Changing Minds: The Shifting Perception of Culture in Eighteenth-Century France

Changing Minds: The Shifting Perception of Culture in Eighteenth-Century France

Changing Minds: The Shifting Perception of Culture in Eighteenth-Century France

Changing Minds: The Shifting Perception of Culture in Eighteenth-Century France

Synopsis

In this study of the epistemological underpinnings of cultural changes in the French Enlightenment, the author shows how many of the cultural changes brought about by eighteenth-century French thinkers arise from the different forms of knowledge and experience they pursued. They derived these different forms of knowledge and experience from a new view of sensibility, which in turn depended on humans' perceived proximity to or distance from nature and the categories normally associated with this concept. The various chapters illustrate the rich interdisciplinarity of the period's thinking, which is unified by a central concern with the mind, and discuss important Enlightenment developments in aesthetics, historiography, metaphysics, anthropology, language and literature, political theory, and medicine. The ultimate claim is that one of the Enlightenment's greatest lessons lies in teaching us that a culture is capable of profound change only when its attitude toward the acquisition of knowledge and experience itself changes.
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