Étienne de La Boétie (1530–63) is a central, if enigmatic, figure in modern French political philosophy. While his name is most famous for his friendship with Montaigne, his Discours de la servitude volontaire (Discourse of Voluntary Servitude) is a tour-de-force of humanist political writing, a youthful paean to liberty arguing that subjection to tyrants is the result of popular corruption. This article argues that the text can be read as a reflection on the perils and promise of transparency. Reading La (...) Boétie helps us see two radically different ways in which members of a polity can be known to one another – two models of transparency – and it offers an important, but ultimately unsettling, political ideal based on a classical conception of civic friendship. The article draws out the importance of this ideal for modern anti-corruption efforts. (shrink)
We study here the reception by their contemporaries of Antoine de Villon's and étienne de Clave's anti-Aristotelian, almost materialistic and atomistic theses, which they intended to support publicly in Paris in 1624, using chemical experiments to this purpose. After surveying the intellectual context which could have then nourished an atomism based upon chemical experiments, we go on to show how these theses, far from having been perceived as prominently atomistic, were condemned by the contemporaries above all because of the theological (...) implications of their provocative anti-Aristotelism. Alchemy itself was not directly implicated in the case of the theses. On the contrary, the theses were perceived as an alien body within the alchemical tradition. (shrink)
The article takes into account the exceptionality of Étienne de La Boétie’s Discourse on Voluntary Servitude sur la servitude volontaire within its historical context, when compared to other anti-tyrannical essays published in Sixteenth-Century France. The Discourse can be read as a sort of anachronistic criticism of the modern theory of sovereignty, since it connects the birth of a monar-chical power with the presence in every man of a desire to be identified with “the name of the One”. However, this process (...) of hallucinatory identification with a “master”, to whom the individual sacrifices his own singularity, can be fought by the capacity of human language to build a net of co-operation among men, which overthrows any close and static identity between individuals and power. Thus freedom appears to be not a natural and stable possess, but rather an uninterrupted and risky process of collective emancipation. (shrink)
This study undertakes a reading of Etienne de La Boétie’s Discours de la servitude volontaire, endeavoring to bring to light the way it convergences with and diverges from the political thought of Paul Ricœur, around the central concept of the will. On the basis of the twin notions of “denaturation” and of “pathology,” a course unfolds which aims at helping establish the people, in comparison with the institution of the State, through a political process revitalised by friendship. But the (...) two thinkers differ when it comes to the resources of the will. This is reflected in the notion of freedom, conceived as absolute in La Boetie, while Ricœur emphasizes its contingency, which leads him to thematize it in terms of capabilities. (shrink)
« Rythmes et Croyances au Moyen-Âge » Journée d'études organisée par Marie Formarier et Jean-Claude Schmitt 23 juin 2012 – Paris Présentation : Cette journée d'études a eu pour objectif de faire dialoguer les diverses disciplines concernées par le rapport entre rythmes et croyances au Moyen-Âge. Elle a accueilli des historiens, des anthropologues, des sociologues, des philologues et des linguistes. Présents dans la langue latine et les langues vernaculaires, dans la rhétorique du sermon, la prière et (...) - Histoire – (...) NOUVELLE JOURNÉE d'ÉTUDES. (shrink)
This highly readable translation of the major works of the 18th- century philosopher Etienne Bonnot, Abbe de Condillac, a disciple of Locke and a contemporary of Rousseau, Voltaire, and Diderot, shows his influence on psychiatric diagnosis as well as on the education of the deaf, the retarded, and the preschool child. Published two hundred years after Condillac's death, this translation contains treatises which were, until now, virtually unavailable in English: A Treatise on Systems, A Treatise of the Sensations, Logic.