Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely

Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely

A spirited biography of the prophetic and sympathetic philosopher who helped build the foundations of the modern world. Denis Diderot is often associated with the decades-long battle to bring the world's first comprehensive Encyclopédie into existence. But his most daring writing took place in the shadows. Thrown into prison for his atheism in 1749, Diderot decided to reserve his best books for posterity--for us, in fact. In the astonishing cache of unpublished writings left behind after his death, Diderot challenged virtually all of his century's accepted truths, from the sanctity of monarchy, to the racial justification of the slave trade, to the norms of human sexuality. One of Diderot's most attentive readers during his lifetime was Catherine the Great, who not only supported him financially, but invited him to St. Petersburg to talk about the possibility of democratizing the Russian empire. In this thematically organized biography, Andrew S. Curran vividly describes Diderot's tormented relationship with Rousseau, his curious correspondence with Voltaire, his passionate affairs, and his often iconoclastic stands on art, theater, morality, politics, and religion. But what this book brings out most brilliantly is how the writer's personal turmoil was an essential part of his genius and his ability to flout taboos, dogma, and convention.

The Enlightenment that Failed

Ideas, Revolution, and Democratic Defeat, 1748-1830

The Enlightenment that Failed

The Enlightenment that Failed explores the growing rift between those Enlightenment trends and initiatives that appealed exclusively to elites and those aspiring to enlighten all of society by raising mankind's awareness, freedoms, and educational level generally. Jonathan I. Israel explains why the democratic and radical secularizing tendency of the Western Enlightenment, after gaining some notable successes during the revolutionary era (1775-1820) in numerous countries, especially in Europe, North America, and Spanish America, ultimately failed. He argues that a populist, Robespierriste tendency, sharply at odds with democratic values and freedom of expression, gained an ideological advantage in France, and that the negative reaction this generally provoked caused a more general anti-Enlightenment reaction, a surging anti-intellectualism combined with forms of religious revival that largely undermined the longings of the deprived, underprivileged, and disadvantaged, and ended by helping, albeit often unwittingly, conservative anti-Enlightenment ideologies to dominate the scene. The Enlightenment that Failed relates both the American and the French revolutions to the Enlightenment in a markedly different fashion from how this is usually done, showing how both great revolutions were fundamentally split between bitterly opposed and utterly incompatible ideological tendencies. Radical Enlightenment, which had been an effective ideological challenge to the prevailing monarchical-aristocratic status quo, was weakened, then almost entirely derailed and displaced from the Western consciousness, in the 1830s and 1840s by the rise of Marxism and other forms of socialism.

Montaigne and the Art of Free-thinking

Montaigne and the Art of Free-thinking

We know a great deal of what Michel de Montaigne (1533-92), Shakespeare's near-contemporary and fellow literary mastermind, thinks. We know, because he tells us on page after page of his "Essais," which have marked literature and thought since the European Renaissance and remain to this day compelling reading. It might seem surprising, with this wealth of evidence at hand, that Montaigne could prove so elusive in his thinking. Yet elusive he proves, as volatile as he is voluble. What, we are left wondering, does all that thinking amount to? How is it to be understood? And what value might it have for us? Montaigne has too often seen his thinking reduced to the expression of an '-ism'. Richard Scholar investigates the nature - and detail - of Montaigne's evolving attempts to seek out that elusive thing called truth. Examining at close quarters passages from across the "Essais," Scholar provides twenty-first-century readers with a companion guide to a text that is rooted in the time and place of its composition and yet continues to speak to the present, to haunt its readers, to ask them the questions that matter.

Poetics of Exposition ; &, Libertinage and the Art of Writing 1

Poetics of Exposition ; &, Libertinage and the Art of Writing 1

Part of a series on French literature from the late Renaissance to the early Enlightenment, this volume contains essays on the poetics of exposition and libertinage and the art of writing.

Memoirs of Marmontel, Written by Himself

Containing His Literary and Political Lfe, and Anecdotes of the Principal Characters of the Eighteenth Century

Memoirs of Marmontel, Written by Himself


Basics Product Design 03: Visual Conversations

Basics Product Design 03: Visual Conversations

This work puts design theory into a real-world context with examples and case studies from some of the world's leading designers. The book comprises a comprehensive introduction to the language of product design.