Dr Anna Budzanowska
Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń
Cracow University of Economics
English abstract: The article describes the sources of anti-religious conceptions in French philosophical literature of Radical Enlightenment, based on secret symbolic manuscripts: Theophrastus Redivivus, Le Militaire philosophe, Lettre d’Hypocrate à Damagatte, La vie de Mahomed, Le traite sur les trois imposteurs, La Moysade and Le Philosophe, and aims to explore the radical approach to religion and faith of the following little-known French libertine thinkers, who were representatives of the so-called philosophie clandestine: B. Fontenelle, N. Malebranche, Y. de Vallone, Delaube, R. Challe, H. de Boulainvilliers. Discoveries related to French underground philosophical manuscripts attract the interest of researchers, changing the ideological picture of the Enlightenment. As it appears, underground thinkers – through the scope and radicalism of their ideas – made a so far unrecognized contribution to the not-so-distant age of encyclopaedism and the French Revolution. The libertine theories born in reaction to monarchical and clerical absolutism conceal contextual political and anti-Christian explicitness. Therefore, analyses of the approach to religion and faith expressed in underground philosophical texts allow us to classify them as anti-systemic. Undoubtedly, a great number of observations and recommendations of the secret philosophers was related to the search for understanding the entirety of human religiosity or to the need to articulate the universality of natural religion. However, French ideological continuators of the underground amateur philosophers, including eighteenth-century academics and encyclopaedists who referred to the underground anti-religious impulse, did not postulate introducing broadly-understood religious tolerance; on the contrary, they formulated theories that enabled the gradual removal of religiosity from the public sphere (laïcité). The article presents the idea of secularism in the radical underground Enlightenment movement and refers to the delayed consequences of said phenomenon, when this idea, considered politically dangerous, reappeared in political debates in the second half of the 19th century, and eventually became la loi fondatrice of the republican France under the 1905 law.
Keywords: manuscrits philosophiques clandestins, philosophie clandestine, libertinism, French Radical Enlightenment, secularism
Published: Number 4(29)/2021, pp.18-29
Number of downloads: 200
This text is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial – No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.