If everything in the universe is material, how can master painters create images of nature which enable us to see, to know, beauty more perfect than can ever exist in reality? What materially real thing does the master painter access to portray on canvas? The work of the 18th century French philosopher Denis Diderot responds to this conundrum. Diderot’s answer pulls from his rich scientific thought coupled with the unique form of art criticism he develops. In both cases the role (...) of genius is shown to be key to great leaps forward, marvellous creation and understanding. My project opens with a bit of historical context and then involves a study of a selection of works of Diderot and Diderot scholars in order to more precisely draw out the connections he uncovers and the conclusion he reaches. Diderot’s interdisciplinary path leads through nature, art and science by way of genius and knowledge in this, our purely and beautifully material world. The ideas are as significant today as they were nearly three centuries ago. Diderot’s own genius inspires. This project reflects the intellectual contagion of his enthusiasm. -/- (This is my MA thesis, in French, from the University of British Columbia in 2020; it is available via the UBC Circle website.). (shrink)
Il s'agit d'ajouter un chapitre à l'histoire du pyrrhonisme. Au xviiie siècle, et sous la pression des critiques de Diderot qui tente de fonder la métaphysique matérialiste sur les « preuves expérimentales », Voltaire est obligé de trancher entre les deux définitions de l'épochè qui sont énoncées par Sextus Empiricus et conservées par Montaigne : le sage sceptique ne peut plus affirmer sa liberté par une suspension passive du jugement, mais il se livre à une enquête active, afin de démontrer (...) que la physique newtonienne se laisse aussi bien interpréter en un sens déiste et finaliste qu'en un sens matérialiste et athée. The purpose is to add a chapter to the story of pyrrhonism. During the XVIIIth century, and under the pressure of the criticisms of Diderot who tries to found the materialist metaphysics on the « experimental proofs », Voltaire is forced to choose between the two definitions of épochè which Sextus Empiricus and Montaigne asserted: the sceptical philosopher may no more affirm his freedom by passively suspending his opinion, but he conducts an active inquiry, and he demonstrates that the newtonian physics can be understood as a deist and finalist philosophy, or as a materialist and atheist one. (shrink)
Previous chapter The 18th century witnessed important changes in ontology and epistemology that greatly matter to rhythmology. Like all their contemporaries, Spinoza and Leibniz had reflected from the queen sciences of their age: physics and astronomy, backed by mathematics, especially arithmetic, calculus and geometry. Diderot in turn took advantage of the considerable progress in certain experimental and observation sciences: chemistry, natural history, medicine, and some research - Sur le concept de rythme – Nouvel article.
En prenant l'article "Certitude" pour point focal, on veut donner à voir comment Diderot a su rassembler toute la puissance critique de l’Encyclopédie pour bousculer les certitudes de ses contemporains. Une lecture attentive de l’article permettra de voir comment Diderot se livre une composition singulière faite de pièces empruntées à des autorités. On verra ensuite que Diderot fissure lui-même ce collage en le mettant en dialogue avec des éléments externes selon une méthode sophistiquée de renvois à d’autres articles de l’Encyclopédie (...) ou à d’autres textes de collaborateurs du dictionnaire. (shrink)
