Michel Onfray – France

Michel Onfray (born January 1, 1959 in Argentan, Orne, France) is a French philosopher. Born to a family of Norman farmers, he graduated with a Ph.D. in philosophy. He taught this subject to senior students at a technical high school in Caen between 1983 and 2002, before establishing the Université populaire de Caen on a free-of-charge basis, for which he wrote a manifesto in 2004 (La communauté philosophique). (full text).

He says: “There is in fact a multitude of ways to practice philosophy, but out of this multitude, the dominant historiography picks one tradition among others and makes it the truth of philosophy: that is to say the idealist, spiritualist lineage compatible with the Judeo-Christian world view. From that point on, anything that crosses this partial – in both senses of the word – view of things finds itself dismissed. This applies to nearly all non-Western philosophies, Oriental wisdom in particular, but also sensualist, empirical, materialist, nominalist, hedonistic currents and everything that can be put under the heading of “anti-Platonic philosophy”. Philosophy that comes down from the heavens is the kind that – from Plato to Levinas by way of Kant and Christianity – needs a world behind the scenes to understand, explain and justify this world. The other line of force rises from the earth because it is satisfied with the given world, which is already so much”. (full text).

Son site internet français.


Michel Onfray – France

Read: Jean Meslier and ‘The Gentle Inclination of Nature’, by Michel Onfray, translated by Marvin Mandell, on New Politics, Winter 2006.

From art and politics to bioethics, religion, the internet and the odyssey of tea, French philosopher Michel Onfrey focuses on a multitude of issues that concern contemporary humanity in his numerous books and lectures. For Mr Onfray, philosophy must be effective on the existential plane. (full text).

Onfray believes that there is no philosophy without psychoanalysis. An adamant atheist, he considers religion to be indefensible. He regards himself as being part of the tradition of individualist anarchism, a tradition that he claims is at work throughout the entire history of philosophy and that he is seeking to revive amidst modern schools of philosophy that he feels are cynical and epicurean. His writings celebrate hedonism, reason and atheism. He endorsed the French Revolutionary Communist League and its candidate for the French presidency, Olivier Besancenot in the 2002 election, although this is somewhat at odds with the libertarian socialism he advocates in his writings.[citation needed] In 2007, he endorsed José Bové – but eventually voted for Olivier Besancenot – , and conducted a famous interview with ideological enemy Nicolas Sarkozy for Philosophie Magazine. Onfray traced back the birth of a philosophic community such as the “université populaire” (folk high school) to the results of the French presidential election, 2002: it is committed to deliver high-level knowledge to the masses, as opposed to the more common approach of vulgarizing philosophic concepts through easy-to-read books such as “Philosophy for Well-being” ( Declared during Printemps des Universités populaires, Lyon, June 23-25th 2006). (full text).

Listen to the audio of abc australia: Michel Onfray with Waleed Aly and Rabbi Gersh Zylberman.

I first encountered Onfray on the page when I read his 1989 book, Le Ventre Des Philosophes: Critique de la Raison Dietetique (The Philosphers’ Stomach), and was completely captivated by his wit, his talented pen, and the prodigious cultural knowledge he displayed. Would Diogenes, Onfray asked, have been an adversary of civilization and its uses absent his obsessive taste for raw octopus? Would the Rousseau of the Social Contract have been such an advocate of frugality if his daily menu had included something more than dairy products? Had not Sartre, whose nightmares were peopled with crabs, suffered his whole life long in his theoretical architecture from his aversion to shellfish? Onfray hooked me with his inventive, amusing, and thought-provoking meditations – and since then, every time Onfray publishes a new book, I pounce! Reading Onfray is a tonic. (full text).
Michel Onfray is a militant atheist. But, unlike the Anglo-American tribe of MAs, he knows intellectual history. His book In Defence of Atheism is a serious contender; it is also clear and unposey. So, there may be no new POFT (Pointlessly Obscure French Thinker), and France may be regaining her intellectual equilibrium. (full long text).

A flood of post-September 11 books on the topic have done quite well. Among them are “Breaking the Spell” by Daniel Dennett, Michael Shermer’s “Why Darwin Matters,” Michel Onfray’s “Atheist Manifesto,” Sam Harris’ “The End of Faith,” Ibn Warraq’s “Leaving Islam,” biologist Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion,” and journalist and critic Christopher Hitchens’ “God is Not Great”. (full text).

