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Skepticism And Solipsism In The Eighteenth Century: Returning To The Egoist Question

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Chapter Summary

Eighteenth-century metaphysics fought against solipsism, which haunted the greatest minds of the Enlightenment from Voltaire to Rousseau, including Condillac, Diderot, d'Alembert, Turgot, d'Holbach, and Helvetius. This chapter clarifies the status of metaphysical egoism in the classic period on two levels: historical and theoretical. Bayle intermixes six arguments from debates that took place around Cartesianism at the end of the seventeenth century in order to show how Cartesian epistemological positions inevitably led to ontological skepticism, i.e., to the impossibility of irrefutably proving the existence of external bodies. To conclude this short history of egoism in the early modern period, always evoked but never refuted, author would like again to bring up the Hegelian perspective mentioned at his article, the perspective according to which literature and philosophy express a same truth, but according to different perspectives and forms.

Keywords: egoism; eighteenth-century metaphysics; skepticism; solipsism



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