-/- On connaît déjà l’importance de la question des renvois dans l’Encyclopédie, théorisée par Diderot lui-même au cours de la rédaction de l’article Encyclopédie. Cet article se penche sur un aspect de cette question en prenant appui sur la manière dont ce type de procédé de liaison s’incarne dans l’élaboration de l’Histoire de l’Académie royale des sciences ainsi que dans les Tables alphabétiques qui ont été dressées pour ces volumes. Cette manière d’aborder la question apparaît d’autant plus utile qu’elle permet (...) de rendre compte d’aspects spécifiques de la pratique de Diderot comme éditeur de l’Encyclopédie. (shrink)
Dans cet article, nous revisitons le premier site de la "Promenade Vernet" du "Salon de 1767" à l'aune de la théorie du modèle idéal exposée dans la "Lettre-préface" du même ouvrage. Si cette conception de l'idéalité constitue une charge contre la théorie de la "belle nature" de l'abbé Batteux, Diderot vise à travers elle toute une tradition esthétique qui confère à l'art la mission de faire voir la nature comme un ouvrage divin. Diderot, dans cette promenade, mobiliserait donc les paysages (...) de Vernet pour subvertir toutes les catégories de l'esthétique de ses prédécesseurs, et, par là même, pour donner son congé à toute forme de transcendance dans la nature. (shrink)
À la toute fin de l’article « Épicuréisme ou Épicurisme » de l’Encyclopédie, après une adaptation très particulière de l’information qu’il a trouvée dans l’Historia Critica Philosophiae de Brucker, Diderot écrit une brève histoire de l’épicurisme moderne se concluant par cette phrase significative : « en quelque lieu & en quelque tems que ce soit, la secte épicurienne n’a jamais eu plus d’éclat qu’en France, & sur-tout pendant le siecle dernier. » Ma contribution prend prétexte cette affirmation pour essayer de (...) penser ce que signifie, pour Diderot, constituer une secte épicurienne aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles. Il devient alors possible de clarifier ce que sont les modalités du rapport à l’histoire de la philosophie impliquées dans cette affirmation, et le sens que Diderot prête à la filiation et à l’héritages philosophiques. Penser l’épicurisme moderne devient une manière de contester le récit simplificateur d’une modernité qui ne se définirait que par la rupture avec le passé. (shrink)
Dans cette contribution, je m’attarde à la manière dont l'intérêt de la philosophie des Lumières pour la métaphysique est rendu visible dans certaines entrées de l’Encyclopédie expressément mises sous les rubriques « Philosophie » et « Histoire de la philosophie », et plus particulièrement à l’une d’entre elles, à savoir l’entrée SCHOLASTIQUES, laquelle a l’intérêt de mettre sur la scène de l’histoire le drame du rapt de la métaphysique par la théologie. Autre manière de dire que le devenir « ontothéologique (...) » de la métaphysique, comme moment de l’histoire de l’esprit humain, est bel et bien l’histoire de rapports de forces politiques et institutionnelles dont la résolution n’est pas nécessairement conditionnée par un dévoilement progressif de la vérité. (shrink)
This essay responds to scholarly neglect which Diderot’s “Éloge de Richardson” has met for being regarded as too colourful (“trop coloré”). Focus on the emotive aspect of the “Éloge” is, here, shown to reveal commentary on philosophy itself; Samuel Richardson’s work thus occasions a fresh take on philosophical discourse. Diderot’s “Éloge” proves to be a new twist in literary criticism as well as an important contribution to philosophy proper.
