The debate on the relationship between Enlightenment and slavery has known a significant interpretative overturn in the last decades and the idea of ​​a general connivance between the philosophes and the slave system has spread among scholars and non-specialists. The aim of this essay is to study eighteenth-century proslavery literature, on which research does not abound: giving voice to the proslavery thinkers, their reasons and their words means better understanding the ideological positions of that period without falling into misleading anachronisms. What did it mean to be proslavery thinkers in the eighteenth century? Only by answering this question is it possible to grasp by contrast the thought of the philosophes and place it correctly within a precise historical moment. The problem is dealt with by delimiting the field of research to France, a laboratory of great interest also for the vivacity of the debate, and asking some specific questions, which correspond to the paragraphs in which the essay is articulated. In the first two paragraphs, proslavery literature is studied by identifying authors, genres and the public (par. 1) and the ideological foundations with attention to common points and divergences (par. 2). The third paragraph examines the relationship of a part of this literature with Christianity, presented and used for legitimizing purposes, and at the same time brings to light heterogeneous positions in French Catholic culture on slave trade, slavery and religion. In the other two paragraphs, the focus shifts to those who the proslavery thinkers attacked, considering them opponents of slavery: the close connection between proslavery thought and antiphilosophie emerges (par. 4) and at the same time it explains how proslavery thinkers in the complicated years of the crisis of the Ancien Régime in France saw in the proposal for the emancipation of slaves a total subversion of existing hierarchies, precursor of a wider revolution of society (par. 5).

Filoschiavismo e antiphilosophie nella Francia dei Lumi

Patrizia Delpiano
2019

Abstract

The debate on the relationship between Enlightenment and slavery has known a significant interpretative overturn in the last decades and the idea of ​​a general connivance between the philosophes and the slave system has spread among scholars and non-specialists. The aim of this essay is to study eighteenth-century proslavery literature, on which research does not abound: giving voice to the proslavery thinkers, their reasons and their words means better understanding the ideological positions of that period without falling into misleading anachronisms. What did it mean to be proslavery thinkers in the eighteenth century? Only by answering this question is it possible to grasp by contrast the thought of the philosophes and place it correctly within a precise historical moment. The problem is dealt with by delimiting the field of research to France, a laboratory of great interest also for the vivacity of the debate, and asking some specific questions, which correspond to the paragraphs in which the essay is articulated. In the first two paragraphs, proslavery literature is studied by identifying authors, genres and the public (par. 1) and the ideological foundations with attention to common points and divergences (par. 2). The third paragraph examines the relationship of a part of this literature with Christianity, presented and used for legitimizing purposes, and at the same time brings to light heterogeneous positions in French Catholic culture on slave trade, slavery and religion. In the other two paragraphs, the focus shifts to those who the proslavery thinkers attacked, considering them opponents of slavery: the close connection between proslavery thought and antiphilosophie emerges (par. 4) and at the same time it explains how proslavery thinkers in the complicated years of the crisis of the Ancien Régime in France saw in the proposal for the emancipation of slaves a total subversion of existing hierarchies, precursor of a wider revolution of society (par. 5).
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493
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Proslavery thought, Enlightenment, Christianity, France
Patrizia Delpiano
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/1713009
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