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The Enlightenment Invention of the Modern Self (Part II)
Prof. Leo Damrosch (Harvard University)

DISK 2.1
Lecture 13:  Diderot, Jacques the Fatalist, I
Jacques the Fatalist is an anti-novel in the sense that it refuses to be ‘realistic’ and develops a metaphysical view on the way we normally try to find the ‘truth’ in works of fiction.

Lecture 14 : Jacques the Fatalist, II
As the novel progresses there are some ‘real’ stories told but Diderot continues to question the readers’ desire to listen to coherent tales and emphasizes the traditionalism of love stories in particular.

Lecture 15: Rousseau, Inequality and Social Contract
This lecture is the first of four lectures where Rousseau puts forth a new solution to the ‘self’ problem in contrast to the usual view philosophers had during the Enlightenment. ‘Inequality’ explores what would be truly natural to human beings if they had not been reshaped by society while ‘Social Contact’ continues to explore the implicit assumptions that hold any society together.

Lecture 16: Rousseau, The Confessions, I
A masterpiece! Rousseau wrote Confessions as an account of how he became his own person. His emphasis is on early experience focusing on specific events which reveal his personality. Though many events he describes may seem trivial or obscure, it was he who first showed that such experiences could have great value in understanding the self.

Lecture 17: The Confessions, II
This lecture continues with Rousseau’s conception of ‘natural man’ according to which man is naturally good but society has made him vicious.  He opened the way to the great movement known as Romanticism by inventing a new way of understanding the self.

Lecture 18: Rousseau, Reveries of the Solitary Walker
Reveries of the Solitary Walker includes Rousseau’s insights concerning his final years when he liked to walk in the woods and fields taking up the study of botany. In this final work of his,  he moves away from the narrative mode he had developed in The Confessions; in this work he seeks to recreate certain moments of thinking that he calls ‘daydreams’ or ‘reveries’.

DISK 2.2
Lecture 19: Franklin, Autobiography
Moving away from ‘deep thought’ presented in the previous lecture, with Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography we return to optimism. Franklin was a model man of the Enlightenment who shaped his character into an amazingly effective public persona being a well adjusted person and a tireless organizer of public projects.

Lecture 20: Franklin and Adam Smith
This lecture continues on Franklin’s philosophy of life and his effort to construct a ‘character’ that others would admire.  Further on the lecture also examines the psychological and economic writings of Adam Smith which set the theoretical foundation for the values Franklin embodies in his life.

Lecture 21: Laclos, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, I
A novel of the 18th century written in the letter mode is presented in this lecture. The novel consists of a series of letters exchanged between two lovers whose text is permeated by ambiguity, deceptions and lies.

Lecture 22: Les Liaisons Dangereuses, II
This is a continuation from the previous lecture where the two characters Tourvel and Valmont are in a complex relationship of power. The novel challenges us to find a moral perspective in a society where power is the only value.

Lecture 23: Blake, Songs of Innocence and of Experience
As the title suggests a romantic perspective is given to the Enlightenment period using visual art and poems. Blake, being an engraver himself, produced hand-printed books in which his poetic texts were included.

Lecture 24: Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
In this last lecture of the course, Blake’s work is examined as a response to the excitement of the French Revolution, implying a union-‘marriage’ of contraries between ‘good’ and ‘evil’.

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