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The Time of Enlightenment: Constructing the Future in France, 1750 to Year One
 9781487507701, 9781487536787, 9781487536770

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Copyright © 2021. University of Toronto Press. All rights reserved.

THE TIME OF ENLIGHTENMENT

Copyright © 2021. University of Toronto Press. All rights reserved.

Constructing the Future in France, 1750 to Year One

Nelson, William Max. The Time of Enlightenment : Constructing the Future in France, 1750 to Year One, University of Toronto Press, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Copyright © 2021. University of Toronto Press. All rights reserved.

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Nelson, William Max. The Time of Enlightenment : Constructing the Future in France, 1750 to Year One, University of Toronto Press, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central,

The Time of Enlightenment Constructing the Future in France, 1750 to Year One

Copyright © 2021. University of Toronto Press. All rights reserved.

WILLIAM MAX NELSON

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO PRESS Toronto Buffalo London

Nelson, William Max. The Time of Enlightenment : Constructing the Future in France, 1750 to Year One, University of Toronto Press, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central,

© University of Toronto Press 2021 Toronto Buffalo London utorontopress.com Printed in Canada ISBN 978-1-4875-0770-1 (cloth) ISBN 978-1-4875-3678-7 (EPUB) ISBN 978-1-4875-3677-0 (PDF)

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

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Title: The time of enlightenment : constructing the future in France, 1750   to year one / William Max Nelson. Names: Nelson, William Max, 1976– author. Description: Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: Canadiana (print) 20200346431 | Canadiana (ebook)   20200346601 | ISBN 9781487507701 (hardcover) | ISBN 9781487536787   (EPUB) | ISBN 9781487536770 (PDF) Subjects: LCSH: Enlightenment – France. | LCSH: Enlightenment – France –   Influence. | LCSH: Forecasting – Social aspects – France – History –   18th century. | LCSH: Future, The – Social aspects – France – History –   18th century. | LCSH: Future, The – Philosophy. | LCSH: Philosophy,   French – 18th century. | LCSH: France – Intellectual life – 18th century. Classification: LCC B1925.E5 N45 2021 | DDC 194 – dc23

University of Toronto Press acknowledges the financial assistance to its publishing program of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario. 

Funded by the Financé par le Government gouvernement du Canada of Canada

Nelson, William Max. The Time of Enlightenment : Constructing the Future in France, 1750 to Year One, University of Toronto Press, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Contents

Acknowledgments  vii Introduction 3 1 Making Time Different: Historical Change and the Laws of Nature  21 2 Living the Future: Ideas of Progress and Uncanny Temporality 37 3 “The Explosion of Light”: The Economic Order and the Scientific Revelation of the Future  60 4 Generating Time: Buffon and the Biological Instruments of Futurity  95

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5 The Time of Regeneration: Renewal, Rupture, and Beginning Anew in the French Revolution  121 Conclusion: Colonizing the Future  144 Notes 155 Index 215

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Acknowledgments

Given the subject matter of this book, it is perhaps fitting that I developed it over a long period in which I was able to see the historical change of both it and myself. One of the happy side effects of the temporality of this book is that it has allowed me to meet many new friends and colleagues, gain new family members, engage with interlocuters, and witness an explosion of scholarship on the history of time. For reading and commenting on parts of this book at various stages of its development, I thank Anika Bavas, Francis Cody, Paul Cohen, Daniel Crosby, Andrew Curran, Catherine Desbarats, Nicholas Dew, Helen Dewar, Gustavo Garza, Anthony Grafton, Allan Greer, Karl Gunther, Jens Hanssen, Julie Hardwick, István Hont, Alexandra Hui, Lynn Hunt, Margaret Jacob, Eric Jennings, Madhavi Kale, Michael Kwass, Kevin Lambert, Mary Lindemann, Laura Mason, Kirstie McClure, Sarah Mortimer, William O’Reilly, Anthony Pagden, Jason Pearl, Bhavani Raman, Peter Hanns Reill, Jacques Revel, Pernille Røge, Joshua Rosenblatt, Emma Rothschild, Mary Terrall, David Todd, Lilia Topouzova, Eliot Tretter, and M. Norton Wise. In addition, I have benefited from comments from seminar audiences at California Institute of Technology, Cambridge University, McGill University, UCLA, University of Miami, and Université de Montréal. It was my great privilege to begin this project as a doctoral student supervised by Lynn Hunt. She was unfailingly supportive and encouraging as an advisor, challenging and wise as a reader. Over the years, she has provided not only invaluable comments on my work but also an example of an ideal mentor. M. Norton Wise was also an important supporter of this project from the beginning; he introduced me to the tableau économique, and his early encouragement and guidance were critical. Anthony Pagden helped me grapple with the intellectual history of the Enlightenment, and Mary Terrall aided me in my encounters

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viii Acknowledgments

with eighteenth-century life sciences. I am grateful to Kirstie McClure for her theoretical acumen and insightful questions. For financial support of this research, I thank the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the California Institute of Technology, the Centre for History and Economics (Magdalene College and King’s College, Cambridge University), the Council on Library and Information Resources, the Huntington Library, the Society for French Historical Studies, UCLA, and the University of Toronto. I moved a number of times since this project began, one of the great benefits of which has been the opportunity to make so many new friends and colleagues along the way. From my time at Cambridge University, I am indebted to colleagues at the Centre for History and Economics and Trinity Hall, particularly Caitlin Anderson, Richard Baker, Mary-Rose Cheadle, Martin Daunton, Gareth Stedman Jones, Melissa Lane, Inga Huld Markan, James Montgomery, William O’Reilly, Gabriel Paquette, Pedro Ramos Pinto, Pernille Røge, Emma Rothschild, David Todd, and Sasha Turner. At the University of Miami, I’d like to thank Michael Bernath, Eduardo Elena, Karl Gunther, Mary Lindemann, Michael Miller, Kate Ramsey, Dominique Reill, Tim Watson, and Ashli White. From my time at the Institute for Historical Studies and the Department of History at the University of Texas at Austin, I thank Benjamin Brower, Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, Lina del Castillo, Judith Coffin, Venkat Dhulipala, Julie Hardwick, Philippa Levine, Tracie Matysik, Michelle Moyd, Robert Olwell, Jim Sidbury, and Ellen Wu. I am also beholden to all of my colleagues at the University of Toronto in the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies at UTSC and in the Graduate Department of History. For their professional support, friendship, and critical conversations, I am grateful to Paul Cohen, Rick Halpern, Jens Hanssen, Jennifer Jenkins, Eric Jennings, Russ Kazal, Thomas Lahusen, Bhavani Raman, Natalie Rothman, Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, and Lynne Viola. In other parts of the university, and Toronto more generally, I also thank Naisargi Dave, Boris Pantev, and Kenneth Rogers. At the University of Toronto Press, it was a pleasure working with my editor Len Husband; I’m deeply thankful for his wise stewardship, useful suggestions, and unfailing support of the book. I also thank copyeditor Terry Teskey for her sharp eye and sensible suggestions, Leah Connor for her work overseeing production, and Sergey Lobachev for his work on the index. For their love and support, I thank my parents Bill and Joan and my sister Anika. They all read the manuscript at various stages, though I

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Acknowledgments ix

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have so much more to thank them for than that. As well I thank newer family members Ven, Reni, Venci, Maggie, Denis, Maria, and David. Finally, I am deeply grateful to my wife Lilia Topouzova, a true partner in life and thought. It has been a joy to share the fullness of the world with her. Whether we are exploring larger topics or experiencing the everyday, I am constantly renewed by being with her. Max Topouzov Nelson came into the world during the writing of the book, and he also helped me see the world anew. I would like to thank them both for totally transforming my experience of time.

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THE TIME OF ENLIGHTENMENT

Copyright © 2021. University of Toronto Press. All rights reserved.

Constructing the Future in France, 1750 to Year One

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Introduction

A comparison of three books about Paris published across the last three decades of the eighteenth century, all by the same French author, LouisSébastien Mercier, reveals striking examples of how far historical experience during this period exceeded many people’s expectations about what the future would, and could, bring.1 In his bestselling book of 1771, Mercier wrote about a dream-like vision of Paris in which he found “broad and beautiful streets” and “encountered no carriages ready to flatten me.”2 These safer and more easily navigated streets presented such a contrast with Mercier’s familiar experience of Paris that he returned to this orderliness, safety, and efficiency several times in the book. He found that aristocrats were no longer able to ride in coaches, while sumptuary legislation outlawed the six-horsed luxury carriages sometimes driven by financiers, courtesans, and dandies trying to outdo the nobles. In this improved version of Paris, pedestrians moved freely and easily, since the only people allowed to move around the city by coach were those “distinguished by their public service and bent under the weight of old age.”3 “I no longer saw the ridiculous and revolting scene of a thousand coaches jammed together, remaining immobile for three hours,” Mercier wrote.4 Although these passages could be read as opening a small and rather modest window into the everyday experiences and annoyances of Parisians around 1770, read in light of the two other books by Mercier they reveal how imagination and expectation were constrained by historical circumstances and an inherited sense that the future would be fundamentally like the past and present. In fact, these short passages about coaches speak profoundly of how people thought and felt about the future. This is the case because L’an deux mille quatre cent quarante: Rêve s’il en fût jamais (The year two thousand four hundred and forty: A dream if

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4  The Time of Enlightenment

there ever was one) was the first futurist novel, inaugurating the modern literary genre of “uchronia,” in which the story is set in a distant future rather than being displaced spatially into the imaginative nowhere of utopia. Mercier used the device of a narrator who fell asleep and woke up in 2440 to imagine what Paris might look like in this distant time.5 If Paris was not an enlightened place in 1771, but rather one in the process of enlightenment, then Mercier provided it a futuristic vision of the fulfilment of this process.6 The novel presented a vision of Paris in 2440 that was a realization of the hopes of the philosophes. Mercier’s Paris of 2440 was the fictional fulfilment of Enlightenment becoming, and therefore the Paris of 2440 could be easily understood in the terms of 1771. In the roughly six hundred and fifty years that separated the real Paris from its futuristic double, the changes that occurred did not bring any real conceptual or experiential incommensurability. The narrator was surprised by the absences of coaches, but that could be easily explained and the reasons were understandable. Though Mercier in this book envisioned some political and social developments that were more transformative than the new street life, the orderly streets relatively free of carriages can stand for the ways that Mercier’s representation of historical change over more than six hundred and fifty years of history was less disruptive and transformative than the actual history that Mercier himself lived through in the three decades that succeeded the publication of his uchronia. In fact, the difference between the Paris of 1771 and that of 2440 was significantly less than the difference between the Paris of the 1780s and the Paris of 1798, the years in which Mercier published his next two books about Paris, both of which were presented as panoramic non-fiction works attentive to many aspects of the place and its people.7 Tableau de Paris (Panorama of Paris) was a pioneering urban ethnography attempting to render a dynamic and detailed picture of life in the city. Mercier published this vivid account in twelve volumes between 1781 and 1788, just before the momentous events of the French Revolution radically transformed Paris and very quickly made his book a relic of a lost world.8 In Le nouveau Paris (New Paris) of 1798, Mercier once more presented a wideranging and detailed account of the city and its inhabitants, but now had to account for the unforeseen breadth and depth of change that came about with the events of the Revolution.9 While Mercier’s France of 2440 had a senate and regularly convening estates, it was still ruled by a king. There was some type of equality and a prophecy of slave revolt, but neither Paris in 2440 nor France more generally had anything as conceptually or experientially jarring as revolutionary regicide, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the

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Introduction 5

Citizen, the abolishment of nobility and the end of “feudalism,” the violence of The Terror and the civil war in the Vendée, the period of aggressive de-Christianization, the regenerative projects for creating the “new man,” or the creation of a Republican era that began time anew with the pronouncement of 1792 as Year I. Yet all of these had come to pass by the end of the eighteenth century.10 While Mercier’s futurist fiction and his different visions of Paris are not the subject of further analysis in this study, they do highlight several of the problems and challenges associated with studying eighteenthcentury ideas of the future. Perhaps the most significant of these is the fact that eighteenth-century writing did not often explicitly address the future. The philosophes, for example, did not write much about time and the future as philosophical topics. While Mercier’s futurist fiction is an important historical development and a rare case of an extended work about the future, it gave little sense that the future would be, or could be, much different from the past and present. The popularity of L’an deux mille quatre cent quarante demonstrates that there was some appetite for thinking about, or through, time and the future, but it was a future that looked similar to the moment from which it sprang. This book traces the emergence of an active orientation towards the future out of developments in the middle of the eighteenth century as philosophes began to formulate new ideas about historical progress, create explanations of how and why groups of people move through stages of historical development, and tried to address the many forms of degeneration that contemporaries felt plagued France. Specific mechanisms for constructing the future first arose through the development of practices and instruments aimed at countering the types of degeneration contemporaries thought they found all around them. In their attempts to regenerate a healthy natural state, however, Enlightenment philosophes seemed to offer the means to exceed previously recognized limits of transformation and create a future that was not merely a recuperation of the past, but fundamentally different from it. This book is also, therefore, about how this active orientation towards the future was a part of a new understanding of historical temporality that was characterized by new relations between past, present, and future. As the future became something that could be constructed in the present so as to be fundamentally different from the past, a new sense of historical change and human agency developed. Surprisingly, this complex shift of temporal relations and the new differentiation of past, present, and future was constructed on a foundation of beliefs in the uniformity of nature, the similarity of historical experience, and the human ability to identify laws of nature. The supposed uniformity of

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6  The Time of Enlightenment

nature and the regularity of natural laws provided the theoretical foundation for philosophes to attempt to gain control of the historical development of complex natural and social systems. Ideas of uniformity and historical similarity enabled differences to be produced as the French philosophes tried to gain greater control of time by developing tools and practices to influence the development of the future. More than mere hopefulness, a desire for improvement, or a belief in the inevitability of progress, the philosophes developed an active approach to constructing the future. The story of this development constitutes a significant yet still poorly understood innovation of the Enlightenment. In fact, it reveals a new way in which the period from roughly 1750 to the French revolutionaries’ declaration of Year I was important in the formation of modern European history.11 It was in this period, in France, that a new approach to the future came into existence through reflections on historical change and the development of modern biological, economic, and social engineering. With the emergence of these ideas and practices, the idea of the future began to transform from something largely believed to be divinely predetermined and beyond significant human intervention into something that some believed could be dramatically affected through actions in the present. In attempting to demonstrate how an active orientation towards the future emerged from a more passive approach to the worldly future, my work is an exercise in both historical ontology and historical epistemology; that is, I am interested in how the future came into being as an object that could be constructed and how knowledge of this object transformed from a taken-for-granted practical knowledge of the constructability of the future into an explicitly articulated and self-aware knowledge that the future could be constructed.12 The self-aware knowledge that humans could construct the future was not simply the banal recognition that human actions had effects that would manifest at a later time or that some things that occurred in the present would endure through time into the future. The sense in which I use “construction” goes beyond this simple sense of “influence.” I want to emphasize the agency and actions of historical actors in an attempt to demonstrate how people developed an active orientation towards the future.13 This activeness was not simply characterized by anticipation. In fact, the active orientation may be differentiated from what came before it precisely in the way that constructing the future is different from anticipating the future. Anticipation is still ultimately passive because it is primarily reactive: the future is given and one must react according to its pre-established form and content. Construction, on the other hand, is active in the sense that one is not simply trying to create what might be

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Introduction 7

as a reaction to what will be. In an active relationship to the future, one is trying to make what might be into what will be – to turn a contingent possibility into a necessary result. It is fundamentally an exertion of will into the future in an attempt to control the process of becoming in a similar way that one can control aspects of the present. The recognition of the constructability of the future was the awareness that humans could change the course of the development of complex processes and systems – whether in the natural or social realms – and achieve a significant degree of control of their outcomes. These complex processes and systems could be as large scale as the growth of wealth in a nation’s economy or as specific and limited as the development of the offspring created by two individual animals. If one judged Enlightenment thought based upon only explicitly articulated ideas about the future and its relation to historical temporality, it could seem like the philosophes did not imagine a radically different future because this was something that lay outside of, or on the extreme margins of, their conceptual landscape. This judgment seems to be supported by the fact that I have been able to find only one unambiguous example from the eighteenth century in which someone specifically articulated the idea that the circumstances in the future would, or could, be so different that it was impossible to intellectually and experientially grasp this difference. Writing about a utopian future state that he called “the state of morals,” the heterodox Benedictine abbé Légér-Marie Deschamps claimed that a radically different form of communal life would bring about radical changes in people. “Both physically and morally,” Deschamps wrote, “they would be what it is beyond me to render as it should be, because of the extreme difference there would be in all regards between what they would be and what we are.”14 Deschamps worked tirelessly to convert philosophes to his utopian system, contacting Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Denis Diderot, Jean-Baptiste le Rond d’Alembert, Claude-Andre Helvétius, and Jean-Baptiste-René Robinet.15 While Diderot was briefly fascinated by the abbé’s ardour and unusual ideas, all of the philosophes ignored or dismissed his vision of a communal utopia.16 He was only able to gather a small coterie around him, and he remained on the margins of Enlightenment intellectual life. This one example, therefore, seems to function as an exception that proves the rule. When the philosophes of the French Enlightenment did write about the worldly future and the possibility of knowing it in advance, they sometimes used verbs such as percer (to pierce) and dévoiler (to unveil, to reveal).17 This choice of words reveals an important assumption about the future: that it was separated from the present as if obscured

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8  The Time of Enlightenment

by dark fabric, a wall, or some other opaque obstruction. While they recognized the possibility of gaining a very limited knowledge of the future state of natural processes through rational prognosis, they overwhelmingly rejected the idea that they could be known in great detail or with great certainty. Some philosophes placed a new importance on the faculty of foresight, but in doing so they implied the importance of a future orientation and rational extrapolation without believing that either could result in a general or detailed knowledge of the future. One needed to take into consideration the consequences of actions so as to make wise choices, but even for these philosophes it seemed that the future to come would remain generally obscure. Humans did not have the means to discover much about what lay beyond the present, even if it was true that, as some believed, the future was predetermined. Because of the epistemological obstruction between the present and the future, the philosophes often ridiculed anyone who claimed an ability to see or know the future through prophesies, celestial signs, or portents, since this ability would have had to be a supernatural one that clearly did not exist. Prophets, astrologers, and diviners were ridiculed as opportunistic charlatans attempting to take advantage of the ignorance of the common people.18 However, these denunciations and their strong language tend to obscure another current in Enlightenment approaches to futurity, one that has remained largely hidden beneath this language of obstruction and unknowability. The practical orientation of some philosophes actually implied a very different understanding of the future. The strongest countercurrent opposed to the dominant epistemological scepticism was developed in practices that attempted to construct the future; for as Immanuel Kant would sarcastically recognize, it is “possible to have history a priori … if the prophet himself occasions and produces the events he predicts.”19 The new active orientation towards the future was not something that was articulated explicitly or often in writing during the Enlightenment. By and large, the philosophes did not identify it by name or analyse it in their philosophical treatises; there was no formal and systematic Enlightenment philosophy of the future. Instead this practical orientation must be seen as an implicit understanding of historical temporality. Historical actors often had a tacit knowledge of time – one that they worked with – without necessarily being fully aware of it or expressing it explicitly in their writing. The full articulation of the new idea of the future did not occur until the French Revolution, but the practical understanding of it that developed during the Enlightenment played an important role in making possible the French revolutionaries’

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Introduction 9

unprecedented attempts to make the world anew. It was in this era that for many people the future changed from something passively received to something actively made, as they began to face a central generative problematic of modernity: each society could, and maybe had to, construct its future out of itself, without recourse to external or transcendental origins, forces, causes, or ends. The idea and experience of modernity emerged for Europeans and became a self-aware predicament as they came to face the question of how to create the form and content of worldly existence out of nothing beyond their own worldly existence. This new orientation towards the future reveals how the Enlightenment of the second half of the eighteenth century in France was distinct from the earlier phase of Enlightenment that began in the late seventeen century. While this earlier phase – particularly in its radical, heterodox, and Spinozist dimensions – was crucial in calling into question the legitimacy of revealed religion and in undermining traditional theological arguments and political justifications, none of the figures of the early Enlightenment believed that the future could be constructed so that it would be fundamentally different from what had been previously experienced.20 The sense that humans had the ability to construct an unprecedented future was one of the original developments of the Enlightenment in the second half of the eighteenth century. Looking at the question of the future, therefore, helps reveal how incorrect Jonathan Israel was when he provocatively claimed of the Enlightenment that by “the 1740s, the real business was already over.”21 Seeing this distinctness of the Enlightenment in the second half of the eighteenth century requires a methodology that considers the development of ideas in the context of practices and does not rely heavily on an intellectualist approach that implicitly accepts the philosophes’ own accounts of human nature and the relationship between theory and practice, knowing and doing. Understanding the philosophes’ theories of human agency is necessary, but not sufficient. When we look at the philosophes as embodied agents meaningfully engaged in the world, instead of implicitly treating them as disengaged and disembodied Cartesian or Lockean subjects, we gain a different view of the development of their ideas. We can get a better sense of how the ideas that they articulated in their writing related to their practical engagement with the world. While we do not have direct access to the practices themselves, we can find traces of practical understanding in written evidence, sometimes in the form of descriptions of practices like animal breeding, sometimes in conceptual instruments that mixed the discursive and the non-discursive, the graphic and the numerical, such as

