As Bernard-Henri Levy Could Tell You, The French Word For Schadenfreude is Schadenfreude[*]


Celebrated tuxedo-shirt-wearing philosopher, one-time Reason cover beefcake, human rights activist, and Roman Polanski defender and Christmas greeting amanuensis Bernard-Henri Levy has stepped in some real deep merde regarding a recent attack on Immanuel Kant.

When France's most dashing philosopher took aim at Immanuel Kant in his latest book, calling him "raving mad" and a "fake", his observations were greeted with the usual adulation. To support his attack, Bernard-Henri Lévy — a showman-penseur known simply by his initials, BHL — cited the little-known 20th-century thinker Jean-Baptiste Botul.

There was one problem: Botul was invented by a journalist in 1999 as an elaborate joke, and BHL has become the laughing stock of the Left Bank….

Mr Lévy, a leader among the nouveaux philosophes school of the 1970s, was unaware. In On War in Philosophy, he writes that Botul had proved once and for all "just after the Second World War, in his series of lectures to the neo-Kantians of Paraguay, that their hero was an abstract fake, a pure spirit of pure appearance".

Read the whole thing in (London) Times Online here. on BHL (read especially Michael Moynihan's "The God That Flails.")

Hat tip: Margaret Griffis.

[*] Translation courtesy of Babel Fish, which like Botul is probably an elaborate hoax.