Dramatic Experiments: Life According to Diderot (SUNY Series in Contemporary French Thought (Hardcover))

Dramatic Experiments: Life According to Diderot (SUNY Series in Contemporary French Thought (Hardcover))

Language: English

Pages: 271

ISBN: 1438448031

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A major new interpretation of the philosophical significance of the oeuvre of Denis Diderot.

Dramatic Experiments offers a comprehensive study of Denis Diderot, one of the key figures of European modernity. Diderot was a French Enlightenment philosopher, dramatist, art critic, and editor of the first major modern encyclopedia. He is known for having made lasting contributions to a number of fields, but his body of work is considered too dispersed and multiform to be unified. Eyal Peretz locates the unity of Diderot's thinking in his complication of two concepts in modern philosophy: drama and the image. Diderot's philosophical theater challenged the work of Plato and Aristotle, inaugurating a line of drama theorists that culminated in the twentieth century with Bertolt Brecht and Antonin Artaud. His interest in the artistic image turned him into the first great modern theorist of painting and perhaps the most influential art critic of modernity. With these innovations, Diderot provokes a rethinking of major philosophical problems relating to life, the senses, history, and appearance and reality, and more broadly a rethinking of the relation between philosophy and the arts. Peretz shows Diderot to be a radical thinker well ahead of his time, whose philosophical effort bears comparison to projects such as Gilles Deleuze's transcendental empiricism, Martin Heidegger's fundamental ontology, Jacques Derrida's deconstruction, and Jacques Lacan's psychoanalysis.

Eyal Peretz is Professor of Comparative Literature at Indiana University Bloomington. He is the author of Becoming Visionary: Brian De Palma's Cinematic Education of the Senses and of Literature, Disaster, and the Enigma of Power: A Reading of Moby-Dick.

The Ontology of the Accident: An Essay on Destructive Plasticity

Film, History and Memory

The Aesthetics of Mimesis: Ancient Texts and Modern Problems

Everyday Aesthetics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

groundlessness and mutual blindness. This also means that any perspective to which one is open, thus any actual spectator by whom one is seen, now actually embodies the (empty) place of the blinding gaze. That is, every spectator can be said to see one from the “position” of one’s blindness, and thus inflict one with blindness. To be exposed to (any) spectator now means to be seen from where one does not see oneself. There is no transcendent spectator, and every (actual) spectator is now someone

multiplicity that always also exceeds its power, threatening it with dissolution. How are we to think this self-unifying yet haunted multi-organed creature of sensibility? What is the manner of its life—a life which both seems to desire to become itself yet also signals an irreducible excess beyond its desire? These are the main questions dominating the discussion between the doctor and Mlle de L’Éspinasse as they start to develop the enigma posed for them by the dream speech/image. It is perhaps

hand, is absolutely irreducible and untranslatable, and thus in a way completely incommunicable to others. It always has to be itself. On the other hand, its state here is the very condition for the opening of real communication in the first place. It is a fragment, a partiality, something that is not all but is rather one among a multiplicity.16 Yet, even as it is a fragment among a multiplicity, there is something absolute about it, that is, something untranslatable and irreducible, not

seen, they have not been financially deprived, their inheritance can nevertheless be said to have been contaminated, as Diderot very well sees in his accusation of the father, who is haunted by a phantom of injustice that cannot be erased, tainted with the cry of the poor that becomes an internal and integral part of the father’s legacy. The father’s legacy in this paradoxical logic thus takes the shape of a conundrum: should he have done and acted as he did? If he had acted otherwise, they would

book opened serves here as a paradigmatic example—involves a triple operation: 1) First, we can say that the portrait portrays the self’s fundamental groundlessness. The portrait shows a self that is inaccessible to itself, blind to itself, suffering a fundamental and disorienting groundlessness (a storm, in the terms of Diderot’s sketch discussed in the introduction), a groundlessness whose main forms are the self’s exposure to a gaze that emanates from nowhere specific and to a call coming from

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