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10  The Time of Enlightenment

the first economic modelling devices created by the physiocrats or the Republican calendar created in the French Revolution. Rather than an era, movement, project, or “package” of values, I see the Enlightenment primarily as a set of attempts to develop new ways of being in the world that could come to grips with the erosion of traditional notions of God and legitimating narratives of political authority and social hierarchy.22 Critique of these narratives, as well as of the practices and structures that went along with, was central to the Enlightenment, but so too was the exploration of the new possibilities opened up by wide-ranging critique. Grounded in a new sense of immanence and a naturalistic orientation, the Enlightenment, for the philosophes of the second half of the eighteenth century, was a way of becoming in the world, a way of gaining a grip so as to transform oneself and the world. It was as much about practices as propositions, involving practical ontology as much as formal ontology. In the realm of formal ontology, the French philosophes generally conformed to John Locke’s caution about the dangers of venturing into the depths and vastness of what he poetically called the “Ocean of Being.”23 But in the realm of practice, they created a number of soundings of the ocean. They explored new ways of being and created new tools and practices to alter complex systems and structures that they came increasingly to see as the malleable products of human action. This resulted in new ways of experiencing and conceiving of collective existence that were captured in new terms, such as “civilization” and “humanity,” as well as the new holistic meanings given to old concepts like “society,” “species,” “population,” “nation,” and “economy.”24 This was an Enlightenment of which France (Paris particularly) was an important node in an international network in the eighteenth century that reached across Europe and the Atlantic world.25 As a place of interconnection and concentration in this network, France was a site where a number of these ideas and practices first emerged, though of course this is not to say that people in other places did not grapple with the future and fashion new ways of being.26 In the first chapter of this book, I analyse the context of degeneration and how it elicited practical reactions that were central to the development of the active orientation towards the future. The degeneration plaguing France seemed to affect every realm of life, whether it was the size of the population, the health of the economy, the vigour of the nobility, the precision of language, the efficacy of the military, the state of morality, or even the physical size and strength of human and animal bodies. The projects of regeneration that were most successful in providing prescriptions for action were those based on the idea

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Introduction 11

that everything in the social, political, and moral realms was a result of conditions in the physical realm (or, in eighteenth-century terms, le moral was determined by le physique). In this chapter, I also argue that in order to understand how the active orientation to the future emerged in eighteenth-century France, we need to better understand the unusual sense of historical change that many of the philosophes had. In order to come to terms with the eighteenth-century French understanding of historical temporality it is necessary to understand how it was possible that some people understood time to be characterized by both stasis and change, invariable order and continual flux. At the heart of this understanding was the sense that dynamic change occurred, but that it always remained within circumscribed limits that ensured the future would be fundamentally like the past and the present. The second chapter turns to the idea of progress to investigate how this iconic product of Enlightenment thought created a strange form of uncanny temporality in which past, present, and future were thought to exist at the same time. On the basis of ideas about how modes of subsistence determined historical development, Enlightenment social and political theorists began to argue that there was a singular path of socio-economic development that was divided into three or four stages. The details of this stadial theory are well known, but the implications for the understanding of historical temporality are less so. One of the most unusual implications of this idea of stadial development was that different groups of people who were supposedly living in different historical stages could exist at the same moment. This resulted in an idea of the simultaneity of the non-simultaneous in which contemporaries could be said to live in different historical eras. One implication of this European narrative of historical development was that Europeans were living in the future relative to people who were supposedly less developed than they. The chapter also analyses the formation of a small but revealing trope about historical development. Drawing on the European accounts of indigenous people in the Caribbean, I demonstrate that the philosophes gave a new importance to foresight and that they used it to differentiate themselves from people who they claimed were living in a primitive state of historical development. Rousseau was particularly important in reformulating and popularizing the trope, utilizing it in an argument about the origins of society and historical development, and presenting foresight as not only a means of differentiation but also a key to bringing about progress. These ideas about foresight and the simultaneity of the non-simultaneous played a part in reorienting people towards the future, and even gave some people the sense that they were living in the future.

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12  The Time of Enlightenment

Although the idea of the construction of the future might seem somewhat abstract, the instruments and practices that I analyse in chapters 3 and 4 were employed to produce very specific and detailed prescriptions for action, whether in relation to tax policy or the breeding of sheep. For example, in chapter 3 I investigate the way in which the prominent political economists the physiocrats developed an instrument called the tableau économique (the economic picture) in order to support their arguments for specific changes in French economic policy. In its first form, the tableau économique graphically modelled the result of specific changes to the economy over the course of a year. Through subsequent alterations and augmentations, the tableau became a model of multiple years of the economy that the physiocrats used to demonstrate specific ways that their policy prescriptions could bring about a better future state of the economy. The tableau was an attempt to rationalize prognostication and develop a scientific means of foresight in order to aid the construction of a future state of the economy. It revolutionized economic engineering because it did not simply indicate the possibility of going from the present to a given future, but presented the intricate and continued connections linking the present and the future and provided arguments for why the physiocrats’ prescribed course was best and necessary. It highlighted the futural character of the present by bringing a picture of the future into the present and showing how that picture developed out of present circumstances. The various forms of the tableau established a new mode of visual-mathematical argumentation before statistics were used to guide projects for the future and at a time when simple addition and subtraction were the primary forms of mathematics employed in political economy. The tableau opened the way for others to find new ways to use mathematics to argue for the construction of the future, and it inaugurated a new mode of economic planning by providing a tool that could be used to model possible changes to the economy. I dedicate chapter 4 to the revolution in French natural history that altered the ability of humans to transform living beings through reproduction, effectively establishing the possibility of widespread biological engineering. The chapter focuses on the theoretical and experimental innovations of famed natural historian Georges-Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon and the ways these helped make possible biological engineering through selective breeding. It was only in the middle of the eighteenth century that animal breeding and the inheritance of characteristics began to be studied scientifically as Buffon and his colleagues inquired into the mechanisms of inheritance and the methods of controlling these mechanisms. Stemming from his concern with the effects

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Introduction 13

of domestication upon animals, Buffon investigated the causes of bodily degeneration and suggested the means to counter degeneration through systematic selective breeding. In his breeding experiments, he used domestic animals as instruments of futurity. The animals provided humanity with the opportunity to intervene in the flow of time and influence the direction and content of its course. Buffon showed that through influencing the generation of animals, people could influence the generation of the future – or at least the future states of nature. In chapter 5 I analyse the development of social engineering in the French Revolution and its relation to the emergence of an awareness of the ability to construct the future. Focusing on the creation of the Republican clock and calendar, I show how they were extensions of the active orientation to the future that had developed during the previous fifty years. With the unexpected events of the French Revolution, people were jolted into a new self-awareness of their ability to make their own future. This new self-awareness was articulated explicitly in discourse and expressed most strenuously in the many regenerative projects aimed at constructing a completely new future for France. The creation of the Republican clock and calendar were two of the most representative and radical of these regenerative projects. The first year of the Republican calendar was named Year I and marked the revolutionary caesura in time, cutting off France from its past and facilitating the development of a new future. It was both a monument to the Revolution and an instrument to enact the revolutionary project of creating everything anew. By breaking up time in a new “rational” way, the revolutionaries hoped to give citizens a new sense of the passing of time – a new rhythm of days, weeks, and seasons. But by dividing the day into decimalized units of ten hours (each consisting of one hundred minutes) and reorganizing the calendar into twelve newly named months (each consisting of thirty days that were divided into three ten-day weeks), the revolutionaries also attempted to break people of their deeply ingrained ancien régime ways and instantiate new ways of being. The revolutionary leaders wanted to stifle peoples’ patterns of behaviour and frustrate their habits of thought so as to force them to develop new ones. By making explicit the constructability of the future and radicalizing it in practice, the French Revolution played a central role in establishing the construction of the future as a problem and promise of European modernity. In this chapter I also argue that the French Revolution was an unprecedented development in the history of social engineering as people came to believe, for the first time in history, that it might be possible and desirable to transform all dimensions of human life. It was this expansive and inclusive idea of regeneration,

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14  The Time of Enlightenment

and the attempt to put it into practice, that marked the revolutionary era as the time when modern social engineering and the active orientation to the future fully emerged in history. The regenerative projects of Buffon and the physiocrats play a central role in my analysis because of their exceptional breadth and depth. There were other regenerative projects that helped body forth the active orientation towards the future, but several elements of the Buffonian and physiocratic approaches distinguished them and account for the widespread and lasting effects they had. First, they each provided the strongest arguments in their respective realms for the need and the possibility of countering degeneration – Buffon in the realm of the animal economy and the general economy of nature, and the physiocrats in political economy. Second, both Quesnay and Buffon were extremely well placed in the hierarchy of the ancien régime, which facilitated their works’ becoming widely known and being drawn on by a wide variety of people for a wide variety of purposes. They both had privileged positions within the complicated webs of patronage that were so important in ancien régime society: they had the protection and support of powerful patrons (both of them enjoyed the patronage of the king’s powerful mistress Madame de Pompadour), and they had the social, political, and financial resources that helped them gain stature and respect while enabling them to act as patrons of those in lower positions in the hierarchy. Buffon in particular had great monetary resources at his disposal as the head of the Jardin de Roi, but both men had institutional power within the state through numerous official positions that they held.27 In addition to Buffon’s position at the Jardin de Roi and Quesnay’s role at court as one of the king’s physicians (and the personal physician of Pompadour), they were members of the elite Académie Royale des Sciences. Furthermore, both men were prominent members in the republic of letters and associates of international learned academies like the Royal Society in England. Quesnay rose to public prominence as the articulate defender of the surgeons in their corporate quarrels with the physicians, while Buffon’s Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière (Natural history, general and particular) was one of the most widely owned French books of the century. The prominence of physiocracy was also facilitated by the extreme popularity of Quesnay’s collaborator, Victor Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau. His six-volume work L’ami des hommes – which he began publishing before his conversion to physiocracy and which ended up including the tableau économique – appears by 1780 to have been the most widely owned work of political economy in France and the thirteenth most owned book of any type.28 It was said that

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Introduction 15

Mirabeau was so admired and well-known that large and enthusiastic crowds came to see him as he emerged from a brief imprisonment in the chateau Vincennes. In many ways Buffon and the Physiocrats came to embody their respective disciplines. In France, Buffon’s Histoire naturelle became emblematic of natural history itself and by 1780 it appears to have been the most widely owned book in natural history and the third most owned on any subject.29 The physiocrats were so strongly associated with the nascent “economic science” that their contemporaries usually referred to them simply as Les Économistes, The Economists. The third reason that I focus on Buffon and the physiocrats is that they presented the most developed projects for regenerating the three related complex systems, or “economies,” at which projects of regeneration were most often directed: the political economy, the economy of nature, and the animal economy (the economy of individual animal and human bodies).30 In these realms, their projects were some of the most extensive in terms of depth and breadth of information and interpretation. Their books were used as resources for factual knowledge and theoretical justification. Fourth, they both emphasized that the circumstances in the moral, social, and political realms (sometimes collectively referred to as le moral) were often the result of conditions in the physical realm (le physique). Buffon’s explicit discussions of le moral were scattered and somewhat limited, but he did state clearly that morals are “no more than the specific effects” of physical causes.31 The physiocrats enunciated their faith in the morally restorative powers of the physical order loudly and often; for them, it was quite clear that “le moral is bound and governed by le physique.”32 It was projects like these, based upon the belief that le physique determined le moral, that were most successful in providing prescriptions for action and, therefore, the means to construct the future. These projects aimed at le physique had the greatest effects in making the future appear to be constructible. The physiocrats and naturalists in the Buffonian tradition created the most active, well-known, and persistent projects to regenerate the social, political, and moral realms through the transformation of the physical realm. In recent years, some historians have begun to write of a “temporal turn” that has occurred in historical studies since the beginning of the twenty-first century.33 Historian Christopher Clark has even claimed that this turn constitutes “a shift in sensibilities comparable with the linguistic and cultural turns of the 1980s and 1990s.”34 While I am not sure that the turn is comparable in scope or significance to these linguistic or cultural turns, and I am wary of the way that “turn talk” can

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16  The Time of Enlightenment

exaggerate and misrepresent historiographical transformations, there is now a significant body of excellent scholarship on historical temporality in its various dimensions.35 This builds on a slightly earlier body of more conceptual and historiographical work that continues to lay the theoretical groundwork for much of the scholarship in the field.36 Building on and responding to these foundations, exemplary recent works now extend from the ancient world to the contemporary, from analyses of specific countries to whole empires and transformations on a global scale.37 On the face of it, this temporal turn is surprising, at least in the sense that since the eighteenth century when history in its European form emerged as a self-conscious approach to understanding and writing about the past, time itself has been the very material with which historians work and one of the primary conceptual and categorical means by which they carry out their analyses.38 Yet, with a few notable exceptions, the basic categories and concepts of time were generally unstated, and there was not much critical reflection on the historical character of time itself.39 In short, historical time had not been historicized. “Undoubtedly the objectification of the past for three centuries,” French historian Michel de Certeau observed in 1983 about the discipline of history, “has made time the unthought object of a discipline that unceasingly uses it as a taxonomic instrument.”40 Like many of the works that are a part of the temporal turn, my perspective owes a great deal to the brilliant and insightful conceptual histories of the German historian Reinhart Koselleck, the scholar most responsible for bringing analytical rigour and conceptual complexity to the study of historical time. It can even be argued that the reflexive turn that made possible the historicization of historical time occurred primarily in the work of Koselleck as he built on the hermeneutic phenomenology of Martin Heidegger and established a sophisticated body of work analysing the development of modernity and “modern” concepts of historical time.41 While Koselleck avoided much of Heidegger’s idiomatic terminology, he built on Heidegger’s claim that “the fundamental phenomenon of time is the future.”42 In addition to being acquainted with Heidegger’s ideas through published writing, Koselleck took philosophy seminars with two of Heidegger’s students, both of whom were important philosophers in their own right, Hans-Georg Gadamer and Karl Löwith. Heidegger also visited these seminars, where Koselleck got to know him in person.43 Koselleck’s work is particularly valuable for the manner in which it translated and adapted Heidegger’s critique of “clock time” as an abstract representation of an unending and linear series of selfcontained nows. Heidegger argued that this obscured a phenomenological

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Introduction 17

understanding of everyday temporality in which the past, present, and future are always experientially interrelated in ways that structure our existence, our understanding of time, and our understanding of ourselves.44 Importantly for Koselleck’s argument, and for my own approach to the study of the idea of the future, Heidegger presented the future not only as a possible now that had not yet arrived, but as something that also, in some sense, existed in the present. This future that can exist in the present (sometimes described in the adjective form as that which is “futural”) gives meaning to past and present while also enabling our self-understanding. In people’s experience and their ideas about time, therefore, the future can be both present and not yet. It can be possibilities that exist in the present, as well as later moments that have not yet occurred. A sense of the future is always implicated in any sense of the past and present, Heidegger argued, so that it can be said that, in the technical language of Being and Time, “temporality temporalizes itself primordially out of the future.”45 It seems that this insight is part of what made it possible for Koselleck to appreciate the fact that historians could and perhaps should study not just the past, but also past versions of the future. The historian could take up, as Koselleck wrote, “the perspective we possess from the onetime future of past generations, or, more pithily, from a former future.”46 Crucially, it was this recognition of the role of the future (or “futures past”) that made possible Koselleck’s arguments about what he called the “temporalization of history.”47 Koselleck’s account of the development of a modern understanding of time across a period of transition from the late eighteenth to the early nineteenth century hinged on the break-up of the similitude of historical time in which the past, present, and future no longer seemed bound within the same historical horizon. With the dismantling of this continuity – the breaking up of similarity across time – the historical past no longer functioned as the great teacher of life, an idea that had long been expressed in the topos of historia magistra vitae. While Heidegger argued that for individual human beings it is the future that “temporalizes temporality,” Koselleck transposed this complex idea to the collective form, arguing that it was the future that disrupted historical similitude and temporalized history. “It is not the past but the future of historical time which renders similitude dissimilar,” Koselleck wrote.48 I draw attention here to the role of the future in the arguments of Heidegger and Koselleck because I see the changing understanding of the future in the second half of the eighteenth century playing a large role in unsettling and then shifting the dominant understanding of historical temporality.49 While not directly employing the arguments or

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18  The Time of Enlightenment

methods of Heidegger or Koselleck, I do in a sense approach the future in a similar manner, arguing that the relationship between past, present, and future was altered most consequentially through a reorientation towards the future and a transformation of how the future was understood. Their work, along with the more recent writing of François Hartog, elucidates how the future always exists in relation to the past and present. In their historical analyses, Koselleck and Hartog argued that it was this relation between past, present, and future that characterized specific historical understandings of temporality. Hartog heuristically has called specific historical understandings of time “regimes of historicity,” and some scholars have adopted his useful perspective, also calling them “regimes of temporality” and “temporal regimes.”50 I argue that a major factor in the breaking up of the dominant regime of historical temporality amongst elites in the eighteenth century was that a number of philosophes – after they came to feel that they were in a sense living in the future relative to supposedly less advanced people – began to treat the future as if it were, in a sense, in the present. The future was something to be grappled with in the present, and perhaps altered, rather than being merely a moment still to come, an absent not yet. Often this sense was most evident in their practices or implicit in their arguments. When they expressed this idea in writing, they sometimes produced intriguing but somewhat ambiguous statements such as Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot’s contention that in politics it was necessary to “foresee the present.”51 On some occasions, however, they expressed the idea clearly and directly, as when the leading philosophe of the late Enlightenment, Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas Caritat, marquis de Condorcet wrote about a politically and socially oriented learned society that he helped form in the first years of the French Revolution, claiming that “they see the future in the present.”52 Because of my focus on the question of how this engagement with the future helped “temporalize history” and transform the experiential and conceptual relationship between past, present, and future, I focus on the practical and conceptual examples I think most reveal this historical process, to reveal how they emerged from ideas about the uniformity of nature, stages of historical development, the value of foresight, and the possibility of countering biological, social, and economic degeneration. The practical and conceptual examples that function as extended case studies in chapters 3 and 4 also happen not to have been analysed to the extent that scholars have focused on the development of idea of geological “deep time,” the development of timelines, the proliferation of clocks, and the slow adaptation to the time discipline associated with clock time and the development of capitalism.53

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Introduction 19

Although Koselleck placed great emphasis on the transformation of ideas of the future in the second half of the eighteenth century – even arguing that this is what broke apart historical similitude and inaugurated modernity – it was not his intention to present a comprehensive causal argument for how and why this occurred. His work focused primarily on the theory and philosophy of history, and when he did engage with the history of time concepts in the eighteenth century, he mostly addressed analyses of semantic evidence to demonstrate that this transformation occurred. Few scholars have pursued his idea that the future became constructible in the late eighteenth century and that this was the central transformation that differentiated past, present, and future and created what people in Europe began characterizing as a distinct and unprecedented modern age.54 While many of the scholars who have played a role in the temporal turn in history acknowledge Koselleck’s work as foundational, it is still unclear how this new sense of the future emerged. In the chapters that follow, I demonstrate how a dominant understanding of historical temporality amongst French philosophes began to shift and break down with the development of ideas of progress, a new emphasis on the importance of foresight, and the emergence of a new practical sense of the future that took shape in the development of tools such as the tableau économique and experimental practices such as animal breeding.55 While I do not argue that the tableau and animal breeding alone caused this monumental historical development, I analyse them extensively to demonstrate in greater detail and particularity how shifts occur within and between regimes of historical temporality. I also hope that these detailed analyses will demonstrate the role of ideas of the future in this process. While not everyone in French society in the eighteenth century shared the same understanding of historical time, the dominant understanding amongst the philosophes, and its reconfiguration over the second half of the eighteenth century, played a vital role in making possible the sense amongst many leaders of the French Revolution that a radically new future could be constructed. In short, these seemingly modest instruments and practices of the Enlightenment are models of how an understanding of historical time actually transformed. They played a role in shifting the conditions of intellectual conceivability and made their mark in how people during the Revolution came to conceive the unprecedented character of events and their role in shaping them. The opening up of the Enlightenment regime of historical temporality helped make possible the self-conscious and self-aware articulation of the construction of the future in the French Revolution, and it played a role in creating the sense that time itself could be used as a tool of

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20  The Time of Enlightenment

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social engineering. In a sense, time could be folded back upon itself as revolutionary actors tried to influence the circular development of ideas and practices. The new sense of time that was inherited from the Enlightenment and radicalized in the first years of the Revolution could be used to create new structures of time, such as clock and calendar, which could help transform people’s experience of time, which in turn could help produce a new and different future. In this way, a new understanding of historical temporality was a part of a circular process of social transformation in which it was both a condition of possibility and a desired outcome.

