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Travel as a Basis for Atheism: Free-Thinking as Deterritorialization in the Early Radical Enlightenment

  • Charles T. Wolfe
Chapter
Part of the Studies in History and Philosophy of Science book series (AUST, volume 30)

Abstract

The early modern radical savant did not travel so much as he read travel narratives. From Montaigne’s cannibals to Locke’s talking parrot, from Leibniz’s plans to create a race of “warrior slaves” to Diderot’s utopian Voyage de Bougainville, a kind of ‘science fiction’ or ‘deterritorialization’ of the narrative of the familiar, Eurocentric, Plato-to-Hegel narrative of Western philosophy can be discerned. A key feature of these artificial travel narratives is that they serve as a basis for proclaiming atheism (and China plays a well-known role here). The radical savant described here is neither the solitary meditator, nor the participant in communal knowledge-gathering projects for national glory (Bacon, Linnaeus). He (for it is always a he in this case) is less a producer of a stable, cumulative body of knowledge than a destabilizer of forms of existing knowledge.

Keywords

Scientific Revolution Natural Philosopher Global Reach Anonymous Author Radical Savant 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

Thanks to Nick Dew, Olivier Surel and the editors for helpful comments and suggestions.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Moral SciencesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Unit for History and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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