Mythology and Philosophy: The Meaning of the Great Greek Myths

Luc Ferry

(Editions Plon, 2016, 580 pages)

 

***12,000 copies sold in the first three months***

This book takes a new look at Greek mythology, illuminated by Luc Ferry’s perspective as a philosopher and expert on the subject.

“Our everyday speech is peppered with dozens of expressions which come directly from Greek mythology: having an “Achilles’ heel” or “the Midas touch,” making a “Herculean effort,” “opening Pandora’s box,” being caught “between Scylla and Charybdis,” fearing a “Trojan horse,” remembering to “beware of Greeks bearing gifts,” etc. Hundreds of references to Sirens, Typhon, Ocean, Mentor, Python, Sibyl, Stentor, Laius, Argus, Oedipus, and other mythical characters still slip into our daily conversations.

Luc Ferry invites us to rediscover them with the retelling of the wonderful stories they come from. He goes further, explaining that the great myths are more than just “tales and legends.” They also offer profound wisdom and life lessons.

Mythology is an inspired attempt to provide answers to the ages-old metaphysical question of the “right way for mortals to live.” The leap is not far from this to philosophy, and this philosopher could not be better placed to help us make the leap with him.

Luc Ferry is a philosopher, former Minister of Education, and the author of numerous bestsellers, including Apprendre a vivre (Plon, 2006), La sagesse des mythes (Plon, 2008), La revolution de l’amour (Plon, 2010), L’innovation destructrice (Plon, 2014) and La revolution transhumaniste (Plon, 2016).

 

Black Physics

Vincent Bontems and Roland Lehoucq

Illustrations by Scott Pennor

(Les Belles Lettres, 2016, 208 pages, with black-and-white line drawings)

 

A philosopher and a physicist come together to try to shed light on the “black” or “dark” concepts of physics. Indeed, so many of physics’ phenomena are named using the words “black” or “dark” that Bontems, a philosopher, and Lehoucq, an astrophysicist, decided to examine why we use those words to describe so much of the universe. There are of course the oft-mentioned black holes, but there are also black sky, black body, dark matter, dark energy, and more.

But why, if most of the universe is dark matter that can only be detected by its gravitational effects, and which does not absorb, reflect, or emit light, should we call it black or dark? Are there connotations that develop from so naming these phenomena, and do their names influence the way we study them, imagine them, and research them?

For every term designated by black or dark, the authors explain the denotation, not only what it means to a physicist, but also what it metaphorically, and at times unconsciously, brings to the layperson’s  mind.

Vincent Bontems is a philosopher specializing in the sciences. He graduated from the Ecole Nationale Superieure, and works in a research laboratory. His interviews with Bernard Stiegler were published in 2008.

Roland Lehoucq is an astrophysicist at the Atomic Energy Commission, specializing in cosmic topology. He also teaches at the Institut de Sciences Politiques in Paris.

 

The Red Line of Ecology

André Gorz in conversation with Willy Gianinazzi

(Editions E.H.E.S.S., 107 pages, 2015)

 

André Gorz’s thinking has crystallized, through his philosophical and sociopolitical books, on how life is fought by the capitalistic mega machine which reduces human beings to consuming and working functions.

—Willy Gianinazzi

André Gorz answered questions and discussed increasingly important social subjects in three unpublished interviews in 1990, 2003, and 2005. As the founder of political ecology, he recalled his friendship with Jean-Paul Sartre (who appreciated their equal-to-equal relationship), and talked about how their conversations contributed to his reflections on a wide range of topics: wage labor issues, such as the reduction of work time; social alienation; guaranteed basic income; and the works of Karl Marx, the French sociologist Alain Touraine, and Austrian philosopher and priest Ivan Illiche.

 Willy Gianinazzi is a historian and was close friends with Gorz, as well as a specialist of Gorz’s work. He edited and chose to publish these three interviews in one publication, in order to demonstrate how Gorz’s thinking has always been contemporary, always current, and how his philosophical reflections were always driven by people and their well-being in society.

André Gorz (1923–2007) was a philosopher. He was a journalist for Les Temps Modernes (Jean-Paul Sartre’s journal), L’Express, and founder of the magazine Le Nouvel Observateur (still one of the most prominent news magazines in France). His books include Le Traître (The Traitor, Verso, 1989) and one of his latest, Lettres à D. Histoire d’un amour (Letter to D: A Love Letter, Polity, 2009) in 2006, an ode to his sick wife, before they committed suicide together a year later.