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1 Making Time Different: Historical Change and the Laws of Nature

Writing a century before Mercier, in 1674, about the generation of organisms, Nicolas de Malebranche stated that “in a single apple seed there are apple trees, apples, and apples seeds … for an infinite, or almost infinite, number of centuries.”1 What was true of apples also appeared to be true of humans and animals. “We should accept,” Malebranche concluded, “that the bodies of all men and animals that will be born until the end of time were perhaps produced at the creation of the world.”2 He was articulating the theory of pre-existence and its central concept of emboîtement, which held that the generation of new organisms was merely the growth or unfolding of already existing miniature organisms that were encased one in the other in an infinite series. This theory, and its striking image of an infinite series of beings whose existence was predetermined and merely unfolding in time, came to be widely held amongst savants in the late seventeenth century. In fact, along with the related theory of “preformation,” it became the dominant theory of generation amongst naturalists and philosophers and the orthodox explanation amongst theologians.3 It provides an ideal example to represent how most early modern European savants understood the future, not only with respect to the generation of organisms, but regarding the totality of worldly existence.4 As a material example, it is a particularly clear and readily graspable demonstration of the sense in which the future was understood to be largely, or completely, predetermined and beyond the reach of significant human intervention. In fact, pre-existence and the related theory of preformation were used by early modern savants as metaphors to describe the relationship of the present and future. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who endorsed a theory of preformation, often observed that “the present is pregnant with the future.”5 Having already been created, the future was limited in the degree to which it could differ from the past and present.

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Most early modern European savants believed that the future was predetermined, although not all of them believed that it was determined in every last detail – just as Malebranche did not claim that the mature form of each organism was completely present in every detail in the preexisting miniatures.6 Those who did not believe that God had strictly and absolutely determined the whole of human history acknowledged that there was some room for the unfolding of the future to be affected and for it to be different from what came before it. But this possibility of difference and human influence was slight, and the influence could not reach far into the future. For example, with regard to organisms, all possible beings were already created, and the future of these beings could only be changed through the working of influences during maternal gestation and early childhood, which influences would have very small effects on the development of the organism. None of these minor modifications could affect the already formed germs of future generations, so there was no way the modifications could be passed on to successive generations. Whether the savants acknowledged this small possibility of influence or endorsed a complete determinism, almost all of them agreed that the sphere of the present and the horizon of the possible future were bound by the limits of the past. This belief was often expressed in the trope of historia magistra vitae in which history was treated as the teacher and guide for actions because it was assumed that the past, present, and future were fundamentally similar and, as the great historian Reinert Koselleck put it, the “space of experience” would not exceed the “horizon of expectations.”7 In response to this understanding of the future, it was not uncommon to advocate for a stance of relative passivity towards what would come on earth (as opposed to the afterlife), since the beings of the future and the scope of possible ways of being had already been established. Early modern Europeans, therefore, generally adopted a stance of passivity towards the earthly future, or “a quiet mind,” as Leibniz wrote: “The whole future is doubtless determined: but since we know not what it is, nor what is foreseen or resolved, we must do our duty, according to the reason that God has given us and according to the rules that he has prescribed for us; and therefore we must have a quiet mind, and leave to God himself the care for the outcome.”8 While this was a strong and direct statement of passivity towards the future, similarly clear expressions calling for an active orientation towards the earthly future were not common, even into the second half of the eighteenth century. If one studied the writing of the French philosophes from the middle of the eighteenth century and analysed it only in order to interpret the intentions of the authors, one might conclude that the philosophes had no

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Making Time Different  23

intention of constructing a radically different future of unprecedented novelty. In fact, this kind of analysis might show that they could not have had this intention since they did not believe that it was possible for the future to be fundamentally unlike the past or present. The philosophes, of course, intended to “perfect” and “improve” (perfectionner and améliorer) a great number of things such as scientific knowledge, justice, reason, and language. But they did not intend for any of these objects of improvement to be transformed so radically that they would become unrecognizably different; they intended to improve these things, but the transformations that they intended would not surpass the limits of possible change as established by past and present circumstances. In other words, the improvements that they envisioned were refinements; they were meant to be developments and actualizations of preexisting potentialities, not wholly knew ways of being, knowing, and interacting. Even the theories of progress that were explicitly articulated during the Enlightenment and have been the subject of so much historiographical analysis do not demonstrate that the philosophes believed that the future could be radically different or that they intended to make it so. In Turgot’s famous theory of the progress of the human mind, for example, he argued that progress would improve reason and knowledge, but it would not necessarily add anything truly novel to knowledge or fundamentally alter the faculty of reason. Ideas and ways of thinking would not become radically different in the future; rather, they would continue to improve, moving further along the already establish trajectory of refinement and clarity. Ideas would become more exact, words would become more precise in their signification, but they would not become unrecognizably different or surpass perceived limits of possible change. It is important to recognize that in eighteenth-century France, it was possible to “perfect” or “improve” something like scientific knowledge without fundamentally changing it. Arguments that the sciences were always becoming more perfect, therefore, did not necessarily imply that any fundamental changes were occurring. This point was expressed particularly clearly by the natural historian La Chesnaye des Bois when he stated that natural history and the other sciences “will make perpetual progress” although this did not mean that the sciences would change in any radical way: “The Sciences are modeled and remodeled by new pens, which never change anything fundamental about them, but may perfect them.”9 It was only after the French Revolution had commenced that the existence of the fixed limits of progress were rendered problematic and began to be vigorously questioned. For example, in 1793, when

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24  The Time of Enlightenment

Condorcet wrote his famous paean to progress, Esquisse d’un tableau historique des progrès de l’esprit humain (Sketch for a historical picture of the progress of the human mind), he reiterated the Enlightenment belief that progress was inevitable, but he had new questions about what it meant for it to be indéfinie (indefinite).10 He pointed out that there were two meanings that could be given to the word indéfinie. Using the example of the lifespan of humans, he wrote that it could be extended indefinitely, either in the sense of continually approaching a fixed limit that would never be reached (as with an asymptote), or in the sense of continually surpassing any limit that might be reached. In the first sense, with respect to age there was a true quantitative limit that would never be surpassed, while in the second case there was no real limit to the lifespan of humans. In the case of the perfectibility of the human species, as in the case of human lifespan, “we are ignorant of which of these two senses of indefinite can be applied to it.”11 But with the optimism with which this work has become associated, Condorcet concluded that the existing evidence seemed to “further push back the limits of our hopes.”12 Condorcet had been developing notes for a book on progress for decades before he sat down in 1793 to compose the Esquisse. The many notes and drafts that he wrote in these preceding decades make it clear that his vision of the possibilities of human progress and the ability of humanity to wilfully bring about this progress were radicalized through his experience of the Revolution.13 The most daring and optimistic section of the book on the tenth epoch of humanity, which speculated about the human lifespan and looked to the future progress of humanity, was only added to the project after the events of the Revolution began to unfold.

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“Time Is All It Takes?” In an attempt to reassure an inquisitive noblewoman whom he is tutoring, the narrator of Fontenelle’s dialogue Entretiens sur la pluralité des mondes habités (Conversations on the plurality of inhabited worlds) tells her that she can “rest assured, it takes time for the ruin of a world.”14 Rather than restfulness or assurance, she feels shock and horror. “But wait,” she responds, “time is all it takes?” The narrator then admits that, yes, time is all it takes for the ruin of the world. Although this dialogue is set in the rarified circumstances of a seventeenth-century noblewoman’s tutorial in natural philosophy, the fatalism that it expressed and the surprised reaction it elicited still resonated in France in the middle decades of the eighteenth century as concern with degeneration became widespread and more acute.

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Making Time Different  25

Decline and degeneration were ancient concerns repeated in various forms down through the ages; however, concerns with decline became acute in some times and places. France from the 1740s to the 1760s was one of those places in which concern with decline became intense and generalized across a wide variety of realms of life. The humiliating defeats in the War of Austrian Succession (1740–48) and then the Seven Years’ War (1756–63) raised concerns of military and imperial competitiveness, particularly with the British. There was a resulting loss of international political and commercial standing as well as significant war debts that appeared to be major obstacles to economic and military recovery.15 The perception of lagging agricultural productivity added to these worries about economic competitiveness, while the perception of other types of more general cultural and physical decline added to concerns about the challenge posed by practical difficulties. It was commonly believed that the French language had lost some of the clarity and precision that distinguished it. A general concern with the proliferation of libertinage, luxury, and a moral erosion dovetailed with concerns over the virtue and physical vigour of the nobility.16 People began to claim that the bodies of nobles were shrinking and becoming enfeebled, while there was a common perception that the size of the population of France had also shrunk. These various perceptions of decline – even those that were exaggerated or based in error – reinforced one another and created the sense in many people that France was struggling and in need of new sources of regeneration. The belief that the population of France was rapidly declining was one of the first signs of degeneration that brought about widespread concern in the eighteenth century. This decline in population, as it was announced in Montesquieu’s Les lettres persanes (Persian letters, 1721) and popularized in works like Montesquieu’s Esprit des lois (Spirit of the laws, 1748) and Mirabeau’s wildly popular L’ami des hommes (Friend of fankind, 1756–60), was seen as one of the primary threats to the political power and solvency of the kingdom and the vitality of the economy.17 As this type of fear was expressed about many realms of life in France, a sentiment of shock and outrage grew in response. A chorus of voices proclaimed that it was only a matter of time before France was utterly exhausted and degenerate, which in turn set in motion a call for projects to counteract this perceived degeneration. It was these projects to slow and reverse degeneration that helped transform people’s understanding of time from an inevitable and unstoppable force into a thing that could itself be transformed. As fatalism and fears of degeneration were combated, a new belief in human voluntarism emerged. This was more than just a turning towards the future or the development of a reasoned

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26  The Time of Enlightenment

optimism (as in the case of Turgot and the development of the theory of inevitable progress). It was the beginning of widespread attempts to actualize more desirable future states. One of the important features of the perceived degeneration around mid-century was the sense that it was not part of a normal ebb and flow of decline and recovery, degeneration and regeneration. The perceived breadth and depth of this decline made it appear to exceed normal cycles of downturn. According to some mid-century observers, there were specific signs of decline that were simply unprecedented. “The degenerescence [dégénérascence] of the species,” the prominent physician Le Camus wrote about the human species, “is unknown to all time.”18 This was something unique, and something that could only be reversed with equally unprecedented action. As might be expected, the concern over a possible decline in population and concerns that the remaining individuals were less vigorous and physically able were often found in the same works. In addition to being one of the primary popularizers of the depopulation thesis, Mirabeau also had very frank and disquieting observations about individual degeneration. He considered men of his day to be mere “pygmies” compared to those of the days of old.19 As I discuss in chapter 4, the degeneration of domestic animals was one of the central topics that animated the first fifteen volumes of Buffon’s Histoire naturelle. Although he most often wrote about degeneration in terms of domestic animals, Buffon articulated a powerful vision of the whole of nature tending towards degeneration. He argued that – as was the case with domestic animals – this all-encompassing degenerative tendency of nature could be countered effectively, at least for a period. But great effort and attention would have to be directed at this goal of revivifying and embellishing nature. Humanity would have to be vigilant and maintain an “ever renewed care,” because “if it ceases, everything languishes, everything deteriorates [s’altère], everything changes, and everything returns under the hand of Nature; she reclaims her rights, effaces the works of man, covers with dust and moss his most sumptuous monuments, [and] destroys them with time.20 Unlike Buffon, the physiocrats did not emphasize that nature had an inherent tendency towards degeneration. Instead they argued that the degeneration of the economy was a result of the inattention and ignorance of those in positions of influence. As I discuss in chapter 2, the physiocratic project was based upon the attempt to demonstrate that a new economic vigour could be created out of the existing troubled circumstances, or as Mirabeau put it, that “reproduction is reborn in the breast of putrefaction.”21 The concept of regeneration was the

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Making Time Different  27

basis for their project, and they were some of the first to use the term “regeneration” in a secular sense.22 As Quesnay argued in relation to China, there was nothing inevitable in the decline of an economy or a polity: “It is too generally believed that governments of empires can take only transitory forms, that everything here below is subject to continual vicissitudes, that empires have their beginning, their progress, their decadence, and their end. This view prevails so generally that the irregularity of governments is attributed to the natural order. Could this absurd fatalism have been adopted in the light of reason?”23 In order for regeneration to commence a greater attention had to be paid to the natural order and its laws. “The true ministers of chaos” were those who did not focus their attention – and bring their policies and actions in line with – the fact that the economy functioned as a vast interconnected system whose optimal functioning was determined by natural laws.24 But in attempting to enlighten and reform these “ministers of chaos” the physiocrats did not merely aim at economic recovery. They were economic determinists who believed that the economy could function as what Quesnay called a “regenerative machine” to bring about a revitalization of the whole of the polity.25 In the next chapter, I will turn to a more detailed analysis of the physiocrats and the development of the tableau économique, their unprecedented tool for the construction of the future state of the economy.

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Changes within “A Circle of Revolutions Always the Same” Traditionally in the historiography of ideas about time, history, and progress in Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, ideas about time were often claimed to be either static or dynamic, invariable or progressive, circular or linear. Historians often presented these categories as contradictory and mutually exclusive, while in fact these rigid differentiations obscured the true complexity of temporal understanding in early modern Europe. These binary conceptualizations seem to be symptoms of the difficulty of grasping the true foreignness of the early modern understanding of time. One of the most challenging but important points to grasp in coming to terms with the eighteenthcentury understanding of temporality is how an understanding of time could be one of both stasis and change, invariable order and continual flux. A characteristic element of the eighteenth-century European understanding of time was the fact that dynamic change was thought to occur within systems (such as “nature”) that remained fundamentally similar over time. This general similarity in the face of changes ensured that the future would be fundamentally like the past and the present.

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Although I focus on the development of a practical understanding of time, there are several examples that can be found in the philosophes’ writing that demonstrate explicit ideas of time and change. Interestingly, it is their writing about nature and its history that is the most revealing. Although the discipline of history, with its focus on human affairs, took shape and underwent rapid development during the Enlightenment, it was nature that was the subject of some of the most penetrating writing about time in the eighteenth century.26 Looking at the writing on nature and its history provides a useful general view to establish an initial landscape of the understanding of time in the French Enlightenment. Echoing an idea that was held as far back as the Presocratic Greek philosophers, scores of philosophes agreed with Buffon that nature, as he wrote, “is in a movement of continuous flux.”27 However, it was flux of a limited number of things, and although the number of possible combinations of these things was immense, it was still circumscribed. Therefore, even with this continuous flux there was a sameness over time and a uniformity of nature. To characterize this understanding of change and temporality as either exclusively static or exclusively dynamic misrepresents it. Within a temporality defined by sameness there can also be a type of difference and change. For Enlightenment savants it was possible that nature, as Pierre-Nicolas Changeux wrote, “never stops changing its form, but … always stays the same,” and also, “though always the same, it is always different,” as Robinet wrote.28 Change and differentiation over time coexisted with a sense of unchanging order and overarching historical sameness. “The world is ceaselessly beginning and ending,” Diderot wrote, “everything changes and passes away” and yet “the whole remains unchanged.”29 Even as the philosophes began to emphasize the transformations of nature in the middle of the eighteenth century, it was still widely argued that, at a fundamental level, nature did not change. Of course, the actual beings in the world came into existence and passed away, and over time the individuals of a species might manifest different characteristics, but over the long term things did not really “change” since they perpetually replaced one another with a high degree of similarity. Their differences over time stayed within recognizable limits that were maintained by the immutable laws of nature. To many observers, it appeared that the only type of change that did take place was mere appearance. This notion of the underlying stasis of nature was articulated clearly by Turgot in one of the very same pieces in which he suggested his famous idea of the progress of the human mind: “The phenomena of nature, subject to constant laws, are contained in a circle of revolutions always the same. Everything is reborn, everything perishes, and in these successive

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Making Time Different  29

generations, in which plants and animals reproduce themselves, time only restores at each instant the image that it has made disappear.”30 The laws of nature were perpetually generating similitude – they assured that the future would resemble the past and that time was essentially self-same. In fact, in Turgot’s articulation, there is no difference between nature’s past and future because time is perpetually restoring the identical image. This idea of the sameness of “the image” – with its emphasis on appearances – was one of the most widespread notions of temporality in the Enlightenment. Variations and flux were often explained away through an invocation of a deeper uniformity and similitude that existed beneath or above the perceptual realm. This argument was often put quite succinctly and explicitly, as it was by Ménuret de Chambaud, the Montpellier-trained physician who wrote many articles on medical topics for the Encyclopédie. In an article on medical semiotics he wrote that “nature has only external variations; at bottom, it is always uniform and always follows the same course.”31 He argued that the ability to perceive the underlying uniformity of nature could be developed and that this was one of the central goals of physicians, especially the enlightened médecine-philosophe. Sometimes it was argued that if someone did not recognize the order and sameness of nature that it was simply a problem of scale; if one could view the situation from a “higher” perspective – one that might observe more elements and take a longer-term approach – the ultimate sameness of temporality would become apparent. The different pictures of nature moving through time were simply different views of a basically unchanging image. In fact, in some Enlightenment formulations, seeing the different perspectives of the image of nature actually revealed the uniformity of nature over time. That is, variation and flux were invoked to help demonstrate the depth and all-encompassing character of the uniformity of nature. The little-known (but in many ways typical) philosophe Changeux expressed this idea in his anonymously published Traité des extrêmes, ou des éléments de la science de la réalité (Treatise on extremes, or the elements of the science of reality, 1767).32 As Changeux put it, it was not simply a question of the uniformity of nature but of a more extensive uniformity of “nature,” “the earth,” “the world,” “beings,” “the whole,” and in fact “the universe.” It seemed that nothing escaped this uniformity. In chapters with titles like “Continual Changes and the Immutability of Nature” and “Extreme Variety and Perfect Unity,” Changeux argued that although there was continuous change throughout the universe, “it always is what it always was.”33 He went on to argue that “[t]he invariable order of nature exists in this apparent and almost infinite disorder. It is in continual changes that the

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30  The Time of Enlightenment

world … finds its immutability … The earth never stops changing its form, but we see that it always stays the same. Beings are in perpetual movement, but the whole is unalterable.”34 Even if people did not believe that nature stayed strictly identical over time, there was still an important sense in which it was believed that the future would be fundamentally like the past and present. The work of Buffon provides an instructive example of what it meant in practical terms to believe that there could be continual change and a fundamental sameness over time. Buffon’s understanding of variation within species, which I analyse in chapter 3, was a good example of a practical understanding of bounded temporality that posited a future of limited differentiation. Based upon empirical observation and breeding experiments, Buffon believed there was a vast amount of variation within the individuals that comprised a species, but that these variations always remained within predetermined limits. As much as the individuals of a species might vary, the species always remained unchanged. These limitations of each species were ensured by the mechanism that Buffon called the moule intérieur (the interior or internal mould), a force that existed inside the body of an organism, directing its formation and ensuring that it could reproduce a similar being. Buffon was vague about what exactly this moule intérieur was or how it operated, but he claimed that it was created with the first individual of a species and was passed on through reproduction to every subsequent individual of the species. The moule intérieur directed the “organic molecules” that came together in the process of generation to form each individual. The way that the organic molecules were assimilated into the form could vary during the generation of any individual (and hence the characteristics of individuals within a species differed), but the moule intérieur stayed the same throughout its transmission through the succession of individuals of the species.35 The moule intérieur was therefore the mechanism that ensured that the individuals of a species would always remain within the preestablished limitations of the species, even though, through recombinations of characteristics, an almost infinite variety of different individuals could come to exist within a single species. For example, over generations, a lineage of sheep might develop finer or coarser wool, but they would never develop scales like fish or quills like porcupines. The moule intérieur of sheep ensured this; it guaranteed that one species would never become another. Furthermore, because of the moule and its limits, no new species would develop in the future, and there would only be variations within existing species. The existing individuals of a species could transform over time, but they would never evolve (in

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Making Time Different  31

our contemporary sense) beyond the prescribed limits of their species. Throughout the many volumes of Histoire naturelle, Buffon made this very clear:

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When these ancient monuments of the first epoch of living Nature are compared with its productions today, it is evident that the constitutive form of each [type of] animal is conserved, staying the same, without alteration in its principal parts. The type of each species has not changed. The moule intérieur has conserved its form and has not varied. However long one wants to imagine the succession of time, whatever number of generations one admits or supposes, the individuals of each genus [i.e., what we now call species] today represent the forms of those of the first centuries.36

As I show below, even though Buffon believed that humans lacked the power to change the limits of species (which he sometimes called “genus”) he came to believe that humans could gain some control over the development of variations within species through controlled breeding and alterations of diet and habitat. This is what I mean by change within limits. This understanding of the fundamental sameness over time is most easily demonstrated in examples like Buffon’s work where the issues of change and stasis were literally embodied in material beings. But this understanding of change within limits could also be found in examples that dealt with the non-material dimensions of life, like historical experience and the development of knowledge. In fact, some savants in the eighteenth century utilized material examples of the vastness of the possible recombination to explain how both human experience and intellectual activities were analogously varied yet limited. Even though the entire foundation and scope of moral and political knowledge had been discovered long ago, Mirabeau still believed that these fields were “always new” and “always susceptible to changes.”37 He justified this claim with an example from nature and the fact that a vast number of variations could emerge from recombinations of a quite limited number of elements. Mirabeau invoked the apparent uniqueness of each human face: “Immense nature never tires of creating new distinctive forms of physiognomy, in such a way that with the same collection of a small number of traits no man has ever resembled another that has preceded nor that has followed.”38 For Mirabeau, the fruitfulness of recombination of existing elements of knowledge held open the possibility that he and his collaborator Quesnay could create a comprehensive theory of political economy that would present a new perspective on the economy through a recombination of existing ideas.

