Reading the French Enlightenment: System and Subversion


Reading the French Enlightenment offers an ambitious reinterpretation of a crucial aspect of eighteenth-century thought, the rationalizing and classifying impulse or "systematic spirit." Julie Candler Hayes surveys the past fifty years of philosophical reflection on the Enlightenment, and takes issue both with traditional liberal and with contemporary critical accounts, arguing instead for a new understanding of "systematic reason" as complex, paradoxical, and ultimately liberating. Through close analysis of philosophical, scientific, and literary texts, she emphasizes the urgency of maintaining a dialogue between past and present, Enlightenment and modernity.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Cambridge, England
Publication year:
  • 1999


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