Dramatic Experiments: Life According to Diderot (SUNY Series in Contemporary French Thought (Hardcover))

Dramatic Experiments: Life According to Diderot (SUNY Series in Contemporary French Thought (Hardcover))

Language: English

Pages: 271

ISBN: 1438448031

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A major new interpretation of the philosophical significance of the oeuvre of Denis Diderot.

Dramatic Experiments offers a comprehensive study of Denis Diderot, one of the key figures of European modernity. Diderot was a French Enlightenment philosopher, dramatist, art critic, and editor of the first major modern encyclopedia. He is known for having made lasting contributions to a number of fields, but his body of work is considered too dispersed and multiform to be unified. Eyal Peretz locates the unity of Diderot's thinking in his complication of two concepts in modern philosophy: drama and the image. Diderot's philosophical theater challenged the work of Plato and Aristotle, inaugurating a line of drama theorists that culminated in the twentieth century with Bertolt Brecht and Antonin Artaud. His interest in the artistic image turned him into the first great modern theorist of painting and perhaps the most influential art critic of modernity. With these innovations, Diderot provokes a rethinking of major philosophical problems relating to life, the senses, history, and appearance and reality, and more broadly a rethinking of the relation between philosophy and the arts. Peretz shows Diderot to be a radical thinker well ahead of his time, whose philosophical effort bears comparison to projects such as Gilles Deleuze's transcendental empiricism, Martin Heidegger's fundamental ontology, Jacques Derrida's deconstruction, and Jacques Lacan's psychoanalysis.

Eyal Peretz is Professor of Comparative Literature at Indiana University Bloomington. He is the author of Becoming Visionary: Brian De Palma's Cinematic Education of the Senses and of Literature, Disaster, and the Enigma of Power: A Reading of Moby-Dick.

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d’autres obscurités attendent celui qui le rejette; car enfin cette sensibilité que vous lui substituez, si c’est une qualité générale et essentielle de la matière, il faut que la pierre sente. DIDEROT: Pourquoi non ? D’ALEMBERT: Cela est dur à croire. DIDEROT: Oui, pour celui qui la coupe, la taille, la broie et qui ne l’entend pas crier. D’ALEMBERT: Je voudrais bien que vous me disiez quelle différence vous mettez entre l’homme et la statue, entre le marbre et la chair. DIDEROT: Assez peu. On

at the “moments” when the moi cannot recognize or be itself. Simply put, the conversation of two mois maintaining an equal, symmetrical status, haunted by an outside they cannot contain, inevitably leads to the asymmetrical drama between a lui and a moi, and thus to the discovery of a third voice, of a different stature than the first two voices, a different voice, the voice of the outside, the voice of the lui or of the dream. The outside comes to speak, and its speech is that of a haunting

Diderot? It is, interestingly, the forgetting of life. The disease that has afflicted human life and manifested itself as metaphysics is the very forgetting and repression of life itself. Life, under the dominion of metaphysical thought, has not been alive. Men have not lived. Here Diderot is closer to Nietzsche or Artaud (two other great dramatic thinkers), than to his contemporaries Kant and Rousseau. The philosophical critique of metaphysics is undertaken not so much in the name of a Reason

traditionally been defined negatively, as not being the thing of which it is an image, we might now say that the negation, the “not,” marks that excess that haunts everything as exposed to the outside, participating in an open chain, an outside which is nevertheless an immanent part of what it is. The image is not what it is an image of, since it is that which shows the internal-external not itself of anything, its blinding excess.1 Thus in a way the image of the bees is that which shows the bees

him/herself. Out of this failure arise three imperatives that structure the autobiographical genre: Express yourself! Create yourself! Present yourself! But also perhaps: Ground yourself! The ungrounded self, we can say, is not itself; it is lost to itself. Its loss becomes the arena of the self’s modern adventure, where the problems of autobiography and of the self-portrait play a fundamental role. This loss of the self to itself (loss in the sense of its inability to say, grasp, or understand

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