Darmendrail, Lionel Sylvestre (1973) Le phenomene social et la conscience politique chez Diderot, jusqu'en 1765. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.
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Diderot is heroic: humanly and artistically. The thought of the Enlightenment is, as far as we are concerned, not only a norm worthy of adoption, for oneself in relation to human nature, but also the manifestation of a fervent conviction of unique, objective and comprehensive significance. -- "Je suis homme, et il me faut des causes propres a l'homme". (A.-T., II, 300) -- Diderot's humanistic rationalism, an essentially inquiring approach, grasping oneness in its multiplicity and the multiplicity of its oneness, is still hovering over today's socio-intellectual dilemna. Diderot's materialistic ideology is an exemplary attempt to demonstrate the fundamental harmony and potential existing between what lies outside of man and what is within him: Man's moral needs are man's rights, and man's rights are people's rights. And all monsters, in flesh and fancy, religious or governmental, have to be demystified, dealt with and overcome, as man's acquaintance with the universe grows. -- The worst monstrosity, "lusus naturae", is the form of government which does not satisfy, which lends itself to tyranny, when its true role is to preserve harmony among men and to insure man's happiness within the process of nature. The quest for the secret of monstrosity has not much to do with that of the Holy Grail, but it is nonetheless fascinating and worth undertaking. -- Diderot first turns to the "why", and so refers to the pragmatic principles of Natural law: -- "Le juste est tel non par l'institution des hommes, mais par sa nature". (Barbeyrac) -- From this point the natural rights of man have not the merit of demonstrable proofs, but have at least the virtue of universalism, -an inner conviction religion could not instill-, and the variations of the inevitable: a better world for all to live in, a task and aim which has to be undertaken and achieved on all levels, morally, socially and politically, in the limitless range of natural phenomena and human passions. -- The thesis will begin by situating Diderot in the eighteenth century and will then proceed to examine some of the sources of his political and philosophical thought. We will be concerned particularly to show the influence of the English philosophers, notably Hobbes who prepared and developed the doctrine of the secular state. This will be followed by an examination of the thought of John Locke who gave to these ideas the necessary dimensions for them to receive wide acceptance. -- After analysing the political and social thought reflected in the Encyclopedie we will discuss and compare the positions of Diderot and Rousseau, showing the similarities and points of divergence between the two intellectual leaders of the generation of the French Revolution.
|Item Type:||Thesis (Masters)|
|Additional Information:||Bibliography: leaves i-xvi. -- Abstract in English. -- Table of contents at end.|
|Department(s):||Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > French and Spanish|
|Library of Congress Subject Heading:||Diderot, Denis, 1713-1784; Philosophy, Modern--18th century; Enlightenment|
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