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Mary Efrosini Gregory

Search for Self in Other in Cicero, Ovid, Rousseau, Diderot and Sartre examines how these five theorists recognized that searching for self in an idealized other can lead to a variety of perversions. Cicero warned against seeking friends whom we regard as being everything that we are not: he advised to first be a good person and then to seek other. Ovid showed that Narcissus, who had no close friends to reinforce his identity, was oblivious to his own assets and tried to live vicariously through other. Rousseau explained why modern man, while seated in a theater, feels compassion and is transported by pity, anxiety and fear for the welfare of fictional characters as if it were his own. Diderot showed how the absence of self can be exploited by the powerful to reshape the minds of the weak. He proves that given the right environment and length of time, any one of us, like the victims in The Nun, could just as easily have his life ruined. Sartre reminds us that it is impossible to be-in-exterior. We see ourselves according to the way that others perceive us based on conditioning and prejudices. Sartre untangles the snarled web of misperception of self that arises from «the look» of the other.
This book addresses man’s growing understanding of the death of self in the mirror of other across the corridors of time – from Narcissus’ ancient pool, to Cicero’s Roman forum, to Rousseau’s Parisian theater, to Diderot’s convent in The Nun, to Sartre’s twentieth-century hell.
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Mary Efrosini Gregory

This book examines how eight eighteenth-century French theorists – Maillet, Montesquieu, La Mettrie, Buffon, Maupertuis, Diderot, Rousseau, and Voltaire – addressed evolutionism. Each thinker laid down a building block that would eventually open the door to the mutability of species and a departure from the long-held belief that the chain of beings is fixed. This book describes how the philosophes established a triune relationship among contemporary scientific discoveries, random creationism propelled by the motive and conscious properties of matter, and the notion of the chain of being, along with its corollaries, plenitude and continuity. Also addressed is the contemporary debate over whether apes could ever be taught to speak as well as the issue of race and the family of man.
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Mary Efrosini Gregory

Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre takes the reader on a journey through the corridors of time to explore the evolution of thought regarding free will. The arguments and works presented in this volume raise critical and timeless issues for ethicists, the criminal justice system and the responsible citizen. Montaigne held that humans can break out of the determinist confines of their given cultures and acquired habits by employing reason, welcoming change and promoting education. In The Nun, Diderot chronicles portraits of pathology, records symptoms and leaves it up to the reader to decide whether the unfortunate victims are products of nature, nurture or both. Rousseau thought that civilized man, having joined society, surrenders his free will to the general will to enjoy protection of his person, family and property. Sartre, an indeterminist, averred that since humans have the capacity to be self-reflective, they can exercise creativity with regard to who and how they choose to be from moment to moment. Freud observed that we are marionettes whose strings are commandeered by various realms competing for dominance – the conscious and subconscious; id, ego and superego. Bernays, Freud’s nephew, employed psychoanalytic theory as a tool to advise corporations how to entice the public to purchase their products when confronted with a range of choices. This book opens the door to lively classroom discussion on moral issues. French literature, philosophy, psychology and political science classes will find it an invaluable source presenting a wealth of views on free will.
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Mary Efrosini Gregory

Freedom in French Enlightenment Thought examines how five eighteenth-century French theorists – Montesquieu, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire, and Condorcet – kindled the flame of freedom in America and France. Each thinker laid down a building block that would eventually inspire the language in constitutions around the world. They held that citizens have certain inalienable rights that are dictated by natural law and endowed to all by our Creator; that these rights include equality before the law, justice, safety and security of persons and property, and freedom of speech, press, assembly, and religion. Montesquieu recommended three separate branches of government that function independently of each other. Diderot held that there is no true sovereign, except the nation; that there is no true legislator, except the people. Rousseau advised that the individual will must be subordinate to the general will and private interest to that of the community: he warned against legislators who act from their own financial interests and enact laws to aggrandize themselves. Voltaire believed that selfishness, greed, and the desire for luxury are not only part of human nature, but that they compel people to achieve, trade with others, search, explore, and invent: the passions are the engine that makes capitalism run and that stimulate all human endeavor. Condorcet, a champion of civil rights, boldly proclaimed equality for women, blacks, and the poor. The philosophes held that free and universal public education will permit more citizens to participate in the progress of the arts and sciences and will improve the standard of living among all strata of society. An unrestrained press permits citizens to make informed decisions. Their polemics have indeed changed the face of the world.