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The MountainA Political History from the Enlightenment to the Present$
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Bernard Debarbieux and Gilles Rudaz

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226031118

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226031255.001.0001

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The Mountain as Object of Knowledge

The Mountain as Object of Knowledge

(p.13) One The Mountain as Object of Knowledge
The Mountain

Bernard Debarbieux

Gilles Rudaz

, Jane Marie Todd

Martin F. Price

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 1 introduces the scholarly modalities for constructing the category of the mountain in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the paradigms that gradually became associated with it. It focuses on the various modalities of the objectification of mountains, and the forms of knowledge and argument associated with that operation. Eighteenth-century natural history, philosophy, and geography proposed a far-reaching alternative to the traditional and popular conceptions of mountains, considered like a topographical contrast. They engaged in what aspired to be a radical objectification: the mountain became a category of comparable and commensurable physical objects characterized by a set of attributes, all purportedly objective, hence independent of the particular points of view from which the inhabitants of one place or another might see and describe their surroundings. This led to the invalidation of popular ways of naming and conceiving mountains, and to the rise of a new human type: the mountaineer, mainly defined on a natural basis.

Keywords:   mapping, knowledge, natural science, altitudinal zonation, Alexander von Humboldt, Philippe Buache

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