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Artisanal Enlightenment. Science and the Mechanical Arts in Old Regime France [Reseña bibliográfica]

AuthorsHochadel, Oliver
Issue Date2019
PublisherUniversidad de Granada
CitationDynamis (Granada, Spain) (39) : 517-519 (2019)
AbstractThe first persona that comes to the mind of a historian thinking of the French Enlightenment is undoubtedly the savant. Diderot, d’Alembert and colleagues represent the essence of this epoch, combining raison and esprit. Their political and epistemological project materialized in the Encyclopédie. Paola Bertucci puts forward a powerful argument in order to revise this view. Her thesis is condensed in the title of her book Artisanal Enlightenment. She would like to challenge “the conception of the Enlightenment as an exclusively intellectual movement.” (28) Bertucci builds and expands on the work of Pamela H. Smith, Pamela O. Long and other scholars of early modern artisans focusing on issues such as the epistemological dimension of the crafts and embodied knowledge. Bertucci’s key-witness for this revision is the artiste. She uses this term (always in italics) to refer to a heterogeneous group of French “makersthinkers”. The artiste works with both his hands and his mind. He is no ordinary craftsman, yet instead innovative, pursues the common good and is endowed with esprit. The quest of the artiste to guide France toward improvement and progress culminated in the short-lived Société des Arts (1728-early 1740s). This Société forms the centre of Bertucci’s book, both conceptually and structurally. Artisanal Enlightenment is divided in three parts, consisting in two chapters each. Part 1, «The Natural History of the Arts», describes the discourse on the mechanical arts that eventually led to the foundation of the Société des Arts which is dealt with in part 2. Part 3, «Writing and Making», asks for the legacy of the Société.
DescriptionReseña bibliográfica de: Paola Bertucci. Artisanal Enlightenment. Science and the Mechanical Arts in Old Regime France. New Haven and London: Yale University Press; 2017. 300 p. ISBN: 978-03-00227-41-3.
Identifiersissn: 0211-9536
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