Early Modern French Thought: The Age of Suspicion

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9780199261468: Early Modern French Thought: The Age of Suspicion

...a rich and illuminating work, of the type that can only be produced by an author who completely understands his subject. ( Jane Conroy, Journal of French Studies)

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This book is an examination of three major French thinkers of the seventeenth century, Descartes, Pascal, and Malebranche, of whom the latter two are comparatively little studied in the English-speaking world. It deals with a common attitude of suspicion towards everyday experience, which they see as dominated and obscured by sensation, imagination, and the presence of the body. This attitude, however, obliges them to develop detailed and sophisticated accounts of the shaping of experience not only by the body but by interpersonal and social relationships, and of the tension between human nature as it is and as we experience it. The treatment of Descartes thus challenges the interpretation that sees him as eliminating the body from 'subjectivity', while that of Pascal and Malebranche shows how their critical attitude towards experience (a fertile source for twentieth-century French thinkers) is linked with their religious doctrines, especially their Augustinian emphasis on Original Sin.

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