Manuel Tizziani: Jean Meslier, eclectic Cartesian or pyromaniac reader? An approach to the genesis of the “common sense” conspiracy

On The January 16, 2020

16h00 - 18h00

ENS de Lyon - Salle D4-260 - Bâtiment Recherche

How can we consider the relationship between Meslier and Cartesian philosophy?

To answer this question appropriately, one must not only take into account "the most strictly philosophical part" of the Memoir, but also the whole text. In addition, to examine this particular relationship from a broader perspective, one must also take into account the relationship that Meslier had, in general, with all the texts he had had the opportunity to read.

This is the reason why this text will be divided into four parts: first, we will describe the composition of Meslier's library; then we will offer an interpretation of the priest's reading practices; third, we will present a brief description of the most important interpretations of the relationship between Meslier and Cartesianism; finally, starting from the reconstruction of the discussion on animal machines, we will try to show the tensions between the atheist parish priest and the philosophy of the Cartesians. Thus, according to our hypothesis, rather than an eclectic Cartesian, Meslier must be conceived as a pyromaniac reader. In other words, as a reader who has used all the intellectual resources at his disposal to build a "common sense" conspiracy.