relation to the concept of the Übermensch). VIII Les Freudiens hérétiques (2013). IX Les Consciences réfractaires (2013).

In an interview he establishes his view on the history of philosophy. For him:

There is in fact a multitude of ways to practice philosophy, but out of this multitude, the dominant historiography picks one tradition among others and makes it the truth of philosophy: that is to say the idealist, spiritualist lineage compatible with the Judeo-Christian world view. From that point on, anything that crosses this partial – in both senses of the word – view of things finds itself dismissed. This applies to nearly all non-Western philosophies, Oriental wisdom in particular, but also sensualist, empirical, materialist, nominalist, hedonistic currents and everything that can be put under the heading of "anti-Platonic philosophy". Philosophy that comes down from the heavens is the kind that – from Plato to Levinas by way of Kant and Christianity – needs a world behind the scenes to understand, explain and justify this world. The other line of force rises from the earth because it is satisfied with the given world, which is already so much.[10]

"His mission is to rehabilitate materialist and sensualist thinking and use it to re-examine our relationship to the world. Approaching philosophy as a reflection of each individual's personal experience, Onfray inquires into the capabilities of the body and its senses and calls on us to celebrate them through music, painting, and fine cuisine."[11]

Hedonism[edit]

He defines hedonism "as an introspective attitude to life based on taking pleasure yourself and pleasuring others, without harming yourself or anyone else."[12] "Onfray's philosophical project is to define an ethical hedonism, a joyous utilitarianism, and a generalized aesthetic of sensual materialism that explores how to use the brain's and the body's capacities to their fullest extent – while restoring philosophy to a useful role in art, politics, and everyday life and decisions."[4]

Onfray's works "have explored the philosophical resonances and components of (and challenges to) science, painting, gastronomy, sex and sensuality, bioethics, wine, and writing. His most ambitious project is his projected six-volume Counter-history of Philosophy",[4] of which three have been published.

For Onfray:

In opposition to the ascetic ideal advocated by the dominant school of thought, hedonism suggests identifying the highest good with your own pleasure and that of others; the one must never be indulged at the expense of sacrificing the other. Obtaining this balance – my pleasure at the same time as the pleasure of others – presumes that we approach the subject from different angles – political, ethical, aesthetic, erotic, bioethical, pedagogical, historiographical....[10]

His philosophy aims for "micro-revolutions", or "revolutions of the individual and small groups of like-minded people who live by his hedonistic, libertarian values."[13]

Relation to hedonism[edit]

In La puissance d'exister: Manifeste hédoniste, Onfray claims that the political dimension of hedonism runs from Epicurus to John Stuart Mill through Jeremy Bentham and Claude Adrien Helvétius. What political hedonism aims for is to create the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers.

Atheism[edit]

Blogger J. M. Cornwell praised Onfray's Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, claiming it "is a religious and historical time capsule" containing what he sees as "the true deceptions of theological philosophy".[14]

Recently he has been involved in promoting the work of Jean Meslier,[4][15] an 18th-century French Catholic priest who was discovered, upon his death, to have written a book-length philosophical essay promoting atheism.[15]

In the atheist manifesto, Onfray has said that among the "incalculable number of contradictions and improbabilities in the body of the text of the synoptic Gospels"[16] two claims are made: crucifixion victims were not laid to rest in tombs, and in any case Jews were not crucified in this period. Ancient Historian John Dickson, of Macquarie University, has said that Philo of Alexandria, writing about the time of Jesus, says that sometimes the Romans handed the bodies of crucifixion victims over to family members for proper burial. The Roman Jewish historian Flavius Josephus even remarks: "the Jews are so careful about funeral rites that even malefactors who have been sentenced to crucifixion are taken down and buried before sunset".[17] Regarding the second claim, Dickson calls this a "clear historical blunder".[18]

In his latest book, Décadence he argued for Christ myth theory, which is a hypotheses that Jesus was not a historical person. Onfray based this on the fact that, other than in the New Testament, Jesus is barely mentioned in accounts of the period.[19]

The Université Populaire[edit]

Onfray was a high school philosophy teacher for two decades until he resigned in 2002 to establish a tuition-free Université Populaire (People's University) at Caen, at which he and several colleagues teach philosophy and other subjects.[4]

"The Université Populaire, which is open to all who cannot access the state university system, and on principle does not accept any money from the State -- Onfray uses the profits from his books to help finance it -- has had enormous success. Based on Onfray's book La Communauté Philosophique: Manifeste pour l'Université Populaire (2004), the original UP now has imitators in Picardy, Arras, Lyon, Narbonne, and Le Mans, with five more in preparation."[4]

"The national public radio network France Culture annually broadcasts his course of lectures to the Université Populaire on philosophical themes."[4]

Works[edit]

