Enter the email address you signed up with and we’ll email you a reset link. Thus Rousseau adopts a curiously ambivalent attitude toward his own Golden Age. Orou is baffled by the chaplain’s apparent reticence, so the twomen discuss theirrespective sexual ethics during thedays. According toRobertWokler, bothmen “put thecase forhuman nature against culture; both were to thatextent primitivists. Tahiti’s “goodness” must clearly be called into question. At the same time, they are not natural in the sense that theywere somehow implanted directly intoman in the original state of nature? Rethinking Nature If indeed Tahiti represents nature’s alternative to the pathologies of civ ilization, thenwe should expect to find the virtues of Tahiti by invertingthe vices of Europe.

What are we tomake of a “nature” which cannot be contrasted with any thing outside of it? By refractinghis depiction of Tahiti through so many levels of representation,Diderot persistently calls attention to itsmedi ated fashion. This essay rejects such a reading by demonstrating that the Supplement actually undermines any clear opposition between virtuous nature, represented by Tahiti, and corrupt civilization, represented by Europe. Second, I turn to the Supplement itself, elaborating on the conventional reading of the text Tahiti as natural Utopia and the subversive qualities of the text the dissolution of natural Utopia. When the chaplain describes the stigma upon women who pursue extramarital relations, Orou’s horror at European civilization reaches itsdamning crescendo:

When thechaplain describes European expec tationsofmarital fidelity,Orou proclaims, “I find these strangeprecepts con trarytoNature, an offence against reason, certain tobreed crime” SV, bouganville Articulating its political claims in an implicit, often explicit, language of guilt and innocence, moralism desires to regulate personal and collective behavior according to a preexisting code of right and wrong, the existence of which ideally ensures the possibility of clear answers and correct behavior and decisions, based on the possibility of map ping one’s actions onto the code without excess or remainder.

Thus, Dena Goodman divides Rousseau’s narrative in the Second Discourse into the steady, ahistorical, asocial, changeless description of the state of nature in Part I and the entrance into history itself,by way of perfectibility, in Part II. Tahiti’s “goodness” must clearly be called into question.


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And procreation deserves praise because it enhances the island’s productivity. Whereas sex is treatedwith shame inEurope, Tahitians celebrate and embrace their sexual desires. The Supplement not only offers a critique of Europe’s bur geoning ambitions for empire, but also provides a subtle and implicit bougaiinville tique of dogmatic and moralistic politics which applies to the political system of any single nation.

While many scholars have elaborated numerous distinctions between the Supplement and the Second Discourse, one might maintain a certain formal similarity in spite of these substantive distinc tions.

Transparency and Obstruction, trans.

Indeed, as eventually becomes subtly evident, desire is a culturally determined concept. In the third boygainville of the Supplement, Diderot reports a conversation between thechaplain of Bougainville’s ship and his Tahitian host,Orou. Stanley University ofMemphis, Tennessee Diderot’s Supplement to the Voyage of Bougainville has often been read as a Rousseauian condemnation of modern civilization judged against the standard of pure Nature.

Every family became a little society, themore united because libertyand reciprocal attachmentwere the only bonds of its union” DOI, You never get pregnant. He does not recall the past or dream lntroduction the future; he has no complex passions and no intellect; he rarely encounters other men and has no awareness of death. David Bates has offered a particularly eloquent description of Diderot’s concept of nature along these lines.

Perhaps Tahiti’s moralism reflects Diderot’s bougalnville moralism.

Introduction Dissertation Supplément Au Voyage De Bougainville ||

Nature no longer clearly serves as the standard against which to judge these pathologies. Predictably, Orou finds such a vow horrifying: Does Rousseau advocate a return to nature?

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And this becomes clear in the Supplement, the very textwhich appears to utilize nature in precisely dissertatioj a manner. This rather chilling view of human nature explains why Tahiti turns its children into a form of riches?


Diderot’s Critique ofMoralism Yetthere is an unrelenting critique of European civilization in the Supplement.

Introduction dissertation supplément au voyage de bougainville

A superficial reading of theSupplement can yield a similar gloss? Of course, these statements lematic and point to the tensions within Emile, where a highly contrived and artificial educa tion is necessary to create a man of nature in society. Rather, B educates A throughout the texton the appropri ate interpretationof Tahiti.

Of course, the chaplain can reproduce but merely chooses not to,and thisallows Orou to condemn “unnatural” European religion. While Orou effectively exposes the uncritical, dogmatic moralism of the introdjction and, by extension, Europe’s sexual code, it is left to the reader to recognize how Orou unwittingly advocates a comparably moralistic system.

Walter Rex goes even further,arguing thatDiderot inadvertently turnsTahiti into a brutal police state.

Although B pointedly introductjon thatTahiti is amyth, the text’s struc tureundermines his confidence. DOI, 70 The tragedy of this fraudulent social contract derives not only from itspro found injustice, but also from the stark contrast between the dismal civi lization it founds and the basically decent, harmonious impulses of human nature, defined by Rousseau as a tender,noncompetitive amour de soi and an inborn instinctof pitie, “an innate repugnance to seeing his fellow men suffer” DOI, See Rousseau’s footnote 16 on pp.

We find This content downloaded from Rather, the similarities must lie in the formal opposition constructed between the innocent, pure impulses of This content downloaded from Muthu argues in Enlightenment Against Empire that Diderot’s culturally inventive Tahitians undermine an imperialist orientation that supplémet in fact enabled by disserattion accounts of noble savagery.

introduction dissertation supplément au voyage de bougainville