This essay considers Denis Diderot’s Letter on the Blind for the Use of Those Who Can See as a work that can contribute to a disability political theory. By recounting the experiences of visually impaired persons in their own words, Diderot opens up possibilities for a disability politics of self-representation, maintaining that sighted persons should listen to blind persons’ accounts of their own experience rather than relying on their own imaginings and assumptions. By using blind experiences to challenge a philosophical (...) problem that intrigued philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries amid often-unsuccessful efforts to “cure” blindness through cataract surgeries, Diderot develops a powerful critique of the empiricist stress on vision as the primary source of perception and provides a remarkably forward-looking critique of disablist attitudes toward the blind. Through this philosophical discourse, he engages a political argument about the way knowledge is gathered, evaluated, and interpreted through relationships of power. (shrink)
Resumen. En este artículo se presenta el texto de Diderot “Philosophie Des Japonois” en el que expone los rasgos del pensamiento japonés y se coteja luego con la translación de Tomás Lapeña en su Ensayo sobre la historia de la filosofía desde el principio del mundo hasta nuestros días. Del texto diderotiano se estudian las “peculiaridades” que encuentra en la filosofía japonesa. En la versión castellana, se identifican las mermas, explicándose las motivaciones tras las cesuras halladas. Se busca esclarecer el (...) patrón moderno de transmisión y distorsión de las filosofías no-europeas. -/- [en] Ad pedem litterae? Philosophy and encyclopedism in nineteenth-century Spain: losses and caesuras in the Spanish translation of Diderot’s “Philosophie Des Japonois” -/- Abstract: The article introduces Diderot’s “Philosophie Des Japonois” in which he exposes the traits of Japanese thought and afterwards is compared with the translation of Tomás Lapeña in his Essay on the history of philosophy from the beginning of the world to the present day. The paper studies, first, the "peculiarities" that Diderot found in Japanese philosophy. Second, reading Lapeña’s Spanish version, the article identifies the losses, explaining the motivations of the caesuras found. The aim is to clarify the modern pattern of transmission and distortion of non-European philosophies. -/- . (shrink)
Thanks to Michel Foucault, one might say it has become possible to conceive that the political relevance of humanity in modern thought does not have to do with its “philosophical essence” but rather with its “nonessence.” Yet this very idea surfaced earlier in Western thought, at the time of the revolutionary turn towards a politicized humanitarianism, and helped to shape some crucial political strategies making up modern liberal democracy. Its potential eluded even Foucault. I contend that tracing the contours of (...) this classical, if long unthinkable idea, can inform our response to the other of social critique. (shrink)
Les interprétations habituelles de l’article «Éclectisme» de l’Encyclopédie mettent l’accent sur l’idée que Diderot y annonce le programme de la philosophie moderne, dont il se ferait par le fait même un illustre représentant et l’un des promoteurs. Dans cet article, j’essaie de compléter cette interprétation en montrant que l’article est également porteur d’une réflexion de premier plan sur l’histoire de la philosophie, sur les effets de continuité dans sa pratique et, conséquemment, sur ce qui est proprement constitutif du discours philosophique (...) lui-même, tant sur le plan méthodologique qu’en ce qui conc erne son positionnement politique. -/- The standard interpretation of Diderot’s article “Éclectisme” in the Encyclopédie emphasizes the idea that Diderot is setting out the program for modern philosophy, thereby making himself its illustrious representative and promoter. In thispaper, I complement this interpretation by showing that “Éclectisme” also contains an influential reflection on continuity in the history of philosophy and, consequently, on what constitutes philosophical discourse itself, both methodologically and politically. (shrink)