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Time and The Metaphysics of Uniformity To grasp the eighteenth-century understanding of change within limits, the co-existence of transformation and sameness – and how the active orientation towards the future emerged out of it – it is necessary to recognize the metaphysical assumptions that the philosophes brought to questions of time and change. One of the most important and taken for granted of these assumptions was the belief in the uniformity of nature. By “uniformity,” I include both uniformity across space and uniformity across time (what was sometimes referred to as regularity). The understanding of the sameness of historical time was grounded in what Lorraine Daston in a slightly different context referred to as a “metaphysics of uniformity.”39 As a metaphysical conviction, this uniformity was not something that eighteenth-century writers dedicated much space to explaining or much vigour to defending. In general, there was not much argument and it was so widely taken for granted by the philosophes that they would simply assert it in passing or quickly mention it at the beginning of a work before moving on to discuss things that they felt were more contentious or unclear. On the occasions when they discussed this idea of uniformity, it was often articulated in terms of nature and stated as a simple unquestionable observation, a universal truth. Often the metaphysics of uniformity provided a conceptual bedrock for philosophes to argue that there were laws of nature that could be identified in le physique, as well as natural laws that governed le morale. The physiocrats, for example, argued that their political economic analysis could identify natural laws that would be able to guide political and economic policymaking, leading to greater prosperity and power. Like other adherents to the stadial theory of progress, they also wrote about a society’s mode of subsistence (i.e., hunting, pasturage, agriculture, commerce) and its level of historical development as if it were a natural law that this material condition determined social, cultural, and political development. Uniformity constituted a kind of degree zero of Enlightenment intellectual life that philosophes could agree on even if they did not share a totalizing system of understanding the world.40 Isaac Newton provided some of the strongest arguments for uniformity, but Cartesians, Newtonians, Leibnizians, Lockeans, and all manner of eclectic combination of these systems agreed upon the basic principle of the uniformity of nature. It was one of the hallmarks of Enlightenment thought and one of its oft-repeated tropes. A. O. Lovejoy claimed that the belief in this overwhelming uniformity “is the first and fundamental principle of this general and pervasive philosophy of the Enlightenment” and that

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Making Time Different  33

“it is perhaps still necessary to repeat that in the most frequent of the normative uses of the term ‘nature’ in the Enlightenment, the principal element in the signification of the word is uniformity. Despite its sixtyodd other senses, it was primarily and chiefly because of this connotation that ‘nature’ was the sacred word of the Enlightenment.”41 When challenges to this uniformity did occur, they often produced reactions that ended up strengthening convictions, or they provided different explanations of uniformity that played a role in deepening convictions, if in a modified form. For example, in a number of works, Scottish philosopher David Hume launched some of the more powerful skeptical challenges to existing belief in the uniformity of nature, though the result was to draw into relief religious and scientific assumptions behind these beliefs and to provide an alternative explanation that reframed the uniformity of nature in terms of human cognition and psychology. Finding no deductive or inductive support for the belief, Hume asserted its psychological necessity.42 In the French Enlightenment, there was no shortage of pithy statements about the uniformity of nature, whether it was d’Alembert in the “Discours préliminaire” of the Encyclopédie stating simply that “Nature is always the same,” or Montesquieu writing about the laws of matter in motion at the beginning Esprit des lois, stating that “every diversity is uniformity, every change is constancy.”43 As is hinted in this quote of Montesquieu, there was a manner in which this metaphysical assumption was self-supporting and tautological. There was a sense that no matter what diversity or irregularity might be discovered in nature, there remained the possibility that a deeper uniformity and unity could be found that enveloped even this new diversity. As historian of the life sciences James Larson wrote about life scientists more generally: “If some kinds of diversity seemed to threaten the basic units of natural order with dissolution, it was still possible to believe that they could be made intelligible, and might even throw light upon the world of stable, established order.”44 The belief in the uniformity of nature was often expressed in terms of the natural laws that ensured this uniformity. The uniformity of natural laws – usually referred to as “regularity” – was such a strong and fundamental belief that, as Condorcet articulated in 1786, even when people observed phenomena that appeared to contradict or fall outside of the existing natural laws there was always a deeper type of regularity that could be found. Therefore, phenomena that appeared to contradict a natural law were not evidence that the phenomena existed outside of the domain of natural laws, but rather that there was a more fundamental natural law that determined and

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subsumed the apparently aberrant phenomena, as well as the apparently overridden natural law. For Condorcet, an apparent exception to the natural laws was more of a sign of the imperfection of human knowledge than a threat to the existence of regular natural laws: there was always the possibility of more basic and encompassing natural laws that existed beyond or below previous observations. In fact, it was only when people tried to understand phenomena that appeared to defy the natural laws that deeper, more fundamental natural laws might become apparent to humans:

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We would not dare assert that [even] the most regular laws of which we observe in phenomena will persist without alternation for an indefinite time. We suppose in truth that there may exist a more complicated constant law, which for a time seems the same to our eyes as the one first posited, and which subsequently deviates perceptibly from it, but it is easy to see that this is precisely the case on which the first law having ceased to be constant, we substituted another which embraces both the phenomena encompassed by the first law and those which appeared to diverge from it.45

For Condorcet, the metaphysics of uniformity was not just descriptive, but also prescriptive. His faith in uniformity was not restricted to questions of the natural laws of the physical realm; it extended to the realm of human nature and institutions.46 In fact, uniformity was at the foundation of his conception of justice. This notion was expressed quite succinctly in his critique of what he deemed “one of the most curious chapters” of Montesquieu’s Esprit des Lois.47 On the surface, Montesquieu’s one-paragraph passage seems harmless enough: he asked rhetorically if striving for uniformity in administrative, commercial, and legal affairs “is always appropriate without exception.”48 Montesquieu argued that although “great spirits” like Charlemagne were sometimes seized by ideas of uniformity, lesser spirits were “infallibly” struck by it, finding “a kind of perfection” in the uniformity of things.”49 He asked, “does not the greatness of genius consist rather in knowing in which case uniformity is necessary and in which case differences are needed?”50 Condorcet strongly disagreed and stated that uniformity was necessary if administration, commerce, and laws were to be just.51 He began his detailed critique with the general observation that “[i]deas of uniformity and regularity are pleasing to all minds, and above all to just minds.”52 For Condorcet, to question the desirability of uniformity in these realms was to turn against justice itself.

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Making Time Different  35

Although it may at first seem paradoxical, the metaphysics of uniformity played an important role in the development of some of the practices of constructing the future. As I demonstrate in chapter 3, for example, François Quesnay very explicitly based his creation of the tableau économique upon the assumption of “immutable” nature laws. Quesnay used the tableau to foresee what the future held, based upon the assumption of uniformity; that is, he assumed that the immutable natural laws would ensure that the foundations of economic life in the future would be fundamentally similar to those of the past and the present, and therefore, the outcome of present actions was roughly predictable. Once the tableau showed what the future held, it could then be used to show how changing certain things in the present would affect the foreseen future. The uniformity of nature helped create the possibility of this epistemology of futurity. It was because nature and its laws were believed to be uniform over time that Quesnay could claim to know the future effects of present causes. In some sense, the development of an instrument like the tableau économique that could be used to foresee the future effects of actions in the present was an unusual development for the eighteenth century. Attempting to know the future through the inductive use of statistical information was not common in the early modern era. By the second half of the eighteenth century, practical projects to predict future circumstances were still rare, even in business ventures where their use would seem to have been advantageous. Throughout most of the eighteenth century, even the buyers and sellers of life insurance and annuities had little interest in the rationalized means of knowing the future that was made available by statistics and probability mathematics. In fact, the first life insurance or annuities enterprise that based its operations on the calculation of mathematical probabilities was not founded until 1762 in London, and it “met with almost universal skepticism from the London insurance community, and went another twenty years without imitators.”53 In her study of probability in the Enlightenment, Lorraine Daston argues that the eighteenth-century “vogue for insurance seems to have been less prudential than reckless, fueled more by the spirit of gambling than of foresight.”54 This was the case in England as well as in France, applying to both the insurance companies and those purchasing insurance. “Both insurance offices and their customers were for the most part betting on the future, not planning for it,” Daston concluded.55 The next chapter does not explore planning for the future, nor trying to construct the future with an economic modelling device, but it does reveal yet another way that a belief in the uniformity of nature – in this

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case the uniform and law-like role of modes of subsistence in determining historical development – provided the basis for the philosophes to construct a narrative of progress in which they presented themselves as living not only in the most advanced position but, in a certain sense, in the future.

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2 Living the Future: Ideas of Progress and Uncanny Temporality

In 1750, before becoming a royal administrator who bore the hopes of his fellow philosophes for enlightened reform of state and society, a twenty-three-year-old Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot delivered an oration at the Sorbonne as a recently elected prior. He chose the “successive advances of the human mind” as his topic, presenting ideas of progress that would become emblematic of the Enlightenment itself.1 “The current state of the world,” Turgot told his audience, “reveals to us at one and the same time spread across the earth all of the gradations from barbarism to refinement, showing us in a single glance, as it were, the monuments and vestiges of all the steps of the human mind, a reflection of all the stages through which it has passed, and the history of all the ages.”2 Mixing deep time and the present moment, duration and the instant, the diachronic and the synchronic, Turgot presented a strange synoptic view in which it was supposedly possible to see, in a single glance of the present world, every step that the human mind had taken in its advancement through time. Making almost the same observation the following year while drafting two plans for discourses on universal history, Turgot focused again on the historical development “from barbarism to refinement,” but shifted the terms of his claim from the human mind to the social development of human groups more generally. With this shift, the implications for historical temporality became even stranger and more complex. “Even today,” Turgot wrote in 1751, “a glance at the earth puts the entire history of the human race in front of our eyes, showing us traces of all its steps and monuments of all the stages through which it has passed, from the still existent barbarism of the American peoples to the refinement of the most enlightened nations in Europe.”3 By identifying specific contemporary peoples and claiming that they represented different stages of historical development, Turgot seemed to be implying

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that groups of people such as Amerindians and Europeans could be representatives of different historical eras, but at the same moment. This impression seems to be confirmed in the very next sentence as Turgot hints at an odd entangling of past and present. “Alas,” he wrote, “our fathers and the [barbaric] Pelagians who preceded the Greeks resembled the savages of America!”4 The contemporary native peoples of the Americas were supposedly similar to the forefathers of Europeans while also resembling the Pelagians, who lived more than two thousand years before. While Turgot was not the first to draw this analogy between Native Americans and the peoples of antiquity – authors had been observing this since the first accounts of Europeans travelling in the Americas, and they had been arguing this explicitly since JosephFrançois Lafitau did so extensively in the 1720s – his articulation of the comparison was harnessed to a developmental historical account that attempted to explain the path of historical development, the successive stages through which people passed, and the cause of this development (modes of subsistence).5 Turgot, like most of the other Enlightenment theorists of stadial progress, believed there was a single path through the stages of development. This resulted in a linear sense of historical temporality, as only one more or less similar path towards the future existed. “In the general progress of the human mind,” Turgot wrote in an article in the Encyclopédie, “all nations begin from the same point, proceed to the same goal, follow more or less the same route, but at a very uneven pace.”6 One route travelled with uneven pace was what allowed for Turgot’s version of the analogy of Native Americans and ancient Europeans. The combination of this analogy and a stadial account of historical progress created new conceptual ambiguities and conceptual possibilities.7 Beginning in the middle of the century, Turgot and his fellow philosophes, particularly those in France and Scotland, wrote that there were three or four distinct stages of historical development that, while being historical, could nonetheless exist at the present moment, as if it were possible for societies to exist in different times but at the same moment. This chapter explores this idea of the simultaneity of the non-simultaneous as it took shape in the second half of the eighteenth century. It is also an exploration of the role that foresight and the future came to play in the new narratives of progress and the nascent “science of man” that combined conjectural accounts of human origins with natural historical arguments about the character of “man” and the variations of the human species. At the same time as the philosophes were articulating the idea of the simultaneity of the non-simultaneous, they also began to form new arguments differentiating themselves from those whom

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Living the Future  39

they claimed existed in the earliest stages of historical development. They often did this through the idea of the future and the faculty of foresight. They were not the first to argue that so-called savages lacked foresight and were stranded in an eternal present, responding to immediate needs but not looking to distant events or even moderately distant needs. Earlier travel literature and quasi-ethnographic accounts of various peoples, particularly indigenous people in the Americas, included some claims of this sort. The philosophes did, however, mobilize the ability to foresee and the tendency to be open to the future as a new means to erect an explanation of not only cultural difference but historical difference, that is, the supposed existence of peoples in different historical eras yet at the same moment. Through this process, the future and foresight were newly valued and became a central part of the new definition of rational and enlightened subjectivity that took shape in the second half of the century. One of the ways that we can best trace this development, and focus on the stakes of this new discourse, is through analysis of a surprisingly modest object, a little-known people, and the role of these in a narrative of temporal difference. One of the most revealing Enlightenment tropes about time revolved around an object and a people that might at first appear to have little to do with time, but the trope in fact was made to stand for notions of the future, foresight, the eternal present, the state of nature, stadial progress, savagery, and civilization. The object was a hammock and the people were the almost completely destroyed indigenous inhabitants of the Caribbean, who were usually referred to by European writers as Caribs (caraïbes) and existed in small numbers by the middle of the eighteenth century.8 These people and their hammocks became a central element of a brief story that was repeated, compressed, and, in a sense, distilled into a powerful parable about time and the supposed differences between people in advanced commercial societies and those said to live near the state of nature. The simple, and in fact modest, material object of the hammock and the almost annihilated native inhabitants of the Caribbean were invested with an entire narrative of human development, historical temporality, and the role of foresight in bringing about progress. After analysing the emergence of the idea of the simultaneity of the non-simultaneous, I trace the development of this story and carry out a reading of its iterations to demonstrate how it came to express, assume, refract, and index a surprising number of the ideas related to the theory of stadial progress, the supposed differences between peoples at opposite ends of the linear path of development, and the new attention and value given to futurity and foresight. I also argue that this argument about Caribs lacking foresight

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became enmeshed in a larger network of justifications and explanations of the difference that supposedly existed between rational adult European men and a wide variety of denigrated subjectivities: women, children, animals, “imbeciles,” and the poor. While I do not argue, or want to imply, that the trope of the Carib and the hammock was decisive in the creation of modern temporality or subjectivities, it did play a rhetorical and conceptual role in linking characterizations of these subjectivities and the reasons for their supposed inferiority, resulting in a kind of Enlightenment intersectionality whose arguments were linked through the relation to time and the future.

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The Simultaneity of the Non-simultaneous The theory of stadial progress was formed in the second half of the eighteenth century, primarily by European political economists, philosophers, naturalists, and historians as they argued that there were three or four stages in the development of human society, that each stage depended on a specific mode of subsistence (hunting and gathering, pasturage, agriculture, and commerce), and that each stage enabled the flourishing of specific human capabilities so that socio-economic progress determined human progress more broadly.9 The first important articulations of the theory were made around the same time by Turgot in France and Adam Smith in Scotland. Over the 1760s and 1770s, while articulations of the ideas became more systematic, extensive, and precise, the basic outlines of the theory remained the same and the modes of susbsistance became entrenched as their role in determining historical development was widely treated as a natural law.10 As a way of elucidating the complex temporality of the stadial theory of progress, I want first to analyse a brief passage exemplifying some of the strange possibilities and implications that emerged from the stadial theory of the Enlightenment. At the close of the eighteenth century, writing instructions for travellers on a French expedition to the South Pacific, the savant and government administrator Joseph-Marie Degérando claimed that travelling long distances in space was like travelling in time to earlier stages of history: “The voyageur-philosophe who sails towards the ends of the earth is in fact passing through the sequence of the ages. He travels in the past. Every step he takes is a century passed through. Those unknown islands that he reaches are for him the cradle of human society. Those people whom our ignorant vanity despises are displayed to him as ancient and majestic monuments of the origin of time.”11 This statement is a good one to begin with because in raising the similarity between travelling in space and travelling in time it is a

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Living the Future  41

compact expression of a number of theories, assumptions, conceptual tensions, and ambiguities that characterized Enlightenment ideas of historical temporality. One implication of this brief statement was that the inhabitants of these distant lands lived in the past. This was a striking articulation of what the anthropologist and social theorist Johannes Fabian has called the “denial of co-evalness,” defined as “a persistent and systematic tendency to place the referent(s) of anthropology in a Time other than the present of the producer of anthropological discourse.”12 Degérando’s expression of the idea fits this definition well, particularly since he was a member of the newly formed proto-anthropological Society of the Observers of Man (La Société des Observateurs de l’Homme), and his denial of co-evalness appeared in his Considérations sur les diverses méthods à suivre dans l’observation des peuples sauvages (Considerations on the various methods to follow in the observation of savage peoples), a work that became a touchstone in the history of anthropology.13 But more than denying that the people of the Pacific lived in the present, Degérando implied that they lived extremely far back in time, since the voyageur-philosophe supposedly moved through a century with each step. This was, therefore, a vision of extreme otherness and difference, which was presumably understood as a radical cultural and social difference as well as a temporal one. The denial of co-evalness is an inadequate description of this temporality because the stadial theory of progress did not only deny that the people supposedly living in different stages of development were living in different times. This is a stranger and more complex temporality that the mere denial of co-evalness. It is the denial of co-evalness and the recognition of contemporaneity. In the passage of Degérando’s above, for example, the philosophical traveller embarking on a journey did not bring the people of the South Pacific islands into being. They already existed and lived simultaneously with Europeans, even before the Europeans became aware of their existence in the eighteenth century. So, while it might seem to travellers that they are moving back in time, they are, of course, not travelling to the past but continuing to live in the same forward-moving “moment” that they are denying to the people of the South Pacific. A better description of this understanding of compound temporality is the German phrase die Gleichzeitigkeit des Ungleichzeitigen developed in the early twentieth century, which is translated as either “the simultaneity of the non-simultaneous,” the “contemporaneity of the non-contemporaneous,” or the “synchronicity of the non-synchronous.” A similar term was first used in art history, but the concept was most comprehensively and influentially developed

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by Ernst Bloch in his attempt to draw on the tradition of historical materialism to explain the emergence of National Socialism in Germany.14 Although I am not using the term in precisely the same sense that Bloch did, I think that the phrase “simultaneity of the non-simultaneous” is the most accurate way of referring to how the Enlightenment philosophes thought about the temporality of stadial progress.15 In addition to being more accurate, I think it highlights the fact that the historical temporality implied by the theory itself was paradoxical. That is, the seeming paradox of the name itself helps point to the impossibility of people existing both simultaneously and non-simultaneously. One result of the simultaneity of the non-simultaneous as expressed in Degérando’s passage is that some people are being said to live in both the past and the present. In their writing the philosophes ascribed to these people a strange kind of undecidable compound temporality in which they were both past and present, or past-present. The people of the South Pacific, much like Native Americans, were represented as living in this compound temporality. What was left unsaid, but implied by the logic of Degérando’s claim, was that sailing back to Europe would be sailing from the past into the present, which would be the future of the people that the philosophical traveller had been travelling amongst, since according to the stadial theory of progress each of the three or four stages usually occurred in succession and there was only one path through the stages from the state of nature to advanced commercial society. This means that while the Pacific Islanders were made to be both past and present, Europeans were made to be both present and future. They too had a compound and uncanny temporality, though this remained largely unstated. In the logic of Degérando’s claim, Europe was the future and Europeans (at least rational, enlightened men like the philosophical traveller) were living in the future, in the sense that they believed they were living in the more advanced stage of development that supposedly less developed people were necessarily moving towards, if they were moving at all. The paradoxical nature of this sense of temporality and the oddness of its uncanniness were often reflected in language that was at times ambiguous, but that often moved awkwardly back and forth between metaphorical and literal language. We can see this in Degérando, as he employs metaphors and similes in some sentences while in others figurative language is absent. For example, he claimed in literal terms that the voyageur-philosophe “he travels in the past” and that “every step he takes is a century passed through.” Yet this literalness is unsettled not only by the seeming impossibility of travelling back in time, but

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Living the Future  43

also because in the very next sentence he states that the islands are the cradle of human society “for him,” the voyageur-philosophe, raising the possibility that this was merely a subjective perception or judgment about the islands and not a reflection of their objective status. Then, in the succeeding sentence, he explicitly shifts to the metaphorical, writing that the Pacific Islanders are “displayed to him as ancient and majestic monuments.” As in Turgot, people are not just people, but also “monuments.”

