Happiness vs. sagacity: 1

In the seventeenth century, the rehabilitation of Epicurus became a kind of code behind which was assembled the program of the enlightenment – which, as I have remarked in a post last week, can be looked at, using Fred Hirsch’s terms, as the accompaniment to the loosening of the positional economy as old feudal ties and customs waned. Interestingly, one of the loosened ties had to do with the role of women. Mostly this loosening was about women in the periphery around either the court or the aristocratic salons.

For LI, Epicurus marks an important moment in that covert struggle, that dialectic, between the pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of sagacity. Here seemed to be a counter-sage to the ascetic Socrates, just as Socrates seemed to counter Jesus for the humanists. The game is to find an emblem to trump an emblem.

Gassendi was the major sponsor of the new Epicurus in the 17th century. He was also the godfather of the line that challenged the Cartesians from what I suppose you could call the philosophical left. But one shouldn’t be too programmatic about these things – while the neo-Epicurians were devising materialist explanations of the world, they were also in sharp disagreement with, for instance, Descartes notion of the anima-machine. Antoinette Deshoulieres, as John Conley points out in his chapter on her in The Suspicion of Virtue: Women philosophers in Neo-classical France, was celebrated for her affection for animals, derived from Lucretius. Bayle, in his dictionary, ‘lauded her naturalist subordination of the human species to nonrational animals: “One of the most lucid and of the most brilliant minds of the seventeenth century preferred the condition of sheep to that of humans.”

In my next post, I want to say some biographical things about Deshoulieres and maybe translate her imitation of Lucretius (it isn’t long – she called it a galimatias).


northanger said…
That's when the battle began. The visceral realists questioned Álamo's critical system and he responded by calling them cut-rate surrealists and fake Marxists. Five members of the workshop backed him up; in other words, everyone but me and a skinny kid who always carried around a book by Lewis Carroll and never spoke [+]

photos & warwickians
northanger said…
btw, Regor. you're a nummifying delight! please stop. i cannot keep up with your stupendous output. but ... After all, who could deny that more output is better than less? [+]

roger said…
North, you are making me laugh! I'm mummifying and soul-defying! I combine the art of the trapeze with that of wrestling, winning two out of three falls!

Hey, did you know that yours truly wrote the review for PW they put up at Amazon for the Savage Detectives? I'm pushing that book as much as I can - the least I can do for kultcha in these here states.
northanger said…
nummify = gematria

i read the pw thingy weeks ago. didn't recognize that was you.