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René Schérer

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Schérer (left) and Hocquenghem (right) pictured together

René Schérer (born 25 November 1922 in Tulle) is a French philosopher and professor emeritus of the universite de Paris VIII. In 1959, left-wing activist and early queer theorist Guy Hocquenghem began an affair with Schérer, then his teacher, at the age of 15, and the two have remained lifelong friends. Schérer was a prominent and influential academic peer to many of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century, including Michel Foucault and others who (alongside Schérer and Hocquenghem) signed the 1977 French petition against age of consent laws. Schérer wrote extensively about age-disparate relationships, including paedophila/pedophilia and child sexuality, before these terms became highly stigmatized and taboo after the 1980's. Schérer was, arguably, part of the 1st wave of the MAP Movement.

General overview

Information on Schérer is sparse in the English-language, however, we provide links and quotations from these few English examples for readers in the next section. The Wikipedia page (translated from its more detailed French version) includes the following general information:

In the 1960s, when phenomenology dominated the philosophical field, René Schérer contributed to making Husserl's work known in France. He is also known as a commentator on Heidegger. After May 68, Schérer develops a thought of utopia and childhood influenced by Charles Fourier. Champion of a reinvention of pedagogy and the child-adult relationship, he analyzes the “childhood system”, that is to say the way in which permanent supervision of the child is instituted. In his main work, "Emile perverti", Schérer speaks on this subject of the panopticon of childhood, shortly before Michel Foucault [sic] in "Discipline and Punish" [...] In the 1970s he was also involved in homosexual activism, and will remain known for having been the teacher and lover of Guy Hocquenghem, with whom he co-wrote two books. Criticizing the ubiquitous surveillance of children and the denial of their desires, René Schérer is accused of apologizing for pedophilia in his writings, which he denies. He was briefly accused in 1982 in the Coral case, before being exonerated and his accuser convicted of slanderous denunciation.

In addition to Wikipedia, queer historian Kadji Amin situates Schérer within the sphere of:

Leftist pro-pedophile authors [who] tended to affirm the child’s will, autonomy, maturity, and active consent, bringing the child in proximity to full adult agency, while emphasizing the child at the heart of every adult. For example, René Schérer, a major philosopher of pedophilia, emphasizes “those ‘transitions’ which, between the child and the adult, establish accords, brief or durable, affective and carnal [...] (Schérer, “A propos de la pédophilie,” 90). Guy Hocquenghem, who coauthored Co-ire, one of the two special issues of Recherches on pedophilia published during the 1970s, with his former lover and professor René Schérer, theorizes child sexuality differently — as a chaotic and perverse energy of jouissance (Disturbing Attachments,[1] footnote 20, p. 217).

The French pedophilia discourse of the 1970s and sexual liberty for all: René Schérer's philosophy

Though much has been produced in French, Mason's Disturbing Visions of Childhood is the most extensive discussion in English of Schérer's writings on intergenerational issues to-date. We make it available as a PDF, in the list below.

For Schérer, childhood is an idea or system, rather than a natural category of human existence. His stress on the social construction of childhood demonstrates the influence of the historian Philippe Ariès (1914–1984). In L’Enfant et la vie familiale sous l’Ancien Régime (1960), Ariès argues that the modern conception of childhood and what he terms ‘le sentiment de la famille’ emerged gradually from the early modern period onwards.

Schérer has been cited and discussed in the 2020's by two University of Chile scholars. Leonardo Arce Vidal in his 2016 writings - Pedophiles and infants: folds and folds of desire,[2] (MA Thesis) - and Pedophilia and childhood: a possible relationship?;[3] as well as Mauricio Quiroz Muñoz in his 2020 thesis The pedagogue's denied wish: being a pedophile,[4] where he writes on Scherer's La pedagogía pervertida [EN: Perverted pedagogy] (1983). These scholars are mentioned together after their writings attracted controversy in 2023.