« Penser la surdité. L’histoire du sourd de Chartres et l’empirisme des Lumières »

Abstract : In 1703, Fontenelle relates in the History of royal Academy of Sciences a short story about a young deaf man from the city of Chartres who would have suddenly recovered hearing: appearing as a sort of analogon of the blind adolescent to whom Cheselden gave vision back in 1728, the “deaf and dumb from Chartres”, who lead a “purely animal life” because of the deprivation of language, would reveal according to Fontenelle that “the greatest source of humanity’s ideas is in mutual exchange”. The inherent theological and metaphysical issues of this story thus shed a new light on deafness and elevated it to the rank of a philosophical object. Therefore, we will not analyse it as a (simple) means of elucidating how language and thought relate to each other, but we will far more consider it as a revealing prism of deafness’ philosophies in the Age of Enlightenment. More precisely, we would like to argue that the story of the deaf man from Chartres has been an opportunity for the empirist philosophers to develop a new concept of deafness, regarded as a merely circumstantial and contingent deprivation of reason, which could alone lead to a generalized instruction for deaf people.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01988370
Contributor : Marion Chottin <>
Submitted on : Monday, January 21, 2019 - 4:57:19 PM
Last modification on : Saturday, October 5, 2019 - 10:18:26 AM

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Marion Chottin. « Penser la surdité. L’histoire du sourd de Chartres et l’empirisme des Lumières ». Dix-Huitième Siècle, Éd. La Découverte, 2018, pp.323-341. ⟨10.3917/dhs.050.0323⟩. ⟨hal-01988370⟩

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