Neoliberalism: When French philosophy thinks about American economics

From an economic perspective, the vision of man becomes very, very poor. Man is a being who responds to stimuli from the environment, and we can modify his behavior with a choice of stimuli. And what government is, what power is, is the use of different kinds of stimuli. The economic theory gives a set of tools, a “good manner” to use stimuli to obtain the right comportment. In this respect, the result of the theory, perhaps, is to produce a vision of man that is very impoverished.

This is French philosopher François Ewald taking a moment away from his task of explaining Foucault’s thoughts on Gary Becker’s work to elaborate his own thoughts on the discipline of economics. Read the whole thing (pdf). It’s a short paper on Michel Foucault’s thoughts about American liberalism (or neoliberalism) and particularly Gary Becker’s work.

4 thoughts on “Neoliberalism: When French philosophy thinks about American economics

  1. It’s beyond me why anyone would care what French philosophers think while their ship is sinking beneath their feet. (I mean the French welfare state.) Perhaps it’s easier to pay attention to them if you don’t know French. Bad translation often adds a sheen of mystery to abject nonsense. It’s all about translation anyway. In the late 19th century semi-employed French high school teachers read bad translations of German philosophers. That gave rise to today’s “French philosophy,” erasing the wonderful French legacy from the Enlightenment, including the luminous Descartes.

  2. It has nothing to do with either French philosophy or American economics but I just started an interesting book. The Embrace of Unreason. France 1914-1940 by Frederick Brown.. Not on topic of course but French & Delacroix made me immediately think of The Embrace of Unreason.

  3. Prof. Amburgey: I am pleased you have begun to read. I recommend you also give a try to William Shirer’s masterpiece: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. It tells the story of how the German brand of fascism went from nothing to everything in a few scant years.

    • I’ve read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich twice but it’s been a very long time, I should read it again. My wife and I are house-sitting for some friends for 6 weeks this summer outside of Paris, more European history might be just the thing for relaxation.

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