The works in the series — bearing titles like The State and the Rule of Law, by Blandine Kriegel, and An Intellectual History of Liberalism, by Pierre Manent — were defiantly unhip. The younger generation of French thinkers pondered civil society, human rights, and the implications of cognitive science. But scholars on this side of the Atlantic were still excited by the revolutionary implications of what the French themselves called “1968 thought.” The style of Jacques Derrida or Michel Foucault had the cool aura of a really menacing leather jacket. When the New French Thinkers ventured to subvert a dominant paradigm, they were at least polite about it. The series was tweedy, not transgressive.
Now that the series will culminate in a final volume to be released this summer, some of the ideas are generating discussion in the academic world.