The European Legacy 23 (6):643-657 (2018)

The article examines Diderot’s view of the inconstancy of nature and its corollaries, the most obvious of which is the recognition of the impossibility of philosophy and natural history. For, if everything in nature is in a state of flux, no theory can keep up with its changes, reflect on them and capture anything more than an isolated moment. Diderot’s conception of nature has important consequences for his aesthetic theory. If the goal of the fine arts is to imitate nature, and if everything in nature undergoes constant change, does it not mean that art—no less than philosophy and natural history—is also impossible? By focusing on Diderot’s novel Rameau’s Nephew, I argue that the lesson of the numerous mimes its eponymous hero performs in the novel is that the dynamics of nature can perhaps only be captured by mime rather than on canvas or in stone, both of which, as Diderot puts it, can represent only a fleeting moment.
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DOI 10.1080/10848770.2018.1462563
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References found in this work BETA

Philosophical Papers and Letters.Martha Kneale - 1957 - Philosophical Review 66 (4):574.
Linguistics and Literary History. Essays in Stylistics.Leo Spitzer - 1950 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 9 (1):68-69.
Pantomime, spasme et parataxe : « Le Neveu de Rameau ».Marian Hobson - 1984 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 89 (2):197 - 213.

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