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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Une Petite Surprise!

 Julien Benda

So I was reading about Norman Finkelstein again, and what do you know? One of his favorite books was La Trahison des Clercs !  (The Treason of the Intellectuals)
In the Tablet:

One of my favorite little books is Julian Benda’s Treason of the Intellectuals, which is based in this binary notion that there are two competing sets of values in the world: fame and fortune on the one side, truth and justice on the other side. Benda’s main thesis is, the more vigorously you are committed to truth and justice, the less you’re going to see of fame and fortune. So, I don’t want to become too popular, because then I’m betraying truth and justice.

I read it in bits and pieces years ago; I could not find a copy in print, so I had to cull pieces of it from various places until the time when I could put my hands on it.

Benda wrote my copy in 1946 - a very important year, he inscribed a new introduction to a new edition:

Depuis vingt ans qu’a paru l’ouvrage que je réédite aujourd’hui, la thèse que j’y soutenais – à savoir que les hommes dont la fonction est de défendre les valeurs éternelles et désintéressées, comme la justice et la raison, et que j’appelle les clercs, ont trahi cette fonction au profit d’intérêts pratiques...
"In the 20 years since the work I am re-editing, the thesis which I support - namely, that the men whose function is to defend the eternal and disinterested values, such as Justice and Reason, and whom I call the Intellectuals ( or "Clerks, meaning "clerics" = the literate class in the Middle Ages), have betrayed their function in favor of profit and practical benefits..."
(My translation... pretty poor, I know.)

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