A “Critical” History of Philosophy and the Early Enlightenment: André-François Boureau-Deslandes
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Our investigation into the histories of philosophy produced in the French-speaking area has taken us well into the eighteenth century (Le Gendre’s Traité appeared in 1733 and was re-edited up to 1758, and Burigny’s Histoire de la philosophie païenne was republished in 1754), but these works are situated in the margins of the intellectual movement of the early Enlightenment. The first example of a history of philosophy which reflects typical enlightenment concerns comes with André-François Boureau-Deslandes’s Histoire critique de la philosophie. Deslandes himself was a “minor” figure with respect to the “great men” of his age, and he remained unknown, or virtually so, until his rediscovery through the work of Gueroult, Carr, Geissler, Garin, Macary, Del Torre, and, more recently Franck Salaün. In reality, however, Deslandes put forward and developed cultural and philosophical themes at the beginning of the eighteenth century which were taken up again by the “great men” of the Enlightenment: “He knew Newton and favoured English philosophy and economics much earlier than Voltaire: his Nouveau voyage d’Angleterre came out in 1713; before Voltaire he praised Colbert and the century of Louis XIV (his Essay sur la marine et sur le commerce appeared in 1743); he preceded Diderot in his use of the philosophical dialogue of materialistic tendency, and Condillac in his development of the theme of the Pigmalion, ou la Statue animée, which dates to 1741.