East to Enlightenment

In HUMN 221-09 this week, we’re turning to Rameau’s Nephew, a philosophical dialogue written by a major Enlightenment figure, Denis Diderot.

Just in time for our discussion comes a riveting combination of historical research, philosophy, and personal confession that simultaneously provides some useful background on the Enlightenment, exemplifies a style of writing that the Enlightenment helped create, and asks us to consider what this pivotal Western intellectual movement may have owed to non-Western influences.

Alison Gopnick’s “How an 18th-Century Philosopher Helped Solve My Midlife Crisis: David Hume, the Buddha, and a search for the Eastern roots of the Western Enlightenment” appears in the October issue of The Atlantic.