Authors
Enrico Galvagni
University of St. Andrews
Abstract
Luxury is one of the main polemic targets of Baron d’Holbach. It brings one to run after imaginary needs they cannot fulfill, dooming them to live an unhappy, grim life. This critical view of luxury is no news and was shared by many others _philosophes_. In this paper, however, I argue that in d’Holbach’s account, luxury is more than an economically and morally disruptive force. It is also a tool to reinforce oppressive power. First, I reconstruct d’Holbach’s well-known account of luxury contained in his _Politique Naturelle_. Secondly, I show that a closer reading of his later work _Morale Universelle_ discloses a new element: according to d’Holbach’s social philosophy, luxury is a mystification strategy used by tyrants to be seen as gods and consequently dominate their subjects. Finally, pivoting on the continuity between human nature and modern society in the _Système de la Nature_, I show that luxury is inscribed into a natural process. It is nothing mysterious nor supernatural. This naturalization of luxury allows people to unmask the god-like tyrant as a common human being, showing that understanding how nature works can set man free not only from religion, but also from oppressive political power.
Keywords   d’Holbach   luxury   nature   oppressive power  Enlightenment  Enlightenment  d’Holbach  luxury  nature  oppressive power
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DOI 10.32881/jomp.88
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References found in this work BETA

D’Holbach on Self-Esteem and the Moral Economy of Oppression.Andreas Blank - 2017 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (6):1116-1137.
Helvétius and d'Holbach: "La Moralisation de la Politique".Everett C. Ladd - 1962 - Journal of the History of Ideas 23 (2):221.

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D’Holbach on Self-Esteem and the Moral Economy of Oppression.Andreas Blank - 2017 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (6):1116-1137.
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