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“Living Monuments” Some of the most interesting and revealing quotations come from people who believed that they resided in an advanced state of society, yet were proximate with people who were at a much less developed social stage. Through this proximity, the supposed temporal differences came into relief, revealing more clearly the belief in a kind of simultaneity of the non-simultaneous. One example of this spatial proximity and temporal difference that was generated from within the European Enlightenment discourse on stadial progress came from Guillaume-François Le Trosne, a magistrate from Orléans who wrote Mémoire sur les vagabonds et les mendiants (Memoir on vagabonds and beggars) shortly before joining the physiocratic school of political economy.16 In this work, published in 1764, Le Trosne distinguished between the poor who were deserving of charity and the “vagabonds” whose errant and violent lifestyle made them deserving of the harsh justice of the royal regime. In the terminology of the day, “vagabond” referred specifically to someone without a fixed home, property, or employment. At this time in France there was a considerable problem with roving criminal gangs preying on farmers, but there was also a significant population of people who seasonally migrated for agricultural work.17 Although these seasonal migrants may have had a home that they left behind, this was difficult to prove when they were out on the road. If they did not have papers attesting to their good standing in their home community (that is, those who were sans aveu), it was difficult to distinguish between types of itineracy and there was no modern form of identification papers for the authorities to rely on. Ignoring the real plight of these migrant labourers, Le Trosne treated all vagabonds as dangerous criminals who were enemies of society, “domestic enemies,” even if they had not yet committed a crime.18 For Le Trosne, the very lifestyle of these individuals, and the fact that they did not seem to recognize authority or participate in society, made them asocial savages who seemed to be closer to what Rousseau called “natural man” (those who lived in the state of nature)

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than hunters and gatherers. Drawing on the notion of the state of nature and the discourse of savagery, Le Trosne claimed of the vagabonds that “they live amid society without being members of it; they live in that state where men would be if they had no law, no police [in the broad eighteenth-century sense], no authority; in that state that is supposed to have existed before the establishment of civil society, but that, without ever having existed for a whole people, finds itself, by a singular contradiction, realized in a civilized society.”19 For Le Trosne, this class of people were walking embodiments of the state of nature, like bubbles of savagery in the ocean of French civilization. They were like the beings from an earlier stage of development transported to the present day and living in an advanced society. Interestingly, Le Trosne gestured to the paradoxical nature of this simultaneity of the non-simultaneous by identifying this situation as “a singular contradiction.” The seeming simultaneity of the non-simultaneous was also explicitly articulated by Louis-Philippe, comte de Ségur in his memoirs about his five years spent travelling across eastern Europe and living in Russia as the French minister plenipotentiary and the envoy of Louis XVI to the court of Catherine II in St. Petersburg.20 In recounting his experiences from 1785 to 1789, Ségur repeatedly wrote of individual places that seemed to have very different ways of life and people from different centuries. He wrote that “the aspect of Petersburg strikes the spirit with a double astonishment; there are united the age of barbarism and that of civilization, the tenth and the eighteenth centuries, the manners of Asia and those of Europe, coarse Scythians and polished Europeans, a brilliant, proud nobility, and a people plunged in servitude.”21 Ségur was completely explicit in his conceiving of the people of St. Petersburg as uniting the ages of barbarism and civilization; he employed no rhetorical gestures towards simile or metaphor in stating that they lived simultaneously in the tenth and eighteenth centuries. He also drew out the paradoxical quality of the simultaneity of the non-simultaneous by characterizing it as “a double astonishment.” Drawing upon the old trope of the ancient Sycthians as barbarians, Ségur also culturally differentiated Europeans and Asians in a manner that seemed to align with nascent ideas of racial difference. These observations about St. Petersburg echoed his comments on what he found in Poland – an “inconceivable mélange of ancient centuries and modern centuries”– and Moscow’s “turbulent population representing at the same time opposing manners, different centuries, savage peoples and civilized peoples, European societies and Asiatic bazaars.”22 Again, as in St. Petersburg, in a single geographical location Sègur felt like he found different centuries existing at the same moment.

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Living the Future  45

Another example of this comes from within France when a leading Parisian physician, Louis-Jacques Moreau de la Sarthe, published a short work in 1801 titled “Considérations sur quelques traces de l’état sauvage chez les peuples polices” (Considerations on the traces of the savage state amongst advanced peoples). Moreau de la Sarthe began by referring to the best travel literature and observed that “the philosophical reader must note with surprise that these differences of civilization, these contrasts between barbarism and the state of advancement and order [l’état policé], [exist] in the same degree of latitude, the same empire, and sometimes in the same province.” Observing that the English traveller Arthur Young had drawn attention to the contrast in Old Regime France between the development of the cities and that of the countryside, Moreau de la Sarthe went farther. In most of the countryside, he claimed, the least developed people were no more than “half-civilized,” and the situation is not much better amongst the lowest rungs of city dwellers.23 He mentions the Lower Brittany, claiming that the inhabitants “have barely changed for several centuries” and that if a peasant from there was “thrown all of the sudden in the middle of one of the big cities of France, [they] would be just as astonished and perplexed as a Huron or Iroquois.”24 There exist, “even in Europe and in the middle of the most advanced societies, countries whose inhabitants are in a sort of social infancy, or that conserve the most ancient habits, and may be looked at as living monuments.”25 The use of the term “living monument” draws particularly attention to the paradoxical temporality of these supposedly backward people living amongst the civilized. They are monuments of the past, though they are alive in the present. Joyce Chaplin also discusses a number of interesting examples acknowledging a simultaneity of the non-simultaneous in the history of early America.26 The Scottish historical school and their accounts of stadial progress were popular amongst the elite white population. “Whites in the Lower South were interested in Scottish history because they wanted to determine their own place within its comparative sociological framework,” she writes. “They inserted themselves, with great care, somewhere between the two value-laden extremes of nomadic savagism and commercial civility set out by this theory, the first stage epitomized, for them, by Indians who lingered in relative economic underdevelopment, the last by Europeans who embodied the most highly polished and commercial form of human society.”27 While they reflected on the status of their exploited slaves and worried that their reliance on slavery meant they were socially and economically backward, it seems that their most explicit thoughts about

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people who were proximate but thought to be of a different time concerned the Native Americans. Chaplin quotes a letter from Thomas Fitch stating that members of the Creek nation, under the guidance of white Americans, had progressed rapidly through the first three stages of development and were entering the fourth stage, as they were “becoming commercial.” He concluded that within “ten years or so the savage race will be incorporated into our social system.”28 Comparisons were made not only between whites and Native Americans, but also between groups of Native Americans that seemed to be progressing at different rates. Chaplin quotes James Wright, governor of Georgia, as claiming that “the Cherokees I think are half a century before the Creeks, they are much more civilized and I believe better disposed yet still they are Savages.”29 The American context was also the site of an interesting graphic image of temporal difference. As Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton have argued, the field of chronology underwent a visual revolution in the eighteenth century.30 On occasion, the graphic illustrations of chronology depicted some of the ambiguity and paradox of ideas of the uncanny historical temporality in which contemporaneous peoples were presented as having different locations in time and different relations to past, present, and future. In fact, some time charts even included representations of people as if they were outside of time (see figures 1 and 2). Isaac Eddy and James Wilson created a chronological chart published in 1812 as Chronology Delineated to Illustrate the History of Monarchical Revolutions. It was modelled on Stephen Dod and Daniel Dod’s A Chronological, Historical, and Biographical Chart printed in 1807, which itself built on the graphic innovations of Friedrich Strauss’s Storm der Zeiten (1804).31 Although Eddy and Wilson’s chart is from a little after the period on which I am focusing, it has a heuristic value in that it graphically represents the understanding of historical temporality that can otherwise remain a bit abstract. Although they printed their chart in 1812, it is consistent with some of the Enlightenment ideas I have been analysing. Timelines and chronological charts became widespread and varied after the introduction of works such as Jacques Barbeu-Dubourg’s Chronologie universelle (Universal chronology) in 1753 and Joseph Priestley’s popular and much-admired A Chart of Biography in 1765.32 Most of the chronological charts in the period include, following Priestley, a visual representation of simultaneity. One of the things that is striking about Eddy and Wilson’s chart is that they follow this fundamental feature of these time charts, including horizontal lines that mark the years and graphically connect peoples in a moment of

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Figure 1. Isaac Eddy and James Wilson, Chronology Delineated to Illustrate the History of Monarchical Revolutions (1812).

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Figure 2. Detail of Eddy and Wilson, Chronology Delineated.

simultaneous existence, yet they also included Native Americans in a way that presented them as being outside this relentless march of history. The horizontal lines do not extend to the picture of the Native Americans. The two battling groups of Native Americans and their forested landscape are shown as outside of the reach of these markers of simultaneity. In the graphic logic of the chart, the Native Americans may exist in the present, but it is a timeless present outside of historical change. Perhaps the strangest detail of this representation of the Native Americans is that the image of two of the fighters are partially hidden underneath a branch of the tree that is the starting point of ascending branches of England, Spain, Italy, France, and other nations. This may be interpreted as a rough equivalency that is meant to imply a similarity of development so that the Native Americans appear to be like the ancestors of the Europeans. This reading is made more plausible by the fact that the ancient Greek empire ends at roughly the same chronological point, reinforcing the idea prevalent since Lafitau, and repeated many times by the French and Scottish stadial theorists, that contemporary Native Americans were like the ancient ancestors of the Europeans.

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Living the Future  49

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A Parable of Foresight In Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, published in 1798, the German philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote about “the Caribbean who sells his hammock in the morning and in the evening is embarrassed about it because he does not know how he will sleep that night.”33 This is one of only two mentions of people from the Caribbean in this work that runs to almost two hundred pages in the modern edition. The reference to the Caribbean and his hammock might appear to readers as an a somewhat arbitrary or obscure invocation, particularly since it appears in a section in which Kant is analysing the human faculty of foresight. The fact that he used this example to demonstrate the importance of foresight gave it some importance. In his earlier writing, Kant had argued that foresight played a central role in human development and human purpose. In 1786, for example, he wrote a conjectural history of the development of humans from their first origins to civilized state, attempting to identify the “steps that reason took in elevating the human being entirely above the society with animals.”34 He claimed that “the third step of reason, after it had mixed itself into the first immediately sensed needs [of nourishment and preservation through sexual reproduction], was the deliberate expectation of the future. This faculty of not enjoying merely the present moment of life but of making present to oneself the coming, often very distant time, is the most decisive mark of the human advantage of preparing himself to pursue distant ends in accordance with his vocation.”35 Kant was not, however, the first to refer to a Caribbean person selling a hammock in the morning and not having one to sleep on at night, nor was he the first person to mention the Carib and the hammock as a way of discussing foresight and human development. This small story – also appearing like an anecdote – appeared as a minor and passing reference in the so-called Second Discourse of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discours sur l’origine et les fondemens de l’inégalité parmi les hommes (Discourse on the origins and foundations of inequality among men), first published in 1755 and issued in a second edition of 1782. In a passage about humans who supposedly lived near to the “state of nature,” Rousseau wrote that the Carib “sells his cotton bed [i.e., a hammock] in the morning, and comes crying in the evening to buy it back, not having foreseen that he would need it the next night.”36 Much like in the text by Kant, the brevity and almost random appearance of this reference could be taken to suggest it was a point of lesser importance in the work, but the manner in which it sticks out also speaks of the possibility of something

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more. Rousseau’s mention of the Carib and the hammock is the only mention of the Carib in the first edition of 1755. Also suggestive is that it is linked to foresight, a concept of importance in Rousseau’s account of human origins and social development. Furthermore, the anecdote of the hammock functions as the sole example of the Carib’s supposed lack of foresight. And it is one of the few pieces of evidence that is meant to be empirical in a work that is explicitly, and almost completely, conjectural. The anecdote was meant to reveal something of the character and abilities of the “natural man” who lived in the state of nature before any social development. Rousseau argued that “of all the existing peoples” the Caribs were those who “have least moved away from the state of nature.”37 As much as it might appear like a minor moment in Rousseau’s text, it gives us a window onto much larger topics. In a certain regard, the brief story of the Carib and the hammock might be considered a minor trope of the Enlightenment, particularly in terms of its frequency. Yet, as I will show, a number of important philosophical and historical works of the Enlightenment included the anecdote and it circulated in periodicals and reference works. While it may not have been repeated with enormous frequency, it does seem to have circulated widely in print and been known and repeated by a variety of philosophes. Furthermore, it has the unusual characteristic of allowing us to focus on the Enlightenment idea of foresight, a topic to which, as far as I am aware, no scholarly works have been dedicated. I am not arguing that the anecdote of the hammock was of great causal importance in the development of ideas of progress, time, futurity, foresight, and the supposed difference between peoples living in different stages of development. But I do think that it was representative, that it allows us an unusual angle on an understudied topic, and that it did have some role in the development of Enlightenment ideas of historical temporality and futurity. Several scholars have noted that Rousseau most likely drew this account of the Carib and the hammock from the work of the seventeenth-century Dominican missionary Jean-Baptiste Du Tertre, but there has not yet been an exploration of it as a trope or as evidence of Enlightenment ideas about time.38 Du Tertre spent a number of years living on Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, and the relevant passage appeared in the second volume of his Histoire genérale des Antilles habitées par les François (General history of the Antilles inhabited by the French), published in 1667.39 We get a fuller sense of the meaning of this trope if we analyse what Du Tertre wrote and see the various ways that Rousseau changed the account of the Carib and the hammock, particularly through omission and compression.

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Living the Future  51

In a section on the “commerce of the savages,” Du Tertre describes how the French can make advantageous trades with them. “They are cheap to trade with and some of us French have earned much from them,” Du Tertre writes, before arguing that “where there is the most profit to be made is on the cotton beds and carets.”40 He then gives an example of how the French are able to take advantage of the Caribs through exchanges involving hammocks:

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As we French are more astute and adroit than them, they are easily enough duped. They never sell a bed in the evening, because these good people see the need that they have for one at the time. They would not give their beds for anything at all. But in the morning, they give them at a good price without thinking that when the evening comes they will find themselves in the same position as the preceding evening. Also, they do not fail to come back at the end of the day, bringing what they were given in exchange, saying quite simply that they cannot sleep on the ground. When they see that we do not want to give them back [the hammocks], they almost cry in spite.41

One of the first things to take note of, in light of the later usage of this anecdote, is that Du Tertre’s own language acknowledges a type of foresight on the part of the Carib: the Carib’s clearly acknowledged expectation that the hammock would be returned. It is only “when they see that we do not want to give them back [the hammocks], [that] they almost cry in spite.” In addition to Du Tertre’s acknowledging this expectation, the wording of this sentence and others in the same section of the book point towards the fact that the entire encounter between the generic Frenchmen and the generic Carib revolves around fundamentally different and perhaps incompatible notions of exchange and private property. The observation about the hammock occurs in a section titled “About the commerce of the savages” that begins with Du Tertre’s claim that “[t]hey have no kind of commerce amongst themselves, they do not sell or buy anything, giving each other quite liberally all the things with which they might relieve their compatriots without inconveniencing themselves.”42 In the next paragraph, he acknowledges that the Caribs would prefer that the Frenchmen also share objects liberally, without a sense of ownership and personal property: “Our savages would very much like that we French do with them what they do with their compatriots, that is to say, give freely whatever is asked of them.”43 Immediately following his observations about the hammock, Du Tertre again describes the Caribs in a manner that seems to indicate they understood exchange

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and property differently from Frenchmen: “They are very likely to retract all the trades that they make. That is why it is necessary to hide and remove everything that has been bought from them. In a word, all their commerce and all their trade is only child’s play. Quite often when they come amongst us, they cost more to feed that than gain made from the commodities bought from them.”44 Although almost certainly built upon misunderstanding on the part of Du Tertre, this description of exchange with the Carib seems to be at the foundation of his construction of the figure of the “savage” as backward and behind. In Du Tertre’s account, a difference in understandings of property is turned into a difference in understanding the future and in being able to look towards it and plan for it. The same process occurs in a later retelling of this scenario in another important and much-quoted work of travel literature from the end of the seventeenth century. Père Jean-Baptiste Labat seems to have taken Du Tertre’s account and rewritten it with a slightly different narrative framing that removes the generic observation and tells the story as if it were an experience that Labat himself had when he was in the Caribbean: “One may believe that, being a newcomer from Europe, and seeing for the first time all this Indian furniture, I did not want to buy it for myself as much as to send it to my friends in France; I wished of all things a Caribbean bed or hammock.” Labat then turns to his companion: I asked Monsieur Michel to make the purchase if it were possible; but he told me it was too late to speak with them about selling their beds, that when the night approached they were not accommodating on the topic, because they felt the need that they were going to have to sleep; instead [he said] that in the morning they did not make so many reflections, their foresight not extending so far. We resolved, therefore, to postpone the purchase until tomorrow. However, I saw what I wanted from their furniture and I told my friend.45

Du Tertre and Labat both include Frenchmen doing the trade, or intending to, while from Rousseau onwards, the trader gets left out of the story. Rousseau leaves out the trader in what seems to be an elision of the exploitation of colonialism.46 There is no longer a Frenchmen trading in order to make a profit from someone he believes is, as Du Tertre candidly claimed, “easily enough duped.” One effect of this elision of the French person or people involved in the exchange is that the Frenchmen is no longer to blame for the circumstances of the Carib. Once the exploitative trader is left out, the Carib is fully to blame for his own dire situation. His misery becomes the result only of his own lack

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Living the Future  53

of foresight, rather than also being a result of the rapaciousness of the trader and his disregard for the well-being of the Carib. It also becomes less about market exchange and the history of colonial predation than a universal story of foresight, its importance, and the dangers of its (supposed) absence. It is a way to vividly and memorably express the role of a future orientation and the ability to look towards the future, take it into consideration, and reason about it if necessary. That is just how Rousseau and Kant employed the story. In fact, this is also true of the many authors who turned the story into a trope by repeating it many times in the period between Rousseau and Kant. In his conjectures about what “savage man” must have been like, Rousseau paints them as dispassionate and understimulated. “His modest needs are so easily met, and he is so far from the degree of knowledge necessary to desire acquiring more, that he can neither have foresight nor curiosity. The spectacle of nature becomes indifferent to him as he becomes familiar with it. It is always the same order, always the same revolutions.”47 Echoing Du Tertre’s characterization of Caribs, Rousseau argues that “savage man” does not think about tomorrow, existing in perpetual sameness, sunken in the present: “his soul, which nothing stirs, is engaged by the sole sentiment of its present existence, without any idea of the future, however close it may be, and his projects, limited like his views, barely extend to the end of the day.”48 This is then the place in the text where Rousseau brings in the Caribs, claiming that “such is, even today, the degree of foresight of the Carib,” then sharing the anecdote of selling the hammock in the morning.49 Rousseau argued that as people emerged from the state of nature they first were hunters and gatherers and did not yet have the capacity for agriculture because they lacked foresight. The hammock was able to function as a potent symbol of the first developmental stage out of the state of nature because it could stand for the supposedly unfixed and nomadic life of hunters (hunter-gatherers). Early modern travel accounts and pseudo-ethnographic observations of the Caribs and other indigenous people in the Americas often commented on the portability of the hammocks and how they were taken on hunting trips, when going to war, and when moving. In fact, the hammock was such a powerful symbol of the supposedly early stage of historical development that it became a featured object commonly included in illustrations of the New World. It even played a role in the allegorical language of early modern European printmaking, and it became a favored object of European collectors.50 Writing about people emerging from the state of nature, Rousseau again drew attention to a lack of foresight: “this is how men

