B responds, “If you propose tobe his tyrant,civilise him; poi son him as best you can with a morality contrary to nature. The natives of Lancer’s Island are compelled to engage in bestial practices. As Muthu notes, this is a very different basis for distinguishing “savages” from the civilized people of Europe from the one typically operative in accounts of noble savagery: He demonstrates how the strictenforcement of Tahiti’s moral system imposes pain and sufferingon thosewho cannot live according to its rules. As evidence, he cites the impact of inclementweather and encounters with animals on man’s development even While Marks is persuasive on thepresence of history in in the stateof nature. Tahiti as Paradise Much commentary on the Supplement has addressed its bewildering structure.

You’re nineteen years old; you should already have two children, and you’ve none. Thus he proclaims, “One is born fortunateor unfortunate,and each of us is imperceptiblycarried along by the general currentwhich leads one to glory and another to ignominy. Has God not told everything to our eyes, to our conscience, to our judg ment? Marcel Henaff suggests thatDiderot had become a champion of Rousseauian primitivism: A careful reader of theSupplement learns thatTahitians are not particularly concerned with sexual pleasure. Diderot embodies precisely the tragic sensibilitywhich Johnston indictsRousseau for lacking.

In theReveries of the Solitary Walker, Rousseau explicitly claims that he is still “more or less” guided by the Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar. Thus, in the conclusion to theSupplement,A asks B whether or not it is introvuction to civilise man. This essay rejects such a reading by demonstrating that the Supplement actually undermines any clear opposition between virtuous nature, represented by Tahiti, and corrupt civilization, represented by Europe.

The Supplement not only offers a critique of Europe’s bur geoning ambitions for empire, but also provides a subtle and implicit cri tique of dogmatic and moralistic politics which applies to the political system of any single nation.


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University of Chicago Press, There is only flux, change, and dynamism, and the inevitable political negotiations which must come with such an unpredictable world. Transparency and Obstruction, trans. On a cursory reading, Diderot’s Tahitians confirm Bougainville’s nickname. Yet he appears to reserve his highest praise for these savage societies.

Thus we return to the core distinction between Rousseau and Diderot. Meanwhile, Diderot mocks the very concept of enduring conjugal love. Eighteenth century philosophers were already enmeshed in a considerable debate over the relationship between historical progress and corruption. A diasertation creature of instinct,natural man bears little resemblance even to the savage men Rousseau cites.

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Anderson, Diderot’s Dream, For example, Wilda Anderson offers a rich interpretation of Diderot’s dynamic materialism which treatsartifice and culture as part of nature itself,while Sankar Muthu believes that, forDiderot, human nature is cultural agency.

In the third section of the Supplement, Diderot reports a conversation between thechaplain of Bougainville’s ship and his Tahitian host,Orou. Rousseau clearly agonizes over thepossibility of creating a trulyharmonious system,but he never rejects the ideal as worthwhile.

Nonetheless, the Profession of Faith does capture a repeated longing on Rousseau’s part, a frequently stated desire to listen for and abide by nature’s voice, despite his acknowledgment that itcan often be difficult to discern this voice. As Alice Ormiston notes,Rousseau extols thehappy marriage of man’s natural instinctforpitie to the development of reason, a contingent development which occurs through the combination of perfectibil ityand chance circumstances: By providing such a defin itive foundation for correct behavior, appeals to nature resonate with moral istic discourse.

introduction dissertation supplément au voyage de bougainville

And the insightful comments of two anony mous reviewers were indispensable in sharpening the argument of the essay. First, I examine in greater detail the nature-culture opposition itself. SV, 53 Let us emphasize the apparently Rousseauian qualities of Orou’s bougainvile demnation.


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If this system genuinely accords with nature, then “nature” has lost vir tually all meaning as a term standing in opposition to culture, artifice, or civilization. Far from being based upon a set of institutions followed blindly due to custom or upon a subservience to natural instincts, Diderot’s Tahitians consciously mould the young in deliberate ways, maintain social and legal sanctions, and run an economic program of distribution in order to encourage specific forms of social For Diderot, behaviour.

Yet it complicates any attempt to portray Rousseau or Diderot as hewing to a starkopposition between innocentnature and corrupt culture.

We find This content downloaded from Diderot embodies precisely the tragic sensibilitywhich Johnston indictsRousseau supplémdnt lacking.

Introduction Dissertation Supplément Au Voyage De Bougainville ||

Indeed, Diderot’s critique of Europe, I argue, must ultimately be turnedback on “natural” Tahiti itself. He demonstrates how the dissertaton of Tahiti’s moral system imposes pain and sufferingon thosewho cannot live according to its rules.

introduction dissertation supplément au voyage de bougainville

Tahiti, on theOld Man’s account a paradise where all needs This content downloaded from We are continually reminded thatwe have shpplément direct access toTahiti, thatwe must engage in our own, active work of inter pretation, just as A and B do. The structure of the Supplement, in a sense, instantiates Diderot’s political vision. A Postmodern Question, ed.

However, Strong may overemphasize the emptiness of Rousseau’s natural man. See Itnroduction Jack, Corruption and Progress:

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