This essay begins by charting the significance philosophy has enjoyed in France for more than two centuries, and by examining the threats posed to French philosophical education in recent decades. The continuing value of philosophy might be less in its defense of a homogeneous and universally valid national or ideological programme, than in its response to a heterogeneity that resists such an ideal. The essay goes on to trace how the current use of 'globalization' tends to efface the incommensurable singularity often associated with the word 'world'. That the history of words is however always more complex than any individual use is demonstrated through a reading of scenes from Chaplin's film, The Great Dictator, and Shakespeare's Hamlet, both of which suggest other memories, and potentialities, of the word, 'globe'. The survival of a quasi-discipline such as comparative literary studies in a 'globalized world' may be welcomed to the extent that it inherits 'the task of the philosopher', which, as Derrida describes it, 'resides specifically in defending a certain imperative of 'universalisation' while at the same time remembering the 'effects of inequality' and 'hegemony'. Comparative literary studies, in its intersection with the 'task of the philosopher', might, then, concern itself with a certain 'opening to the world', in which the levelling and discriminatory effects of 'globalization' are powerfully countered.
- French university
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Literature and Literary Theory