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54  The Time of Enlightenment

imperceptibly acquire some crude idea of mutual engagements, and of the advantage of fulfilling them, but only as far as present and perceptible interest could require; for foresight was nothing to them, and far from being occupied with a distant future, they did not even consider the next day.”51 Being without foresight, they could not practice agriculture and make their way out of the eternal present, since agriculture is “an art that demands much labour and foresight.”52 One of the conjectural reasons that he offers in explaining why people who derived subsistence from wild plants probably turned to fixed agriculture only very late was that they were without “foresight regarding future needs.”53 Rousseau’s characterization of the Carib as hunters (hunter-gatherers) and the ignoring and downplaying of agriculture significantly misrepresented the Kalinago (or “Island Carib”) culture that Du Tertre came into contact with on Guadeloupe. “In truth,” historian Philip Boucher writes, “Island Carib culture in historical times, [was] characterized by agriculture, seasonally fixed habitations, and extended kinship relations.”54 Rousseau ignored or overlooked the evidence of small-scale agriculture and characterized the Caribs as having no agriculture and, therefore, not yet being in the agricultural stage. This is relevant because it reinforced the judgment of their being in the earliest stage of development. This ignoring of agriculture, or the attempt to marginalize it or explain it away, was a feature not only of Rousseau’s work but also of the nascent stadial theories more generally. What Christian Marouby has written about Adam Smith and the Scottish stadial theorists is true of the French as well: “The problem, only technical in appearance but a veritable thorn in the side of Scottish Enlightenment anthropology, is the undeniable presence of agriculture among the populations that are the prime example of the first stage [of progress].”55 Ultimately, the figure of the Carib as characterized in the hammock anecdote and in the associations with Rousseau’s conjectural history bore little resemblance to the historical indigenous peoples of the Caribbean. In a sense, the Caribs were victims not only of colonial encounter but also the attempts of educated European men to construct themselves as the universal subject. The philosophes’ use of the figure of the Carib in the anecdote was, as Michel de Certeau argued about the sixteenth-century travel account of Jean de Léry, a journey “from the self to the self, through the mediation of the other.”56 Before Rousseau, the anecdote appeared in travel accounts, such as those of DuTertre and Labat, but after Rousseau it was used in philosophical works of the Enlightenment, often disconnected from any discussion of the history of European colonization of the Americas or the indigenous people of the Caribbean. Three years after Rousseau’s

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Living the Future  55

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retelling of the anecdote, Claude-Adrien Helvétius employed it in his controversial philosophical work De l’esprit (1758), which was quickly banned by royal authorities, though its notoriety helped it be reborn as a clandestine classic of the Enlightenment. In a footnote, Helvétius casually introduced the Caribs: “They pass time dreaming in their hammocks. Do you want to buy their bed? In the morning, they sell it cheaply without bothering to think that they will need it in the evening.”57 Jean-François Saint-Lambert, poet, philosophe, friend of Rousseau, and a member of the social circle surrounding Baron d’Holbach, Diderot, and Friedrich-Melchior Grimm wrote about the Carib and the hammock in the entry “Legislator” in a volume of the Encyclopédie that was published in 1765.58 The same passage was later included in editions of his celebrated poem Les Saisons.59 In a wide-ranging work published in 1770, De la philosophie de la nature (On the philosophy of nature), Jean-Baptiste-Claude (Delisle) de Sales invoked the Carib as an exemplar of a lack of foresight. Writing about the mythological figure of Pandora, Delisle de Sales states that “she has no more foresight than the Carib who sells his bed in the morning, not suspecting that in the evening he must go to sleep.”60 The trope also appeared in the enormously popular The History of America published in 1777 by William Robertson, principal of the University of Edinburgh and Historiographer Royal for Scotland. The book went through roughly twenty editions in the forty years following its publication and was quickly published in foreign editions, including an edition in French translated by a team led by the prominent philosophe Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Suard and published by the eminent Panckoucke.61 Robertson invoked the Carib as an example to demonstrate his more general point about the lack of intellect and foresight amongst “several” Amerindian groups: There are several people in America whose limited understandings seem not to be capable of forming an arrangement for futurity; neither their solicitude nor their foresight extend so far. They follow blindly the impulse of the appetite which they feel, but are entirely regardless of distant consequences, and even of those removed in the least degree from immediate apprehension. While they highly prize such things as serve present use, or minister to present enjoyment, they set no value upon those which are not the object of some immediate want. When, on the approach of the evening, a Caribbee feels himself disposed to go to rest, no consideration will tempt him to sell his hammoc. But, in the morning, when he is sallying out to the business or pastime of the day, he will part with it for the slightest toy that catches his fancy.62

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To support this last assertion, Robertson cited the relevant passages in Du Tertre and Labat.63 Another way that the trope circulated was in the lengthy excerpts, quotations, paraphrases, and descriptions of books that appeared in periodicals and reference works. For example, it appeared in an excerpt and description of the French translation of Robertson’s History of America that was published in the periodical L’Année littéraire in 1778.64 In that same year, it was included in an article on the Antilles in Dictionnaire universel des sciences morale, économique, politique et diplomatique, ou Bibliothèque de l’homme-d’état et du citoyen (Universal dictionary of moral sciences, economics, politics, and diplomacy, or the library of statesmen and the citizen) edited by the philosophe Jean-Baptiste-René Robinet.65 In 1786, the Encyclopédie méthodique reprinted Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origins of Inequality, including the section mentioning the Carib and the hammock, as the entry “Inequality.”66 The anecdote likely circulated in conversation, private correspondence, and in the manuscript versions of some of these written works, such as Saint-Lambert’s Les Saisons, which circulated for years before it was published.67 In short, there was no lack of means for this anecdote to circulate.

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“Women Are a Little Carib” One of the most interesting pieces of evidence indicating that the trope of the Carib and the hammock was widely known – perhaps even qualifying as common knowledge amongst those involved in the Republic of Letters – is the curious way that Saint-Lambert referenced it in a work analysing the differences between men and women. In a philosophical dialogue addressing the physical constitution of women and their senses, imagination, and mind, Saint-Lambert has a fictionalized version of seventeenth-century philosopher François Bernier tell a fictionalized version of noted salonnière Anne “Ninon” de l’Enclos: “Your senses are always in motion and your sensibility, ever excited by the interests of the moment, too often makes you forget your principles or the interest of your whole life. Women are a little Carib. I have seen few who were not ready to sacrifice the whole of tomorrow for a minute of the day as it passes.”68 One of the first things to note about this invocation of the Carib is that the fuller version of the trope does not have to be repeated; Saint-Lambert seems to assume that the association of the Carib with a lack of foresight and orientation towards futurity is so strong as to make any mention of the hammock redundant. The figure of the Carib alone carries all of the symbolic weight, and women’s orientation to time can be characterized simply by an association with that figure.

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Living the Future  57

This example, however, doesn’t only give evidence of the commonality of the trope of the Carib and the hammock and the association of the Carib with lack of foresight. It also indicates the manner in which temporal understanding, or the supposed lack of it, was used to differentiate more than just enlightened Europeans and supposedly savage indigenous peoples of the Americas. The statement “women are a little Carib” is also evidence of how the philosophes made connections between these subjugated groups. In fact, a supposed lack of foresight and appreciation of the future was a characteristic common to a number of the differentiated subjectivities, pointing to the manner in which temporality and futurity were tools in the larger process of defining the educated adult “civilized” European man and establishing the difference of women, “savages,” animals, children, “imbeciles,” and on some occasions the poor. As far as I am aware, this joining of time and power, and its role in a larger web of intersecting differentiations made within the nascent Enlightenment “sciences of man,” has gone unnoticed in the scholarship. One of the clearest textual sites in which a number of these differentiations are made through arguments about foresight and futurity is in the natural historical writing of Buffon, work that was foundational to the Enlightenment “science of man,” stadial accounts of progress, and conjectural histories of human origins, including Rousseau’s.69 Buffon argued that foresight was one of the major differences between humans and animals. He claimed that animals had no sense of time or duration and therefore existed in the moment without the ability to reflect on their existence. “They have no idea of time, no knowledge of the past, no notion of the future,” he writes, “their consciousness of existence is simple; it depends exclusively on the sensations that affect them at the moment and consists in the interior sentiments that these sensations produce.”70 They are wholly absorbed by, and trapped within, the present. Buffon argued that animals do not have the capability of foresight and that it is erroneous to believe, as some do, that ants, bees, mice, and birds do have foresight because, for example, they store provisions for winter; this can be attributed to mechanical causes, not foresight. As another example, he explains birds building nests not as a result of foreseeing their future needs, but because a male and female bird desire to have an isolated place to be together, unperturbed. “Imbeciles” (the broad eighteenth-century term for the group of people with significant cognitive disabilities) have the same incapacities as animals, according to Buffon. They cannot reflect on their sensations, and therefore they have neither ideas nor memories.71 The past and the present are both present to the imbecile and the animal through their

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sensations, but past and present are not really known because they are not distinguished between, differentiated, and compared. “They see the present and the past together,” Buffon wrote, “but without distinguishing them, without comparing them, and consequently without knowing them.”72 These two types of beings, therefore, reside in an eternal present with no real understanding of the duration of clock time, nor a sense of historical temporality. Children, Buffon believed, are not much different, since they too live only in the present.73 Only when they mature do they live equally in the past, present, and future. In fact, Buffon argued that they do not really become full moral beings until around age fifteen. “A man must regard the first fifteen years of his life as being nothing,” he wrote, “everything that happened to him, all that occured in this long interval of time is erased from his memory … We only begin to live morally when we begin to order our thoughts, to turn them towards a specific future, and give them a kind of consistency, a state relating to what we must be subsequently.”74 The gendered language was important in this passage, as Saint-Lambert was far from the only man to argue that women did not have a sense of time, future, or foresight. Diderot, for example, writes that (civilized) women “have remained real savages within” and as civil-savage hybrids they were both static and changing, living in an eternal present in which “all times are present to her.”75

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Conclusion As I have discussed in this chapter, the philosophes began to articulate a sense of what can be called differential temporality. This understanding of historical temporality involved multiple forms of difference. In the first case, the philosophes asserted that groups of people throughout the world lived in different historical eras even as they existed simultaneously in a shared present. The second case of difference followed from this first case, since the simultaneity of the non-simultaneous created another form of compound temporality in which people in the savage state were supposedly both past and present, while civilized Europeans were supposedly present and future. The third case of difference was the focus on the two poles of historical development, the most advanced and the least advanced. This binaristic focus on the supposedly advanced people of commercial societies and the supposedly backward “savages” who lived in small groups in what was represented as the earliest stage of social development corresponded with a binaristic treatment of the historicity of these peoples. Those that the philosophes characterized as savages were represented as living in

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Living the Future  59

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the eternal present, outside of history, static beings who did not move along the linear path of history, but instead remained stuck in a phase of development just steps ahead of the conditions of animality and the animal-like existence of “natural man.” Those people who lived in the commercial societies of Europe were represented as being advanced, historical beings, prone to development and change and whose being was defined by becoming, transformation, and improvement. The fourth case of difference was those instances where people were said to be living in different historical eras alongside and amongst one another, as when Le Trosne argued that vagabonds in France were embodiments of the state of nature within French civilization. The fifth case of difference was the ways that the philosophes intertwined this assertion of temporal difference with the assertion of differences of sex, race, and age as they began to be formulated in natural history and the “sciences of man.” Stadial theory and the idea of the simultaneity of the non-simultaneous are very much a product of the eighteenth century, and these ideas continued to be developed in the nineteenth century, becoming more explicit, systemic, and extreme. They lay at the foundation of nineteenthand twentieth-century ideas of history, progress, human development, economic development, colonization, and empire, while also playing a significant role in the formation of ideas of race, gender, and class. Their intellectual and political ramifications continue to exist as the powerful, if largely obscured, foundation for the belief that societies can be either “modern” or “primitive,” “developed” or “developing,” “advanced” or “backward,” “first world” or “third world.”

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3 “The Explosion of Light”: The Economic Order and the Scientific Revelation of the Future

It is necessary to be clairvoyant in the kingdom of clairvoyants. François Quesnay, letter to Victor Mirabeau

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[The tableau économique] is a way to meditate on the present and on the future. François Quesnay, letter to Victor Mirabeau

In eighteenth-century France, the development of the active orientation towards the future was nowhere clearer than in the quickly unfolding field of political economy. One of the most influential and welldeveloped instruments to construct the future emerged in the middle of the century when a royal physician who had recently begun to write on political economy in the Encyclopédie began to collaborate with a wildly popular noble author of the multivolume L’ami des hommes (The friend of mankind). Between 1758 and 1763, François Quesnay and Victor Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau, developed an unprecedented instrument to model economic processes and predict the future outcome of economic actions. They called this unusual arrangement of numbers, names, columns, and dots the tableau économique (the economic picture), and they made it the centrepiece of their economic system, which eventually became known as physiocracy.1 Quesnay created the first tableau in 1758 based upon a belief in the fundamental similarity between the past, the present, and the future. Using the tableau, Quesnay and Mirabeau attempted to demonstrate how a healthy state of the economy could be recreated even though it had been lost at some point in the late seventeenth century. After only a few years of collaboration, they had created a variety of versions of the tableau that could be used to demonstrate not only that the future of the economy could be constructed, but that it could be made to be quite different from the past or the present

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“The Explosion of Light”  61

state of the economy. How did this instrument of recovery and return become an instrument of transformation and differentiation? How did the reproduction of the tableau in various forms for various purposes transform what it was capable of doing as a modelling instrument? What role did these transformations of the tableau play in the emergence of an active orientation to the future? In this chapter I address these and other questions, analysing why the tableau was created in the first place, why political economy took a visual-mathematical turn in the middle of the eighteenth century, how this visual-mathematical turn opened new possibilities for the representation of the future and the understanding of historical temporality, and the role of the tableau in the development of the idea of a future significantly different from the past and present yet knowable through deduction. From the creation of the tableau in 1758 through various alterations and reformulations over the subsequent five years, the constructability of the future arose out of the attempt to recover a past state of economic prosperity. In trying to make the future like the past, Quesnay and Mirabeau employed the tableau in ways that gave the future a new inflection of constructability and a new possibility of difference. In other words, attempting to reproduce the past, the physiocrats helped make possible the radical transformation of the future. The various forms of the tableau also established a new mode of visual-mathematical argumentation before statistics were used to guide projects for the future and at a time when simple addition and subtraction were the primary forms of mathematics employed in political economy.2 The tableau opened the way for others to find new methods of employing mathematics to argue for the construction of the future, and it inaugurated a new mode of economic planning by providing a tool that could be used to model possible changes to the economy.3 In order to demonstrate how this orientation to the future emerged in the development of the tableau, I first must analyse several other elements of the physiocrats’ work.4 I will show how Quesnay’s doubts about historical method and the unreliability and imprecision of language, as well as his sensationist theory of cognition, led him to create the tableau as a type of “natural sign” that could represent the natural laws clearly and precisely.5 Quesnay believed that once these laws were represented clearly, the acknowledgment of their existence would force people to assent to the physiocrats’ system of political economy, since the system was based upon these laws. Therefore, to understand how the tableau économique came to embody an active orientation to the future, we must understand the cognitive and linguistic theories that led Quesnay to call the tableau his “arithmetic hieroglyphics” (les

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62  The Time of Enlightenment

hiéroglyphes arithmétiques). We must attend to the visuality of the tableau and the fact that Quesnay used the term tableau to refer to a “painting” or a “picture,” rather than a “table.”6 But first, a brief history of the development of the tableau and a more general background of the physiocrats and their context is needed. The first tableau for which there is an existing copy was a handwritten document that Quesnay probably put to paper in November or December 1758 and that he included along with a letter to his first convert and collaborator, Mirabeau.7 Although Quesnay and Mirabeau developed physiocracy in close collaboration, the creation of the various tableaux was primarily Quesnay’s responsibility, while Mirabeau played an important role in attempting to explain and clarify them. The first “zigzag,” as Quesnay referred to it, would go through two more “editions” in privately circulated publication before its inclusion in a widely circulated publication, the sixth volume of Mirabeau’s popular series of books entitled L’ami des hommes, ou traité de la population (1760)8 (see figure 3). Although there are four primary forms that the tableau took in the roughly ten-year period from the late 1750s to the late 1760s, all of the forms could be used to demonstrate a number of different states of the economy (e.g., different states of the balance of expenditures, different states of the taxation of revenue). All of them focused on the circulation of “expenditure and products” and the “order and disorder that the government can bring about” through economic policy and intervention in this circulation.9 The first edition of the tableau (which remained unpublished) was used to demonstrate the interconnection between the three classes of the economy and that a limited amount of capital could support a large number of people by its reciprocal circulation between the classes of the economy. By the “third edition,” the zigzag tableau was used to demonstrate the static equilibrium-state possible in an economy. Before the zigzag was put to a wider variety of uses in L’ami des hommes, it had only been used to demonstrate a balanced and, in a way, ideal state of the economy. Looking at the third edition of the tableau, we can see how it demonstrates the manner in which the annual “net product,” or revenue, of the class of proprietors, by means of expenditure, circulates through the “productive class” and the “sterile class” over the course of a year. The “net product” is what in modern economic terms might be called the surplus: the amount by which the output exceeds the expenditures incurred in producing it. For instance, if an annual agricultural investment of 400 livres results in produce sold for 600 livres, the net product is 200 livres.10 Quesnay chose to focus on the expenditure of

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Figure 3. Tableau Économique from Victor Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau, L’ami des hommes, ou traité de la population (1758–60), vol. 3, 132.

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64  The Time of Enlightenment

revenue derived from the land because only its products, he argued, “constitute original, free, and continually renewing wealth, with which men pay for all the things they buy.”11

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Political Economy and the Rule of Nature The decade of the tableau’s creation was one of the most tumultuous in Old Regime France. There was great social and political instability as the monarchy engaged in a struggle for authority with the Paris Parlement. The conflict was related to a religious clash with Jansenists who adhered to the variety of Augustinian Christianity popular in France at the time. Both of these battles seem to have been involved in the circumstance leading to the politically complicated attempt on the king’s life that became known as the Damiens affair.12 The monarchy tightened its control of publishing and increased censorship and suppression of radical works such as Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie (suppressed in 1759) and Helvétius’s De l’esprit (suppressed in 1758). In addition to these domestic difficulties, France was involved in the so-called Diplomatic Revolution, which saw a reversal of a number of international diplomatic alliances. It also fought and eventually lost the Seven Years’ War, an expensive imperial struggle across several continents and oceans, resulting in large debts that contributed to a financial crisis.13 This political and economic instability registered in the composition of royal administration, where the most influential economic administrator in the government, the crucial position of controller-general, changed five times between 1754 and 1759.14 In this context of increased instability and anxiety, the physiocrats came to embody a unique political and social position. Their work straddled the often contradictory demands of social stability and economic reform that were so pressing as the still largely agrarian France tried to modernize its economy and overcome its foreign and domestic difficulties. The physiocrats gained prominence and an audience amongst influential ministers because they offered the promise of greater social and political order and stability through several policy changes. They caught the ear of numerous men who held influential administrative positions at one time or another, including the controller-general, Turgot; the minister of agriculture, mining, and manufactures, Bertin; the foreign minister and minister of the navy, the Duc de Choiseul; and the intendant général des finances, Trudaine de Montigny.15 These men were intrigued by the argument that a lost natural state of economic balance could be recovered through policy reforms. As radical as their proposed reforms sometimes seemed, Quesnay and Mirabeau always presented

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“The Explosion of Light”  65

their project as one of recovery.16 Furthermore, although they presented reforms of the economy and the agricultural system, they strongly and consistently favoured the powerful landowning elite. Their calls for change were in many regards conservative. Within a growing din of voices calling for agricultural modernization by the middle of the eighteenth century in France, the physiocrats emerged right in the middle of the tension between stasis and change, conservation and alteration. One of the great ironies of the work of the physiocrats was that in the name of the restoration of agricultural productivity and the recovery of a lost natural state of economic equilibrium, they attempted to bring about a fundamental reorganization of political and economic structures, such as the policies of taxation and trade. In the most general sense, the ultimate economic goal of the physiocrats was a strong base of large modernized farms (la grande culture), the securing of private property, the creation of a single tax on land, and a “free, full, and complete circulation” of commodities.17 Unlike the neo-mercantilist economists who emphasized the productive potential of trade and a large population, the physiocrats posited that it was by improving agricultural productivity – through improved means of cultivation, the treatment and division of the land, the restructuring of taxation, the redistribution of expenditures towards agricultural commodities, the creation of free trade, and the elimination of government price setting – that a nation could best increase its wealth and, therefore, its population. In Quesnay’s articulation, the power and productivity of a nation did not stem from the size of its population; instead, the size of the population stemmed from the wealth and power of a nation.18 Previous French economic theorists had argued for the singular importance of agriculture, but the physiocrats were the most prominent and thoroughly systematic theorists to base their approach on the ideas that the earth was the only source of wealth and that the size of the population of a nation should follow from the productivity and profitability of the cultivation of the earth.19 Trade was important as a means to profit from the fruits of the earth, but it was the fruits themselves that were seen to be the source of wealth. The word “physiocracy” was created by the economists themselves. It was meant to imply “the rule of nature”; in the place of what they saw as the overactive meddling of the government, the physiocrats hoped to reinstate the rule of nature in order to improve the exploitation of the only true source of wealth – the earth itself.20 The goal of physiocracy as Quesnay summarized it was to “recover the simple ways of nature,” to return stray travellers “to the point from which they had departed” and protect them against “the tendency to return to the false paths of

