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N.1/2022 Libertinismo: Filosofia e Scrittura

From «erudite libertinism» to Enlightenment free-thought: the Réflexions morales et métaphysiques

Antony McKenna, Gianluca Mori

Published in June, 2022

From «erudite libertinism» to Enlightenment free-thought: the Réflexions morales et métaphysiques.

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Our investigation is based on the critical edition of the Réflexions morales et métaphysiques, an anonymous clandestine manuscript dating from
the beginning of the XVIIIth century. Two manuscript copies were known, to
which we now add a third, that we discovered in Geneva. Our first step was to
determine the links between these copies and the lost original, then to identify
the author – who sent a letter from Lyon, signed «Delaube», to Reinier Leers in
1715 with a view to publication. The track of the Lyon family De Laube proving
fruitless, we tracked down a formula of the Réflexions which led us first to Jean
Terrasson, author of the Traité de l’infini créé, and then to Camille Falconet,
friend of Terrasson and founding member of the Academy of Lyon. Falconet
lived in Paris from 1707, where he became known as a member of the Academy
des inscriptions, close to Fontenelle and Malebranche, and as a «bibliomaniac»,
whose library was open to young writers and in particular, circa 1748-1750, to
the Encyclopedists. Two further lines of research deserve to be explored: 1) the

relationship between the Réflexions, that we attribute to Falconet, and the Theophrastus Redivivus, now attributed to Guy Patin, and the way in which that fili-
ation came about; then, 2) the reception of the Réflexions, and in particular their

influence on the political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.


Falconet, Patin, Rousseau, immaterialism, Spinozism



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