Pascal Bruckner

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Pascal Bruckner
Pascal Bruckner(2).jpg
Pascal Bruckner (2009)
Born (1948-12-15) 15 December 1948 (age 67)
Paris, France
Alma mater Paris I
Paris VII Diderot
École Pratique des Hautes Études
Era 20th-century philosophy
21st-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Continental philosophy
Nouveaux Philosophes
Institutions Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris
Notable ideas
Criticism of the "White Man's Burden" concept

Pascal Bruckner (French: [bʁyknɛʁ]; born 15 December 1948 in Paris) is a French writer, one of the "New Philosophers" who came to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s. Much of his work has been devoted to critiques of French society and culture.


Bruckner attended Jesuit schools in his youth.[1]

After studies at the universities of Paris I and Paris VII Diderot, and then at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, Bruckner became maître de conférences at the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris and a contributor to the Nouvel Observateur.

Bruckner began writing in the vein of the nouveaux philosophes or New Philosopers. He published Parias (Parias), Lunes de fiel (Evil Angels) (adapted as a film by Roman Polanski) and Les voleurs de beauté (The Beauty Stealers) (Prix Renaudot in 1997). Among his essays are La tentation de l'innocence ("The Temptation of Innocence," Prix Médicis in 1995) and, famously, Le Sanglot de l'Homme blanc (The Tears of the White Man), an attack on narcissistic and destructive policies intended to benefit the Third World, and more recently "La tyrannie de la pénitence" (2006), an essay on the West's endless self-criticism, translated as "The Tyranny of Guilt" (2010).

From 1992 to 1999, Bruckner was an active supporter of the Croatian, Bosnian and Kosovar causes against Serbia, and he supported the NATO bombings of Serbia in 1999. In 2003, he supported the toppling of Saddam Hussein, but later he criticized the mistakes of the U.S. military and the use of torture in Abu Graib and Guantanamo.

Le Sanglot de l'Homme blanc[edit]

Le Sanglot de l'Homme blanc (The White Man's Tears), published by the Éditions le Seuil in May 1983, was a controversial opus. The author describes what he sees as the anti-Western and pro-Third-World sentimentalism of some of the Left in the West. The essay had an influence on a whole trend of thought, especially on Maurice Dantec and Michel Houellebecq. The title is a variation on Kipling's "White Man's Burden".

La tyrannie de la pénitence[edit]

Main article: The Tyranny of Guilt

Bruckner's 2006 work La Tyrannie de la Pénitence: Essai sur le Masochisme Occidental (The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism)[2][3] claims that Western intellectuals have been guilt-tripping themselves, opening the West up to mass invasion from Africa and the Muslim World that threatens to destroy the very foundations of its culture. The leftist view can be summarized in the statement: "The white man has sown grief and ruin wherever he has gone." This white guilt has led leftists to not only reject the Renaissance but to romanticize the "South" (Africa and the Middle East) as innocent victims, and revile Israel.

"Nothing is more Western than hatred of the West... All of modern thought can be reduced to mechanical denunciations of the West, emphasizing the latter's hypocrisy, violence, and abomination."

"Europe relieves itself of the crime of the Shoah by blaming Israel, it relieves itself of the sin of colonialism by blaming the United States."

[The Palestinian question has] "quietly relegitimated hatred of the Jews", making Europe "the sick man of the planet".

He concludes that the U.S. remains "the last great nation in the West" because "Whereas America asserts itself, Europe questions itself."

Criticism of multiculturalism[edit]

Bruckner's polemic stance against multiculturalism has kindled an international debate.[4] In an article titled "Enlightenment Fundamentalism or Racism of the Anti-Racists?", he defended Ayaan Hirsi Ali in particular against the criticisms from Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash. According to Bruckner, modern philosophers from Heidegger to Gadamer, Derrida, Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno have mounted a broad attack on the Enlightenment, claiming that "all the evils of our epoch were spawned by this philosophical and literary episode: capitalism, colonialism, totalitarianism."[4] Bruckner agrees that the history of the twentieth century attests to the potential of modernity for fanaticism, but argues that the modern thought that issued from the Enlightenment proved capable of criticizing its own errors, and that "Denouncing the excesses of the Enlightenment in the concepts that it forged means being true to its spirit."[4]


Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Bruckner, Pascal (2013). Against Environmental Panic," The Chronicle of Higher Education, 17 June 2013, accessed 29 June 2013
  2. ^ Daniel Pipes, April, 2010
  3. ^ Daniel Pipes, Dec. 2015
  4. ^ a b c Pascal Bruckner, Enlightenment Fundamentalism or Racism of the Anti-Racists?, appeared originally in German in the online magazine Perlentaucher on 24 January 2007. (English)
  5. ^

External links[edit]