Tuesday, February 09, 2010


French "Thinker" Bernard-Henri Lévy a laughing stock for quoting fictional philosopher

As a guy who studied Philosophy extensively in college (I am just a few units short of my degree, cuz I switched majors), I find this extremely humorous.

From the Times Online:

When France’s most dashing philosopher took aim at Immanuel Kant in his latest book, calling him “raving mad” and a “fake”, his observations were greeted with the usual adulation. To support his attack, Bernard-Henri Lévy — a showman-penseur known simply by his initials, BHL — cited the little-known 20th-century thinker Jean-Baptiste Botul.

There was one problem: Botul was invented by a journalist in 1999 as an elaborate joke, and BHL has become the laughing stock of the Left Bank.

There were clues. One supposed work by Botul — from which BHL quoted — was entitled The Sex Life of Immanuel Kant. The philosopher’s school is known as Botulism and subscribes to his theory of “La Metaphysique du Mou” — the Metaphysics of the Flabby. Botul even has a Wikipedia entry that explains that he is a “fictional French philosopher”.

But Mr Lévy, a leader among the nouveaux philosophes school of the 1970s, was unaware. In On War in Philosophy, he writes that Botul had proved once and for all “just after the Second World War, in his series of lectures to the neo-Kantians of Paraguay, that their hero was an abstract fake, a pure spirit of pure appearance”.

I can't tell you how many times I've seen Philosophy professors go off the rails. I had one Professor whose garbled thinkin on Wittgenstein and Chomsy I could never understand. I was advised by the other Professors he was a "genius". During my tenure as a student, he helped his mistress kill her husband by wiring his car's ignition to a bomb.

The other Philosophy Professors at my college mortgaged their homes to pay his bail. During the trial it was revealed he believed the CIA was listening to his thoughts through the fillings in his teeth.

That is genius, isn't it?

I love Philosophy, but I have never met a stranger group of people than Philosophers.