Sunday, May 8, 2011

Michel Onfray in Esperanto

I've blogged about Onfray on my Esperanto blog Ĝirafo several times, as I have on this one. Onfray is cited or mentioned from time to time in Le Monde Diplomatique en Esperanto. Onfray has subscribed to a petition regarding the acceptance of Esperanto in the French academic establishment: Campagne pour l'espéranto au bac, which advocates:
Pour toutes ces raisons nous demandons que l’espéranto soit ajouté à la liste des langues admises en tant qu’option au baccalauréat.
Now Onfray's Traité d'athéologie, which has been translated into several languages—in the USA it goes under the title Atheist Manifesto—is available in Esperanto translation: Traktaĵo pri Ateologio. I have blogged about this in Esperanto: Michel Onfray en Esperanto.

On this blog you will find my critical remarks about the ideological perspective underlying Onfray's work. I have not seen a critique in English that matches the thoroughness of this Russian Esperantist's critical review:

Ateismo subjektiva, limigita kaj katolika [An atheism that is subjective, limited, and Catholic] by Nikolao Gudskov

Gudskov cites a number of omissions in Onfray's historical account, but in addition to other specific criticisms, Gudskov criticizes Onfray's underlying methodology. Gudskov, who has no sympathy for Stalinism, nevertheless evidently learned something from historical materialism, as he insists that religion as a historical phenomenon cannot be understood as an abstraction isolated from the social factors that motivate it, and that the critique of religion cannot be limited to the critique of the Abrahamic religions or monotheism in general. He sums up Onfray's work as intellectually inadequate but useful as a popular work that articulates what fledgling atheists feel but have not yet fully articulated for themselves. I concur.

This is an interesting example of prevailing ideological differences among the intellectual cultures of different nations or linguistic spheres, in this case the French, Russian (formerly Soviet), and Anglo-American, though I should hasten to add that different intellectual cultures overlap said boundaries and can be found within them. Of course, Esperanto is not indispensable for overcoming provincialism nor does it by any means guarantee doing so. Nevertheless, it provides opportunities for dialogues among persons that would not exist otherwise.

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