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Leibniz et Diderot

Christian Leduc
François Pépin
Anne-Lise Rey
et al.

IV. L'organisme et le vivant

Leibniz and Diderot on the Unity of the Human Species

Justin E. H. Smith

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In this short article I would like to investigate the ways in which G.W. Leibniz and Denis Diderot conceptualize what it is that happens when a new, or apparently new, biological entity comes into existence. I would like also to consider what their respective accounts of generation reveal about their understanding of the unity or disunity of biological kinds or species: thus to consider not just the problem of generation in general, but also of reproduction, where a kind maintains itself in existence by bringing forth new members of the same kind. With these matters clarified, I would like further to focus in particular on the implications for these two thinkers of their accounts of generation and reproduction for their respective anthropologies, that is, for their understanding of the unity and diversity of the human species. I shall consider in particular their respective views of human “racial” difference, both as a theoretical problem – i.e., what is it for the human kind to bre...


Université Paris 7

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