Global Humanities Senior Research and Teaching Stay at Freie Universitaet Berlin
The Dilemma of Sacrifice in French Thought, from the Enlightenment to the Revolution
The Age of Enlightenment has been highly suspicious of the notions of sacrifice and self-sacrifice, which were deemed to be intrinsically linked to a "religious" or "superstitious" way of thinking. A major paradox of modern Western cultural history is the strong revival of those notions at the very end of the XVIIIth century, in the wake of the French Revolution. While the French Revolution appears, on many grounds, as an ideological heir to the Enlightenment, it also provided a favourable context for reactivating and rephrasing the discourses of sacrifice and self-sacrifice as political discourses, thus creating a new link between politics and sacralisation. In many respects, we still live with this ambiguous heritage.
Philippe Roger is a Senior Research Fellow at the French National Center for Scientific Research (UMR 8599 at Paris Sorbonne) and a Directeur d’études at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. He also teaches at the University of Virginia and is Global Distinguished Visiting Professor at New York University. A specialist of Sade’s œuvre, he edited numerous collected works dealing with 18thc. literature, culture, and history. He is also the author of Roland Barthes, roman (1986) and devoted more than 20 articles to Barthes. His book L’Ennemi américain. Généalogie de l’antiaméricanisme français (2002) received the Prix Aujourd’hui 2003 and the Prize for best book translated from the French awarded by French-American Foundation and the Gould Foundation. For 20 years, he has been the editor of Critique, founded by Georges Bataille.