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Nature and Culture

Ethical Thought in the French Enlightenment

Lester G. Crocker

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Originally published in 1963. Perhaps the most generative ethical question of eighteenth-century France was how to live a virtuous and happy life at the same time. During the Age of Enlightenment, Christianity fell out of vogue as the dominant and authoritative moral code. In place of Christianity's emphasis on sin and redemption in light of a supposed afterlife, present happiness became recognized as an appropriate end goal among French Enlightenment thinkers. French intellectuals struggled to find equilibrium between nature (a person's individual goals and needs) and culture (the political…

Originally published in 1963. Perhaps the most generative ethical question of eighteenth-century France was how to live a virtuous and happy life at the same time. During the Age of Enlightenment, Christianity fell out of vogue as the dominant and authoritative moral code. In place of Christianity's emphasis on sin and redemption in light of a supposed afterlife, present happiness became recognized as an appropriate end goal among French Enlightenment thinkers. French intellectuals struggled to find equilibrium between nature (a person's individual goals and needs) and culture (the political, economic, and social organization of humans for a collective good). Enlightenment discourse generated a unique cultural moment in which thinkers addressed the problems of humans' moral coexistence through the dichotomy of nature and culture. Lester Crocker addresses these questions in an overview of ethical thought in eighteenth-century France.

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Nature and Culture

Lester G. Crocker

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Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
562
ISBN
9781421435787
Table of Contents

Introduction
Chapter 1. Natural Law
I. A Brief Historical View
II. Natural Law in Eighteenth-Century France
III. Variations and Vicissitudes of Natural Law Theory
Chapter 2. Moral Sense Theories
Chapter 3

Introduction
Chapter 1. Natural Law
I. A Brief Historical View
II. Natural Law in Eighteenth-Century France
III. Variations and Vicissitudes of Natural Law Theory
Chapter 2. Moral Sense Theories
Chapter 3. Experiential Origins of Moral Values
Chapter 4. Corollaries
I. Conscience
II. Justice and Law
III. Reason and Feeling
Chapter 5. The Utilitarian Synthesis
I. Hedonism
II. Social Utilitarianism
III. Virtue and Happiness
IV. Altruism and Anti-utilitarianism
Chapter 6. The Nihilist Dissolution
I. The Seeds of Nihilism
II. Sade and the fieurs du mal
Chapter 7. Ethics and Politics
Epilogue
Supplementary Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Lester G. Crocker

Lester G. Crocker (1912-2002) was a professor of History at Case Western Reserve University and the University of Virginia. He specialized in French literature and Enlightenment philosophy. He is also the author of An Age of Crisis: Man and World in Eighteenth Century French Thought, Rousseau's Social Contract: An Interpretive Essay, and Diderot's Chaotic Order: Approach and Synthesis.