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66  The Time of Enlightenment

hypothetical science.”21 Mirabeau reiterated the physiocratic desire to recover the simple ways of nature when he defended the physiocrats’ against Rousseau’s charge that they wanted much more than a simple recovery of natural ways: “You believe that we are pursuing the perfectabilité of the human mind and that we want to extends its limits; but far from this, we want only to restore it to what is simple, to the first notions of nature and instinct.”22 For the physiocrats, identifying the surplus that only the earth provided – the net product – was the key to understanding the generation of wealth, the functioning of the economy, and in fact the political and moral dimensions of existence. This was because “the success of the other branches of the kingdom’s government depends” on “economic administration.”23 Political and moral order necessarily followed from concerns of subsistence: “it is cultivation, that cornucopia, which governs morals.”24 This idea was also put into more abstract terms as the universal principle that “the physical order determines the moral order.”25 Encouragement of the net product was, therefore, the key to economic and political health. For example, displaying the type of physiocratic enthusiasm, confidence, and self-importance that earned them the reputation as a secte, Mirabeau informed Rousseau of the allencompassing importance of the net product: “All of the physical and moral benefits for societies come down to one point: an increase of the net product; all that is harmful to society is determined by one fact: a reduction of the net product.”26 The existence of the net product was one of the most important things that the physiocrats believed the tableau économique proved. The belief that the earth was the only source of wealth led Quesnay to identify those who harvested the fruits of the earth as the “productive class” of society, as opposed to the “sterile class” of those involved in manufacturing and industry and the “proprietary class” of landowners. Through no fault of their own, the labour of the “sterile class” supposedly cancelled itself out in the production of wealth, since “the artisan destroys as much in subsistence as he produces through his labour.”27 Thus, it is “the productive class that gives movement to all of the others.”28 In his five economic articles written for the Encyclopédie, Quesnay drew numerous conclusions from this vivifying effect of agricultural production.29 For example, he argued that the money that farmers set aside every year to be employed in the agricultural production of the following year should not be taxed. If the “annual advances,” as Quesnay referred to them, were left untaxed, they would be larger and would thus yield a higher return that would act to increase the wealth of the economy as a whole.30 It is only the net product of the proprietary class

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“The Explosion of Light”  67

that should be taxed. Furthermore, agricultural commodities should not be directly taxed because of the negative effect on the prices of these commodities and the resulting divergence from the bon prix. Quesnay and Mirabeau wanted to simplify France’s complex system of taxation, and they particularly wanted to ease the burden that it placed upon farmers and agricultural development. They wanted the system of direct and indirect taxes – which included the general income taxes such as the taille and the vingtième; indirect taxes like the gabelle (salt tax), the aides (beverage taxes), and the traites (customs duties); and the corvée (forced labour on public works, like roads) – streamlined into a system that placed emphasis on taxing land rent while decreasing the other direct and indirect taxes.31 Mirabeau even went as far as to claim that “if indirect taxes, corvées, etc., were abolished, everything would in a few years return to the natural order of agricultural expenditure and products.”32 However, for the French state to increase its wealth, it would have to do more than change its taxation policies. The physiocrats also called for a balanced foreign trade that did not import more than it exported and only exported what was surplus. Furthermore, they called for the elimination of government regulation of the prices of commodities, most importantly grain. As we will see below, the balance of the expenditures of all the classes of the economy also plays a crucial role in the growth of wealth in the physiocratic system. Like fellow agricultural modernizers the agronomes, Quesnay recognized the importance of a wide range of rationalizing transformations to the means of agricultural production; but in his writing he focused on what we would today refer to as macroeconomic issues. Also like the agronomes, Quesnay looked to England as a model of economic productivity and modernized agriculture.33 The two models of optimized agricultural production that Quesnay focused on in his Encyclopédie articles were England of the present day and France under the leadership of Sully in the seventeenth century.34 Quesnay and Mirabeau followed Boisguilbert in identifying the late seventeenth century as “the beginning of this degradation” of French agriculture production in which the economy lost its balanced state of productivity.35 Their whole political economic project was focused on recovering this lost balanced state of the economy. Their assumption that this past condition could be recreated in the future indicates the centrality of their understanding of historical temporality to their system. The physiocratic notion of historical temporality was one of change within strict limits established by nature. They recognized the ultimate similitude of the natural order, that nature was fundamentally static

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and its laws were “invariable,” “eternal,” and “immutable.”36 However, they also emphasized the human creative potential in realizing different states of social being within the naturally circumscribed limits. They believed that the political and economic structure of a commercial society favoured, and would usually lead to, a certain form of government (republican) with certain types of laws. However, there was not a simple or direct correlation between the general structure of a society and the articulation and instantiation of its particularities in a given instance. A revealing sign of the physiocratic notion of bounded temporality was their association of the terms progress and progression with the recovery of a lost state of balance and productivity of the French economy. They presented this balanced state as a natural one and wrote of “the territory’s revenue” being “in a distorted state diverging from its natural one.”37 The natural state of the balanced economy needed to be recovered if the nation was to increase its wealth. Progress and recovery were not mutually exclusive in the formulations of Quesnay and Mirabeau; the progress that they wrote about could still be understood as a recuperation of a lost state of the relationship between the economy as a whole and the agricultural sector; they were after the “progress of the restoration of agriculture” (la progression de la réparation de l’agriculture).38 This understanding of “progress,” which is different from the more general idea of historical progress, points to the manner in which their understanding of “revolution” also differed from the more common meaning of the word today. In their usage of the term “revolution” they did not imply a dramatic change and newness, but rather a circular course of events akin to the orbit, or “revolutions,” of the planets.39 In fact, before the French Revolution, “revolution” usually referred to a return, often to an unspoiled natural state, and did not imply radical rupture or true novelty. This understanding of progress and revolution helps us grasp the close association of the progression (increase) of wealth and the recovery and cycling back to a natural state of balance and productivity. For instance, in consecutive sentences, Quesnay recognized that “economic administration opens up the source of wealth … and increase[s] and perpetuate[s] wealth,” and that it also “prevents a wasting away of the affluence and strength of the nation.”40 There was always a sense of the back-and-forth movement – the orbiting – of the economy and the political formation.41 Once the ideal balanced state was reached, it theoretically could be maintained for an indefinite period. Quesnay stated that placing “wealthy men” (who had presumably profited, in both senses of the word, from an acquaintance with the “economic science”) in charge of

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“The Explosion of Light”  69

agriculture and trade could “enable the regeneration of inexhaustible wealth [richesses intarissables].”42 It is very important to recognize that “inexhaustible” in this formulation did not refer to an infinite quantitative growth of wealth, since Mirabeau and Quesnay clearly imply that there were limits to this type of growth.43 Rather, “inexhaustible” had a temporal meaning, implying that people would be able to indefinitely exploit the earth’s natural productivity. There was not a visible end to the earth’s ability to renew wealth through agriculture. If one found the nation “in absolute exhaustion, as if heaven and earth had turned into bronze,” it was not because the earth had stopped being fecund and generous – it was because the state’s relationship to the land had deteriorated and people had chosen a “course of false economy.”44

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A Way of Meditating on the Present and the Future Quesnay attempted to develop a visual mathematical model that could represent the complex interconnections of the “economic circle” while avoiding a “false economy.”45 The zigzag tableau was created to provide a simplified and reduced picture of the vast complexity of nature and the economic processes that both represented and conformed to nature’s laws, because “[y]ou must recognize, my friend, that everything is intermingled in nature, that everything moves through circles interlaced with one another … Objects may be traced, distinguished, and considered only through abstract ideas that neither alter nor disrupt anything in the physical realm.”46 By abstractly tracing the circulation of the proprietor’s expenditure through numerous exchanges between the sterile and productive classes, the tableau was able to show two ways in which economies are circular; it demonstrated the circular interconnectedness of people within an economy at any given time, and it showed the circular flow between successive annual states of the economy. As a leading historian of physiocracy states, Quesnay’s “central contribution to economic analysis” was the “vision of economic life as complete circular flow.”47 The tableau économique was a model that took various graphical forms in this attempt to represent the economic circle. There is no one form of the tableau. It started its graphical existence as a quite involved mathematical map of the cycles of economic circulation between the different “classes” of the economy before it was transformed into an abbreviated “précis” in Philosophie rurale (1763) and then transformed again into its final stage as a “formule” in 1766.48 Different forms of the tableau sometimes coexisted in a single work, but in general, there was a progression from the usage of the more thoroughly articulated zigzag to the more

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70  The Time of Enlightenment

reductive and overarching précis and formule, with the zigzag doing much of the calculational and representational legwork for the later, more summarizing tableaux. For instance, in Philosophie rurale (1763), although there was a large foldout zigzag tableau at the front, the précis was employed throughout the remainder of the text, except for an unusual tableau representing economic growth over a ten-year period that will be discussed below. The first three editions of the tableau and the first in L’ami des hommes demonstrated a model of the circulation of the expenditures of the class of proprietors that was far from the actual economic reality of contemporary France. Quesnay was very clear, in his remarks on the first zigzag, that while the tableau assumed a state of farmers being able to produce a net product equal to the annual advances, that is, “to reproduce [the annual advances] at least one hundred percent,” this was far from the reality of French agricultural production in the 1750s.49 In fact, Quesnay believed that French farmers of the day reproduced a net product of only 30 per cent of the value of the annual advances.50 The tableau was based upon actual calculations of the French economy, but it presented an idealized version of this situation.51 In the expanded remarks accompanying the second edition of the tableau – privately published in a small number on the king’s private printing press at Versailles only a few months after the first edition was inscribed – Quesnay stated that agriculture in contemporary England did produce a net product of 100 per cent of the annual advance.52 England, however, did not generally play a prominent role in the rhetorical mode of argumentation that Quesnay and Mirabeau employed between Quesnay’s Encyclopédie articles and Philosophie rurale. Rather than focus on the real historical examples and evidence from the English economy, they chose to present the productive economy modelled in the zigzag as an ideal representation of the French economy. The fact that France did not reproduce as much as the economy modelled by the tableau was very important to the texts accompanying the first editions of the tableau; in fact, it became apparent that the model of a balanced and productive state was created specifically to demonstrate that “the territory of France could, with the advances and the market [that England had], produce at least as much or even much more than this.”53 The tableau, as an instrument, provided the means to think about how the present related to a possible future. It was in this sense that Quesnay wrote to Mirabeau that the tableau “is a way to meditate on the present and on the future.”54 The model of equilibrium embodied in the zigzag tableau did not have a natural centre of forces or balance; it was a result of government policy, changes in personal expenditures, and the implementation of

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“The Explosion of Light”  71

several technical agricultural advances. Historian of economics Ronald Meek points out that for Quesnay and Mirabeau, once the balanced state of circulation at 100 per cent reproduction had been achieved through governmental and private intervention in the conditions of circulation, “the slightest relaxation of these conditions would cause at the best the re-establishment of ‘equilibrium’ at a lower level of output, and at the worst (and more likely) a progressive decline in output and productivity.”55 Although Quesnay and Mirabeau stated their desire to find some means of “winding up the [economic] machine in a way that makes it go by itself with little or no expense,” they did not claim to have done so.56 Continued intervention was necessary if the balanced state of the economy was to be maintained. In fact, at one point, Quesnay even referred to the economy as “the machine that is kept going by men.”57 It should be noted that the tableau was a summary representation of a full year’s circulation. It was a synchronic representation of a diachronic process. The first indication of this was that the proprietary class’s expenditure occurred in only one discrete disbursement. In actuality, of course, the expenditures would have been extended over the course of a year with varying frequency and quantity. Furthermore, the circulation of money between the productive and sterile classes continuing asymptotically “by subdivisions to the last penny of the sums” was not meant to represent actual, discrete exchanges between the classes through time.58 These balanced zigzags themselves did not demonstrate change; they showed changes to an economy neither within a year nor between different years. In the strictest sense, they did not even appear to embody time, since the series of exchanges between the productive and sterile classes were not meant to represent an actual series of exchanges that grew consistently and exponentially smaller over the course of a year.59 Instead, the asymptotic representation of the capital exchanged was supposed to abstractly demonstrate the reciprocality and circularity of exchange. It was constructed to show the mutual dependence of selling and buying commodities, and to show that every exchange of commodities for money was linked, through circulation, with previous and future exchanges; every expenditure consisted of an amount of capital that was part of a previous exchange and an amount of capital that could be part of a future exchange. The future state of the economy was woven into the present through an intertwined series of exchanges. Maybe the most curious and surprising result of the detemporalized representation of a year-long circulation of money was the manner in which it dramatized, rather than downplayed, the relationship between the present and the future. In the zigzag, the apparent detemporalization

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of economic processes had the effect of emphasizing the futural character of the present. It showed a present that was pregnant with possibility and already held within it the potential for the desired future state. It did not, however, emphasize the futural character of the present in the prefigured and deterministic sense that Leibniz famously articulated when he wrote that “the whole of the coming world is present and pre­­ figured in that of the present.”60 The zigzag provided a non-deterministic inflection to Leibniz’s often repeated assertion that “the present is pregnant with the future.”61 For Quesnay and Mirabeau, there was nothing necessary or determined about the actualization of the future; nothing was predetermined because humans demonstrated freedom to act however they wished. Because of their belief in the freedom of human actors, Quesnay and Mirabeau felt that they had to go beyond prescribing only governmental policies and actions; they also directly addressed the role of individuals in making a nation wealthier. Debates over the moral and economic effects of luxury were widespread and polemical in eighteenth-century France.62 Warnings about the detrimental effects of excessive expenditures on “luxury of decoration” played an important role in both Quesnay’s and Mirabeau’s political economic writing even before they began to collaborate.63 Both the Remarques accompanying the first edition of the tableau and the Extrait accompanying the second edition had a discrete section instructing that “no encouragement at all” be given to the purchase of items of ornamental luxury, since these were supported only to the detriment of the “luxury of subsistence” (i.e., commodities produced by the productive class that fulfil more than the minimum level of subsistence).64 This prescription was vital, in Quesnay’s estimation, because the purchase of luxuries of subsistence were believed to sustain the market for raw produce, the proper price (le bon prix), and most importantly, “the reproduction of the nation’s revenue.”65 The articulation of this argument against luxury in the “third edition” inaugurated an important new role for the tableau, as Quesnay explicitly suggested for the first time that the tableau could be used to demonstrate a future state resulting from a particular change in the present. In this case, he believed that one can “easily judge” the real-world effects that would be produced by a change in the balance of productive and sterile expenditures “simply” by studying the effects that would occur in a tableau.66 Thus Quesnay assumed that the tableau could accurately model the effects of changes that would occur if economic behaviour changed in the real world. It could show, for example, that if all three classes were to spend one-sixth more on luxury of decoration, the reproduced annual revenue of the proprietor would drop from 600 to 500 livres.67

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“The Explosion of Light”  73

Quesnay also suggested that the inverse change in expenditures – onesixth more being spent on luxuries of subsistence – would bring about a 100-livres rise in the proprietor’s annually reproduced revenue. In the “third edition,” neither of these suggestions was shown in a tableau, nor was there an attempt to demonstrate the effects of these changes beyond the first year’s reproduced revenue. However, Quesnay suggested, in a footnote to the “Extrait” of the “third edition,” that an improper balance of expenditure on the two types of luxury would bring about a “reduction” in the reproduced revenue that “would increase successively in the same progression from year to year.”68 It is this fall in revenue, occurring over a course of several years, that was the first transformation of the economy that Quesnay suggests could be modelled and demonstrated using the tableau. The third tableau in L’ami des hommes marked the first time a published tableau was employed to graphically demonstrate the effects of a change in the division of expenditures.69 Here, the tableau assumed, for one year only, a one-sixth increase in sterile expenditures resulting from the purchase of luxuries of decoration by all three of the classes of the tableau. When one looked at this tableau, the depth of change was much more apparent than in the previous discursive descriptions of changes to the division of expenditures. For instance, one could no longer think of the one-sixth increase as a simple and singular transaction of a given amount of money for a given commodity or group of commodities. Because the tableau emphasized the circularity of exchange, one was forced to recognize that every time the productive class exchanged with the sterile class, less than half of the money that the productive class spent in a transaction would come back to them in a subsequent transaction; furthermore, of the amount that the productive class received back from the sterile class, they would pay out more than half of it again and receive back less than half of that expenditure, etc. It also became clear that the one-sixth increase of sterile expenditures resulted in a onesixth decrease in productive expenditures, since the stock of capital was finite. What resulted in the order of the tableau with each subdivision of expenditure was the continued growth of the percentage of the capital held by the sterile class and the corollary reduction of the percentage of the capital held by the productive class. Every exchange between the classes increased the imbalance of capital between the two classes and acted to reduce the amount of net product that the productive class would reproduce. When looking at this tableau, one might very reasonably ask why this increase in the wealth of the sterile class was not a good thing. What if people did not share Quesnay and Mirabeau’s prejudicial favouring of

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the productive class? Would not the increase in the wealth of the sterile class have balanced out the decrease in the wealth of the productive class when the wealth of the nation was considered in aggregate? But the answer that Quesnay and Mirabeau believed the tableau demonstrated exemplified both the tableau’s effectiveness as a tool of argumentation and the increasing explicitness of its orientation towards the future. With a strange perversity, the tableau was used to show that the more capital the sterile class received, the worse off they would be the following year. This counter-intuitive result provided a strong justification for the usefulness of employing the tableau to discover the future results of present actions, even if those actions appeared to be beneficial in the first year. While this was the first tableau that models a “disorder” of circulation and its consequences, the entire second half of L’ami des hommes was dedicated to this task of “the exposition of the consequences of its derangement.”70 Throughout the discussion of these tableaux, Mirabeau emphasized how quickly even a wealthy nation could be ruined if it did not effectively guard against these disorders. It would take only a few years for the whole process to occur. In Philosophie rurale (1763), for the first time, tableaux were constructed that charted the successive annual effects of a “disorder.”71 In addition to the multiple years represented, the first noticeable difference in the tableau was the fact that the zigzag had been abbreviated into a précis form that eliminated the abstract graphical representation of the subdivision of expenditures. There appear to have been two primary reasons why Quesnay created new tableaux to accompany the zigzag.72 As a manuscript note from Quesnay makes clear, one reason he created the précis and formule versions of the tableau was because the zigzag was “difficult to understand for the majority of readers,” particularly “people inept at calculating.”73 But Quesnay seemed to also recognize that it was not only the mathematical character of the zigzag tableau that made it difficult for many readers to understand. The zigzag was also just too complicated; it had too many parts and too many processes to take into consideration. The zigzag brought too many things into a single composite sign. Quesnay recognized that the zigzag’s composite character had contributed to it’s having “frightened many readers.”74 As he and Mirabeau explained in the preface to Philosophie rurale, they therefore chose “to decompose it into small summary [précis] Tableaux.”75 However, even after Quesnay created the simplified précis and formule, he still believed that the zigzag was of significant pedagogic value. For instance, in the Philosophie rurale a large zigzag was still included as the frontispiece. The reader’s eyes were supposed to view it as an introduction to the work. Even if the zigzag was not self-evident in the way

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“The Explosion of Light”  75

that Quesnay had originally believed it to be, he still thought that it imparted ideas that could not be expressed precisely or thoroughly in discourse. Even if the zigzag could not imperiously subjugate readers, it could impart an important intuitive knowledge of the economy that the subsequent simplified tableau and written explanations would help develop. The précis was set up in a similar manner to the zigzag except that it represented the transactions between the productive and sterile classes in a single abstract transaction and it did not include the centre column of net product reproduced by the productive class. In effect, it demonstrated the input and output of the system of exchange without emphasizing the intervening steps of exchange. The précis, then, even further de-emphasized the temporality of economic processes; it treated the actualities of exchange as of only secondary importance compared to the product of a year’s worth of exchange. However, this move to simplify the tableau resulted in a greater emphasis on futurity and the long term, since series of précis were used to model successive years of economic change. The précis thus further foregrounded the importance of the future to the present and the present to the future. Prior to Philosophie rurale, Quesnay and Mirabeau had focused the modelling capacities of the tableau, as well as their expository energies, on the disorders that could affect an economy; they had not created a single tableau that represented a growth of wealth. But in the form of a tableau inverse, they actualized what was only suggested in L’ami des hommes: that an inversion of the balance of luxury expenditures could reverse the decline of wealth.76 In addition to the more than twenty précis tableaux and the large zigzag tableau in Philosophie rurale, there was an extraordinarily large tableau that showed the “progression of the cultivator’s profit” and the “progression of the proprietor’s revenue” brought about over a ten-year period by an increase in the annual advances (see figure 4). This “grand tableau” was extremely complex, and it was made all the more difficult to understand by the lack of explanation of some of the calculations and figures.77 It was not intuitive or easily understood, but it did demonstrate a dramatic development in the explicitness of Quesnay and Mirabeau’s future orientation and in their acknowledgement of the possibility of exponential growth (although still with quantitative limits). This tableau assumed a situation where 100 per cent of the annual advances of the productive class were reproduced. It also assumed that the net product of the kingdom – implicitly France – increased by 672 million between 1760 and the first year represented in the tableau, 1761.78

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Figure 4. Rapports des dépenses from Victor Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau, Philosophie rurale, ou économie generale et politique de l’agriculture, reduite à l’ordre immuable des loix physiques & morales, qui assurent la prosperité des empires (Amsterdam, 1763), 290.

