Winner: CHOICE Outstanding Academic Book Award, CHOICE Magazine (2008) Winner: Morris D. Forkosch Prize for the best book in intellectual history, Journal of the History of Ideas (2008) The French revolts of May 1968, the largest general strike in twentieth-century Europe, were among the most famous and colourful episodes of the twentieth century. Julian Bourg argues that during the subsequent decade the revolts led to a remarkable paradigm shift in French thought - the concern for revolution in the 1960s was transformed into a fascination with ethics. Challenging the prevalent view that the 1960s did not have any lasting effect, From Revolution to Ethics shows how intellectuals and activists turned to ethics as the touchstone for understanding interpersonal, institutional, and political dilemmas. In absorbing and scrupulously researched detail Bourg explores the developing ethical fascination as it emerged among student Maoists courting terrorism, anti-psychiatric celebrations of madness, feminists mobilizing against rape, and pundits and philosophers championing humanitarianism. From Revolution to Ethics provides a compelling picture of how May 1968 helped make ethics a compass for navigating contemporary global concerns. In a new preface for the second edition published to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the events, Bourg assessses the worldwide influence of the ethical turn, from human rights to the return of religion and the new populism.
Julian Bourg is associate dean for the Core and associate professor of history at Boston College. He is editor of After the Deluge: New Perspectives on the Intellectual and Cultural History of Postwar France and translator of Claude Lefort, Complications: Communism and the Dilemmas of Democracy.