The Roots of French Philosophy with François (Online)

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Whether you wish to ponder some of the big questions of life, learn more about French culture, understand what “I think therefore I am” really means, or just check how Descartes is pronounced, there’s something for everyone in François’ introduction to French philosophy.

In this session you will learn about landmark works of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, tackling problems like the mechanics of tyranny, what the core of the human experience is, or whether it is possible to create a power that is legitimate.

You will also get a glimpse of how these works have influenced and were influenced by the French culture, and get an opportunity to think about how differently your own world view may be structured.

What will we cover?

In this class we will cover:

• A quick overview of the main currents of French philosophy since the 16th century, including concrete examples of how French culture is intertwined with its philosophy.
• Four iconic essays that had a tremendous impact on Western philosophy in general, and French philosophy in particular: the Discourse on Voluntary Servitude (1574) of La Boétie, the Discourse on Method (1637) of Descartes, Candide (1759) of Voltaire and The Social Contract (1762) of Rousseau. We will:

    • Explain the main ideas defended by each essay 
    • See how these concepts are encoded in the French language and other artifacts of the French culture
    • Ask ourselves whether their questions and answers are still relevant today
    • Highlight some of the overarching traits of French philosophy and literature


          • Closed Captions
          • Early Bird Cheap Tix
          • Free Tix for First Nation Attendees
          • Auslan Interpreter Upon Request 

          Who will be teaching? 

          François (he/him) professes to be ‘just another French expat’, and has been for 10 years, 4 of those years here in Melbourne. One day he stopped refusing to think about the big questions of life; a most time-consuming habit made up of a bit of writing and a lot of reading.

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          More about accessibility 

          Photo: Eugène Delacroix – Le 28 Juillet. La Liberté guidant le peuple. Public Domain.

          Any other accessibility requests or questions? Just email Maddy (she/her) at