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August 14 , 2008

How the French Think

An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectual People


In France, perhaps more so than anywhere else, intellectual activity is a way of life embraced by the majority of society, not just a small group of élite thinkers. And because French thought has also shaped the Western world, Sudhir Hazareesingh argues in How the French Think, we cannot hope to understand modern history without first making sense of the French mind-set.
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Hazareesingh traces the evolution of French thought from Descartes and Rousseau to Sartre and Derrida. In the French intellectual tradition, he shows, recurring themes have pervaded nearly every aspect of French life, from the rhetorical flair once embodied by the philosophes to the country’s modern embrace of secularism. Sweeping aside generalizations and easy stereotypes, Hazareesingh offers an erudite portrait of the venerated tradition of French thought and the people who embody it.

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