Vincent Descombes

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Vincent Descombes (born 1943)[1] is a French philosopher. His major work has been in the philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. He is particularly noted for a lengthy critique in two volumes of the project he calls cognitivism, and which is, roughly, the view current in philosophy of mind that mental and psychological facts can ultimately be treated as, or reduced to, physical facts about the brain. Descombes has also written an introduction to modern French philosophy (Le même et l'autre) focused on the transition, after 1960, from a focus on the three H's, Hegel, Husserl and Heidegger to the "three masters of suspicion", Marx, Nietzsche and Freud.

Vincent Descombes teaches at the Centre de recherches politiques Raymond Aron, part of the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. He holds an appointment in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

Vincent Descombes was a member of the French Marxist group Socialisme ou Barbarie.


  • Le platonisme, 1970
  • L'inconscient malgré lui, 1977
  • Le même et l'autre. Quarante-cinq ans de philosophie française (1933–1978), Editions de Minuit, 1979. Trans. Modern French Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, 1980. ISBN 0-521-29672-2.
  • Grammaire d'objets en tous genres, 1983. Trans. Objects of All Sorts: A Philosophical Grammar, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986. ISBN 0-8018-2551-2.
  • Proust: Philosophie du roman, Editions de Minuit, 1987. Trans. Proust: Philosophy of the Novel, Stanford University Press, 1992. ISBN 0-8047-2000-2
  • Philosophie par gros temps, 1989 Trans. The Barometer of Modern Reason: On the Philosophies of Current Events, Oxford University Press, 1993. ISBN 0-19-506681-2.
  • La denrée mentale, 1995. Trans. The Mind's Provisions: A Critique of Cognitivism, Princeton University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-691-00131-6.
  • Les institutions du sens, 1996. Trans. The Institutions of Meaning: A Defense of Anthropological Holism, Harvard University Press, 2014. ISBN 0-674-72878-5.
  • Le complément de sujet, 2004
  • Le raisonnement de l'ours, et d'autres essais de philosophie pratique, 2007
  • Les embarras de l'identité, 2013
  • Exercices d'humanité, 2013
  • Le parler de soi, 2014


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