September 8, 1947|
Rémi Brague (born 8 September 1947) is a French historian of philosophy, specializing in the Arabic, Jewish, and Christian thought of the Middle Ages. He is professor emeritus of Arabic and religious philosophy at the Sorbonne, and Romano Guardini chair of philosophy at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.
Educated primarily at the Sorbonne in Paris, Brague began his career as a student of Greek philosophy, developing a phenomenological account of Aristotle's conception of the world. From there, he was led to study Hebrew, in order to read the Old Testament. Finally, he turned to a study of Arabic in order "to read the Jewish philosopher Maimonides' The Guide for the Perplexed in its original language." Accordingly, most of his work has taken place at the intersection of the three Abrahamic religions, as they developed out of the ancient world, formed themselves in dialogue with one another, and eventually gave rise to modernity. He is the author of numerous books on classical and medieval intellectual history, religion, national identity, literature and law, and is perhaps best known in the English-speaking world for his books Eccentric Culture: A Theory of Western Civilization and Law of God: The Philosophical History of an Idea.
While his intellectual influences are various, Brague has developed some of the chief points of his unique account of Western intellectual history in dialogue with the controversial political theorist Leo Strauss: Brague has said that "Leo Strauss taught me that when reading a text, you must be open to the possibility that it contains different layers of meaning. All philosophical books written before the Enlightenment aim at both a wider audience and a small elite, able to understand the deeper meaning of the texts." This approach informed Brague's understanding of Maimonides and the medieval Muslim philosopher Alfarabi, among others, but he declared himself unconvinced "that it applies to the Greek philosophers" in the way Strauss has taught. "But Strauss became so convinced of his own way of interpreting texts, that he came to apply it to all sorts of books, even Cervantes' Don Quixote. Strauss taught me to read very carefully. But I don't consider myself a Straussian, nor do the real Straussians consider me as one of them." Arguably, Brague's "Roman" view of Western Intellectual History (as enunciated in Eccentric Culture) forms a kind of response to Strauss' famous emphasis on the centuries-long tension between Athens and Jerusalem: for Brague, we cannot understand this tension correctly without understanding the historic mediation of both Athens and Jerusalem through Rome. Likewise, Brague's account of Divine Law in the Western intellectual tradition (as presented in The Law of God) reframes the relationship between faith and reason, the secular and the sacred, in response to Strauss' recurrent emphasis on "the Theological-Political Problem."
Brague is the recipient of numerous awards, including honors by both the French National Centre for Scientific Research and the Academy of Moral and Political Science. In 2009, he received both the Josef-Pieper Preis and the Grand prix de philosophie de l'Académie Française, and on Saturday, 28 September 2012, it was announced that Brague, along with Brian E. Daley, would be awarded the 2012 Ratzinger Prize for Theology (cf. Ratzinger Foundation). In 2013, he was named a Chevalier de l'Ordre National de la Légion d'honneur. Additionally, Brague has been a visiting professor at Boston College, Boston University, Penn State University, and many other institutions around the world.
- Rockmore, Tom. Heidegger and French Philosophy: Humanism, Anti-Humanism, and Being. London: Routledge, 1995. 130.
- "'Yellow Ants,' Fundamentalists, and Cowboys – An interview with Rémi Brague." Clarion Review. October 29, 2009.
- "'Yellow Ants,' Fundamentalists, and Cowboys – An interview with Rémi Brague." The Clarion Review. (Oct. 29, 2009)
- Shiffman, Mark. "Neither Greek nor Jew: A Review of Remi Brague, Eccentric Culture." Modern Age (Spring 2005) 160–163. See also Remi Brague, "Athens—Jerusalem—Rome," Communio 40.1 (Spring 2013) 23–24.
- Morrissey, Christopher. "Review of The Law of God, by Remi Brague." Bryn Mawr Classical Review (Sep. 2009). See also Adam Kirsh, "Divine Law and History: Remi Brague" New York Sun (May 9, 2007).