My topic is the materialist appropriation of empiricism—as conveyed in the ‘minimal credo’ nihil est in intellectu quod non fuerit in sensu. That is, canonical empiricists like Locke go out of their way to state that their project to investigate and articulate the ‘logic of ideas’ is not a scientific project: “I shall not at present meddle with the Physical consideration of the Mind”. Indeed, I have suggested elsewhere, contrary to a prevalent reading of Locke, that the Essay is not (...) the extension to the study of the mind of the methods of natural philosophy; that he is actually not the “underlabourer” of Newton and Boyle he claims politely to be in the Epistle to the Reader. Rather, Locke says quite directly if we pay heed to such passages, “Our Business here is not to know all things, but those which concern our Conduct”. There would be more to say here about what this implies for our understanding of empiricism, but instead I shall focus on a different aspect of this episode: how a non-naturalistic claim which falls under what we now call epistemology becomes an ontology—materialism. That is, how an empiricist claim could shift from being about the sources of knowledge to being about the nature of reality.. Put differently, I want to examine the shift from the logic of ideas in the seventeenth century to an eighteenth-century focus on what kind of ‘world’ the senses give us, to an assertion that there is only one substance in the universe, and that we need an account of the material substrate of mental life. This is neither a ‘scientific empiricism’ nor a linear developmental process from philosophical empiricism to natural science, but something else again: the unpredictable emergence of an ontology on empiricist grounds. (shrink)
Baron d’Holbach was a critic of established religion, or a philosophe, in late 18 th -century France. His work is often perceived as less inventive than the work of other materialist philosophes, such as Helvétius and Diderot. However, I claim that d’Holbach makes an original, unjustly overlooked move in the criticism of religious moral teaching. According to the materialist philosophes, this teaching claims that true happiness is only possible in the afterlife. As an alternative, Helvétius and Diderot offer theories according (...) to which the experience of pleasure constitutes happiness, the end of all human desire. In contemporary terms, these theories would represent psychological hedonism. But, as Diderot himself admits, they have a problem in accounting for why people seem to naturally regard some pleasures as preferable to others. I argue that in response to this challenge, instead of accepting the psychological hedonism of his fellow materialists, d’Holbach shows how one can abstain from reducing happiness to pleasure and yet remain a materialist. (shrink)
Jonathan I. Israel claims that Christian ‘controversialists’ endeavoured first to obscure or efface Spinozism, materialism, and non-authoritarian free thought, and then, in the early eighteenth century, to fight these openly, and desperately. Israel appears to have adopted the view of enlightenment as a battle against what Voltaire has called ‘l’infâme’, and David Hume has labelled ‘stupidity, Christianity, and ignorance’. These authors’ barbs were launched later in the century, however, in the period of the high Enlightenment, following polarizing controversies of mid-century. (...) This chapter argues that many Enlightenment figures, including Hume and Voltaire, were far more involved within a culture in the second quarter of the century that was less divided against Christian interlocutors, less rigid, and more complex than these two wished to suggest, in retrospect, after mid-century. A Christian literary and scientific circle was productive and prominent in French Enlightenment culture, particularly in the personages of François Prévost, Pierre Desfontaines, Samuel Formey and Noël Pluche, and in the pages of ubiquitous journals and occasional publications. Many of the Catholics among these lumières held the education and retained the status of ‘abbé’, a title with prophylactic properties that legitimated expansive inquiry – into topics such as libertinism and atheism – and facilitated in-print exchanges with Voltaire and other less orthodox figures. This wing of the Enlightenment developed a culture that reflected, and sometimes promoted, Christian theology – especially in the tradition of natural theology – and displayed broadly Christian and politically conservative values. The latter aspect served in part to motivate concerted efforts toward their marginalization by others, but the French Enlightenment of the eighteenth century’s second quarter was actually very mixed, and not so very radical; rather, it became polarized at mid-century, and in retrospect, the Christians of this wing were written out of the history by the likes of Voltaire and Hume. (shrink)
Étude de la réception de Fontenelle dans l'Encyclopédie qui démontre que celui-ci joue un rôle important à titre de figure tutélaire pour les encyclopédistes, à titre de penseur des progrès de l'esprit humain. -/- Study of Fontenelle's reception in the Encyclopédie, showing that he plays an important role as an authority for the encyclopedists, as a thinker of the progress of human mind.
