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Pascal Bruckner (French: [bʁyknɛʁ]; born 15 December 1948 in Paris) is a French writer, one of the "New Philosophers" who came to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s. Much of his work has been devoted to critiques of French society and culture.

Pascal Bruckner
2017.01.26. Pascal Bruckner Fot Mariusz Kubik 01.JPG
Pascal Bruckner (2017)
Born (1948-12-15) 15 December 1948 (age 70)
Paris, France
Alma materParis I
Paris VII Diderot
École Pratique des Hautes Études
Era20th-/21st-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolContinental philosophy
Nouveaux Philosophes
InstitutionsInstitut d'Études Politiques de Paris
Main interests
Political philosophy
Notable ideas
Criticism of the "White Man's Burden" concept


Bruckner attended Jesuit schools in his youth.[1]

After studies at the universities of Paris I and Paris VII Diderot, and then at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, Bruckner became maître de conférences at the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris and a contributor to the Nouvel Observateur.

Bruckner began writing in the vein of the nouveaux philosophes or New Philosophers. He published Parias (Parias), Lunes de fiel (Evil Angels) (adapted as a film by Roman Polanski) and Les voleurs de beauté (The Beauty Stealers) (Prix Renaudot in 1997). Among his essays are La tentation de l'innocence ("The Temptation of Innocence," Prix Médicis in 1995) and, famously, Le Sanglot de l'Homme blanc (The Tears of the White Man), an attack on narcissistic and destructive policies intended to benefit the Third World, and more recently La tyrannie de la pénitence (2006), an book on the West's endless self-criticism, translated as "The Tyranny of Guilt" (2010).

From 1992 to 1999, Bruckner was a supporter of the Croatian, Bosnian and Kosovar causes against Serbian aggression, and endorsed the NATO intervention in Kosovo in 1999. In 2003, he supported the toppling of Saddam Hussein, but later criticized the mistakes of the U.S. military and the use of torture in Abu Graib and Guantanamo.[citation needed]

Le Sanglot de l'Homme blancEdit

Le Sanglot de l'Homme blanc (The White Man's Tears), published by the Éditions le Seuil in May 1983, was a controversial opus. The author describes what he sees as the anti-Western and pro-Third-World sentimentalism of some of the Left in the West. The essay had an influence on a whole trend of thought, especially on Maurice Dantec and Michel Houellebecq. The title is a variation on Kipling's "White Man's Burden".

La tyrannie de la pénitenceEdit

Bruckner's 2006 work La Tyrannie de la Pénitence: Essai sur le Masochisme Occidental (The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism)[2][3] claims that Western intellectuals have been guilt-tripping themselves, opening the West up to mass invasion from Africa and the Muslim world that threatens to destroy the very foundations of its culture. The leftist view can be summarized in the statement: "The white man has sown grief and ruin wherever he has gone." This white guilt has led leftists to not only reject the Renaissance but to romanticize the "South" (Africa and the Middle East) as innocent victims, and revile Israel.

"Nothing is more Western than hatred of the West... All of modern thought can be reduced to mechanical denunciations of the West, emphasizing the latter's hypocrisy, violence, and abomination."

"Europe relieves itself of the crime of the Shoah by blaming Israel, it relieves itself of the sin of colonialism by blaming the United States."

[The Palestinian question has] "quietly relegitimated hatred of the Jews", making Europe "the sick man of the planet".

He concludes that the U.S. remains "the last great nation in the West" because "Whereas America asserts itself, Europe questions itself."

Criticism of multicultural ethnocentrismEdit

Bruckner's polemic stance against the ethnocentric nature of some discourses of multiculturalism has kindled an international debate.[4] In an article titled "Enlightenment Fundamentalism or Racism of the Anti-Racists?", he defended Ayaan Hirsi Ali in particular against the criticisms from Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash. According to Bruckner, modern philosophers from Heidegger to Gadamer, Derrida, Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno have mounted a broad attack on the Enlightenment, claiming that "all the evils of our epoch were spawned by this philosophical and literary episode: capitalism, colonialism, totalitarianism."[4] Bruckner agrees that the history of the twentieth century attests to the potential of modernity for fanaticism, but argues that the modern thought that issued from the Enlightenment proved capable of criticizing its own errors, and that "Denouncing the excesses of the Enlightenment in the concepts that it forged means being true to its spirit."[4]


  • Parias: roman, Seuil, 1985, ISBN 978-2-02-008732-2.
  • Lunes de fiel: roman, Seuil, 1981, ISBN 978-2-02-005856-8.
  • Evil angels: a novel, Grove Press, 1987, ISBN 978-0-394-54138-9.
  • Les Voleurs de beauté: roman, B. Grasset, 1997.
  • Le divin enfant: roman, Seuil, 1992, ISBN 978-2-02-013215-2.
  • The Divine Child, Rupa & Co., 2005, ISBN 978-81-291-0302-4.
  • La tentation de l'innocence, Grasset, 1995, ISBN 978-2-253-13927-0.
  • Temptation of innocence. Algora Publishing. 2000. ISBN 978-1-892941-56-5.
  • Le Sanglot de l'Homme blanc, Éditions du Seuil, 1983; Simon & Schuster, 1986, ISBN 978-0-02-904160-4.
  • The Tears of the White Man: Compassion As Contempt, The Free Press, 1986, ISBN 978-0-02-904160-4.
  • La Tyrannie de la Pénitence: Essai sur le Masochisme Occidental (The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Westerm Masochism), Grasset, 2006, ISBN 978-2-246-64161-2.
  • The Tyranny of Guilt. Translator Steven Rendall. Princeton University Press. 2010. ISBN 978-0-691-14376-7.CS1 maint: others (link)
  • Perpetual Euphoria: On the Duty to Be Happy. translator Steven Rendall. Princeton University Press. 2011. ISBN 978-0-691-14373-6.CS1 maint: others (link)
  • The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse: Save the Earth, Punish Human Beings, translator Steven Rendall =[5] ISBN 9780745669762.
  • The Paradox of Love, translator Steven Rendall, Princeton University Press, 2012, ISBN 9780691149141.
  • Has Marriage for Love Failed?, translators Steven Rendall and Lisa Neal, Polity Books, 2013, ISBN 9780745669786.
  • An Imaginary Racism: Islamophobia and Guilt, Cambridge, UK, Medford, MA, Polity Books, 2018.
  • They Stole our Beauty, translator Stuart Bell, The 87 Press, 2019.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ Bruckner, Pascal (2013). Against Environmental Panic," The Chronicle of Higher Education, 17 June 2013, accessed 29 June 2013
  2. ^ Daniel Pipes, April, 2010
  3. ^ Daniel Pipes, Dec. 2015
  4. ^ a b c Pascal Bruckner, Enlightenment Fundamentalism or Racism of the Anti-Racists?, appeared originally in German in the online magazine Perlentaucher on 24 January 2007. (in English)
  5. ^ Archived 27 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit