The Philosophers' Quarrel Rousseau, Hume, and the Limits of Human Understanding Robert Zaretsky, John T. Scott
- Publication date:
- 03 Mar 2009
- 272 pages: 229 x 152 x 25mm
- 10 black-&-white illustrations
The rise and spectacular fall of the friendship between the two great philosophers of the eighteenth century, barely six months after they first met, reverberated on both sides of the Channel. As the relationship between Jean-Jacques Rousseau and David Hume unraveled, a volley of rancorous letters was fired off, then quickly published and devoured by aristocrats, intellectuals, and common readers, alike. Everyone took sides in this momentous dispute between the greatest of Enlightenment thinkers.In this lively and revealing book, Robert Zaretsky and John T. Scott explore the unfolding rift between Rousseau and Hume. The authors are particularly fascinated by the connection between the thinkers' lives and thought, especially the way that their failure to understand one another (and themselves) illuminates the limits of human understanding. In addition, they situate the philosophers' quarrel in the social, political, and intellectual milieu that informed their actions, as well as the actions of the other participants in the dispute, such as James Boswell, Adam Smith, and Voltaire. By examining the conflict through the prism of each philosopher's contribution to Western thought, Zaretsky and Scott reveal the implications for the two men as individuals and philosophers as well as for the contemporary world, which remains deeply influenced by the Enlightenment.
Robert Zaretsky is professor of French, Honors College, University of Houston. John T. Scott is professor of political science, University of California, Davis. Zaretsky and Scott are also coauthors of Frail Happiness: An Essay on Rousseau.
"This arresting book is like a novel which one reads late into the night--a novel whose characters happen to be famous thinkers: Rousseau and Hume. Voltaire looms in the background. Brilliant Parisian ladies appear too. What can be more exhilarating than a tale of intelligence and discord, and of the 18th century revisited right before the French Revolution--so near us, so far away?"--Adam Zagajewski
Fredrik Albritton Jonsson
Peter Alexander Meyers
Paul Kleber Monod
Jason M. Kelly
Edwin, S. Gaustad