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Jean Baudrillard and Le Système des objets

A multifaceted man, Jean Baudrillard was a French sociologist, philosopher, cultural theorist, political commentator, and photographer. His life and ideas will be subject of examination in the following post. He mostly analyzed the way technological progress affects social change, but his work has been rich and productive in general. Le Système des objets has been one of his most well known works.

Jean Baudrillard was born in the North of France, in the city of Reims the 27th July 1929. His grandparents were peasants and civil servants his parents, but he studied at the Reims Lycée to become a philosopher, becoming the first on his family attending university studies. It was in that institute where he came in contact with  pataphysics through his philosophy teacher Emmanuel Peille, but his early life was more influenced by the Algerian War in  1950s and 1960s than with philosophy.

He made his University studies in Sorbonne University, where he studied German language and literature. Thanks to those studies, he started to teach German in different Parisian institutes during the years 1960 and 1966. While he tought, however, he also made several literature analysis and translation of the works of Peter Weiss, Bertotld Brecht, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels or Wilhelm Emil Mühlmannen.

Afterwards, his interest centred more in sociology, so his thesis Le Système des objets was also related to it, which criticizes the consumer society and consumism. Therefore, he started teaching sociology at the Université de Paris-X Nanterre, a university that would play an important role in the May 68 events.

Even if he worked in France, Baudrillard had also moved to New York (1970) and Japan (1973), where he bought his first camera. In 1986, back in Paris, the philosopher made his last steps as a lecturer in the Univerity of Paris-IX Dauphine. Even if he did not lose contact with the academic world, he would start leaving appart sociology, and would be identified more with his own ideology than with any other discipline.

His influence came from Marcel Mauss, Geordes Bataille, Jean-Paul Sartre, Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky and Sigmund Freud, but he was also influenced by the Situationists, Surrealism, psychoanalysis and Marxism. As for his philosophy, it is said to be centred on ‘hyperreality’ and ‘simulation’; as explained in The European Graduate School where he worked, “the virtual or unreal nature of contemporary culture in an age of mass communication and mass consumption”.

Le Système des objets was the book he wrote in 1999. Classifying everyday objects into asfunctional, nonfunctional and metafunctional ones, Baudrillard makes a cultural critique comparing modern and traditional objects as well. Being one of his mayor works, this book has been very important for the development and the building of his philosophy. Therefore, it is an important thesis to take into account for his biography in Wikipedia.

An important and complex work about metaphysics, the thesis is an interesting thesis for philosophy students. As said, Jean Baudrillard was a multifaceted man that made an admirable work in either discipline.


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