Michel Onfray

Michel Onfray 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 what he and his supporters call the Université populaire de Caen, proclaiming its foundation on a free-of-charge basis, and the manifesto written by Onfray in 2004 (La communauté philosophique). However, the title 'Popular University' is misleading, although attractive, as this 'University' provides no services other than the occasional delivery of lectures - there is no register of students, no examination or assessment, and no diplomas. After all, 'ordinary' French University lectures are open to all, free of charge. Nor is the content of the Université populaire de Caen radical in French terms, it is in its way, a throwback to less democratic traditions of learning. Both in his writing and his lecturing, Onfray's approach is hierarchical, and elitist. He prefers to say though that his 'university' 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".Onfray writes obscurely that there is no philosophy without psychoanalysis. Perhaps paradoxically, he proclaims himself as an adamant atheist (something more novel in France than elsewhere - indeed his book, 'Atheist Manifesto', was briefly in the 'bestsellers' list in France) and he considers religion to be indefensible. He instead 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 an interview with the future French President, who he declared was an 'ideological enemy' Nicolas Sarkozy for Philosophie Magazine.Onfray himself attributes the birth of a philosophic communities such as the université populaire to the results of the French presidential election, 2002.
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