  • Le Ventre des philosophes. Critique de la raison diététique, Grasset, 1989
  • Cynismes. Portrait du philosophe en chien, Grasset, 1990
  • L’Art de jouir. Pour un matérialisme hédoniste, Grasset, 1991
  • La Sculpture de soi. La Morale esthétique, Grasset, 1993
  • Ars Moriendi. Cent petits tableaux sur les avantages et les inconvénients de la mort, Folle Avoine, 1994
  • La Raison gourmande. Philosophie du goût, Grasset, 1995
  • Les Formes du temps. Théorie du sauternes, Mollat, 1996
  • Théorie du corps amoureux. Pour une érotique solaire, Grasset, 2000
  • Antimanuel de philosophie. Leçons socratiques et alternatives, Bréal, 2001
  • Physiologie de Georges Palante. Pour un nietzschéisme de gauche, Grasset, 2002
  • L’Invention du plaisir. Fragments cyrénaïques, LGF, 2002
  • Célébration du génie colérique. Tombeau de Pierre Bourdieu, Galilée, 2002
  • Féeries anatomiques. Généalogie du corps faustien, Grasset, 2003
  • La Communauté philosophique. Manifeste pour l’Université populaire, Galilée, 2004
  • Traité d’athéologie. Physique de la métaphysique, Grasset, 2005
  • La Sagesse tragique. Du bon usage de Nietzsche, LGF, 2006
  • Suite à La Communauté philosophique. Une machine à porter la voix, Galilée, 2006
  • La Puissance d’exister. Manifeste hédoniste, Grasset, 2006
  • L’Innocence du devenir. La Vie de Frédéric Nietzsche, Galilée, 2008
  • Le Songe d’Eichmann. Précédé de : Un kantien chez les nazis, Galilée, 2008
  • Le Souci des plaisirs. Construction d’une érotique solaire, Flammarion, 2008
  • La Religion du poignard. Éloge de Charlotte Corday, Galilée, 2009
  • Le Crépuscule d'une idole. L’Affabulation freudienne, Grasset, 2010
  • Apostille au Crépuscule. Pour une psychanalyse non freudienne, Grasset, 2010
  • Manifeste hédoniste, Autrement, 2011
  • L'Ordre libertaire. La Vie philosophique d’Albert Camus, Flammarion, 2012
  • Vies et mort d’un dandy. Construction d’un mythe, Galilée, 2012
  • Rendre la raison populaire. Université populaire, mode d’emploi, Autrement, 2012
  • Le Canari du nazi. Essais sur la monstruosité, Collectif, Autrement, 2013
  • La Raison des sortilèges. Entretiens sur la musique, Autrement, 2013
  • Bestiaire nietzschéen. Les Animaux philosophiques, Galilée, 2014
  • Haute école. Brève histoire du cheval philosophique, Flammarion, 2015
  • Penser l'Islam, Grasset, 2016
  • La Force du sexe faible. Contre-histoire de la Révolution française, Autrement, 2016
  • Tocqueville et les Apaches, Autrement, 2017
  • Vivre une vie philosophique. Thoreau le sauvage, Le Passeur, 2017
  • Miroir du nihilisme. Houellebecq éducateur, Galilée, 2017
  • Solstice d'hiver : Alain, les Juifs, Hitler et l'Occupation, L'Observatoire, 2018
  • Le Deuil de la mélancolie, Robert Laffont (announced)


  • Brève encyclopédie du monde
    • Cosmos. Une ontologie matérialiste, Flammarion, 2015
    • Décadence. Vie et mort du judéo-christianisme, Flammarion, 2017
    • Sagesse, Flammarion (announced)


  • Contre-histoire de la littérature
    • Le réel n'a pas eu lieu. Le Principe de Don Quichotte, Autrement, 2014
    • La Passion de la méchanceté. Sur un prétendu divin marquis, Autrement, 2014


  • Contre-histoire de la philosophie
    • Les Sagesses antiques, Grasset, 2006
    • Le Christianisme hédoniste, Grasset, 2006
    • Les Libertins baroques, Grasset, 2007
    • Les Ultras des Lumières, Grasset, 2007
    • L’Eudémonisme social, Grasset, 2008
    • Les Radicalités existentielles, Grasset, 2009
    • La Construction du surhomme, Grasset, 2011
    • Les Freudiens hérétiques, Grasset, 2013
    • Les Consciences réfractaires, Grasset, 2013
    • La Pensée postnazie, Grasset, 2018
    • L'Autre pensée 68, Grasset, 2018


