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The Newton Wars and the Beginning of the French Enlightenment$
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J. B. Shank

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226749457

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226749471.001.0001

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Coda: Instituting the French Enlightenment

Coda: Instituting the French Enlightenment

Diderot and d'Alembert Encyclopédie

Chapter:
(p.481) Coda: Instituting the French Enlightenment
Source:
The Newton Wars and the Beginning of the French Enlightenment
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226749471.003.0009

Too many historians have recognized Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert's Encyclopédie as the defining text of the French Enlightenment. Just as many have argued that the project's initial publication, scandalous reception, and eventual prohibition were the key catalysts in the formation of the Enlightenment as a French social movement. What has not often been stressed, however, is that these undeniably transformative events also completed a half-century process of intellectual and social change in France. This coda proposes, not a reinterpretation of the history of the Encyclopédie, but a retelling of this familiar story in ways that highlight how it served both as the climax of Isaac Newton's reception in eighteenth-century France and, seamlessly, as the final stitch between this reception and the beginning of the French Enlightenment.

Keywords:   Denis Diderot, Jean le Rond d'Alembert, Encyclopédie, France, Enlightenment, Isaac Newton, social change

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