- "Rémi Brague – Preisträger des Josef Pieper Preises 2009" Akademie Franz Hitze Haus (2009)
- "Rémi Brague: Prix de l'Académie française" Académie française (2009)
- "Ratzinger Prize Awarded to Philosopher Remi Brague and Historian Fr. Brian Daley." Zenit.org (Sep. 28, 2012)
- "Décret du 31 décembre 2012 portant promotion et nomination" Legifrance.gouv.fr (Dec. 31, 2012)
- Biography Page remibrague.com (Oct. 21, 2013)
Books and Edited Volumes in French:
- Le Règne de l'homme: Genèse et échec du projet moderne. Paris: Gallimard, 2015.
- Modérément moderne: Le Temps Modernes ou l'invention d'une supercherie. Paris: Flammarion, 2014.
- Le Propre de l'homme. Sur une légitimité menacée. Paris: Flammarion, 2013.
- Les Ancres dans le ciel: L'infrastructure métaphysique. Paris: Seuil, 2011.
- Du Dieu des chrétiens et d'un ou deux autres, Paris: Flammarion, 2008.
- Image vagabonde: Essai sur l'imaginaire baudelairien. Chatou: Éditions de la Transparence, 2008.
- Au moyen du Moyen Age: Philosophies médiévales en chrétienté, judaïsme et islam. Chatou: Éditions de la Transparence, 2006.
- La Loi de Dieu. Histoire philosophique d’une alliance. Paris: Gallimard, 2005.
- Introduction au monde grec: Études d'histoire de la philosophie. Chatou: Éditions de la Transparence, 2005.
- La Sagesse du monde: Histoire de l'expérience humaine de l'univers. Paris: Fayard, 1999.
- (ed.) Saint Bernard et la philosophie. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1993.
- Europe, la voie romaine. Paris: Criterion, 1992.
- (ed.) Herméneutique et ontologie: mélanges en hommage à Pierre Aubenque, phronimos anēr. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1990.
- Aristote et la question du monde: Essai sur le contexte cosmologique et anthropologique de l'ontologie. 1988. Paris: P.U.F., 2001.
- Du temps chez Platon et Aristote: quatre études. 1982. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1995.
- Le Restant. Supplément aux commentaires du Ménon. 1978. Paris: Vrin/Les Belles Lettres,1999.
Books in English Translation:
- On the God of the Christians (and On One or Two Others). Trans. Paul Seaton. Notre Dame: St. Augustine's P, 2013. ISBN 978-1587313455
- Legend of the Middle Ages: Philosophical Explorations of Medieval Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Trans. Lydia G. Cochrane. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2009. ISBN 978-0-226-07080-3
- Eccentric Culture: A Theory of Western Civilization. Trans. Samuel Lester. Notre Dame: St. Augustine's P, 2009. ISBN 978-1587312151
- Law of God: The Philosophical History of an Idea. Trans. Lydia G. Cochrane. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2008. ISBN 978-0-226-07079-7
- The Wisdom of the World: The Human Experience of the Universe in Western Thought. Trans. Theresa Fagan. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2004 ISBN 978-0-226-07077-3
Articles in English:
- "The Necessity of the Good." First Things. (February 2015) 47-52.
- “On Aristotle’s Formula ὅ pote ὄn: Physics IV. 11, 14." tr. E. R. Jimenez. The Bloomsbury Companion to Aristotle. Ed. C. Baracchi. London: Bloomsbury, 2013. 75-88.
- "Natural Law in Islam.” Human Rights and Natural Law: An Intercultural Philosophical Perspective. Ed. Walter Schweidler. Sankt Augustin: Academia-Verlag, 2013. 251-265.
- "The Impossibility of Secular Society." First Things. (October 2013).
- "Athens – Jerusalem – Rome." Communio. 40.1 (Spring 2013)
- "Sin no more. Liberty, the West, and the Judeo-Christian Heritage." The American Spectator. 41.4 (May 2008) 28–35.
- "Natural Law and Divine Law." Communio. 35.3 (Fall 2008) 504–513.
- "Jew, Greek and Christian. Some Reflections on the Pauline Revolution." Expositions. Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities. 1.1 (March 2007) 15–28.
- "Are Non Theocratic Regimes Possible?" The Intercollegiate Review. 41.1 (Spring 2006) 3–12.
- "Is there such a thing as Eurocentrism?" Europe and Asia Beyond East and West. Ed. G. Delanty. London: Routledge, 2006. 257–268.
