Diderot on Nature and Pantomime

The European Legacy 23 (6):643-657 (2018)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The article examines Diderot’s view of the inconstancy of nature and its corollaries, the most obvious of which is the recognition of the impossibility of philosophy and natural history. For, if everything in nature is in a state of flux, no theory can keep up with its changes, reflect on them and capture anything more than an isolated moment. Diderot’s conception of nature has important consequences for his aesthetic theory. If the goal of the fine arts is to imitate nature, and if everything in nature undergoes constant change, does it not mean that art—no less than philosophy and natural history—is also impossible? By focusing on Diderot’s novel Rameau’s Nephew, I argue that the lesson of the numerous mimes its eponymous hero performs in the novel is that the dynamics of nature can perhaps only be captured by mime rather than on canvas or in stone, both of which, as Diderot puts it, can represent only a fleeting moment.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 77,737

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Nature et civilisation dans le Supplément au voyage de Bougainville de Denis Diderot.Luzian Okon - 1960 - Peter Lang Gmbh, Internationaler Verlag Der Wissenschaften.
Krepostni ateizem: Bayle in Diderot.Miran Božovič - 2011 - Filozofski Vestnik 32 (1).
The Virtuous Atheism: Bayle and Diderot.Miran Bozovic - 2011 - Filozofski Vestnik 32 (1):21 - +.
On the Esthetics of Diderot.M. A. Dynnik - 1964 - Russian Studies in Philosophy 3 (3):48-53.
Diderot e il polype d’eau douce: l’immaginazione tra natura e metafora.Matteo Marcheschi - 2014 - Aisthesis: Pratiche, Linguaggi E Saperi Dell’Estetico 7 (2):109-125.


Added to PP

17 (#647,707)

6 months
2 (#324,005)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

The Search after Truth.Nicholas Malebranche, Thomas M. Lennon & Paul J. Olscamp - 1982 - Philosophy of Science 49 (1):146-147.
Histoire de la folie à l''ge classique.Michel Foucault - 1961 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 155:111-113.
Philosophical Papers and Letters.Martha Kneale - 1957 - Philosophical Review 66 (4):574.
Linguistics and Literary History. Essays in Stylistics.Leo Spitzer - 1950 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 9 (1):68-69.

View all 8 references / Add more references