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Reading the French Enlightenment
System and Subversion

£27.99

Part of Cambridge Studies in French

  • Date Published: November 2006
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521030960

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About the Authors
  • In this 1999 book, Julie Candler Hayes offers an ambitious reinterpretation of a crucial aspect of Enlightenment thought, the rationalizing and classifying impulse. Taking issue both with traditional liberal and contemporary critical accounts of the Enlightenment, she analyses the writings of Denis Diderot, Emilie Du Châtelet, the Abbé de Condillac, Buffon, d'Alembert and numerous others, to argue for a new understanding of 'systematic reason' as complex, paradoxical and ultimately liberating. Hayes examines the tensions between freedom and constraint, abstraction and materialism, linear and synoptic order, that pervade not only philosophic and scientific discourse, but also epistolary writing, fiction and criticism. Drawing on the insights of a wide range of theorists from Adorno, Habermas and Foucault to Deleuze and Derrida, she offers a dialogue between the eighteenth century and our own, an ongoing exploration of the question, 'what is Enlightenment?'.

    • Challenging revisionist view of a major aspect of Enlightenment writing and thought
    • Exciting insights into the work of a range of eighteenth-century writers and thinkers, most notably Diderot
    • Extensive and very useful bibliography, including both rare seventeenth- and eighteenth-century sources, and a thorough survey of twentieth-century scholarship on this very broad topic
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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2006
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521030960
    • length: 260 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.398kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

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

  • Author

    Julie Candler Hayes, University of Richmond, Virginia

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