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The Philosophers' Quarrel
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About the Author

Robert Zaretsky is professor of French, Honors College, University of Houston. John T. Scott is professor of political science, University of California, Davis. Zaretsky and Scott are also coauthors of Frail Happiness: An Essay on Rousseau.

Reviews

Imagine a world where philosophers are celebrities, their works are greeted with stone throwing and literary correspondences are the stuff of tabloid-style publication. This was the world of 18th-century Europe, where David Hume and Jean-Jacques Rousseau's friendship, which lasted but six months, created a public stir and has a remarkable enough trajectory to be the centerpiece of this study of Enlightenment mores. Further, the dispute highlights a key divergence in the study of human understanding: "Rousseau represented an alternative way of knowing that went, in a certain sense, beyond reason to regions reached only through the imagination and the passions." This mode of thinking sets the stage for Rousseau's dramatic misunderstanding of Hume's intentions and actions, and ushers in Rousseau's revolutionary demotion of "adherence to external or objective truth," replacing it with "loyalty to one's own self." Zaretsky and Scott (coauthors of Frail Happiness: An Essay on Rousseau) weave vivid storytelling together with elegant arguments about this transitional period from the Enlightenment to the Romantic period. The book is also a revealing intellectual history of Rousseau's compelling madness and mystifying genius. Illus. (Mar.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"Zaretsky and Scott have crafted an excellent book, written with a dramatic flare that consistently provides a gripping narrative. It is superior to other books on the subject by taking seriously what is most important about Rousseau and Hume: their thought."-Christopher Kelly, Boston College
"An excellent book: a page turner to begin with, but also very well researched and very fair. Rousseau-a man who was resolved to bite your nose if you didn't acknowledge his sensibility and basic goodness-was surely sincere. But so was David Hume. I learned a great deal from these pages and immensely enjoyed reading them also."-Patrice Higonnet, Goelet Professor of French History, Harvard University
"Why was the friendship between Jean-Jacques Rousseau and David Hume, two of the greatest thinkers of the Enlightenment, violently broken off? These two men were supremely intelligent, but were they wise? Is there any relation at all between the ideas of philosophers and the other aspects of their identities-their bodies, moods, ancient wounds, appetites, passions? If philosophy is to be an art of living and not only an exchange of concepts, these questions deserve to be asked. Zaretsky and Scott''s book, an in-depth study of this famous episode in philosophical history, suggests how they might be answered."-Tzvetan Todorov
This arresting book is like a novel which one reads late into the night-a novel whose characters happen to be famous thinkers: Rousseau and Hume. Voltaire looms in the background. Brilliant Parisian ladies appear too. What can be more exhilarating than a tale of intelligence and discord, and of the 18th century revisited right before the French Revolution-so near us, so far away?"-Adam Zagajewski
"This arresting book is like a novel which one reads late into the night-a novel whose characters happen to be famous thinkers: Rousseau and Hume. Voltaire looms in the background. Brilliant Parisian ladies appear too. What can be more exhilarating than a tale of intelligence and discord, and of the 18th century revisited right before the French Revolution-so near us, so far away?"-Adam Zagajewski
?Zaretsky and Scott have crafted an excellent book, written with a dramatic flare that consistently provides a gripping narrative. It is superior to other books on the subject by taking seriously what is most important about Rousseau and Hume: their thought. Christopher Kelly, Boston College -- Christopher Kelly
?Why was the friendship between Jean-Jacques Rousseau and David Hume, two of the greatest thinkers of the Enlightenment, violently broken off? These two men were supremely intelligent, but were they wise? Is there any relation at all between the ideas of philosophers and the other aspects of their identities?their bodies, moods, ancient wounds, appetites, passions? If philosophy is to be an art of living and not only an exchange of concepts, these questions deserve to be asked. Zaretsky and Scott''s book, an in-depth study of this famous episode in philosophical history, suggests how they might be answered. Tzvetan Todorov -- Tzvetan Todorov
?An excellent book: a page turner to begin with, but also very well researched and very fair. Rousseau?a man who was resolved to bite your nose if you didn?t acknowledge his sensibility and basic goodness?was surely sincere. But so was David Hume. I learned a great deal from these pages and immensely enjoyed reading them also. Patrice Higonnet, Goelet Professor of French History, Harvard University -- Patrice Higonnet
?This arresting book is like a novel which one reads late into the night?a novel whose characters happen to be famous thinkers: Rousseau and Hume. Voltaire looms in the background. Brilliant Parisian ladies appear too. What can be more exhilarating than a tale of intelligence and discord, and of the 18th century revisited right before the French Revolution?so near us, so far away Adam Zagajewski -- Adam Zagajewski
"This book is an exceptional contribution to the study of both western political philosophy and the history and politics of 18th century France. There are fascinating insights on every page."-Roger D. Masters, Dartmouth College -- Roger D. Masters

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