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Conversation with François Recanati

di Delia Belleri, Michele Palmira

François Recanati (1952) è direttore di ricerca presso il CNRS, direttore dell'Institut Jean Nicod (CNRS-EHESS-ENS) di Parigi, e uno dei più influenti filosofi del linguaggio e della mente degli ultimi trent'anni. In filosofia del linguaggio ha sviluppato una posizione contestualista in opposizione all'approccio semantico tradizionale, mentre in filosofia della mente è noto per la sua teoria dei file mentali. Nel mese di maggio (2014), Recanati è stato visiting professor presso l'Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia; abbiamo colto quest'occasione per intervistarlo su alcuni aspetti della sua ricerca e sulla sua formazione di filosofo analitico.

1. Professor Recanati, you are one of the leading figures in the philosophies of mind and language. We assume that analytic philosophy was not so popular in France during your university experience. So, how did you become interested in analytic philosophy? Which philosophers or teachers guided you in making the choice of becoming a professional philosopher, and what made you become a philosopher in the first place?

FR. What made me to become a philosopher was not the influence of any teacher – I actually skipped the terminal year of lycée, the year during which one is taught philosophy for the first time. To a large extent, I was self-taught. But I developed a taste for the discipline, through readings, mostly on my own. I enjoyed abstract philosophical discussions, and my philosophical vocation started at an early age, though I would be unable to say exactly when. As for analytic philosophy, indeed, it was not popular in France when I was a student. (It still isn't very popular now, I'm afraid.) Very naturally, I started my career as a continental philosopher – a continental philosopher of the most radical sort: the French sort. I was a follower of Lacan.

2. What does that mean exactly?

FR. At the time you had to choose your camp. You had to be a Deleuzian, or a Lyotardian, or a Foucaldian, or a Lacanian. A beginner would start by picking a guru on the philosophical market. (A bit like in Monthy Pyton's Life of Brian.) I thought Lacan was the greatest because he did what the others were doing (saying obscure and pretentious things) but in a more flamboyant and extreme manner which appealed to my philosophical youth. Being a Lacanian means that you trust Lacan for being a truth-teller, you try (without much success) to understand what he says and writes, and you engage in some form of mimicry. I turned out to be rather clever at parroting Lacan and I became a noted disciple. Great were the social benefits – Lacan was immensely popular, his well-attended seminars were packed with celebrities, and I myself became instantaneously famous after he asked me to give a talk (actually a couple of talks) in that seminar.

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Numero della rivista
N°10 / APhEx

Parole chiave
Recanati, Contestualismo, File mentali

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