Friday, October 17, 2014

some French uses of the notion of an intellectual matrix

In its French form, la matrice intellectuelle, the concept is used to reconstruct the world stance of an intellectual movement. (Care has to be taken when reading these French texts, esp feminist authors, as matrice on its own also can mean the uterus. Cf. Emilie Malefant below, where about 70% of the references are anatomical.)

The French historian Yvan Lamond, in his essay L’émergence de l’intellectuel vue des Amériques, (pp.114f), in the reader of Michel Trebitsch, Marie-Christine Granjon (ed), Pour une histoire comparée des intellectuels: textes, 1998, Lamond speaks both of the cultural matrix and the intellectual matrix of the time of the Dreyfus Affaire, which that affair highlighted and revealed (p.114), to the point of bringing about the intellectual as a cultural force (p.115). Lamond provides no other clues about this construct.

The French historian Etienne Fouilloux, in his book Une Eglise en quête de liberté : La pensée catholique française entre modernisme et Vatican II (1914-1962) [i.e. A Church in Search of Liberty: French Catholic Thought during Modernism and the 2nd Vatican, 1914-1962], Paris (1998), p.10, can write:
The modernist crisis constitutes the intellectual matrix of contemporary Catholicism precisely insofar as it is defined as a re-reading of the founding message in light of the scientific forms of knowledge of the last century. (p.10)
In her master thesis from the University of Sherbrooke, Canada, Emilie Malenfant reconstructs the genealogy of the intellectual matrix of misogyny of the Third Reich, without ever defining what that might be or offering clues to the secondary literature. Malenfant wants to have an "ideological matrix" that is not restricted to the intellectual, but widened to encompass medicine, philosophy, sociology and politics (p.21). Clearly she assumes that the philosophical discourse contributes to the matrix construction (p.25), bringing also the cultural into the game when writing about the "intellectual and cultural matrix" (p.25), though without distinguishing it properly from either of the constituent matrices of the conjunction.

French Wikipedia does not define the term, but use it. For example, in its article on the French Militia, they write:
L'organisation est fondée sur 21 points qui donnent la matrice idéologique du mouvement : « contre le capitalisme international, pour le corporatisme français », « contre la condition prolétarienne, pour la justice sociale », « contre la lèpre juive, pour la pureté française », « contre la franc-maçonnerie païenne, pour la civilisation chrétienne ».
PS: The Argentinian Sephardic theologian Mario Javier Saban wrote a Spanish book that placed the matrix straight into the title: La Matriz Intelectual del Judaismo y La Genesis de Europa, 2005.

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