Onfray points to our current misadventure in Iraq as a consequence of religiosity, and if we look to the rhetoric that was used by the current faith-based Administration when selling this ill conceived, disastrous act of imperial belligerence, we are not hard pressed into accepting his argument: The allusions to the Crusades were more than unfortunate mishaps with semiotic implications unintended by a half-wit American President. Rather, they were calculated messages signaling to other segments of the war-mongering-religious-right that a new unholy holy war was afoot, which involved a new enemy upon which to project seething sexual frustrations and socio-economic insecurities; a new vexing fixation for the authoritarian psychology to symbolically convert into the personification of its own paranoia (Russell Cole, 2007). (full text). 
Caspar Melville, Richard Norman, Julian Baggini and Jonathan Rée try to answer the question: What is the outspoken French atheist philosopher Michel Onfray really saying.

His publications: on wikipedia; on Google Booki-search; on Google Scholar-search; on amazon; on ebay; on Fremeaux.com; et sur son site internet en français.

Il dit: “J’imagine mal un philosophe déconnecté du monde, insoucieux du destin de son pays, insensible aux questions de misère, de pauvreté, de répartition des richesses et des biens, de chômage, etc. Sinon, chez ceux qui conçoivent la philosophie comme une discipline de méditation assimilable à la vie renonçante dans les monastères … Et je ne suis pas de ceux-là: ni métaphysicien, ni professeur de philosophie en université, ni chercheur au CNRS, mais citoyen engagé”. (interview entier, voir plus bas de la page).

Sa biographie en français.

“Olivier Besancenot fait, me semble-t-il, la meilleure campagne à la gauche de la gauche”, écrit Michel Onfray, dans son blog, sur nouvelobs.com. “Non pas que les autres en fassent une mauvaise, mais la sienne me semble meilleure parce que plus large, ouverte, avec vues générales sur l’ensemble de la société (…).”Le philosophe s’explique: “J’ai consenti à un appel en faveur de José Bové sur la base d’une union de dernier moment à même de produire un sursaut en vue de cette introuvable candidature unitaire ; il n’a pas eu lieu non plus. (…) Est-ce encore l’heure de se faire des reproches sur hier alors qu’il (Besancenot) propose aujourd’hui l’union, non pas parce qu’il est le plus faible, mais, justement, parce qu’il semble le plus fort”. (full text).

“La Contre-histoire de la Philosophie de Michel Onfray s’apparente à un catalogue raisonné de l’histoire de la pensée. Mais un catalogue dans sa version orale et improvisée qui permet par la verve et l’authenticité d’une transmission incarnée de démocratiser le savoir de la Philosophie occidentale”. (Patrick Frémeaux).

Michel Onfray, né le 1er janvier 1959 à Argentan, est un philosophe français contemporain. Il a publié de nombreux ouvrages. Ses cours d’histoire de la philosophie sont régulièrement diffusés sur France-Culture. (text entier sur le wikipedia français).

Onfray stammt aus sehr einfachen Verhältnissen. Er schildert seine Herkunft und seinen Werdegang ausführlich in dem 1997 erschienenen Buch Politique du rebelle. Traité de résistance et d’insoumission, das auch ins Deutsche übersetzt erschienen ist (Der Rebell). (wikipedia.de).

Michel Onfray, nascido em 1 de Janeiro de 1959, em Argentan, Orne, França é um filósofo francês. Onfray acredita que não há filosofia sem psicanálise. Seus escritos celebram o hedonismo, a razão, e o ateísmo. (wikipedia.pt).

Michel Onfray (*Argentan, 1 januari 1959) is een Frans filosoof. (wikipedia.nl).

Gli oltremondi mi sembrano subito contromondi inventati da uomini stanchi, sfiniti, essiccati dai ripetuti viaggi tra le dune o sulle piste pietrose arroventate. Il monoteismo nasce dalla sabbia. (wikipedia.it).

Michel Onfray (Argentan, 1 de enero de 1959). Filósofo francés. (wikipedia.es).


Introductory Note to Onfray, by Doug Ireland, on New Politics, Winter 2006;

Partenaires de l’Université populaire de Caen;

l’Université Populaire de Caen;

2007 – We hardly knew ye;

Sollers et Onfray; suivi de ” Pourquoi tant de calomnies? ” entretien avec François Meyronnis.

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