Category Archives: Philosophy

Anarchy and Esprit de Corps

“Esprit de corps” is one of the most interesting of phenomena for any observer of contemporary life. In the midst of the disintegration of so many moral and social influences it has maintained a certain hold on people’s consciousness and manifests itself in important ways. We thought it useful to study esprit de corps in some of its principal manifestations. This small psychological inquiry will then lead us to a few considerations on the moral value of esprit de corps.

Source: Esprit de Corps


Bodies of culture | Oxford University Press

Body pedagogics build capabilities, habits and specific ways of interpreting and acting in the world that shape people’s experience, knowledge and beliefs. While they can form the basis of an esprit de corps within particular cultures, they can also stimulate differences, oppositions and even violent conflicts between groups.

Source: Bodies of breath, bodies of knowledge, and bodies of culture | OUPblog

French Republic 2015

The 18th century can be thought of as a reflection on our way of being together. The group both liberates and alienates. The Encyclopedistes warn us that ‘esprit de corps’ – the ancestor of solidarity – cuts both ways: inside religious groupings, it becomes a spirit of obscurantism in the service of despots who take advantage of the faithful using false idols and the consolations of ever-present false hope. But still, groups have an identity that is their own – they have their own spirit; there is something that unites humans who come together for a purpose. D’Alembert and Diderot are the first to hint at the notion of a nation with a unifying character that is both a protection and a liberation; an identity that is more than the sum of individual parts – as Aristotle had suggested at the level of the mere city. Later, that spirit became Marianne guiding the French nation or Robespierre’s Supreme Being.

read the entire article here Charlie Hebdo: We no longer dream of the Republic. France needs a renewal of faith | openDemocracy.

Encyclopédie – d’Alembert

In the Encyclopédie, the tone is sharp and the social critique clear. Far from natural or depending on the climate, esprit de corps is defined as the acquired character of a group, always superficial, like a graft implanted in a big trunk:

Les sociétés ou corps particuliers au milieu d’un peuple, font en quelque manière de petites nations entourées d’une plus grande : c’est une espèce de greffe bonne ou mauvaise, entée sur un grand tronc ; aussi les sociétés ont-elles pour l’ordinaire un caractère particulier, qu’on appelle esprit du corps[1].

[1] Jean le Rond d’Alembert, ‘Caractère des sociétés ou corps particuliers’, Encyclopédie, p. 666.