The Authority of Experience, Sensationalist Theory in the French Enlightenment - Hamilton College
91B0FBB4-04A9-D5D7-16F0F3976AA697ED
C9A22247-E776-B892-2D807E7555171534

The Authority of Experience, Sensationalist Theory in the French Enlightenment


The study begins by presenting the main ideas of sensationist philosophers Condillac, Bonnet, and HelvŽtius, who held that all of our ideas come to us through the senses. The experience of the body in seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching enabled individuals, as John C. O'Neal points out, to challenge the sometimes arbitrary authority of institutions and people in positions of power. After a general introduction to sensationism, the author develops a theory of sensationist aesthetics that not only reveals the interconnections of the period's philosophy and literature but also enhances our awareness of the forces at work in the French novel. He goes on to examine the relations between sensationism and eighteenth-century French educational theory, materialism, and idéologie. Ultimately, O'Neal opens a discussion of the implications of sensationist thought for issues of particular concern to society today.

Reviews

"Richly evocative, this book is well worth reading. More than simply accomplishing its clearly-stated agenda, which was a complex task, requiring close knowledge of numerous, difficult texts, it refreshingly opens the door to new ideas, new questions and new possible connections."
French Review

Contact Information


Media Relations Office

198 College Hill Road 
Clinton, NY 13323
315-859-4680 pr@hamilton.edu
Back to Top