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Changing Minds: The Shifting Perception of Culture in Eighteenth Century France

Univeristy of Deleware Press

By John O'Neal
Posted October 1, 2002
Tags Faculty Books
Professor of French John C. O'Neal is the author of Changing Minds: The Shifting Perception of Culture in Eighteenth-Century France. The book deals with the way in which the cultural changes of the French Enlightenment derived from a significant shift in the fundamental concepts of knowledge and experience. The topics covered in the book include aesthetics, historiography, metaphysics, anthropology, language and literature, and medicine.

From the book jacket:
In the study of the epistemological underpinnings of cultural changes in the French Enlightenment, O'Neal shows how many of the cultural changes brought about by eighteenth-century French thinkers arise from the different forms of knowledge and experience they pursued. They derived these different forms of knowledge and experience from a new view of sensibility, which in turn depended on humans' percieved proximity to or distance from nature and the categories normally associated with the concept. The various chapters illustrate the rich interdisciplinarity of the period's thinking, which is unified by a central concern with the mind, and discuss important Enlightenment developments in aesthetics, historiography, metaphysics, anthropology, language and literature, political theory, and medicine. The author ultimately claims that one of the Enlightenment's greatest lessons lies in teaching us that a culture is capable of profound change only when its attitude towards the acquisition of knowledge and experience itself changes.

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