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Seduction, pain, effort... Eight philosophers decipher the "evils" of the time


Highlights: PhiloMonaco Week opens the windows on the world from 12 to 18 June. The objective of the week is to agitate the great contemporary questions. The exchanges will focus on ecology, care, female desire, education and the art of living. For Madame Figaro, eight of these thinkers have declined their fetish words, beacons of the time and springboards to reflection. To discover more about the week, visit the Révélations craft biennial at the Hôtel Hermitage in Monaco.

From 12 to 18 June, PhiloMonaco Week opens the windows on the world. For this event of which Madame Figaro is a partner, eight thinkers take us on the adventure.

For a full week, in Monaco, between the sea and the gardens, between the Princess Grace Theatre and the salons of the Hôtel Hermitage, between the schools and the Condamine market, it will be a festival of thought. A joyful and serious profusion of conversations, conferences, round tables, led by philosophers for an audience of all ages. The objective of the PhiloMonaco week? To agitate the great contemporary questions, to illuminate them by always relating them to our lives, to our actions, to our daily lives. Orchestrated by the Rencontres philosophiques de Monaco and its founding team chaired by Charlotte Casiraghi, the exchanges will focus on ecology, care, female desire, education and the art of living. For Madame Figaro, eight of these thinkers have declined their fetish words, beacons of the time and springboards to reflection. We dive.

To discover

  • Book an exclusive visit to the Révélations craft biennial

Read alsoCharlotte Casiraghi: "What attaches me to philosophy is that it never moves away from the campfire around which we deploy our lives"

In video, the trailer of the film The Circle of Little Philosophers, by Cécile Dejean

Courtesy, by Patrick Savidan

Patrick Savidan Press Photo

To evoke courtesy would imply in all rigor to trace its origin in the circles that today seem posh of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. However, it is not this aspect that is holding us back today. When we speak of it, it is not to invoke the customs of the court at the time of the knights or the troubadours or the status enjoyed by the ladies, but because we think it threatened, because we consider that certain new uses of the world, made of haste, roughness, staging of oneself, condemn it. Courtesy, however, has a hard life. It is like a phoenix. Thus in the fifteenth century, if the urban bourgeoisie buried chivalrous courtesy, it was to take up the torch. It then gives it the look we know it: attitude made of a refined politeness consisting in conforming to the customs of a given world, respect for the conveniences that regulate and fluidify life in society.

Agree on the uses that make it possible to mark the respect due to others, the very one who is also expected of him

Patrick Savidan

In this sense, our courtesy marks the end of courtesy.
It is this same tension that we encounter today: not the end of courtesy but, again, its questioning for a possible succession; In a democratic world where there can be no natural hierarchies, this requires the search for a common form of sociability that can state, for all, what being courteous means, what can be for us the art of the right distance, from oneself to oneself and from oneself to others. If this can lead to renouncing the word itself, let us bet that the intention that fixes its meaning will remain: to agree on the uses that make it possible to mark the respect due to others, the very one who is also expected of him.
Patrick Savidanis a philosopher, professor of political science at the University of Paris-Panthéon-Assas and director of the journal "Raison publique".

The blanket, by Sébastien Talon

Sébastien Talon Press Photo

A cuddly toy? But what is it? We all had cuddly toys, this object that does not say its name, which has neither precise shape nor even sometimes consistency. He can be all that and none of that, that's his strength. The English pediatrician and psychoanalyst, Donald Winnicott, calls it "the transitional object." A blanket is a transition between two ages, two worlds, the inside and the outside. It is a third between two things that are unknown and scary, such as sleep, which is why it is so valuable at bedtime.

The cuddly toy comes at such a striking moment when the feeling of existence emerges, a nameless vertigo for the child

Sebastien Talon

It is also the first external object that the child chooses himself as he begins to be: it is the object "me-not-me", and no longer the fist or the finger in the mouth. It intervenes at such a striking moment when the feeling of existence emerges, a nameless vertigo for the child. So when the language comes, "cuddly toy" is like "daddy" or "mommy", two phonemes that are easy to say. Language is anxious, because it separates, then one day it will reassure, because we will be able to say what we think or feel. Between 3 and 5 years old, there will be no more blanket, or almost no more, one day the child will forget it, no longer need it, because he is no longer afraid to dissolve in language. The blanket is this potential space where the child is still all-powerful and can by thought make the world exist, or pretend: it makes creative.
Sébastien Talonis a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist.

Pain, by Claire Marin

Claire Marin Alexandre Isard

Some pains are the expression of effort and endurance, perseverance of the athlete or dancer. They are the flip side of a work on oneself, which tries to push the physical and mental limits, for a greater mastery of the body. But for most of us, pain is instead an experience of dispossession and requisition of our will.

This inability to act, to say, to think are all markers of a pain that colonizes the body and mind of the suffering being.

