Reading the French Enlightenment: System and Subversion

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August 2006



Reading the French Enlightenment offers an ambitious reinterpretation of a crucial aspect of eighteenth-century thought, the rationalizing and classifying impulse or "systematic spirit." Julie Candler Hayes surveys the past fifty years of philosophical reflection on the Enlightenment, and takes issue both with traditional liberal and with contemporary critical accounts, arguing instead for a new understanding of "systematic reason" as complex, paradoxical, and ultimately liberating. Through close analysis of philosophical, scientific, and literary texts, she emphasizes the urgency of maintaining a dialogue between past and present, Enlightenment and modernity.


Acknowledgments; Author's note; Prologue: despotic Enlightenment; Introduction: the critique of systematic reason; 1. 'Systeme': origins and itineraries; 2. The epistolary machine; 3. Physics and figuration in Du Chatelet's Institutions de physique; 4. Condillac and the identity of the other; 5. Diderot: changing the system; Conclusion: labyrinths of Enlightenment; Notes; Bibliography; Index.


"readers, especially intellectual historians of science, will find her treatment of Enlightenment text rewarding." The Historian "This is a rich and impressive study." International Studies in Philosophy, Harvey Chisick
EAN: 9780521030960
ISBN: 052103096X
Untertitel: 'Cambridge Studies in French'. Revised. Sprache: Englisch.
Erscheinungsdatum: August 2006
Seitenanzahl: 260 Seiten
Format: kartoniert
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