RÉSUMÉ : Cet article s’attache à un aspect fondamental de la philosophie matérialiste de Diderot, à savoir le fait que l’individualité psychologique ne peut pas correspondre à l’individu matériel que nous sommes parce que la mémoire sur laquelle elle repose est toujours en quelque sorte partielle. Que faire alors si cet individu matériel lui-même voit son existence mise en doute, du fait que, comme l’annonce le Rêve de d’Alembert, le seul individu, c’est le «tout»? En mettant en relation ces deux (...) démarches, nous montrons comment on peut élaborer une théorie de l’individu qui tienne compte du décalage entre l’individuation comme processus physique et de la constitution de l’individualité comme processus psychologique. -/- ABSTRACT: This paper is devoted to a fundamental aspect of Diderot’s materialist hilosophy: the fact that psychological identity does not exactly correspond with the material individuals we are because the memories on which psychological identity relies are always partial. This is complicated by the fact that even the material individual is denied reality since, as is stated in the Rêve de d’Alembert , the only individual is the «whole». By relating these two approaches, I try to show how one can develop a theory of the individual that takes into account the gap between individuation as a physical process and the constitution of a psychological individual. (shrink)
The species of vitalism discussed here is a malleable construct, often with a poisonous reputation (but one which I want to rehabilitate), hovering in between the realms of the philosophy of biology, the history of medicine, and the scientific background of the Radical Enlightenment (case in point, the influence of vitalist medicine on Diderot). This is a more vital vitalism, or at least a more ‘biologistic,’ ‘embodied,’ medicalized vitalism. I distinguish between what I would call ‘substantival’ and ‘functional’ forms of (...) vitalism, as applied to the eighteenth century. Substantival vitalism presupposes the existence of something like a (substantive) vital force which either plays a causal role in the natural world as studied by scientific means, or remains a kind of hovering, extra-causal entity. Functional vitalism tends to operate “post facto,” from the existence of living bodies to the desire to find explanatory models that will do justice to their uniquely ‘vital’ properties in a way that fully mechanistic models (such as Cartesian mechanism) cannot. I discuss some representative figures of the Montpellier school as being functional rather than substantival vitalists, particularly as regards the models of organic organization which they develop, and make some suggestions as to how these relate to the then-nascent science of biology. (shrink)
ABSTRACTMaterialism is the view that everything that is real is material or is the product of material processes. It tends to take either a ‘cosmological’ form, as a claim about the ultimate nature of the world, or a more specific ‘psychological’ form, detailing how mental processes are brain processes. I focus on the second, psychological or cerebral form of materialism. In the mid-to-late eighteenth century, the French materialist philosopher Denis Diderot was one of the first to notice that any self-respecting (...) materialist had to address the question of the status and functional role of the brain, and its relation to our mental life. After this the topic grew stale, with knee-jerk reiterations of ‘psychophysical identity’ in the nineteenth-century, and equally rigid assertions of anti-materialism. In 1960s philosophy of mind, brain–mind materialism reemerged as ‘identity theory’, focusing on the identity between mental processes and cerebral processes. In contrast, Diderot’s cerebral materialism allows for a more culturally sedimented sense of the brain, which he described in his late Elements of Physiology as a ‘book – except it is a book which reads itself’. Diderot thus provides a lesson for materialism as it reflects on the status of the brain, science and culture. (shrink)
Zum 300. Geburtstag von Denis Diderot bietet dieser Sammelband die Gelegenheit einen Überblick über das wissenschaftliche und künstlerische Schaffen des Denkers der französischen Aufklärung zu bekommen. -/- Inhalt -/- Karl Acham: Naturrecht und Moral. -/- Simone Zurbuchen: Zerbrochene Freundschaft: Diderot gegen Rousseau über Philosophie und Patronage. -/- Udo Thiel: Materialismus und Subjektivität bei Diderot. -/- Simone De Angelis: »er lebt quasi nur noch durch seinen Kopf« Diderots Ethos der Anerkennung in seiner Beziehung zu d’Alembert und was das mit der Aufklärung (...) zu tun hat. -/- Hans-Jürgen Lüsebrink: Diderot als historischer Denker. Zum Verhältnis von Geschichtsphilosophie, literarischer Fiktion und intellektuellem Engagement in seinem Spätwerk. -/- Klaus-Dieter Ertler: Notwendigkeit und Kontingenz im Erzählsystem von Diderots Jacques le Fataliste et son Maître. (shrink)
First published in 1953, this selection was created to provide the general reader and university students with the texts of Diderot's more important philosophical writings. The works are presented in French, with modernised spelling, and a brief bibliographical note in English precedes each one. This book will be of value to anyone with an interest in Diderot and his thinking.
