Activist and thinker of what? I have been an activist against certain inter-human oppressions since the 1970s – against racism and sexism, for short – but especially, since about 1988, against the major oppression of non-human animals.
But I have also developed, for even longer, a rather particular worldview.
I am a utilitarian. I do not believe in personal identity. I believe in the objective nature of sentience.
I do not believe that our current conception of the physical world – that is, of the world, period – is the right one. I believe that physics still has a lot of evolving to do, in particular to be able to account for sentience; and even, to account simply for what it means to exist, not only for sentient beings but also for non-sentient objects like tables and chairs.
I am an atheist, that is, I think that all religions that postulate the existence of a god are factually wrong and also, insofar as they call us to worship that god, morally repugnant. I am, however, a militant atheist only to the extent that I consider the beliefs in question harmful, which varies according to religion and attitude.
I am a progressive, which means that I believe that an important progress in the state of the world is possible; but I am not a revolutionary, because I do not believe that such progress can be made in a "Great Night" which would lead to the "end of History". Cf. my intervention "Is antispeciesism revolutionary?" at the Estivales de la question animale.
I was passionate about science from a very early age. I wanted to refuse to eat animals when I was about eight, but I was forced to; the question remained central to my concerns for several years. I thought that as an adult I would fight for the world to stop eating animals (I included in my thoughts the problem of predation). However, I ended up forgetting all this in my teenage years – teenage years are conformist years.
I was brilliant in maths and physics, obtaining in 1974 the 2nd prize in the Concours Général de physique (and a 1st accessit in the Concours Général d'anglais). I did two years of Classes préparatoires at the Lycée du Parc in Lyon (maths sup and maths speciale), from which I was ejected because I had founded the FLCP (Front de Libération des Classes Préparatoires, a serious protest in semi-hoax form), but in time for me to pass (1st) the entrance exam to the ENS of St-Cloud, physics section. Afterwards, I was less brilliant, but I still ended up getting a DEA (= Master 2) in particle physics in 1988.
I was more or less an anarchist and an ecologist from my teenage years onwards; in the mid-1985s I began to free myself from the dogmas that underpin these ideas – in particular, from the central anarchist dogma of individualism and egoism, and from the “left-wing” dogma according to which the only reality is social, and therefore human – and began to think again about non-humans, their suffering, and the unjustified character of what we do to them.
Following various encounters, including those with Françoise Blanchon and Yves Bonnardel, I began campaigning on this theme. In 1989, the brochure Nous ne mangeons pas de viande pour ne pas tuer d'animaux (“We don't eat meat so as not to kill animals”).
In 1991 I founded the magazine Les Cahiers antispécistes, which I produced for several years with Françoise and Yves. I also founded the Veggie Pride in 2001, and the Estivales de la question animale in 2002. Over the years I have written many texts, in the Cahiers and elsewhere, and presented many lectures, at the Estivales and elsewhere. I am active on social networks, especially on Facebook and, since 2021, on Twitter.
Since 2010, I have seriously taken up again the study of mathematics, because I have come to believe that it has to do with the structure of the universe – a banal idea – but also that, since sentience is part of the universe, it has a lot to do with the nature of sentience. I expect to say more on the issue before, let's say, the end of 2024.