Fallen Nature, Fallen Selves
Early Modern French Thought Volume II
By (author) Michael Moriarty
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Fallen Nature, Fallen Selves by Michael Moriarty
Book DescriptionFrom the late sixteenth to the late seventeenth centuries, French writing is especially concerned with analysing human nature. The ancient ethical vision of man's nature and goal (we achieve fulfilment by living our lives according to reason, the highest and noblest element of our nature) survives, even, to some extent, in Descartes. But it is put into question especially by the revival of St Augustine's thought, which focuses on the contradictions and disorders of human desires and aspirations. Analyses of behaviour display a powerful suspicion of appearances. Human beings are increasingly seen as motivated by self-love: they are driven by the desire for their own advantage, and take a narcissistic delight in their own image. Moral and religious writers re-emphasize the traditional imperative of self-knowledge, but in such a way as to suggest the difficulties of knowing oneself. Operating with the Cartesian distinction between mind and body, they emphasize the imperceptible influence of bodily processes on our thought and attitudes. They analyse human beings' ignorance (due to self-love) of their own motives and qualities, and the illusions under which they live their lives. Their critique of human behaviour is no less searching than that of writers who have broken with traditional religious morality, such as Hobbes and Spinoza. A wide range of authors is studied, some well-known, others much less so: the abstract and general analyses of philosophers and theologians (Descartes, Jansenius, Malebranche) are juxtaposed with the less systematic and more concrete investigations of writers like Montaigne and La Rochefoucauld, not to mention the theatre of Corneille, Moliere, and Racine.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780199291038
(223mm x 146mm x 30mm)
Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publish Date: 25-May-2006
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Books By Author Michael Moriarty
Passions of the Soul and Other Late Philosophical Writings, Paperback (November 2015)
The Passions of the Soul is Descartes's greatest contribution to the understanding of the union of mind and body. It discusses the emotions and their place in human life. This volume also includes both sides of the correspondence with Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, crucial to the genesis of the work, and Part I of The Principles of Philosophy.
Disguised Vices, Hardback (September 2011)
The notions of virtue and vice are vital components of the Western ethical tradition. But in early modern France they were called into question, as writers such as La Rochefoucauld argued that what appears as virtue is in fact disguised vice. Disguised Vices analyses the underlying logic of such claims, and explores what is at stake in them.
Taste and Ideology in Seventeenth-century France, Paperback (June 2009)
This book analyses the use of the crucial concept of 'taste' in the works of five major seventeenth-century French authors.
Meditations on First Philosophy, Paperback (May 2008)» View all books by Michael Moriarty
In Descartes's Meditations, the thinker rejects all his former beliefs in the quest for new certainties. He develops new conceptions of body and mind to create a new science of nature. This new translation includes a wide-ranging, accessible introduction, notes and full selections from the Objections and Replies.
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Author Biography - Michael Moriarty
Michael Moriarty is Centenary Professor of French Literature and Thought at Queen Mary, University of London, and author of Early Modern French Thought: the Age of Suspicion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), Roland Barthes (Cambridge: Polity, 1991), Taste and Ideology in Seventeenth-Century France (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. He was previously a Lecturer in the French Department of the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College.
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