By Alain Finkielkraut and Élisabeth de Fontenay
So we’ve decided to communicate by letter rather than in conversation. I think it’s wise and will prove beneficial to use this old literary tool, although I do wonder whether it’s a little evasive. I do like confrontation but I was actually worried about seeing you face to face and about the implied violence behind heated discussion. Put another way, I was wary of running into non-negotiable stalemates in real time and seeing cracks appear in a very dear and long-standing friendship.
If I shot everything that moved you’d be right to want to dissuade me, and I think I’d be sensible enough to follow your advice. But I’m not at all trigger happy. And if I ever do lose my cool it’s because I’m a pet target for people who never stop talking about “change” but always stay in the same place themselves.
United by friendship but divided by politics. How fascinating for readers to follow this animated debate between two great philosophers who develop their ideas by fuelling them with constant reading (Foucault, Levinas, Adorno, Kundera), who debate about identity, feminism and gender, being precise, conservatism, Pope Francis, etc., who explore questions of finiteness, human rights and Judaism… in other words who dissect (almost) every subject. What does it mean now to “Disagree with Sartre and agree with Aron”?
An exceptional meeting of minds. A philosophical friendship.
Emeritus professor of philosophy at Paris-I Panthéon-Sorbonne University, Élisabeth de Fontenay is the author, amongst others, of Le Silence des bêtes : la philosophie à l’épreuve de l’animalité (1998; republished 2015), Diderot ou le matérialisme enchanté (1981), and Le silence d’Esther (2014).
The philosopher, Alain Finkielkraut has had several books published by Stock: La Seule Exactitude (2015), L’Identité malheureuse (2013), Et si l’amour durait (2011) and Un cœur intelligent (2009). He has been presenting the weekly show “Répliques” on France Culture for thirty years, and was admitted to the Académie française in January 2016.