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Borderline philosophy

Should philosophers write novels? Vernon Bogdanor reads Steven Lukes's attempt to follow in the footsteps of Candide-and of Sophie's World

By Vernon Bogdanor   December 1995

Nicholas Caritat, the hero of Steven Lukes’s philosophical satire The Curious Enlightenment of Professor Caritat (Verso, 1995), is no doubt a close relation of the French Enlightenment philosopher, Condorcet (1743-94), whose middle names were Nicholas Caritat. Condorcet, the only Encyclopedist actually to participate in the French Revolution, was a Girondin and a believer in scientific advance and moral progress. He died in prison shortly after he was arrested by the Jacobins. His main work, Esquisse d’un tableau historique des progr?s de l’esprit humain, was published posthumously in 1795.

The Curious Enlightenment of Professor Caritat is in a sense an anti-Candide,…

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