Alain Deneault and his work
Last Friday, a rare meeting with one of the great thinkers of our time - nothing less - took place in one of the two independent bookstores we are lucky enough to have here in Aylmer. Philosopher Alain Deneault spent almost two hours within the walls of Bouquinart, at the invitation of the co-owners, Claudia and her mother. The Gatineau-born thinker answered enlightened questions from Nicolas Pelletier, journalist and host of Radio-Canada's "Les Malins" program.
Although Alain Deneault grew up in the Outaouais region, he obtained his university degrees mainly in France. In addition to being program director at the Collège international de philosophie in Paris, he teaches philosophy and sociology at the Université de Moncton, where he lives. He has studied in particular the German philosophy of Georg Simmel but is one of the few French-speaking philosophers capable of thinking about the concept of economy. Since the early 2000s, he has undertaken to popularize philosophy through public activities such as conferences, meetings and the publication of more than 20 books.
Three publishing houses (Lux, Écosociété, VLB) serve as his mouthpiece on subjects as varied as tax havens, Canada and corruption in Africa, the mining industry, Democracy, Politics, multinational corporations and, of course, the economy. Moreover, he redefines the contours of this last field according to its etymological meaning: the "bringing together" of different elements "in a fruitful way" and with an idea of "fairness", including in the balance to be maintained with nature, far from its neoliberal meaning linked to market issues, such as the excessive exploitation of natural resources, intensive production, distribution or (over)consumption. His latest publication, Mœurs. De la gauche cannibale à la droite vandale is an original and relevant analysis of the famous "polarization", which is constantly being used to describe the political landscape in our modern societies.
In any case, the conference-discussion at Bouquinart was not intended to promote or discuss one of Alain Deneault's essays in particular, but rather to discuss the whole of his work and its various issues, be they social, cultural, economic or political. The question period for the public (90 people in an intellectually overheated atmosphere) also kept its promise. If it is common to expect philosophers to answer all possible questions, this was the case... However, the author lent himself to the exercise with generosity and passion, from the more or less forced use of pronouns in electronic signatures to the relevance of a strong supranational/international government to respond to today's global issues, not to mention the lack of solidarity officially displayed by Western states towards the rebellious Iranians or the modalities of setting up "bioregions", a key concept proposed by the neo-Acadian thinker as a new level of government to help solve the climate crisis.
Alain Deneault is one of those committed intellectuals who are able to rise above the fray and the ambient hubbub, while giving us something to think about in depth. We feel more intelligent when we are with him, and that is the prerogative of a pedagogue in the tradition of the greatest philosophers, such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.