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Title: The Age of Inexperience: Theories of Unlived Love in Early Modern France
Authors: LaBrada, Eloy Francisco Rodriguez
Advisors: Brodsky, Claudia
Alliston, April
Contributors: Comparative Literature Department
Keywords: Continental Philosophy
Early Modern Philosophy
History of Philosophy
Queer Theory
Subjects: Philosophy
Gender studies
GLBT studies
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The pre-revolutionary period in Europe is often called the age of enlightenment and experiment: an epoch marked by Bacon's scientific "experimentum," Locke and Hume's experiential empiricism, and Diderot's experimental fiction (to name but a few). But "expĂ©rience," both "experiment" and "experience" in French, could refer to experimentations of all kinds, spanning from the scientific to the sexual, and thus raised serious concerns about what kinds of experiments ought to be undertaken and by whom. Which experiences are socially acceptable, and which are not? Who has the right to experiment/experience? When it comes to the education of "young women" in early modern France, it will not be experience but inexperience --a "lack of experience"-- that becomes a regulatory ideal espoused in many old regime didactic treatises and educational tracts. In what ways is experience regulated by gender norms circumscribing who qualifies as a subject of experience, who can and cannot have experience, as well as what does and does not count as experience? How is experience distinguished from inexperience, and when do such distinctions founder? This philosophical inquiry follows the trope of "inexperience" from its appearance in select writings of early modern France to its contemporary legacies, exploring how discourses of experience/experiment will have always been inextricable from the question of gender norms. After touching upon theories of experience in the history of western philosophy (Chapter 1), this work then moves to certain early modern texts -- by Crenne (Chapter 2), Du Plaisir (Chapter 3), Ducos (Chapter 4), and others-- which theorize amorous experience in terms of its unlivedness and by the ways in which it cannot be experienced in presence or in person. Subverting the distinction between experience and its inexperience, these theories of unlived love suggest that experience, most especially amorous experience, is ultimately impossible to delimit and define. A closing coda, engaging with these early modern texts philosophically and reading them in terms of the history of philosophy, contends that these theories of unlived love prefigure the interrogation of self-present experience credited to Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Derrida, and others, by laying siege to the metaphysical presuppositions that have long structured conceits of "experience," from the Cartesian "Cogito" to Husserl's transcendental "Ego."
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Comparative Literature

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