Barbarism and Religion: The Enlightenments of Edward Gibbon, 1737-1764 - Vol. 1

By J. G. A. Pocock | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
D'Alembert's 'Discours préliminaire': the philosophe
perception of history

(I)

We have now to consider what d'Alembert intended in the Discours préliminaire à l'Encyclopédie: what were the foundations of its critique of erudition, and what had this to do with his desire to stabilise a class of gens de lettres? These questions must be explored in the light of a further generalisation: d'Alembert was by no means indifferent to history, but set up a contrast between an ideal and an actual history which led him to some remarkable historical insights. The Discours presents botha scheme of 'l'histoire philosophique que nous venons de donner de l'origine de nos idées',1 and a study of 'l'ordre historique des progrès de l'esprit;'2 and d'Alembert is clear as to the distinction between a 'natural history' of the human mind and the study of its development in actual or civil history, the product of contingency as well as nature:

nous avons suivi dans le Système encyclopédique l'ordre métaphysique des opérations de l'Esprit, plutôt que l'ordre historique de ses progrès depuis la renaissance des lettres 3

[we have followed the metaphysical order of the operations of the mind in the encyclopedic system rather than the historical order of its progress since the renaissance of letters.]4

The sharp distinction here drawn between scientific model and historical narrative heightens d'Alembert's awareness of the latter and does not tempt him to dismiss it as trivial, and Gibbon probably objected to nothing in d'Alembert's history of the enlightened mind beyond the practical implications of its epistemology. The Essai's response to the Discours préliminaire is less an incident in the history of

____________________
1
Discours, p. xiv.
2
Discours, p. xv.
3
Discours, p. xxv.
4
Schwab, 1995, p. 76. The words 'in the encyclopedic system' are not happily placed.

-169-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Barbarism and Religion: The Enlightenments of Edward Gibbon, 1737-1764 - Vol. 1
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 339

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.