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Item 184 - Denis Diderot Catalog 589 (Aug 2020)

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Sold Price: $8,747.50 (includes buyer's premium)

Description


French philosopher, art critic, and writer (1713-1784), best known for serving as co-founder and chief editor of and contributor to the Encyclopédie, the most important and ambitious intellectual initiative of the 18th Century. Unsigned handwritten manuscript in French, one page, 5 x 7.5, no date. A splendidly ironic critique of a scientific book, mentioning the great minds of Descartes, Malebranche, and Buffon. In full (translated): "This book is not deprived of ideas. It is a sort of day dream in the manner of those of Malebranche or Descartes, but with no style. Sometimes the language is not even French. If whatever merits the book may possess in terms of systematics have fallen upon a mind like Buffon with his experience, subtlety, and personality I cannot think what the result might have been. In its present state, no sensations are to be expected from it. According to its author, fire is the principal behind everything except behind his own work. When he proposes to demonstrate that air does not exist but that our atmosphere is nothing but an accumulation of watery molecules that wet and weigh on the wings of fire one should start by supplying a good number of opposing facts and would the answer to all these facts that can be opposed be contentable? The reign of experimental philosophy is upon us and the time of mere visions has passed. This is my view." In fine condition.

Diderot was evidently asked for his opinion on something written for a journal or magazine, and replied with this witty critique revealing of his extraordinary style. As Diderot understood a lot about chemistry and physics, he was able to sharply examine the credibility of scientific and philosophical texts alike. Exceptional content from one of the great 18th century thinkers.

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