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Divining NatureAesthetics of Enchantment in Enlightenment France$
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Tili Boon Cuillé

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781503613362

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9781503613362.001.0001

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The Philosophy of Nature in Diderot and Rousseau

The Philosophy of Nature in Diderot and Rousseau

(p.81) Chapter Two The Philosophy of Nature in Diderot and Rousseau
Divining Nature

Tili Boon Cuillé

Stanford University Press

Denis Diderot and Jean-Jacques Rousseau were avid readers of Buffon’s Histoire naturelle and active participants in the quarrels prompted by Rameau’s operas. To date, scholarship has focused primarily on their theorization of physiological and moral sensibility. Chapter 2 investigates Diderot’s and Rousseau’s response to the spectacle of nature, focusing on the affinity between the inspiration of the artist and the identification of the spectator. Jan Goldstein has characterized “enthusiasm” and “imagination” as eighteenth-century smear words. These terms are recuperated in Diderot’s writings on painting and the theater and Rousseau’s writings on opera and the novel, however. Enthusiasm, like pity, necessitates a movement outside oneself that facilitates union with the other and the forging of the ideal model. The chapter concludes by considering the alternate forms of natural spectacle that Diderot and Rousseau envision in their writings.

Keywords:   Diderot, Rousseau, Vernet, Julie, Emile, enthusiasm, imagination, inspiration, identification, Pygmalion

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