Cynthia Fleury
© C. Hélie – Éditions Gallimard
Public debate

Cynthia Fleury

Self-awareness is a political object. Democracy only makes sense if it is revitalized, reformed and rethought precisely by the intelligence that the rule of law itself has made possible. Today, it is this somewhat abandoned exchange that must be reinvented.

Cynthia Fleury combines philosophy and psychoanalysis as she rethinks and reasserts the the role of the individual in society. From bioethics to politics, this striking figure in the French intellectual landscape works on all fronts to revive the democratic project.

Updated on 14/03/2019

2 min

A philosopher and psychoanalyst born in 1974, Cynthia Fleury defended her PhD in philosophy at the Sorbonne in 2000, before teaching at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, the American University of Paris, the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris and the École polytechnique. Since 2017, she has been a professor at the École Nationale Supérieure des Mines in Paris. She also directs the Philosophy Professorship of the Saint Anne Hospital.

A member of the National Ethics Advisory Committee since 2013, she is also a member of the Nicolas Hulot Foundation for Nature and Man think-tank. A regularly guest on radio and television shows, she has written a weekly column in L’Humanité since 2003.

Since 2000, she has published around ten political philosophy essays and was named a chevalier of the Ordre national du mérite in 2014.

Cynthia Fleury has published numerous essays questioning the erosion of democracy and individual responsibility in the preservation of the social contract. Faced with abstentionism, the abandonment of public space, the spread of fanaticism and populism, she described her alarm at the destruction of the subject and the rule of law in her book Pathologies of Democracy (“Les Pathologies de la démocratie”) (2005).

With The End of Courage (“La Fin du courage”) (2010) and The Irreplaceable (“Les Irremplaçables”) (2015), the philosopher and psychoanalyst works to revive citizenship and “self-awareness” in a society eroded by the privatisation of the world and the weakening of the subject.

Senèque, Freud, Foucault and Arendt support a way of thinking in favour of mobilisation and the future, eager to help citizens become active social subjects once again.

Cynthia Fleury is generally oriented towards Europe and the world. This firstly through her research and teaching: in her essay, Engaging with the East (“Dialoguer avec l'Orient”) (2003), she focused on the cultural continuum between East and West, while the universal issues of globalisation, trade and sustainable development are the subject of the courses she teaches at HEC and the Léonardo-de-Vinci university centre in Paris-La Défense. Furthermore, she engages through her political involvement: in 2007, Cynthia Fleury, with the philosophers Sylviane Agacinski and Barbara Cassin, founded the International Network of Women Philosophers, sponsored by UNESCO.

The philosopher is also vice-president of EuropaNova, which brings together a new generation of European leaders around a desire to recast the European political project, “from a perspective of innovation, humanism and renewed solidarity, as well as openness to the world”. With the founder of EuropaNova, Guillaume Klossa, she published a “Manifesto for a more democratic Europe” in 2012.

  • 2000


    Cynthia Fleury defends her PhD thesis in philosophy at Paris-Sorbonne University (Paris IV), entitled "The metaphysics of imagination".

  • 2005


    In Pathologies of Democracy, she expresses the theory that the founding ideas of democracy (freedom, equality, resistance to oppression) are currently lived out in a perverted manner. France need to move from a nascent democracy to an “adult” on

  • 2007


    With the philosophers Sylviane Agacinski and Barbara Cassin, Cynthia Fleury founds the UNESCO-sponsored International Network of Women Philosophers.

  • 2012


    President and then Vice-President of EuropaNova, she and its founder, Guillaume Klossa, publish a “Manifesto for a more democratic Europe”.

  • 2013


    She becomes the youngest member of the National Advisory Committee on Ethics, chaired by professor of immunology Jean-Claude Ameisen.

  • 2015


    Cynthia Fleury is part of “New French Intellectual Arenas” supported by the Institut français. She spoke notably as part of the Nuit des idées organised on 25th January 2018, around the theme "Power to imagination".

The Institut français and the philosopher

Cynthia Fleury is part of “New French Intellectual Arenas” supported by the Institut français.


She spoke notably as part of the Nuit des idées organised on 25th January 2018, around the theme "Power to imagination".

L'institut français, LAB