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Suddenly the French are not so morose. They have the best football team in the world and they can think philosophically

Too often in England, whether in private conversation or media interviews, a debate is little more than a tennis rally of anecdotes indignantly told, overinflated to the status of a general rule. But the French understand the difference between conclusions drawn from personal experience and those based on a recognised framework of concepts. They take philosophy seriously. Every schoolchild is taught it.

Nor do they just mug it up for the Bac and then forget it. England has a growing number of reading groups. In France, in the last decade, Caf?s Philosophiques have sprung up. One meets regularly in our…

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