This article tries to show how, in his philosophy, Diderot assumes the character of a rhetorician: each idea is inseparable fro m the imagination that has created it, constituting a thought that is based on analogical and metaphorical references. In this perspective, my article considers the Encyclopédie as the most specific product of the philosopher-rhetorician’s thought: here the human knowledge organizes itself in a totality unfinished and ever-changing, where the articles are placed in a network of multiple references, never unambiguous (...) and transparent. The result is a work in which each statement has an ambiguous and never final status: with this background, irony now appears as the constitutive factor of a human knowledge that always redefines its centres and its suburbs, creating unstable symmetries and balances. (shrink)
Nel mio articolo mi propongo di mostrare come nell'opera filosofica di D. Diderot la ridefinizione della materia - attiva e capace di dar origine continuamente a nuove forme - passi per la riconsiderazione dei suoi rapporti con l'immaginazione e le capacità rappresentative umane. A tal fine, prenderò in analisi uno specifico passo de Le rêve de d'Alembert, nel quale Diderot metaforizza la capacità della materia di divenire attiva a partire dalla riduzione in polvere di una statua di Falconet. Si dimostrerà (...) che l'opera dello scultore, distrutta e consegnata a nuova vita dal philosophe, non è dedicata a un soggetto qualsiasi: essa rappresenta infatti Pigmalione ai piedi della statua che si anima. La materia che si anima è allora in Diderot quella che già rappresenta la materia stessa nell'atto di animarsi. Facendo del mito ovidiano di Pigmalione il baricentro della riflessione settecentesca sulla materia e sull'immagine, nella loro reciproca interazione, il mio articolo cercherà pertanto di ridefinirne i rapporti reciproci e, attraverso una fisiologia che si origina da una tattilità diffusa, traccerà i contorni di un materialismo in cui materia e rappresentazione, cose e immagini convivono all'altezza di un'immaginazione che continuamente dà forma al reale e alle parole che lo descrivono e lo riscrivono. (shrink)
Questo volume raccoglie alcune riflessioni sul ruolo della finzione nella letteratura e nella filosofia del Settecento e del Novecento. La premessa del lavoro è di non negare aprioristicamente il valore della multiforme nozione di finzione per il pensiero rigoroso. In tal modo, in un percorso che si dipana da Vico a Queneau passando per Diderot, Rousseau, Gide e Valéry, gli autori indagano diverse esperienze di interazione tra riflessione e finzione, mettendo in luce l’arricchimento per il pensiero che di volta in (...) volta ne risulta. Il lavoro è frutto del laboratorio di filosofia della letteratura del gruppo Zetesis ed è stato realizzato grazie al contributo del Consiglio degli Studenti dell’Università di Pisa. (shrink)
For generations of scholars the emergence of the notion of human subjectivity has marked the shift to philosophical modernity. Mainly traced back to Descartes’s founding of philosophy on the Cogito and to Kant’s ‘Copernican Revolution’, the rise of subjectivity has been linked to the rise of the modern age in terms of a reconsideration of reality starting from an analysis of the human self and consciousness. Consequently, it has been related to long-standing issues of identity, individuation and individuality as a (...) foremost topic on the agenda of the philosophers. Only in recent times, however, have comprehensive studies on early modern theories of subjectivity and individuality become available to scholars. […] Since the complexity of these topics and of their historiographical treatment is increasing, the only way to shed light on them is to intensify the debate itself. As a multi-authored collection of essays, the present issue of Society and Politics is not aimed at addressing or endorsing a particular position in these debates: rather, it questions and calls attention to the issues of subjectivity and individuality in their historical development, encouraging the debate on topics recently analysed. (shrink)
