Philosopher Left to Muse on Ridicule Over a Hoax: Bernard-Henri Lévy, France’s most super chic intellectual, a founder of the New Philosophers movement in the post May ’68 reevaluation of Marxism seems to have put his foot in his mouth. In his latest book, he cited The Sex Life of Immanuel Kant, an actual book (You can buy it, but only in French) supposedly written by Jean-Baptiste Botul, developer of the philosophical school of the Botulists, who is actually the fictional creation of a well known French philosopher and satirist, Frédéric Pagès – here’s his blog.
Unlike the foolish dupes of the brilliant Sokal hoax, in which a professor of physics at NYU published a bogus and incomprehensible paper in Social-text and was roundly denounced by its fans for showing that the emperor was naked, Mr. Levy reacted with relative good grace.
“It was a truly brilliant and very believable hoax from the mind of a Canard Enchaîné journalist who remains a good philosopher all the same,” Mr. Lévy wrote in an opinion piece. “So I was caught, as were the critics who reviewed the book when it came out. The only thing left to say, with no hard feelings, is kudos to the artist.” [see NYTimes link above]
However, being a talker, and a talker, and one who lives by being a talker, he couldn’t keep from…talking too much:
Appearing on Canal+ television, he said he had always admired The Sex Life of Immanuel Kant and that its arguments were solid, whether written by Botul or Pages. “I salute the artist [Pages],” he said, adding with a philosophical flourish: “Hats off for this invented-but-more-real-than-real Kant, whose portrait, whether signed Botul, Pages or John Smith, seems to be in harmony with my idea of a Kant who was tormented by demons that were less theoretical than it seemed.” [Times Online]
Words, words, and words, to cover up the foolishness in his blizzard of words. In other words: It doesn’t matter that I credulously believe fake stuff that is written for fun – including accounts of German emmigrants forming a colony in Paraguay to live by the metaphysics of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason – they agree with me!
Get your J.P. Botul T-shirt here!