November 20, 2008
Vol. 28 No. 5

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    Marion joins Hall of Fame of French thinkers, succeeding former Cardinal

    By Josh Schonwald
    News Office

    Jean-Luc Marion

    A University faculty member is now among the “Immortals.”

    On Thursday, Nov. 6, Jean-Luc Marion, Professor of the Philosophy of Religion and Theology in the Divinity School, was elected to succeed the former Cardinal of Paris as a member of the ultra elite Académie française, known in France as “Les Immortels.”

    Perhaps best known internationally as the official authority on the French language, the Academie francaise, founded in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, is a living Hall of Fame of French thinkers.

    Because the official seal of the Academie française bears the motto: “to immortality,” and because members are elected for life, the 40 members are known as “les immortels.” Marion, who was elected on the first ballot, fills a space that only became available after former member and Cardinal of Paris, Jean-Marie Lustiger, died in August 2007.

    Marion, who also teaches at the Sorbonne, has authored a diverse range of work that has greatly influenced modern philosophy and theology. He is among the best-known living philosophers in France and is widely regarded as one of the leading Catholic thinkers of modern times.

    “This splendid recognition of Jean-Luc Marion accentuates his brilliant contributions to our understanding of Descartes,” said Richard Rosengarten, Dean of the Divinity School. “In doing so, it highlights the remarkable range of his scholarship, which includes foundational work in both the history of philosophy and in the newly developing and very promising field of the interface of philosophy and theology.”

    In announcing Marion’s election to the Académie française, the French newspaper Le Monde highlighted his influence on Catholic thought: “It is not only a great teacher who will sit among the Immortals,” the article noted, but “it is also a Catholic thinker who has never concealed his religious commitment nor discussed his loyalty to the Church and the Pope.”

    Marion is not the first Chicago faculty member to have a seat on the elite academy. Marc Fumaroli, a current member, was formerly a professor in Romance Languages & Literatures and the Committee on Social Thought at Chicago, and the late historian and “Immortal” François Furet also was a member of the Chicago faculty.

    Members of the Académie have included numerous politicians, lawyers, scientists, historians, philosophers, senior Roman Catholic clergymen, five French heads of state and numerous writers, including Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo and Voltaire.

    Last summer, Marion received another prestigious honor, the Karl-Jaspers Prize from the University and city of Heidelberg, Germany.