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N.1/2022 Libertinismo: Filosofia e Scrittura

La proposition de l’intencitationnalité du baron ‘Holbach

Nassif Farhat

Published in June, 2022

The proposition of intencitationality. On Baron d’Holbach’s collective language

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We know that Baron d’Holbach’s philosophical project is inseparable from a collective practice of writing. In this sense, his work belongs to the

libertine tradition of clandestine manuscripts, whose production always involves a plurality of authors. However, and this is our hypothesis, the singularity of d’Holbach’s writing lies in the fact that it does not derive its collective na-
ture exclusively from his collaboration with other writers: it is from the outset

the work of a single, but numerous and plural, enunciator. In other words, it is
certainly collective, but in and of itself. Considering then that, in d’Holbach’s

case, the language of philosophy implies a philosophy of language, it is a matter of studying the properties of this language which alone allow it to be said

collective, and which alone make possible the subsequent collectivisation of

texts and ideas. To identify these properties, we borrow the terms of the debate that recently opposed John Searle and Jacques Derrida: «intentionality» on the one hand, which designates the ability of an utterance to contain and
communicate the will-to-say of a singular enunciator or author; and on the
other hand «citationality», which designates its ability to be extracted from its
original context, subtracted from its enunciator, lent and grafted indefinitely
onto other textual ensembles. Since Baron d’Holbach’s writing is composed of

both intentional and citational propositions, we propose to see in it an illustration of what we call intencitationality.


D’Holbach, Philosophy of language, Libertinism, Collective autorship, Intertextuality, Anonymity, Signature, Intentionality, Citationality, Re-



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