The concept of self has preeminently been asserted (in its many versions) as a core component of anti-reductionist, antinaturalistic philosophical positions, from Descartes to Husserl and beyond, with the exception of some hybrid or intermediate positions which declare rather glibly that, since we are biological entities which fully belong to the natural world, and we are conscious of ourselves as 'selves', therefore the self belongs to the natural world (this is characteristic e.g. of embodied phenomenology and enactivism). Nevertheless, from Cudworth (...) and More’s attacks on materialism all the way through twentieth-century argument against naturalism, the gulf between selfhood and the world of Nature appears unbridgeable. In contrast, my goal in this paper is to show that early modern materialism could yield a theory of the self according to which (1) the self belongs to the world of external relations (Spinoza), such that no one fact, including supposedly private facts, is only accessible to a single person; (2) the self can be reconstructed as a sense of “organic unity” which could be a condition for biological individuality (a central text here is Diderot’s 1769 Rêve de D’Alembert); yet this should not lead us to espouse a Romantic concept of organism as foundational or even ineffable subjectivity (a dimension present in Leibniz and made explicit in German idealism); (3) what we call 'self' might simply be a dynamic process of interpretive activity undertaken by the brain. This materialist theory of the self should not neglect the nature of experience, but it should also not have to take at face value the recurring invocations of a better, deeper “first-person perspective” or “first-person science.”. (shrink)
In Diderot’s philosophy, the nature of the eighteenth-century, Isis veiled, is constituted of the same substance as the metaphor, the analogy and the hieroglyph. To show that, this article takes into consideration the naturalistic inquiry on Trembley’s Hydra. This animal, which is at the heart of the philosophical interest of the period, seems to shape itself starting from the mythological imagination, but at the same time it becomes the model that, for Diderot, defines the faculty of thinking and its features. (...) The reversibility between word and image, nature and culture, representation and the represented thing provides the observation point on a philosophy – Diderot’s philosophy – that develops itself along with the human physiology and imagination, its own faculty. (shrink)
En los últimos años, la relación entre la filosofía de la Ilustración y el cinismo ha logrado atraer la atención de los especialistas. En ese marco, los críticos suelen identificar las filosofías de Diógenes y Diderot. El objetivo del presente trabajo es revisar el vínculo que existe entre ambos con el fin de demostrar que el mismo es problemático y que, por esa razón, desborda las interpretaciones que se han presentado hasta el momento. Esto, por otra parte, arrojará luces sobre (...) la relación entre el materialismo de Diderot y su teoría ético-política. In recent years the relationship between the philosophy of the Enlightenment and cynicism has managed to attract the attention of scholars. In this framework, critics often identify Diogenes and Diderot's philosophy. The aim of this paper is to examine the relationship between Diderot and Diogenes in order to demonstrate that it is a problematic relationship that goes beyond the interpretations that have been presented so far. This, on the other hand, will shed light on the relationship between Diderot's materialism and his ethical and political theory. (shrink)
Diderot?s universe is somewhat weird, often dreamlike and hallucinatory, and his ontology fluid and elusive. It comprises the existing, the non-existent and even contradictory entities, the boundaries between which cannot always be clearly delimited. This universe in which nothing is of the essence of a particular being and everything is more or less something or other, resembles the amorphous and oneiric world of Zhuangzi in which nothing is clearly defined, while essenceless things, floating in uncertainty and indeterminacy, literally blend into (...) one another. The author examines what the early Hollywood comedies of Preston Sturges and the Marx brothers can teach us about the metaphysics and the principles at work in this complex and intricate world. Didroov univerzum je unekoliko neobican, cesto nalik na san, halucinatoran, a njegova ontologija fluidna i neuhvatljiva. Ona, naime, obuhvata kako postojeca tako i nepostojeca, pa cak i protivrecna bica, izmedju kojih nije uvek moguce postaviti jasne granice. Taj univerzum, u kojem nista nema sustinu posebnog bica i svaka stvar je vise ili manje bilo koja stvar, mozda jos najvise podseca na Cuang Ceov amorfni i oniricni svet, u kojem nema nicega razgovetnog, a stvari koje bez ikakve esencije plutaju u neizvesnosti i neodredjenosti se doslovno prelivaju jedna u drugu. Autor razmatra sta nam o metafizici i principima koji vaze u tom kompleksnom i slozenom svetu mogu reci rane holivudske komedije Prestona Stardzesa i brace Marks. (shrink)
