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Bernard Pautrat (1944–)

A fixture at the École Normale Supérieure since his entrance there in 1962, Bernard Pautrat is today a maître de conférences at the ENS where he teaches an annual seminar on Spinoza’s Ethics that has been underway since 1991. (As of 2009, this course in close reading is nearing the end of the fifth and final book of Spinoza’s text). In 1988, Pautrat published a new translation of the Ethics in a bilingual edition with Éditions du Seuil, a version notable for its closeness to Spinoza’s Latin, its accentuation of the mathematical nature of Spinoza’s thought, and the absence of any extraneous research apparatus (a common feature of classical texts reproduced in this Seuil series, ‘L’ordre philosophique’) that would distract from the ordine geometrico of Spinoza’s presentation.

A member of the Cercle d’Épistémologie from volumes eight to ten, Pautrat contributed an essay on David Hume to the volume six of the Cahiers pour l’Analyse, on ‘the politics of the philosophers’. Pautrat’s introduction of Hume’s texts develops a quasi-Lacanian reading of Hume’s theory of authority, which is grounded in a univocal conception of the subject as always the subject of a subjection. In 1971, Pautrat published a book on Nietzsche inspired by Derrida’s courses on the function of metaphor. In addition to his translation of Spinoza, Pautrat has translated numerous philosophical and poetic works (from Lucretius to Hölderlin). He has also translated many works for the theatre and served as a librettist for the opera, adapting Franz Kafka’s The Trial for Phillippe Manoury’s K... in 2000.

In the Cahiers pour l’Analyse

Bernard Pautrat, ‘Du sujet politique et de ses intérêts: Note sur la théorie humienne de l’autorité’, CpA 6.5 [HTML] [PDF] [SYN]
David Hume, ‘Quatre essais politiques sur l’autorité’, CpA 6.6 [HTML] [PDF] [SYN]

Select bibliography

  • Versions du soleil: figures et système de Nietzsche. Paris: Seuil, 1971.
  • Hölderin, Friedrice. Hymnes: et autres poèmes, 1796-1804, édition bilingue présenté et traduit par Bernard Pautrat. Paris: Payot and Rivages, 2004.
  • Lucrèce, De la nature des choses, ed. Alain Gigandet, trans. Bernard Pautrat. Paris: Librarie générale française, 2002
  • Spinoza. Éthique, édition bilingue presenté et traduit par Bernard Pautrat. Paris: Seuil, 1988. (‘Points’, édition revue, 1999).