Modern Rebellion, before the Terror : Reading Diderot after Camus

Book chapter


Sharpe, Matthew. (2019). Modern Rebellion, before the Terror : Reading Diderot after Camus. In Brill's Companion to Camus: Camus among the Philosophers pp. 91-112 Brill. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004419247_006
AuthorsSharpe, Matthew
Abstract

Like Baltzer-Jaray, Matthew Sharpe (in ) challenges wholly anti-modernist readings of Camus, arguing that Camus’s intellectual persona, as journalist, activist, litterateur and philosopher writing for non-academic audiences stands in the august lineage of the French philosophes of the 18th century. Sharpe contends that there is also a good deal more in common between the sceptical, empirical and classically informed works of key figures of the enlightenment, led by Bayle and Voltaire, and Camus’s “midday thought” than contemporary, postmodern and reactionary images of “the enlightenment” would lead us to expect. Sharpe’s chapter makes an extended study of Denis Diderot by these lights, having critically introduced the major features of Camus’s mature philosophy of limits and mesure in the first half of the chapter. Diderot was deeply influenced by scepticism and empiricism, and a profound critic of rationalism, Sharpe notes, in these ways anticipating Camus (like Hume and Kant in Baltzer-Jaray’s assessment). He was also deeply concerned about how to ground a defence of the classical virtues in a modern, scientific age. His developing position, a combination of natural law and moral sentiment ideas, also introduces an ethical and ontological language of limits which is uncannily prescient of Camus’s, Sharpe shows. Sharpe closes by comparing Diderot’s cyclical, naturalistic philosophy of history with Camus’ midday thought, centring as it does upon a critique of the eschatological philosophies of history adopted by Nazism and Stalinism.

KeywordsCamus; philosophy
Page range91-112
Year01 Jan 2019
Book titleBrill's Companion to Camus: Camus among the Philosophers
PublisherBrill
Place of publicationUnited States
Edition5
ISBN978-90-04-41924-7
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004419247_006
Open accessPublished as non-open access
Research or scholarlyResearch
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Print2020
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Deposited19 Jan 2024
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