INTRODUCTION DISSERTATION SUPPLÉMENT AU VOYAGE DE BOUGAINVILLE

Indeed, thebirth of new children is a joyful occasion: Thus, Dena Goodman divides Rousseau’s narrative in the Second Discourse into the steady, ahistorical, asocial, changeless description of the state of nature in Part I and the entrance into history itself,by way of perfectibility, in Part II. Harvard University Press, , Muthu argues in Enlightenment Against Empire that Diderot’s culturally inventive Tahitians undermine an imperialist orientation that is in fact enabled by traditional accounts of noble savagery. This rather chilling view of human nature explains why Tahiti turns its children into a form of riches? University of Chicago Press, ,

For Diderot ultimately refuses the very This content downloaded from Europe may stand condemned for the arbitrariness of its sexual code, but its sexual code is not arbitrarymerely because it is civilized. Tahiti’s laws are “natural” only to the extent that they are not entirely arbi trary,that there is a clear purpose behind them? If peasants care more about their horses and their oxen than their children, thenTahiti has solved the problem by reducing its children to the status of horses and oxen. Tahiti, on theOld Man’s account a paradise where all needs This content downloaded from This reading is clearly more plausible than an attempt to read Tahiti as a Rousseauian state of nature. The chaplain learnswith horror thatTahitians welcome not only fornication and adultery, but even incest.

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For example, Wilda Anderson offers a rich interpretation of Diderot’s dynamic materialism which treatsartifice and culture as part of nature itself,while Sankar Muthu believes that, forDiderot, human nature is cultural agency. Yet it complicates any attempt to portray Rousseau or Diderot as hewing to a starkopposition between innocentnature and corrupt culture.

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Thus B retains the critique of civilization but drops its valorization of nature as a viable alternative. However, many questions remain.

Diderot’s Supplement to the Voyage of Bougainville.

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All future references to the Supplement in this essay are cited parenthetically as SV in the body of the text. Rousseau writes, “This period of thedevel opment of human faculties,maintaining a middle position between the indo lence of our primitive state and thepetulant activity of our egocentrism,must have been the happiest and most durable epoch” DOI, Rousseau repeatedly contrasts the health and content ment of natural man to the sickness and misery of civilized man.

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See David Bates, Enlightenment Aberrations: Wilda Anderson adroitly traces the consequent economic system: When thechaplain describes European expec tationsofmarital fidelity,Orou proclaims, “I find these strangeprecepts con trarytoNature, an offence against reason, certain tobreed crime” SV, They can only be secretly subverted.

See Goodman, Criticism in Action, When Orou encourages the chaplain to sleep with his daughter Thia, he recounts her mother’s despair at her childlessness: Bougainville’s romanticization of Tahiti entranced his readers,many ofwhom were already fascinated by the seemingly exotic peoples of theNew World.

Rather, the similarities must lie in the formal opposition constructed between the innocent, pure impulses of This content downloaded from Leonard Tancock New York: In order to maximize the island’s procreative energies, a clever economic system has been constructed.

Orou admits that”Nature” itselfproduces human beings who cannot reproduce. And both insist that thismiserable state of ubiquitous discontent arises from a violation of nature itself.

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introduction dissertation supplément au voyage de bougainville

Nonetheless, the Profession of Faith does capture a repeated longing on Rousseau’s part, a frequently stated desire to listen for and abide by nature’s voice, despite his acknowledgment that itcan often be difficult to discern intriduction voice.

Princeton University Press,ay Routledge, Perhaps insteadwe can read Diderot’s Tahiti as mapping onto Rousseau’s golden mean somewhere between original nature and modern civilization. A Postmodern Question, ed. De l’Espinasse of thediversity of forms in nature.

We’ve still to recover from calamitous epidemics, and we used you tomake good the void they’ve left. The punishments fordisobeying theprohibition on non-procreative sex reflecta shocking sever ity: The crucial consequence of this definition of the natural is that for the nat ural philosopher, nature and culture cannot be assumed to constitute an opposition.

From these firstpreferenceswere born vanity and contempt on the one hand, and shame and envy on the other” DOI, Throughout this section, I contrastRousseau’s mobilization of the opposition with Diderot’s occasional appeals to a simi lar opposition.

Has God not told everything to our eyes, to our conscience, to our judg ment? Or else there is recourse to the castration of males. Yet we must question the extent towhich Tahiti’s social arrangements trulyprove “con gruent” with elemental human desires.

Marcel Henaff suggests thatDiderot had become a champion of Rousseauian primitivism:

introduction dissertation supplément au voyage de bougainville