Claire Marin

Pain alienates us, freezes us in a suspended time. It paralyzes us, leads us imperiously, to the failing organ or the panicked mind. It folds the individual back to the source of pain, erasing the world all around. It imprisons the subject in the solitude of this ordeal, sometimes incommunicable. This inability to act, to say, to think are all markers of a pain that colonizes the body and mind of the suffering being, which leads him back to his vulnerability and inscribes him in a sometimes vital dependence vis-à-vis the one who can relieve him. Pain exhausts, absorbs energy and eats away at the contours of my identity. Who am I still when pain comes over me, if I can no longer love or work? It diminishes my abilities, erases my personality, makes my social and emotional identity waver. In this, it transforms us profoundly, whether it empties us of ourselves or forces us to redefine ourselves afterwards or with it.
Claire Marinis a philosopher, teacher in preparatory classes, author of "Débuts. Where do we start again?" (Ed. Autrement) and "Être à sa place" (Éd. de l'Observatoire).

The effort, by Marie Robert

Marie Robert Alexandre Isard

A word so fluid, so sweet, to evoke a task yet so painful. The double f slips under the tongue and mocks our ardor. Literally, effort refers to a voluntary force that comes to fight against resistance. Effort is therefore that dry stage that we find in all processes that require us to go beyond ourselves, to cross the border of our precious comfort.

Persevere in our being, reaffirm what we are

Marie Robert

It is the effort that allows learning, the effort that tightens weakened finances, the effort that mobilizes our muscles, the effort that always commits us to bear the unbearable. But by dint of testing us, the effort sometimes becomes absurd, senseless, it exhausts us and damages us. How to regain its accuracy? How to restore panache in our tired lives? Perhaps, remembering, as Spinoza analyzes, that effort does not invite us to go beyond ourselves, but rather to persevere in our being, to reaffirm what we are. Effort is not devastating suffering, but healthy power. A strength, yes, but one that adds life to life.
Marie Robertis a philosopher, author of "Kant, tu ne sais plus quoi faire, il reste la philo", and "Une année de philosophie" (Flammarion-Versilio) and founding director of the Montessori schools Esclaibes.

Identity, by Paul Audi

Paul Audi Press Photo

French, born in Lebanon, male, white, heterosexual, sexagenarian, married, blue-eyed, academic, author of philosophy books... These facets, these vignettes, which partially place me in front of the gaze and judgment of others, are all supposed to characterize me "in my own right".

The so-called special traits are only comparative traits, that is to say common differences, which fall to a large number of individuals.

Paul Audi

"You are that. "Yes, I am, since you who see me like this you say it..." But since I am not the only one with these attributes, what serves to designate me never only assimilates me to others, confuses me with others. The so-called peculiar traits are only comparative traits, that is to say, common differences, which fall to a large number of individuals, and which, for this reason, will never say who one is - which moreover no one will ever know about assured and objective knowledge. Who I am will never conform to what I am supposed to be. The Who is not the What: this is what I know deep inside; which is one with the intimate feeling of my freedom. Everything that is my person, and that brings together the threads of a speech or a story of which I am the subject, is far from accounting for my singularity, of what could make me incomparable. Yet to aspire to incomparability is indeed the characteristic of man; Singularity is a unique possibility, offered to everyone. Thus I have spent my life refusing to let myself be reduced to any "freeze frame" whatsoever, although I have always been sent back to an identity that was signified to me from the outside by another who reassured himself by bringing me back to affiliations supposed to "explain" me entirely. Belonging to something already there and encompassing; to a whole of which I was supposed to be a part, but also, and above all, which he thought I should depend even in my being. Belongings that, once transformed into "identity markers", placed me at the center of the target, like a prey lost in the murderous sights of hunters.
Paul Audi is a philosopher, author of "Disturbing Identity" (Ed. Stock), and research professor at the PHILéPOL Research Center, Sorbonne Paris-Descartes University.

The sea, by Guillaume Le Blanc

Guillaume Le Blanc Press Photo

I remember that as a child, when we went to the Mediterranean, I waited for that moment when I felt the landscape change and something seemed to impose its own partition, replacing the austere natures with vegetation forming an openwork of light in the middle of which sparkled, in small blue spots, the sea. This transfiguration was for me the sign of a successful entry into the sea as others enter into religion: beyond the holidays a conversion to the holiday. I remember as a teenager feeling nothing like this at the sight of the ocean. Instead I experienced the brutality of the dark pine forests and I could not believe that beyond these impenetrable green barriers fused like gigantic animals rounded dunes at the back of which the ocean finally appeared. That's how my universe was formed. As Proust's narrator experiences that Swann's side is not Guermantes' side, we live with our own sides. On the sea side, the trees scattered along a motionless water where swimming is to discover what his body can do. On the ocean side, the rollers of wave breaking and scattering it to the four corners of the beach.

