The philosophers' quarrel : Rousseau, Hume, and the limits of human understanding /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Zaretsky, Robert, 1955-
Imprint:New Haven [Conn.] : Yale University Press, ©2009.
Description:1 online resource (x, 247 pages) : illustrations
Subject:Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, -- 1712-1778.
Hume, David, -- 1711-1776.
Hume, David, -- 1711-1776.
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, -- 1712-1778.
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques.
Hume, David.
PHILOSOPHY -- History & Surveys -- Modern.
Interpersonaler Konflikt
Verlichting (cultuurgeschiedenis)
Electronic books.
Electronic books.
Format: E-Resource Book
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Other authors / contributors:Scott, John T., 1963-
Notes:Includes bibliographical references (pages 211-238) and index.
Summary:"The rise and spectacular fall of the friendship between the two great philosophers of the eighteenth century, barely six months after they first met, reverberated on both sides of the Channel. As the relationship between Jean-Jacques Rousseau and David Hume unraveled, a volley of rancorous letters was fired off, then quickly published and devoured by aristocrats, intellectuals, and common readers alike. Everyone took sides in this momentous dispute between the greatest of Enlightenment thinkers." "In this lively and revealing book, Robert Zaretsky and John T. Scott explore the unfolding rift between Rousseau and Hume. The authors are particularly fascinated by the connection between the thinkers' lives and thought, especially the way that the failure of each to understand the other - and himself - illuminates the limits of human understanding. In addition, they situate the philosophers' quarrel in the social, political, and intellectual milieu that informed their actions, as well as the actions of the other participants in the dispute, such as James Boswell, Adam Smith, and Voltaire. By examining the conflict through the prism of each philosopher's contribution to Western thought, Zaretsky and Scott reveal the implications for the two men as individuals and philosophers as well as for the contemporary world."--Jacket.
Other form:Print version: Zaretsky, Robert, 1955- Philosophers' quarrel. New Haven [Conn.] : Yale University Press, ©2009 9780300121933
Standard no.:9786612088766
Review by Choice Review

On a cursory reading, this book is about the well-known quarrel between Rousseau and Hume, two friends and intellectual giants of the 18th-century Enlightenment. The quarrel derives arguably from a basic misunderstanding between them and a series of happenstances. Significantly, however, it brings out their insecurities and provides insight into aspects of their respective personalities. Fairly or unfairly, Rousseau comes across as ungrateful, eccentric, egocentric, and erratic; and Hume as duplicitous, insincere, and egotistical. On such a reading, a discrepancy appears to exist between each philosopher and the individual person whose philosophic views people admire today. On a substantive reading, however, this book is a backhanded critique of the Enlightenment's exorbitant claims about the power of reason to unravel the complexity of nature and all therein. Both philosophers are among the most vocal critics of the very Enlightenment claims in favor of reason. Thus, that the conflict in question derives arguably from a misunderstanding that reason was incapable of mediating further validates their respective critiques of reason's impotency. All in all, Zaretsky (Univ. of Houston) and Scott (Univ. of California, Davis) provide a rich, humorous, and lively context for experiencing Rousseau and Hume as human beings rather than simply as philosophers. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above. C. S. Johnson Middle Tennessee State University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Choice Review