  • Esthetic
    • L’Œil nomade. La Peinture de Jacques Pasquier, Folle Avoine, 1993
    • Métaphysique des ruines. La Peinture de Monsù Desiderio, Mollat, 1995
    • Splendeur de la catastrophe. La Peinture de Vladimir Vélikovic, Galilée, 2002
    • Les Icônes païennes. Variations sur Ernest Pignon-Ernest, Galilée, 2003
    • Archéologie du présent. Manifeste pour une esthétique cynique, Adam Biro/Grasset, 2003
    • Épiphanies de la séparation. La Peinture de Gilles Aillaud, Galilée, 2004
    • Oxymoriques. Les Photographies de Bettina Rheims, Jannink, 2005
    • Fixer des vertiges : Les Photographies de Willy Ronis, Galilée, 2007
    • Le Chiffre de la peinture. L’Œuvre de Valerio Adami, Galilée, 2008
    • La Vitesse des simulacres. Les Sculptures de Pollès, Galilée, 2008
    • L'Apiculteur et les Indiens. La Peinture de Gérard Garouste, Galilée, 2009
    • Transe est connaissance. Un chamane nommé Combas, Flammarion, 2014


  • Political views
    • Politique du rebelle. Traité de résistance et d’insoumission, Grasset, 1997
    • La Pensée de midi. Archéologie d’une gauche libertaire, Galilée, 2007
    • Le Postanarchisme expliqué à ma grand-mère. Le Principe de Gulliver, Galilée, 2012
    • Le Miroir aux alouettes. Principes d'athéisme social, Plon, 2016
    • Décoloniser les provinces. Contribution aux présidentielles, L'Observatoire, 2017
    • La Cour des Miracles. Carnets de campagne, L'Observatoire, 2017
    • Zéro de conduite. Carnet d'après-campagne, L'Observatoire, 2018


  • Hedonist diaries
    • Le Désir d’être un volcan, Grasset, 1996
    • Les Vertus de la foudre, Grasset, 1998
    • L’Archipel des comètes, Grasset, 2001
    • La Lueur des orages désirés, Grasset, 2007
    • Le Magnétisme des solstices, Flammarion, 2013
    • Le Temps de l'étoile polaire, Robert Laffont (announced)


  • The fierce philosophy
    • Exercices anarchistes, Galilée, 2004
    • Traces de feux furieux, Galilée, 2006
    • Philosopher comme un chien, Galilée, 2010


  • Travelogue
    • À côté du désir d’éternité. Fragments d’Égypte, Mollat, 1998
    • Esthétique du pôle Nord. Stèles hyperboréennes, Grasset, 2002
    • Théorie du voyage. Poétique de la géographie, LGF, 2007
    • Les Bûchers de Bénarès. Cosmos, Éros et Thanatos, Galilée, 2008
    • Nager avec les piranhas. Carnet guyanais, Gallimard, 2017
    • Le Désir ultramarin. Les Marquises après les Marquises, Gallimard, 2017


  • Tetralogy of elements
    • Le Recours aux forêts. La Tentation de Démocrite, Galilée, 2009
    • La Sagesse des abeilles. Première leçon de Démocrite, Galilée, 2012
    • La Constellation de la baleine. Le Songe de Démocrite, Galilée, 2013
    • La Cavalière de Pégase. Dernière leçon de Démocrite, Galilée (announced)


  • Poetry
    • Un requiem athée, Galilée, 2013
    • Avant le silence. Haïkus d’une année, Galilée, 2014
    • Les Petits serpents. Avant le silence, II, Galilée, 2015
    • L'Éclipse de l'éclipse. Avant le silence, III, Galilée, 2016

References[edit]

  1. ^ Michel Onfray. L'ordre Libertaire: La vie philosophique de Albert Camus. Flammarion. 2012.
  2. ^ Ireland, Doug (Winter 2006). "Introductory Note to Onfray". New Politics. X (4). Retrieved 2014-04-06. a gifted and prolific author who, at the age of only 46, has already written 30 books
  3. ^ Complete list of works on the French Wikipedia page
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Ireland, Doug (Winter 2006). "Introductory Note to Onfray". New Politics. X (4). Retrieved 2014-04-06.
  5. ^ "Michel Onfray vote pour Olivier Besancenot". L'Obs. April 4, 2007. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  6. ^ Nicolas Sarkozy et Michel Onfray - CONFIDENCES ENTRE ENNEMIS http://www.philomag.com/article,dialogue,nicolas-sarkozy-et-michel-onfray-confidences-entre-ennemis,288.php
  7. ^ "Un psychanalyste réagit au "Crépuscule d'une idole" de Michel Onfray". 26 April 2010.
  8. ^ "Cosmos. Une ontologie matérialiste (pour tout le monde) • FLAMMARION • L'essai du mois, Michel Onfray, Cosmos, Nature, Catherine Portevin, Deuil, Pensée magique • Philosophie magazine". www.philomag.com.
  9. ^ "He is a self-described hedonist, atheist, libertarian, and left-wing anarchist".(en) France, Media, Michel Onfray, A self labeled Anarchist Philosopher
  10. ^ a b "Michel Onfray: A philosopher of the Enlightenment" (PDF).
  11. ^ "THE BRAIN FROM TOP TO BOTTOM". thebrain.mcgill.ca.
  12. ^ "Atheism à la mode - New Humanist". newhumanist.org.uk.
  13. ^ "France, Media, Michel Onfray, A self labeled Anarchist Philosoph". www.ainfos.ca.
  14. ^ Cornwell, J. M. (2007-01-24). "Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism and Islam". The Celebrity Cafe. Archived from the original on 2009-09-30. Retrieved 2010-06-01.
  15. ^ a b Michel Onfray, "Jean Meslier and 'The Gentle Inclination of Nature" (translated into English by Marvin Mandel), New Politics, Winter 2006 Archived 2006-09-08 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ [Atheist Manifesto, 127]
  17. ^ [Josephus, Jewish War 4.317]
  18. ^ "Page not found - Macquarie University" (PDF). www.anchist.mq.edu.au. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-09-14.
  19. ^ Metro.co.uk, Rob Waugh for (12 April 2017). "'Jesus never actually existed at all,' controversial French author argues". Metro.

