Diderot, an American Exemplar? Bien Sur!

Lauren RubensteinJanuary 25, 20131min
Andrew Curran writes on the legacy of the Enlightenment polymath Diderot, 300 years after his birth

The New York Times published an op-ed by Andrew Curran, dean of the arts and humanities, professor of romance languages and literatures, on the legacy of Enlightenment era philosopher and novelist Denis Diderot. Curran writes of Diderot: “His message was of intellectual emancipation from received authorities — be they religious, political or societal — and always in the interest of the common good. More so than the deists Voltaire and Rousseau, Diderot embodied the most progressive wing of Enlightenment thought, a position that stemmed from his belief that skepticism in all matters was ‘the first step toward truth.’ He was, in fact, the precise type of secular Enlightenment thinker that some members of the Texas State Board of Education have attempted to write out of their high school curriculum.”