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Isaiah Berlin and the Enlightenment$
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Laurence Brockliss and Ritchie Robertson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198783930

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198783930.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 September 2021

Rococo Enlightenment? Berlin, Hamann, and Diderot

Rococo Enlightenment? Berlin, Hamann, and Diderot

(p.99) 7 Rococo Enlightenment? Berlin, Hamann, and Diderot
Isaiah Berlin and the Enlightenment

Marian Hobson

Oxford University Press

Criticisms of the Enlightenment tend to neglect thought which is undoubtedly of the Enlightenment but which doesn’t fit in with what they have constructed. This tendency particularly affects Diderot: the range of his writings considered is almost always narrowed down, the problems of irony and tone they pose are often ignored. On a larger scale, the rococo is passed over, as if in embarrassment. Some of Diderot’s works can plausibly described be as ‘rococo’ and the paper tries to assess that term in relation to him. Moreover, it argues that something similar might be said of Hamann, whose interest in Diderot is sustained, in spite of the latter’s non-belief. The paper suggests that an abiding thread in the culture of the period is an often joking scepticism, which in both Diderot and Hamann is designed to create discomfort in the reader.

Keywords:   rococo, Hamann, Diderot, reason, instinct

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