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Mariafranca Spallanzani

Alma Mater Honorary Professor

Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna

Adjunct professor

Department of Philosophy and Communication Studies


Keywords: Descartes: metaphysics and physics. Philosophy of the Encyclopédie. Philosophy and Method in XVIIth and XVIIIth Centuries Thoeries of the "conscience" in the "Philosophes"' philosophy

I. Metaphysics and physics in Descartes
II. Classification of knowledges and method theory in the Encyclopédie of Diderot and d'Alembert

III. Theories of the conscience in the Philosophes' philosophy.

I. Metaphysics and physics in Descartes. Descartes. L'ordre de la raison (Paris, Vrin, "Les Philosophes", 2015)
II. Classification of knowledges and method's theory in the”Encyclopédie” of Diderot and d'Alembert. The result of the research is the recent book "L'arbre et le labyrinthe. Descartes selon l'ordre des Lumières" (Paris, Editions Champions, 2009).


The complexity of the vocabulary of consciousness in the philosophy of the eighteenth century - consciousness, inner sense, sense of self, sense fundamental, inner feeling, intimate feeling, intimate perception (conscience, sens interne, sentiment de soi, sentiment fondamental, sentiment intérieur, sentiment intime, perception intime)- reveals the complexity of the theoretical research that engages the Philosophers in the exploration of this cognitive and psychological immediate experience of the mind that directly accesses its representative and emotional contents, and which imposes itself as constitutive of knowledge and reality of me and as a constituent of apprehension of reality process extra- mental itself, while allowing a clear distinction between interiority and the external world.

They are lassical terms - consciousness - and old phrases - internal sense – which, in the philosophy of the eighteenth century, have complicated the original Aristotelian and Ciceronian meanings between semantic fields of biology of living beings, psychology of sensitive knowledge, moral philosophy and religion, and which, with lexical new training and modern language units - intimate feeling, inner feeling, fundamental feeling -, now refer to the new dictionary of subjectivity, placing in this new metaphysics Condillac defined as a powerful theory of principles of knowledge and the encyclopedists, d'Alembert, in particular, interpret with Locke as "experimental physics of the soul" and write as the philosophical history of the spirit.

Unstable lexical variations on the border between the old and the new, between tradition of moral philosophy and innovation of the philosophy of mind, for a concept being defined, the psychological concept of conscience and self-awareness: lexical variations that, in their multiple compositions, betray the will of the Philosophers to think this new concept and express it in appropriate terms. Lexical variations which, in their language and fluctuations in their semantic polysemy, however, reveal the emergence of a theoretical reflection on the problematic subject of a new research: the definition of the individual and the subject of identity, of autonomy and responsibility; the study of different conceptions of the self, models of knowledge and methods of analysis. As if semantic search and linguistic innovation heralded a revolution of thought.