Further reading[edit]

  • In bosnian
    • Onfre u Podgorici: Ciklus predavanja, Centar za građansko obrazovanje, 2013 (Filip Kovacevic)
  • In french
    • Dieu avec esprit : réponse à Michel Onfray, P. Rey, 2005 (Irène Fernandez)
    • L'anti traité d'athéologie : le système Onfray mis à nu, Presses de la Renaissance, 2005 (Matthieu Baumier)
    • Michel Onfray, la force majeure de l'athéisme, Pleins Feux, 2006 (Alain Jugnon)
    • Le dieu caché : Michel Onfray éclairé par Blaise Pascal, le Cep, 2006 (Philippe Lauria)
    • Des-montages : le poujadisme hédoniste de Michel Onfray, I & D Vingt-scènes, 2006 (Harold Bernat)
    • Anti-Onfray 1 : sur Freud et la psychanalyse, L'Harmattan, 2010 (Emile Jalley)
    • Anti-Onfray 2 : les réactions au livre de Michel Onfray : débat central, presse, psychanalyse théorique, L'Harmattan, 2010 (Emile Jalley)
    • Anti-Onfray 3 : Les réactions au livre de Michel Onfray Clinique, psychopathologie, philosophie, lettres, histoire, sciences sociales, politique, réactions de l'étranger, le décret scélérat sur la psychothérapie, L'Harmattan, 2010 (Emile Jalley)
    • Mais pourquoi tant de haine ?, Seuil, 2010 (Élisabeth Roudinesco)
    • Un crépuscule pour Onfray : minutes de l'interrogatoire du contempteur de Freud, L'Harmattan, 2011 (Guy Laval)
    • L'évangile de Michel Onfray ! : ou Comment Onfray peur inspirer les plus ou moins chrétiens ainsi que tous les autres, Golias, 2011 (Thierry Jaillet)
    • La Gageure, autopsie du traité d'athéologie de monsieur Onfray, Les Éditions du Net, 2012 (Abdellah Erramdani)
    • Antichrists et philosophes : en défense de Michel Onfray, Obsidiane, 2012 (Alain Jugnon)
    • Michel Onfray, le principe d'incandescence, Grasset, 2013 (Martine Torrens Frandji)
    • Michel Onfray : une imposture intellectuelle, les Ed. de l'Epervier, 2013 (Michael Paraire)
    • Onfray coi maintenant ? : quelques réflexions (tardives) sur et autour du livre Crépuscule d'une idole : affabulations freudiennes, L'Harmattan, 2014 (Michel Santacroce)
    • La contre-histoire de Michel Onfray, Tatamis, 2014 (Jonathan Sturel)
    • L'anti traité d'athéologie: le système onfray mis à nu, Presses de la Renaissance, 2014 (Matthieu Baumier)
    • Réponse à Michel Onfray : et autres textes sur la Résistance, Delga, 2015 (Léon Landini)
    • Michel Onfray ou L'intuition du monde, Le Passeur éditeur, 2016 (Adeline Baldacchino)
    • Contre Onfray, Nouvelles éditions Lignes, 2016 (Alain Jugnon)
    • Monsieur Onfray au pays des mythes : réponses sur Jésus et le christianisme, Salvator, 2017 (Jean-Marie Salamito)
    • Michel Onfray, la raison du vide, Pierre-Guillaume de Roux, 2017 (Rémi Lélian)
    • Michel Onfray... le vin mauvais ?, Tonnerre de l'Est éditions, 2017 (Thierry Weber, Olivier Humbrecht)
    • En finir avec Onfray : du déni de Bataille à la boboïsation ambiante, Champ Vallon, 2018 (Gilles Mayné)

External links[edit]