French Philosophy Today: New Figures of the Human in Badiou, Meillassoux, Malabou, Serres and Latour

French Philosophy Today. New Figures of the Human in Badiou, Meillassoux, Malabou, Serres and Latour

‘In this important book Christopher Watkin shows us the transformations of the human in the work of five contemporary philosophers who exceed the limits of post-structuralism. His treatments of Badiou, Meillassoux, Malabou, Serres and Latour function as valuable resources on their work and an original thesis in his own terms.’

Clayton Crockett, University of Central Arkansas

French philosophy today is laying fresh claim to the human. This is not to be mistaken for a return to previous ideas of the human, nor is it, strictly speaking, a posthuman turn. It
is a series of independent, simultaneous initiatives, arising in the writing of diverse current French thinkers to transform and rework the figure of the human. Christopher Watkin draws out both the promises and perils inherent in these attempts to rethink humanity’s relation
to ‘nature’ and ‘culture’, to the objects that surround us, to the possibility of social and political change, to ecology and even to our own brains. This comparative assessment makes visible for the first time one of the most important trends in French thought today.

Reviewed at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews:

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s famously defined philosophical production as concept creation. If they are correct, then Watkin’s work is not just a scholarly commentary of philosophy but also itself an inventive philosophical work.

If Alain Badiou, the first French thinker analyzed in the book, is to be believed, then philosophers are his country’s greatest export. Certainly those who want to keep abreast about what is happening in France today in regards to this export should pick up Watkin’s book.

This book is relevant to anyone who is interested in the scholarly methodology and creative enterprise of syntopically reading multiple philosophical oeuvres together. Watkin’s bibliographic thoroughness and analytic meticulousness is impressive. It appears that he has read almost anything of relevance to the topic. The texts he references include not just philosophical works from various eras, schools and geographies but also works from theology, the humanities, social science, natural sciences and mathematics.

Watkin’s formulations are rigorous and precise. Through his careful reading and evaluation of the texts by the five French philosophers, Watkin introduces an arsenal of new conceptual technologies and divisional schemas for understanding the question of the human.

See here for chapter summaries of the book.