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Diderot between materialism and sensualism

  • Cross-Cultural Studies
  • 2023, 70(), pp.339-371
  • DOI : 10.21049/ccs.2023.70..339
  • Publisher : Center for Cross Culture Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Literature
  • Received : September 5, 2023
  • Accepted : October 11, 2023
  • Published : October 31, 2023

Lee Choong Hoon 1

1한양대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

We discuss the real beginning of Diderot's materialism from his first philosophical masterpiece Letter on the Blind. Impregnated with Lockean empiricism, Diderot assumes the principle that all human knowledge results from sensation, while he keeps this distance with regard to the English theory of vision. In the middle of the 18th century, certain French philosophers began to integrate the principles coming from England into their system, not without being critical of empiricism. Diderot, at that time, seemes to have a great ambition to synthesize the sensational origin of human knowledge and the anatomical and physiological conditions for acquiring knowledge in order to compensate for defects that various competing philosophical systems were not able to overcome. Above all, in The Letter on the Blind, Diderot again and in his own way proposes Molyneux's problem by virtue of which Locke and Berkeley believed they had overcome the Cartesian theory of vision. According to Diderot, the Lockean theory of vision despises the anatomical and physiological dimensions in order to have the object of hastily destroying the Cartesian philosophical system, but this negligence, according to Diderot, risks overturning the principle of empirism, which should necessarily be remedied and reinterpreted by Lametrian materialism and the radicalization of sensualism, both pending at the time of the Letter on the Blind.

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