Descartes et la question de la civilité : la philosophie de l'honnête homme

Abstract : This work focuses on the relation between Descartes’ philosophy and the humanist themes of civility and honesty. A first step in this thesis is to philosophically reevaluate the concept of civility by focusing on its history within antiquity and humanism. Such a reevaluation bears on two main approaches: one is to demonstrate the metaphysical foundations of this notion, the other is to show the movement towards the internalization of civil norms in the conception of the virtuous soul. Our aim is then to show the presence, in Cartesian thought, of such values as gentleness, “naturel”, grace or “convenance”, which do not coincide with the common conception of rational justification, and which all trace back to the thematic field of civility. Civility is a perfection that avoids two extremes, barbarism and savagery, i. e. both the excessive violence of the norm and the violence stemming from a brute nature left to itself. On the other land, by linking Descartes’ philosophy to the question of civility, our aim is also to oppose the solipsistic conception of the Cartesian subject and to rehabilitate the dimension of exteriority within the comprehension of subjectivity. Thus, the Cartesian figure of the modern subject takes on a human and social dimension instead of referring to the ego’s hybris, while Cartesian reason gets redefined as civil and opened, not at all as authoritarian or repressive. In order to support this thesis, this work broaches certain ethical tonalities within Descartes’ discourse that do not necessarily correspond with the expression of an explicit standpoint, but which shed light upon the text’s richness and complexity.
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Frédéric Lelong. Descartes et la question de la civilité : la philosophie de l'honnête homme. Philosophie. Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I; Université de Neuchâtel (Suisse). Faculté des lettres, 2014. Français. ⟨NNT : 2014PA010707⟩. ⟨tel-02167375⟩

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