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Science in the Age of Sensibility – The Sentimental Empiricists of the French Enlightenment - Chicago Scholarship Online
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Science in the Age of Sensibility: The Sentimental Empiricists of the French Enlightenment

Jessica Riskin


Empiricism today implies the dispassionate scrutiny of facts. But in the French Enlightenment, empiricism was intimately bound up with sensibility. In what this book calls a “sentimental empiricism,” natural knowledge was taken to rest on a blend of experience and emotion. The book argues that sentimental empiricism brought together ideas and institutions, practices and politics. It shows, for instance, how the study of blindness, led by ideas about the mental and moral role of vision and by cataract surgeries, shaped the first school for the blind; how Benjamin Franklin's electrical physics, ... More

Keywords: empiricism, French Enlightenment, natural knowledge, Benjamin Franklin, Antoine Lavoisier, chemistry, physics, civic reason, blindness, economic reform

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2002 Print ISBN-13: 9780226720784
Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013 DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226720852.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Jessica Riskin, author