- "The deadly idea that will define the 21st century." The Catholic Herald (June 23, 2006) 10.
- "Christianity: a Fact in History." A Generative Thought: An Introduction to the Works of Luigi Giussani. Ed. E. Buzzi. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2003. 34–39.
- "Wasted Time?" Communio. 30.1 (Spring 2003) 70–78.
- "Facing Reality." Courage. Ed. B. Darling-Smith. South Bend, IN" U of Notre Dame P, 2002. 43–53.
- "History of Philosophy as Freedom." Epoché. 7.1 (Fall 2002) 39–50.
- "Is Physics Interesting? Some Late Ancient and Medieval Answers." Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal. 23.2 (2002) 183–201.
- "Is European Culture 'a Tale of Two Cities'?". Historical, Cultural, Socio-political, and Economic Perspectives on Europe. Ed. Suzanne Stern-Gillet and M. Teresa Lunati. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 2000. 33–50.
- "The Conditions Under Which We May Have a Future." Communio. 27.3 (Fall 2000) 549–561.
- "The Angst of Reason." Faith and Reason. Ed. T.L. Smith. South Bend, IN: Saint Augustine's P, 1999. 235–244.
- " Athens, Jerusalem, Mecca: Leo Strauss's 'Muslim' Understanding of Greek Philosophy." Poetics Today. 19.2 (Summer 1998) 235–259.
- "Are we at Home in the World?" The Longing for Home. Ed. L. Rouner. U of Notre Dame P, 1997. 95–111.
- "Cosmological Mysticism: The Imitation of the Heavenly Bodies in Ibn Tufayl's Hayy ibn Yaqzan." Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal. 19.2 / 20.1 (1997) 91–102.
- "Geocentrism as a Humiliation for Man." Medieval Encounters. 3.3 (1997) 187–210.
- "A Medieval Model of Subjectivity: Toward a Rediscovery of Fleshliness." The Ancients and the Moderns. Ed. R. Lilly. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1996. 230–247.
- "The Impotence of the Word: The God Who Has Said It All." Diogenes. 170 (1995) 43–68.
- "Christ, Culture & the New Europe." First Things. (August 1992).
- "Leo Strauss and Maimonides." Leo Strauss's Thought: Towards a Critical Engagement. Ed. Alan Udoff. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1991. 93–114.
- "Aristotle's Definition of Motion and Its Ontological Implications." Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal. 13.2 (1990) 1–22.
- "The soul of salvation." Communio. 14.3 (Fall 1987).
- "The Body of the Speech: A New Hypothesis on the Compositional Structure of Timaeus's Monologue." Platonic Investigations. Ed. D.J. O'Meara. Washington, D.C.: Catholic UP, 1985. 53-83.
- "On the Christian Model of Unity: The Trinity." Communio 10 (1983): 149–166.
- "Radical Modernity and the Roots of Ancient Thought." Independent Journal of Philosophy. 4 (1983) 63–74.
- Official website: http://remibrague.com.
- Brague's page at Academia.edu, which has a number of essays in French and English translation.
- A lecture on "God and Freedom: Biblical Roots of the Western Idea of Liberty" at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome (December 2013).
- A lecture on "Secular Society" on YouTube at the University of Notre Dame (October 2012).
- The Birks Lecture on "'To Be' as Command," on YouTube at McGill University (2012)
- A lecture on "The Question Atheism Can't Answer" at McGill University (2012).
- An interview with Brague on the Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Social Problems, in Il Sussidiario (November 2012).
- A lecture on "The Failure of 'The Modern Project'" at Catholic University of America (December 2010). Scroll to the bottom of the page.
- An interview with Brague on "Secularity vs. Secularism," in Mercatornet(October 2010).
- An interview with Brague in the Clarion Review (October 2009).
- An extensive interview with Brague, excerpted from his book The Legend of the Middle Ages, by the University of Chicago Press (2009).
- An interview on clericalism and the role of the laity, with the website 30Giorni (2009).
- A review of The Law of God, in Bryn Mawr Classical Review, (September 2007).
- A review of Eccentric Culture, in Modern Age (Spring 2005).