Manuel Tizziani: To a conspiracy of priests? Imposture and fanaticism in Meslier’s Mémoire

On The June 15, 2020

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According to the main thesis of L’Esprit de Spinoza, religions were always used as instruments of political domination. In the Mémoire of Meslier, an author who agrees with this thesis, the situation seems to be different because, according to the priest, ignorance and superstition play a very important role not only among the dominated, but also among some of those who exercise power.

Meslier offers two examples of these fanatical-impostors: that of Jesus Christ, whose case is incurable, and that of the priests –or at least some of them– who, according to Meslier, can still reform themselves.

In this text, therefore, we intend to examine these two examples to clarify Meslier’s criticisms and intentions. The aim is to show that the priest believes that some of these fanatics will well receive his atheistic arguments.

Keywords: Imposture, Superstition, Fanaticism, Domination, Political-theology

Manuel Tizziani is assistant researcher at the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET, Argentina) and a 2019-2020 fellow at the Collegium de Lyon (IHRIM, ENS de Lyon - Labex COMOD).