Prof. Dr. Luc Ferry
Philosopher, political scientist, former French Minister of Youth, Education and Research
DAAD Scholarship 1972–1974
Luc Ferry, who was born in 1951, was Minister of Youth, Education and Research in France from 2002 to 2004. The well-known philosopher and political scientist studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and at Heidelberg as a DAAD scholarship holder. He wrote his doctoral thesis on the German philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte. His appointment as minister came as a surprise to many because Ferry had attended none of the French elite universities.
It would be terrible if the Germans and French were in future only to speak English to each other – and bad English at that.
Ferry, who argues against the “spirit of ’68” in his many publications, advocates teaching a uniform foundation of knowledge and skills as a necessary counterbalance to the ever-increasing degree of specialisation and individualisation. One of the key measures which Ferry initiated in office was his action plan to tackle the poor writing and reading skills of French adolescents. He sees the failure of primary schools to teach pupils how to read and write properly as a problem in all European countries and as a “fairly new and worrying difficulty because it was thought that illiteracy had been overcome in the 1960s”.
Ferry is now working in academia and research again and has become one of France’s most influential intellectuals. He has written several books on philosophical topics and regularly gives series of lectures that enjoy great popularity with the general public – such as the Philosophical Tuesday at the Théâtre des Mathurins in Paris, in which he talks about the ancients’ thinking and the German philosophy of Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. Even without a political office, he still expresses his opinion often on everyday events and social policy developments. “He is a talented educationalist and mediator,” wrote the German newspaper FAZ on his 60th birthday. “No one is better at explaining Greek philosophy to his contemporaries and using it to help people cope with life’s problems.”