The Philosophers' Quarrel
Rousseau, Hume, and the Limits of Human Understanding
Автор(и) : Robert Zaretsky, John T. Scott
Издател : Yale University Press
Място на издаване : London, UK
Година на издаване : 2009
ISBN : 978-0-300-12193-3
Брой страници : 247
Език : английски
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The rise and spectacular fall of the friendship between the two great philosophers of the eighteenth century, barely six months after they first met, reverberated on both sides of the Channel. As the relationship between Jean-Jacques Rousseau and David Hume unraveled, a volley of rancorous letters was fired off, then quickly published and devoured by aristocrats, intellectuals, and common readers alike. Everyone took sides in this momentous dispute between the greatest of Enlightenment thinkers.
In this lively and revealing book, Robert Zaretsky and John T. Scott explore the unfolding rift between Rousseau and Hume. The authors are particularly fascinated by the connection between the thinkers’ lives and thought, especially the way that the failure of each to understand the other—and himself—illuminates the limits of human understanding. In addition, they situate the philosophers’ quarrel in the social, political, and intellectual milieu that informed their actions, as well as the actions of the other participants in the dispute, such as James Boswell, Adam Smith, and Voltaire. By examining the conflict through the prism of each philosopher’s contribution to Western thought, Zaretsky and Scott reveal the implications for the two men as individuals and philosophers as well as for the contemporary world.
“Why was the friendship between Jean-Jacques Rousseau and David Hume, two of the greatest thinkers of the Enlightenment, violently broken off? These two men were supremely intelligent, but were they wise? Is there any relation at all between the ideas of philosophers and the other aspects of their identities—their bodies, moods, ancient wounds, appetites, passions? If philosophy is to be an art of living and not only an exchange of concepts, these questions deserve to be asked. Zaretsky and Scott''s book, an in-depth study of this famous episode in philosophical history, suggests how they might be answered.”—Tzvetan Todorov
“This arresting book is like a novel which one reads late into the night—a novel whose characters happen to be famous thinkers: Rousseau and Hume. Voltaire looms in the background. Brilliant Parisian ladies appear too. What can be more exhilarating than a tale of intelligence and discord, and of the 18th century revisited right before the French Revolution—so near us, so far away?”—Adam Zagajewski
Robert Zaretsky is professor of French history in the University of Houston Honors College, and the Department of Modern and Classical Languages. (He is the author of Nоmes at War: Religion, Politics and Public Opinion in the Department of the Gard, 1938-1944. (Penn State 1995), Cock and Bull Stories: Folco de Baroncelli and the Invention of the Camargue.(Nebraska 2004), co-editor of France at War: Vichy and the Historians. (Berg 2001), translator of Tzevtan Todorov's Voices From the Gulag. (Penn State 2000) and Frail Happiness: An Essay on Rousseau. (Penn State 2001). With John Scott, he is co-author of The Rift: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, David Hume and the Quarrel that Shook the Enlightenment. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007).
John T. Scott
John T. Scott is professor of political science, University of California, Davis. John Scott's primary research is in the history of political philosophy, with a specialization in early modern political thought. Most of his work in this area has focused on the thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, although he has also published studies of Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Hume. He has a secondary research interest in experimental approaches to distributive justice, and related areas such as perceptions of legitimacy of Supreme Court decisions.