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The Idea of the Sciences in the French Enlightenment A Reinterpretation
978-1-61149-474-7 • Hardback
November 2013 • $70.00 • (£44.95)
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978-1-61149-475-4 • eBook
November 2013 • $69.99 • (£44.95)

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Pages: 174
Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/2
By G. Matthew Adkins
 
History | Europe / France
University Press Copublishing Division | University of Delaware
This book traces the development of the idea that the sciences were morally enlightening through an intellectual history of the secrétaires perpétuels of the French Royal Academy of Sciences and their associates from the mid-seventeenth century to the end of the eighteenth century. Academy secretaries such as Fontenelle and Condorcet were critical to the emergence of a central feature of the narrative of the Enlightenment in that they encouraged the notion that the “philosophical spirit” of the Scientific Revolution, already present among the educated classes, should guide the necessary reformation of society and government according to the ideals of scientific reasoning. The Idea of the Sciences also tells an intellectual history of political radicalization, explaining especially how the marquis de Condorcet came to believe that the sciences could play central a role in guiding the outcome of the Revolution of 1789.
G. Matthew Adkins teaches European history at Columbus State Community College.
Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. The Montmor Discourse: Samuel Sorbière and the Foundation of the Royal Academy of Sciences
2. The Esprits Supérieurs: Bernard de Fontenelle’s Academic Eulogies
3. Fear and Loathing in the Courts of Louis XV and Louis XVI: The Science and the Crisis of the Monarchy from Voltaire to Turgot
4. Struggle and Radicalization on the Eve of the Revolution: Condorcet and the Transformation of the Idea of the Sciences
5. The Coming of the Tenth Epoch: The Idea of the Sciences and the Revolution of 1789
Epilogue
Bibliography
About the Author
 
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