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The Forgotten SenseMeditations on Touch$
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Pablo Maurette

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226561332

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226561509.001.0001

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The French Connection

The French Connection

Chapter:
(p.106) The French Connection
Source:
The Forgotten Sense
Author(s):

Pablo Maurette

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226561509.003.0005

"The French Connection" considers the idiosyncratic fixation that certain French intellectual and artistic traditions have had with the body, the flesh, and the sense of touch since the dawn of the vernacular language in the Middle Ages. The essay argues that French artists and intellectuals have focused on the body, on sensibility in general, and on the sense of touch in particular more than any other in the Western tradition. Considering the visual preference of Western philosophy from its earliest days in Ancient Greece, the first question this essay poses is whether it is possible to philosophize about touch and to think in non-visual ways. Since early modernity, a considerable number of French thinkers have pondered these questions and attempted precisely this. In order to attempt some answers to this question, the essay centers mainly on two approaches to the topic: the first, which initially appears in early modernity and continues through the eighteenth century, can be labeled neo-Epicurean and it involves authors like Pierre Gassendi, François de La Mothe Le Vayer and Denis Diderot; the second is twentieth-century phenomenology, in particular the work of Michel Henry.

Keywords:   blindness, epicureanism, atomism, phenomenology

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