The purpose of this essay is to analyze and relate two proposals for illustration made by the European philosophy of the eighteenth century, their singularities and seeking more differences than their commonalities. Both of them were developed in countries with different cultural and political conjunctures and based on the peculiarities of their respective enlightenments. This is the Aufklärung of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), who became famous with the booklet Answer the question: what is "Enlightenment"?, written in 1784, and the Lumières embodied (...) by the speculator Denis Diderot (1713-1784) and mainly expressed in the entry "Philosopher" of the Encyclopedia of 1765. (shrink)
The Rococo period in the arts, flourishing mainly from about 1710 to about 1750, was stylistically unified, but nevertheless its tremendous productivity and appeal throughout Occidental culture has proven difficult to explain. Having no contemporary theoretical literature, the Rococo is commonly taken to have been a final and degenerate form of the Baroque era or an extravagance arising from the supposed careless frivolity of the elites, including the intellectuals of the Enlightenment. Neither approach adequately accounts for Rococo style. Naming the (...) Rococo raises profound issues for understanding the relations between conception and production in historical terms. Against the many difficulties that the term has involved in accounting for an immense but elusive cultural movement, this thesis argues that some of the chief philosophical conceptions of the period clarify the particular character and significance of Rococo production. Rococo production is here studied chiefly in decor, architecture, and the plastic arts. This thesis also makes an extended general argument for the value of intellectual history. Rococo style is a group of visual effects of which the central character is atectonicity. This is established by a synthesizing overview of Rococo ornamental motifs. Principal theorists of post-Cartesian thought have failed to see how these distinguish Rococo style from both Baroque and Enlightenment culture. The analysis addresses the historical narratives of Benjamin, Adorno, Foucault, Deleuze, and others about Baroque and Enlightenment culture. The core historical claim of this thesis is that Rococo atectonic effects are visual forms of the anti-materialist, idealist ontology of George Berkeley and of the metaphysics and ontology in the early work of Giambattista Vico. Close readings of important passages from works of both philosophers published in 1710 develop the relationship between atectonics and idealist ontology. Both men rejected the Baroque hierarchical cosmology in favor of finitude as the key to human understanding. The readings center on the issue of causality, including Berkeley’s views of the perfect contingency of the world and on Vico’s theories of truth and ingenium. A reading of Diderot’s critique of the Rococo, which led the reaction to it, shows that he recognized the power of idealist ontology in the Rococo cultural production. The larger force in the rejection of Rococo is the emergence of the sublime as a morally fearful feature of physical nature. Montesquieu’s aesthetic work also shows the transition to a more rigidly determined view of existence, which was expressed but constrained in the little-recognized lattice motif in Rococo arts. The result of these readings is the influence during and after the Rococo period of the concept of continuous creation, in which the memory and imagination of the human subject relays God-given powers of creation into the production of culture. Continuous creation also suggested a human capability to animate material nature. Rococo style displays this as pre-cinematic effects that represent the non-material, non-causal deep structure of reality. (shrink)
The great eighteenth-century French thinker Denis Diderot once compared himself to a weathervane, by which he meant that his mind was in constant motion. In an extraordinarily diverse career he produced novels, plays, art criticism, works of philosophy and poetics, and also reflected on music and opera. Perhaps most famously, he ensured the publication of the Encyclopédie, which has often been credited with hastening the onset of the French Revolution. Known as one of the three greatest philosophes of the Enlightenment, (...) Diderot rejected the Christian ideas in which he had been raised. Instead, he became an atheist and a determinist. His radical questioning of received ideas and established religion led to a brief imprisonment, and for that reason, no doubt, some of his subsequent works were written for posterity. This collection of essays celebrates the life and work of this extraordinary figure as we approach the tercentenary of his birth. (shrink)