Skepticism and Atheism in Early-Modern French Thought
Religious belief was a fundamental part of early-modern life, and the proposition that human beings could not prove God's existence had profound implications for all realms of human experience. This course will explore the complex relationship between philosophical skepticism and religious belief in early-modern Europe (particularly France) and investigate how these heterodox philosophies transformed the understanding of humanity's interaction with the surrounding world. We will begin by looking at the origins of religious unbelief and the revival of Pyrrhonian skepticism in the 16th century. By placing the atheists and the skeptics in dialogue with their deist and Christian opponents, we will see how these ideas evolved over the course of the 17th and 18th centuries and consider the influence of these subversive theories on the social and political fabric of Europe. Taught in English. Readings in French (English translations available).