Bactra Review   Subject Index
``The French Disease'' is what the Italians of the 16th century called syphilis; the French, naturally, called it the Italian Disease, or the Disease of Naples. For a couple of years, I've been using the phrase as a mocking label for structuralism (with some caveats) and post-structuralism and post-modernism (with no caveats). I know perfectly well that (1) the French produce plenty of excellent intellectual works which in no way deserve to be associated with this nonsense, which is unfortunate for the label (but fortunate for the French, and indeed the rest of us) and (2) said nonsense is not exclusively, and by this point maybe not even mostly, French (which only makes the joke better, once you know the relevant history). ``Studies in the French Disease'' is going to be a highly irregular series of reviews of books which are themselves structuralist, post-structrualist, etc., or about structrualism and its kin. I'd like to protest lofty motives (like an inability to stomach humbug, or a wish to help maintain the standards of intellectual discourse) and deep qualifications (like actually knowing something about logic), but mere desires to sow mischief, to show off, and to write harsh reviews are probably closer to the mark. Since many of the books written as prophylactics against the French Disease are fully as bad as its instances, the last-named can be satisfied in a reasonably even-handed manner.

  Christopher Norris, Against Relativism: Philosophy of Science, Deconstruction and Critical Theory
  François Roustang, The Lacanian Delusion

Cf. Debunking; Feminism; The Information Society; Logic; Mind, Consciousness, etc.; Philosophy; Philosophy of Science; Politics and Political Thought; Psychoanalysis; Socialism, Marxism, Communism; Sociology