Current Issue Article Abstracts
Volume 82, Number 2, April 2021
Today the importance of epistolary networks for intellectuals in early modern Europe is well appreciated. Nevertheless, connections reaching outside the canon of celebrated humanists and scientists in the Republic of Letters are little studied. This article examines how Charles de Bovelles (1479–1567) used letters to establish a philosophical persona and publicize his contemplative approach to natural philosophy. Scrutinizing how Bovelles created an epistolary community comprising university alumni and men in religious professions, the article sheds new light on the culture of contemplation in the early sixteenth century.
"No distinction of Black or Fair": The Natural History of Race in Adam Ferguson's Lectures on Moral Philosophy
Bruce Buchan, Silvia Sebastiani
Recent scholarship on the Scottish Enlightenment has emphasized the increasing importance, in the last decades of the eighteenth century, of the concept of race. Yet race was a conceptual, moral, and taxonomic puzzle for Scots intellectuals such as Adam Ferguson (1723-1816). While the influence of Ferguson's published works has received wide scholarly attention, the content of his teaching has not. His surviving moral philosophy lecture notes offer us a window into the development of thought on race at the disciplinary intersections of moral philosophy and natural history, and the crossroads of Edinburgh's curricula and Britain's Empire.
This article analyzes the making of a novel consciousness of historicity in Germany around 1800, one that regarded mountains as vaults of a shared and palpable past. Revisiting a paleontological debate about the origin of large mammal bones found in caves, it reads the science of Johann Christian Rosenmüller (1771–1820) as a social and political accomplishment. By attributing the fossils to an indigenous "cave bear," and communicating an elite scientific debate to a lay audience, Rosenmüller presented an account of Germany's primordial past that fed seamlessly into its present, nurturing an idea of nationhood grounded in the (sub)soil.
In 1876, the French philosopher Charles Renouvier published Uchronie, an obscure philosophical novel narrating an alternate history where Christianity fails to take root in the West. Far from being a literary divertissement, the novel rests on an articulated philosophy of history, which emphasizes the role of contingency and human freedom in opposition to the organicist and deterministic historical visions of the time. My purpose is to provide the theoretical outlook of Renouvier's "philosophie analytique de l'histoire" and to place it within its historical context, in light of Renouvier's reactions to the political and intellectual vicissitudes of the Third Republic.
The article establishes heretofore neglected links between the German anti-English pamphlets during World War I, on the one hand, and right-wing antidemocratic theory after the war, on the other, by engaging with their central argumentative forms. Particularly the metaphors of the English as "merchants" or "peddlers" and England as a mechanical civilization in contradistinction to German organic culture facilitated the transfer of arguments between the discourses on war and democracy, respectively. The metaphors were old, but they were deepened by concrete enmity and intensified domestic constitutional arguments by underscoring the fundamental unsuitability of democracy for Germany.
This article examines the widespread and varied reception of Hilaire Belloc's The Servile State (1912) in Australia from the time of its publication to the mid-twentieth century. Belloc's claim that market capitalism was giving rise to a series of legislative reforms which entrenched the inferior, servile status of the working classes was of particular interest in Australia where innovations such as compulsory industrial arbitration were pioneered. In the 1930s Belloc's ideas inspired the Catholic Action movement, and they were subsequently developed in the debates around post-war reconstruction by a range of figures including the radical professor of philosophy John Anderson.
This review essay discusses recent research on sovereignty and the performing arts from both historical and theoretical perspectives. I argue that Elden, Ospovat, Welch, and Wolff approach early modern symbolic communication not simply as culture but also as political acts. During the turbulent transition from Absolutism to Enlightenment, performances at the court played a crucial role in negotiating the complex relationship between the sovereign and the subjects. The development of professional ballet, opera, and theater took place amid the decline of sovereignty and the separation between politics and morality.