Skepticism and Political Thought in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries


Gianni Paganini et John Christian Laursen (éd.), Skepticism and Political Thought in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 2015, 294 p.

Avec deux contributions de Gianni Paganini : Introduction (avec John Christian Laursen) et « Hobbes and the French Skeptics », p. 55-83.

Extrait de l'introduction

This is a book about ideas about knowledge and politics. More precisely, it is about lack of knowledge, or skepticism, and what it can mean for politics. Presumably, if we have wide access to truth and knowledge, it must be pretty easy to figure out what to do in politics. But if we do not have such confidence, what should we do? This is a question that many thinkers have pondered over the centuries. And this is a book about some of the ideas they have developed in order to answer it. The early modern thinkers who are evaluated in this volume were inheritors of the traditions of skepticism, and sometimes of the wider use of the term. The work of Richard Popkin since 1950 was an inspiration for a revival of the study of skepticism in this period. Gianni Paganini’s Skepsis: le débat des modernes sur le scepticisme [Skepsis: the debate of the moderns about skepticism] is the fullest overview of the tradition of skepticism from Montaigne to Bayle since Popkin. He went more deeply into the philosophy of some of the figures Popkin had reviewed somewhat briefly, and brought into the debate some of the dogmatic philosophers such as Tommaso Campanella and Thomas Hobbes who taught us a lot about skepticism by trying to refute ou use it. This expanded the field from the study of skepticism toward the study of controversies about skepticism. He provided what amounts to a change of paradigm: Popkin understood skepticism as an anti-metaphysical movement allied with natural science that was emancipating itself from metaphysics. For Paganini, skepticism was an important element in the debate around the metaphysics of modernity.

This volume takes up the story of the influence of skepticism in political thought in Seventeenth and Eighteenth century.

Description de l'ouvrage :

In this collection, thirteen distinguished contributors examine the influence of the ancient skeptical philosophy of Pyrrho of Elis and Sextus Empiricus on early modern political thought. Classical skepticism argues that in the absence of certainty one must either suspend judgment and live by habit or act on the basis of probability rather than certainty. In either case, one must reject dogmatic confidence in politics and philosophy.

Surveying the use of skepticism in works by Hobbes, Descartes, Hume, Smith, and Kant, among others, the essays in Skepticism and Political Thought in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries demonstrate the pervasive impact of skepticism on the intellectual landscape of early modern Europe. This volume is not just an authoritative account of skepticism’s importance from the Enlightenment to the French Revolution, it is also the basis for understanding skepticism’s continuing political implications.

Présentation de l'ouvrage (sur le site de l'éditeur)

Histoire de la pensée clandestine (de Jean Bodin à Jean Meslier). Judaïsme et Islam dans les réseaux manuscrits philosophiques
01 April 2015 - 31 July 2015
31 July 2015
Gianni Paganini
Modern period (1492-1789)
Western Europe
Gianni Paganini et al.