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Badinter, Elizabeth

BADINTER, ELIZABETH

BADINTER, ELIZABETH (1944– ), French philosopher. Elizabeth Badinter is the daughter of Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet, founder of the Publicis advertising group, and remains its principal shareholder. Holding an "agrégation" degree in philosophy, she taught at the prestigious École Polytechnique for science and engineering. Married to the left-wing lawyer Robert Badinter, she was part of his successful fight against the death penalty during the 1970s, which led to its abolition by newly elected president Francois Mitterrand in 1981. Strongly influenced by the Enlightment movement, as an academic specialist in 18th-century philosophers, Badinter dealt mainly with questions related to secularism, separation of religion and state, and, under the influence of Simone de Beauvoir's works, the position of women in society. Herself an "intellectual" in the French, Sartrian sense of the term, meaning a thinker involved in the evolutions of society, "engagée" (politically committed), she took a deep interest in the intellectual history of France and its connection to politics, which she depicted in her major book Les passions intellectuelles, and which is central to her biography of Condorcet (Condorcet, un intellectuel en politique, co-written with Robert Badinter, 1988). The history of feminism since its inception in the 18th century (Émile, Émilie: l'ambition feminine au xviiie siècle) is also a major theme of hers. Reflections on the masculine and the feminine, on sexual identity, which she first developed in her book about the history of maternal love from the 17th to 20th century (L'amour en plus) and then in her essay xy, le syndrome de l'identité masculine, ultimately led her to take a sharp turn towards sharp criticism of the evolution of the feminist movement, which she developed in polemically in Fausse route (2003). She advocated a "moderate" feminism against what she viewed as the excessive claims of the feminists. Her provocative views were the subject of much controversy.

[Dror Franck Sullaper (2nd ed.)]

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