By Denis Diderot
" N'êtes-vous pas monsieur Diderot ? - Oui, madame. - C'est donc vous qui ne croyez rien ? - Moi-même. - Cependant votre morale est d'un croyant. - Pourquoi non, quand il est honnête homme. - Et cette morale-là, vous los angeles pratiquez ? - De mon mieux. - Quoi ! vous ne volez element, vous ne tuez element, vous ne pillez element ? - Très rarement. - Que gagnez-vous donc à ne pas croire ? Ainsi start le discussion qui, dans l'Entretien d'un philosophe avec los angeles Maréchale de..., fait deviser aimablement le philosophe notoirement athée et l. a. dévote mère de famille catholique. Les propos échangés abordent gaiement des thèmes essentiels. l. a. morale peut-elle se concevoir indépendamment de los angeles faith ? l. a. croyance en un Dieu rémunérateur et vengeur est-elle critical à l'obéissance aux lois morales ? l. a. faith est-elle un bien ? Est-on libre de croire ou de ne pas croire ? "
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Additional resources for Entretien d'un philosophe avec Madame la Maréchale de ***
The act of understanding is a temporal act that has its own history, but this history forever eludes totalization. Whenever the circle seems to close, one has merely ascended or descended one more step on Mallarme's "spirale vertigineuse consequent" (BI, 32). De Man effectively subverts the New Criticism's already declining authority by this epistemological assault. He has indicted the Americans for theoretical naivete while acquiring for himself the authority of their practice. They had, after all, in their reading succeeded in correctly revealing the unstable and indeterminate nature of ironic texts, but had been woefully blind to the insight of their own practice.
This is especially true when Kermode—in a passage the sentiments and figures of which are traceable back, at least, to Irving Babbitt and L A . 9 "Yet it must be obvious," says Kermode, "that the formation of rival canons, however transient, is very dangerous; that in allowing it to hap- VARIATIONS ON AUTHORITY D 7 pen we risk the death of the institution. " One must suspend the tendency to demystify, or to defend, this position long enough both to mark its genealogy throughout the history of critical study and to understand that this position is a necessary and repeated element in a debate so central to the "pastoral" mission of literary study that it may be said to be a constituent element of its discourse and its institutional survival.
There was no agreement about what that territory would be, and they were entirely at odds on questions of strategy. J. Hillis Miller was able to solve both of these problems. " This trope in itself defined the antithetical territory to be retaken: that possessed by the rest of American critics. Since there could be no strategy, preliminary probes were purely tactical: idealism, structuralism, traditional historicism, new criticism, rationalism, naivete and/or ignorance of Continental thought were among the units first engaged.
Entretien d'un philosophe avec Madame la Maréchale de *** by Denis Diderot