The Mediterranean has become a cemetery with its tens of thousands of drowned at the same time as it is a holiday resort

William Le Blanc

This world of children and teenagers could have lasted infinitely. Only the sea is not just a metaphysics, it is also a policy. Because first of all a place of crossing. Holidaymakers know this when they take the boat to an island. They enter light in the promise of dismissal to smell the scents of the islands to come. We have so incorporated the standard of the sea-holiday that we forget that the sea is a political border for all lives at the request of a refuge and who have the often deadly experience of not being able to cross it. The Mediterranean has become a cemetery with its tens of thousands of drowned at the same time as it is a holiday place: a terrible duality that takes life away from some and beautifies it for others.
I will never enter the sea again as I did as a child. For the sea has withdrawn from its own evidence by becoming hostage to human wars, controls and nation-states.
Guillaume Le Blanc is a philosopher, professor of philosophy at the University of Paris-Cité, author of "La Solidarité des prouvés. Pour une histoire politique de la pauvreté" (Éd. Payot).

The nuance, by Robert Maggiori

Robert Maggiori Matias Indjic

The nuance comes from the sky. It is properly cloud, from which it takes its name (nūba, nūbes), or smoke (sfumatura) which towards the azure rises, or indistinct shadow (shade, schatten, sombra) which in times of fog erases the landscape. Each language brings to the nuance its nuances, but a common meaning remains, which, like that which is woolly, vaporous, spongy, defies geometry, and the passage from one hue to another, from one tone to another, from one gradation to another, removes the separations and regular delimitations. This is why, with the razor, the compass, the pencil that draws the straight line to the ruler, the shade prefers the "fade-in", and the palette, where the brush plays to make two colors infiltrate each other to create a new one that is neither one nor the other but holds both. It exists "in the state of nature" one could say, in a rainbow, an aurora, a meadow where wildflowers make a range of colors that never "swear" between them.

Remove the nuance from language, only the cry remains

Robert Maggiori

But without the art of nuance, there is no art, no painting, no music, no literature, no cinema. Neither psychology nor philosophy. Nor even language, because everything in language, a comma, an intonation, a pause, an adjective, the use of a synonym or a figure of speech, is nuance: to remove the nuance from language, there remains only the cry, the onomatopoeia, the growl. This is what happens to interpersonal and social conversation: violence made to nuance, which is replaced by a kind of "reductionism" where the approximate is enough, where the communication of anything is worth the information, where the buzz and the clash kill the reasoned exchange, where the slightest stupidity is truth, where one stumbles to be "seen" rather than listened to, where we believe we produce thoughts when we only have "opinions". Therefore, another pandemic awaits us: without the "spirit of finesse" to which nuance carries, we will flee complexity, and we will no longer know how to say anything, neither of what we are, nor of society, nor of the world, nor of the multifaceted reality. Not even to say that we don't know how to say it.
Robert Maggiori is a philosopher, founding member of the Rencontres philosophiques de Monaco, translator, journalist, literary and philosophical critic.

Seduction, by Isabelle Alfandary

Isabelle Alfandary Press Photo

Seduction is anything but a trivial experience: it can even be vital. Without the seduction exerted by their care and tenderness of the parents, especially the mother, the baby may not take a liking to life and may not develop harmoniously. This is what the Hungarian psychoanalyst Sándor Ferenczi, a pupil of Freud, thought. The Latin etymology of the word is interesting: se-ducere means "to take apart, to pull towards oneself".

To seduce is to attract to oneself for the best of love or desire - or the worst of an intensity not fully shared that can turn into a nightmare of trauma

Isabelle Alfandary

Whenever it takes place, no matter how sweet or delicious, seduction involves a relationship of asymmetry and a form of separation, an exerted attraction and a proven attraction. It is not a simply egalitarian or exactly reciprocal passion. To seduce is to attract to oneself for the best of love or desire - or the worst of an intensity not fully shared that can turn into a nightmare of trauma. To be seduced is to consent without always knowing precisely what. The #Metoo movement, which freed women's speeches, revealed abusive situations of seduction of which literature and opera have brought us memorable testimonies, such as Laclos' Les Liaisons dangereuses or Molière's or Mozart's Don Juan. Seduction has two faces: that of a pleasure that fills or an intensity that can finally be regretted. Carrying a promise of happiness, but also a risk of misunderstanding, she confusedly threatens to turn around. Could we do without it? The game of love and chance would lose its interest. Regulate it? It seems difficult. However, the contemporary questions posed by seduction, its playing, its forms cannot simply be dismissed out of hand. It is the name of the best and sometimes the worst at the heart of the bonds uniting humans.
Isabelle Alfandaryis a philosopher, professor at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University, author of "Science and fiction chez Freud. What epistemology for psychoanalysis?" (ed. Ithaca).

Philosophical meetings of Monaco, from 12 to 18 June, free and open to all. Details on and @philomonaco

Source: lefigaro

All life articles on 2023-06-09

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