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“The Explosion of Light”  77

But this first increase of 672 million was not the primary subject of the tableau. Instead, the tableau was meant to show how the initial gain of 672 million in 1761 could result in “a new addition to the net product” that would continue to grow exponentially through the years represented in the tableau (1761 to 1770). This exponential growth resulted from the cultivator’s reinvestment of the initial increase of net product in the form of “annual advances.” Although this tableau was unfortunately difficult to follow, the most important element of it for my argument was displayed relatively clearly in the middle column entitled “Surcroît de produit net” (Addition to the net product). One could see how this addition to the net product resulting from the one-time initial increase of 672 grew exponentially over nine years from the amount of 115 to 1,417. This tableau extended the idea of the potential for exponential growth that was first modelled in the zigzag.79 With the writing of Philosophie rurale, Quesnay and Mirabeau recognized that “to conceive this gradual and cumulative increase in wealth, it is necessary to subject it here to an arithmetic progression.”80 This graphic fastening of the potentialities of growth onto a year-by-year progression dramatized the magnitude of the effects that could result from relatively small changes, and it amplified the dynamic potentialities of the economy. More so than in the zigzag or the précis, time here became an agent in Quesnay and Mirabeau’s demonstration; it became a weapon to be utilized in policy debates. Quesnay and Mirabeau were no longer content to simply suggest that the net product of the kingdom could grow exponentially; they insisted on showing how it could happen in time, over an extended period. The blows that they dealt with the weapon of time might have been blunted by the obscurity of some calculations and the non-intuitive functioning of some of the tableaux, but they still represented a novel attempt to demonstrate the constructability of the future.81 Furthermore, there were real and immediate effects stemming from their demonstrations of the constructability of the future, both in government policy and in public discourse. The loosening of restrictions on the grain trade in 1763 and 1764 was at least partially a result of the forceful free-trade arguments of the physiocrats.82 In the intellectual realm, the physiocrats’ approach to the future elicited responses from critics like abbé Ferdinando Galiani. His extremely popular and successful critique Dialogues sur le commerce des bleds began a polemical pamphlet war with the physiocrats.83 Fundamentally, the polemic turned on the question of which was to be paid more attention: the actuality of the present or the possibility of the future. In determining whether governments should concern themselves more with short-term economic

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health or success over the long term, Galiani based his position on the fact that “posterity is only a possible being, we are real beings.”84 In the face of immediate problems like famine-causing draughts, Galiani argued, governments should limit the free trade of grain. He did not have faith in the physiocrats’ approach to the future and he mocked the prognostic powers of physiocrats like Dupont de Nemours, or rather, “Dupont Nostradamus.”85 Other critics warned that the physiocratic system would have unintended consequences and that it would not lead to the return of a natural order physiocrats so longed for. Rousseau, for instance, rebuffed Mirabeau’s solicitations to convert to physiocracy by telling him that “[y]our economic system is admirable … But I am afraid that it will take you to countries very different from those to which you claim to go.”86 Mirabeau replied to Rousseau with great enthusiasm, calling Quesnay the “Confucius of Europe” whose discovery of the net product “will change the face of the Universe.”87 The hopeful vision of the future that the physiocrats presented was seductive, yet suspect to some, because of its feel of utopian impracticality and its failure to produce the results it so self-confidently promised. With much ridicule and directness, Rousseau wrote to Mirabeau: “Your system is very good for the people of Utopia; it is worth nothing for the children of Adam.”88 Although it had episodes of great influence in the administration during the mid-1760s, again with the brief tenure of Turgot as controller general in the mid-1770s, and in the fundamental assumptions of many of the free-trade policies during the French Revolution, physiocracy was often caricatured as an idealistic and impractical system. “Physiocracy,” as one German commentator wrote in 1787, “is an angelically beautiful girl, but unhappily a vestal, who is incapable of making an honorable man happy.”89 But physiocracy should not be judged solely on its success or failure as a practical project of political and economic reform. Just as significant as the specific plans and prescriptions of the physiocrats and the officials they influenced was the manner in which the formulation and presentation of this project helped body forth a new active orientation towards the future. Furthermore, many of the physiocrats’ concepts and analytical assumptions quickly became so widely and deeply held that they were reproduced by many of the people that explicitly aligned themselves against the physiocrats. Sanctioning Action The tableau was created in the first several years of Quesnay and Mirabeau’s collaboration, as they attempted to develop their ideas about

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“The Explosion of Light”  79

political economy into a coherent and comprehensive system. The creation of the tableau came at a crucial period in this development and provided a way forward. It seemed to resolve some of the methodological and theoretical problems that the two became aware of as they attempted to write a treatise that embodied a complete system of political economy. Quesnay and Mirabeau’s first collaborative attempt to systematically justify their ideas for counteracting political and economic degeneration was in the Traité de la monarchie, an unpublished treatise that they worked on from 1757 to 1759.90 This Traité was a highly critical work that attempted to explain the origins, development, perfection, and subsequent “decadence” of the monarchy. Although they did not employ extensive or specific historical details, the work was meant to provide a historical basis for understanding the development of the current problems of the monarchy. It is not clear why they abandoned this multichapter work that they had obviously spent a good deal of time working on. However, their reasons appear to go beyond simple fear of retribution from the monarchy or loss of Quesnay’s access to the inner circle of monarchical power. Their decision seems to have also been based on methodological considerations. Quesnay, in particular, appears to have turned away from historical argument as an adequate means of persuasion. In one of his most revealing comments, Quesnay wrote in a note to Mirabeau that “it is not enough to propose rules to monarchs; it is necessary to make these rules obligatory by a sanction.”91 He wanted to compel assent to his system; he wanted to force administrators to heed his advice on issues like tax reform and the elimination of some trade restrictions.92 While in the historically grounded Traité de la monarchie he held out hope that historical methods could provide a sanction, he increasingly came to doubt the efficacy of historical treatises to do so.93 In fact, Quesnay doubted whether any purely discursive analysis of political economy could create the type of evidence that would necessitate adherence to the physiocratic system. Furthermore, history could not provide what Quesnay was beginning to place a greater importance on: foresight. The disparagement of historical method and the importance of foresight became related ideas in the Traité: “Look at the development of these [disastrous] events in the history of the revolutions of states: to avoid them, they must not be seen; they must be foreseen.”94 Looking back at the past could not provide evidence of the immutable natural laws, which were the only basis on which to make predictions about the future. History was no longer an adequate guide for actions directed towards the future; the topos of historia magistra vitae – history the great teacher of life – was losing its relevance for political economy.95

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As the fellow liberal reformer and sometimes physiocratic fellow-traveller the abbé André Morellet wrote about constructing the economy, “it is a question of discovering not what has been done but what ought to be done.”96 In abandoning the Traité, Quesnay was abandoning historical method and looking for a new means to create the sanction for their prescriptions for monarchs.97 Another reason Quesnay abandoned the Traité and developed the tableau was the concern he shared with many early modern European savants: the “abuse of words” was holding back the advancement of knowledge and endangering social and political order.98 Quesnay’s concerns with communication and the role of language in communication were very similar to those of other prominent philosophes, such as Condillac, Diderot, and Rousseau.99 Quesnay shared Condillac’s theories of the development of language and writing, Diderot’s concern with the relationship between words and visual representations, and Rousseau’s desire for transparent “natural” means of communication. His concerns arose in the same mid-century context as that of these philosophes, and in developing them he probably drew on a similar group of books: John Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding; the works on painting and aesthetics by Roger de Piles, abbé Dubos, and abbé Batteux; Montesquieu’s De l’esprit des lois; and works on the origins of language and writing like those by William Warburton.100 Quesnay was in fact a friend and intellectual interlocutor of Condillac and Diderot, as well as other prominent philosophes concerned with the “abuse of words” such as Helvétius, d’Alembert, and Buffon.101 Quesnay had both a personal and intellectual relationship with these men. He was said to have hosted all of them regularly at his apartment at Versailles. He shared the patronage of Madame de Pompadour with Buffon, pursued patronage favours for Diderot, and contributed to Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie. With social and intellectual connections such as these, his institutional positions at court and in the Académie Royale des Sciences, and his long record of intellectual contributions, Quesnay held a central place in the intellectual ferment of the French Enlightenment. Quesnay was acutely aware of the difficulties of language and the problem of imprecise signification. He discussed it throughout his corpus – from the physiological treatises that he wrote before he applied himself to political economy, through the works on geometry that he wrote in his last years when he had largely retreated from political economy.102 He even wrote a substantial article specifically focusing on the question of how to make “the language of the economic science the clearest, [and] most precise … and to determine the rigorous and exact signification of all of the supposed synonyms that too often confuse

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dogmatic questions.”103 This was a topic that he incessantly returned to and that is exemplified in innumerable passages in his work.104 In fact, I would argue that reforming the language of political economy was one of Quesnay’s central concerns and that it became one of the physiocrats’ central concerns as Mirabeau and the disciples adopted it.105 In typical philosophe fashion, Quesnay was convinced that the clear and precise expression of things and ideas was an essential – if not the essential – act in the foundation of a science; and as he repeatedly stated, it was his intention to establish the “economic science.”106 At times, the physiocrats even assessed their own importance primarily in terms of linguistic reform. Mirabeau, for example, claimed that “the unique service” that they rendered society was the fixing of words to “natural, universal realities” and the creation of a language that could be understood “from one end of the hemisphere to the other.”107 In addition to attempting to reform language through pedantic discussions of the meaning of words, the development of technical terminology like “net product,” and the creation of many French neologisms (like civilisation, humanisme, and l’art social), the physiocrats’ concern with “the abuse of words” led them to look for means of communication that bypassed the muddle of “discourse.”108 Quesnay was doubtful of the ability of discourse alone to ever adequately represent nature and “reality.” As Dupont de Nemours recounted, Quesnay had a distaste for most poetry and a “disdain [for] the eloquence of Cicero, which he found too dependent on words.”109 Instead of favouring the power of Ciceronian rhetoric, Quesnay is said to have believed that “true eloquence was in things.”110 Attempting to convince Mirabeau of the tableau’s advantages over discourse, Quesnay wrote to him in an early letter stating very clearly that these advantages derived from visuality: “The well-conceived zigzag effectively abridges many details and depicts the closely interconnected ideas that the intellect alone would find very difficult to know, untangle, and reconcile through discourse; furthermore, these ideas themselves would be quite elusive if they were not assured a place in the imagination by the tableau.”111 Numerous theorists in the French Enlightenment argued that visual representations held the promise of expressing the eloquence of things more directly than discourse since an image could contain a likeness of what it represented more readily and precisely than could words.112 The well-known aesthetician the abbé Dubos believed that there were some situations where images were so superior to words that an illustration of four simple lines could resolve interpretive questions that filled entire volumes of writing.113 The Encyclopédie, for example, employed more than three thousand illustrations because, as Diderot explained,

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“a glance of the eye at the object or its representation says more than a page of discourse.”114 One of the primary reasons that images gained a new epistemological status was that they could be “natural signs” directly analogous to the things they represented. Most speech and alphabetic writing, on the other hand, was composed of “arbitrary” or “artificial signs” whose meaning was established primarily, or solely, by convention. There was a widespread privileging of natural signs in the French Enlightenment because, as abbé Dubos wrote, “the sign that takes even a part of its force and signification from nature is more powerful and acts better upon us than the sign that owes all of its energy to chance or the caprice of the institutor.”115 Visual images were, therefore, better suited to transparently represent nature, which Quesnay clearly believed was the goal of communication: “it is not for the natural order to conform to a language that only expresses confused and equivocal ideas, it is for expressions to conform to the exact knowledge of the natural order in distinctions rigorously subjected to reality.”116 To create clear and precise ideas through images, Quesnay and Mirabeau claimed, “the eyes must be spoken to with the support of a language appropriate to the understanding.”117 Not all means of visual representation were equally capable. Neither Quesnay nor Mirabeau explained exactly what the ideal visual language was to consist of, though it is clear from looking at the tableau that numbers played a central role in this new means of communication that Mirabeau referred to as “a new type of dialect” and “a new alphabet.”118 Quesnay drew on his prior experience in the design and production of engravings in order to create the visual neologism of the tableau. As a young apprentice, he spent five years working with the royal engraver responsible for printing engravings for the Académie Royale des Sciences, Pierre de Rochefort.119 Quesnay was also immersed in the world of the visual arts through his acquaintance with Charles-Nicolas Cochin, the famous engraver of the Encyclopédie’s frontispiece.120 Cochin attests to the fact that Quesnay arranged for him to engrave the frontispiece for the first volume of the Mémoires de l’Acamédie Royale de Chirurgie in 1743 and that Quesnay was friends with his father, the painter Charles Cochin. Quesnay became a member of the Société Academique des Arts and even may have studied and lived for a period with Charles Cochin.121 This background in the arts may have helped Quesnay realize that the second major advantage visual representations had over written or spoken language was that they could represent multiple things in a single image. That is, they could express multiple things in a single composite sign, whereas written or spoken language could express things

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only successively. It was this ability of visual signs to entail multiple things, along with their ability to directly represent those things, that led Quesnay and Mirabeau to relate the tableau to one of the paradigmatic visual languages in the Enlightenment debates on representation: on numerous occasions Quesnay and Mirabeau referred to tableaux as “hiéroglyphes.”122 Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs had not yet been deciphered in the eighteenth century, and calling something a hiéroglyphe could have implied that it was in need of deciphering. The physiocrats did on occasion employ this common connotation of the term, especially Mirabeau, for whom the tableau always seemed difficult to understand.123 On the rare occasion that scholars have commented on the fact that Quesnay and Mirabeau called the tableau a hieroglyph, they have only interpreted this as meaning the two were aware that the tableau needed deciphering.124 However, in comparing their calculations and figures to hieroglyphs, Quesnay and Mirabeau were not simply implying that they required deciphering like hieroglyphs; they were also suggesting more important similarities.125 Following the popularity of William Warburton’s Essai sur les hiéroglyphes des Egyptiens (1744), Condillac’s adoption of its interpretation in the Essai sur l’origine des connaissances humaines (1747), and its further popularization in the Encyclopédie, some philosophes believed that the early stage of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs expressed nature more directly than written or spoken forms of contemporary European languages.126 But in addition to these accounts, there also emerged a number of cases in which people wrote about hieroglyphs in a creative manner that combined some of Warburton’s ideas about Egyptian hieroglyphics with earlier interpretations, while also referring to hieroglyphs in a more general sense that included Mayan pictograms and Chinese ideograms. In fact, one could draw on the generic sense without weighing in on the debates about Egyptian hieroglyphics. Some of the new uses of the term and the concept, much like Quesnay’s usage, applied hieroglyphs to new domains and extended the range of reference. Often these new uses of the term built on the generic sense of “hieroglyph,” meaning a transparent and usually pictorial natural sign, rather than merely undeciphered Egyptian hieroglyphics. By comparing the tableau to hieroglyphics, therefore, Quesnay claimed a primitive naturalness for his visual-mathematical approach and invoked the authority of nature. In the sensationist literature that Quesnay read and contributed to, “hiéroglyphe” was sometimes used as a term of art, such as when the librettist and choreographer Louis de Cahusac used the phrase “hiéroglyphes d’action” in his discussion of ballet or when Diderot adapted the term to argue that the best poets could create verbal images of

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astounding complexity, expressiveness, and energetic impact.127 Used as a term of art, “hiéroglyphe” had two primary connotations. First, it referred to a pictorial sign that could represent numerous things in a single image. As a visual image, a hieroglyph could represent a number of things simultaneously, as opposed to alphabetic writing or spoken language, which could represent things only successively. As Condillac put it, a hieroglyph was “a single figure to be the sign of many things.” The sensationists recognized that there were important differences between modes of communications that represented ideas successively and those that represented ideas simultaneously. For a means of communication to have the unmediated directness of natural signs, it had to represent ideas simultaneously; as Condillac observed in a different context, “the language of simultaneous ideas is the only natural language.”128 Part of the reason, then, that Quesnay and Mirabeau called the tableau a hiéroglyphe was its composite character – because it was a simultaneous representation of the non-simultaneous, a single representation of numerous economic processes that were spread over the course of a year. That the physiocrats understood the tableau as a composite image of numerous interrelated processes and classes of people was made clear in statements like that by Dupont de Nemours, who called the tableau économique “this astonishing form that paints the birth, the distribution, and the reproduction of wealth.”129 The second connotation of “hiéroglyphe” was a representation that contained a likeness of the thing that it represented (what in Peircian semiotic terms is called an icon). Quesnay was explicit about the fact that the tableaux were supposed to directly represent nature and that “whoever will reflect, will see that they are faithfully copied from nature.”130 It is clear from Quesnay’s writing that he was aware of the literature on the origins of Egyptian hieroglyphs; in Le despotisme de la Chine he discussed the much-disputed theory that Chinese characters derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs.131 Quesnay praised Chinese characters for their ability to pictorially represent things themselves, to do so in a concise manner, and to fix these things in the mind.132 He believed that Chinese characters were similar to Egyptian hieroglyphs in their origins and function, and therefore, his characterization of Chinese characters also applied to hieroglyphs. This association of the Chinese and physiocratic approaches to language and signification is one of the unacknowledged reasons that the physiocrats favourably compared themselves to the Chinese. It has been well recognized by scholars that Quesnay compared himself to Confucius and was sometimes referred to by his disciples as the “the Confucius

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of Europe.”133 It is less recognized, however, that people like abbé Baudeau, one of the most active propagandists for the sect, compared the physiocrats and the Chinese explicitly based upon language when he claimed that one of the central characteristics of the physiocrats was that “they use technical terms in the same way as the ancient scholars of China.”134 Unfortunately for the physiocrats, their self-conscious attempts to associate their semiotic innovations with Chinese characters and Egyptian hieroglyphs played into the hands of some of their critics. Many critics did not believe that the expressions of the tableau were as clear and unproblematic as hieroglyphs and Chinese characters. These critics were more than happy to compare the tableau to the still not deciphered hieroglyphs, as well as other foreign languages and means of expression. In addition to comparing the tableau to the enigmatic hieroglyphs and a useless mathematical amusement called “the magical square,” Simon-Nicolas-Henri Linguet compared it to ancient Greek, the Koran, and the “Y-King” (i.e., the I-Ching, Yi Jing, or Book of Changes, a table explaining the sixty-four elements, incorrectly attributed to Confucius).135 Linguet even printed the Y-King and the tableau économique side by side to demonstrate that they were similarly structured and similarly incomprehensible.136 Although calling the tableau a hieroglyph did not necessarily convince its critics of its superior clarity and precision, it did have two vital effects on the development of the temporality of the tableau. First, the desire to create a representation that could communicate as clearly and effectively as a hieroglyph encouraged Quesnay to make the tableau a composite sign that condensed the diachronic processes of one year of the economy into a single simultaneous representation. As discussed above, this apparent de-temporalization was an important element contributing to the new relationship that the tableau created between the present and the future. Second, the attempt to make the tableau a transparent hieroglyphic representation was a crucial element of the tableau’s supposed ability to reveal the natural laws. It was these natural laws that in turn were crucial in justifying the claims that certain actions were necessary and that the effects of such actions could be foreseen in the tableau. To better understand how the tableau was supposed to reveal natural laws, create necessity, and demonstrate the future, we need to further analyse Quesnay’s theoretical justification for the tableau’s ability to communicate knowledge of the natural order almost automatically. What role did Quesnay’s sensationist theory of knowledge, stated in his Encyclopédie article “Évidence,” play?

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The Irresistible Force of Évidence Like many of Quesnay’s philosophical concepts, his notion of évidence was an eclectic combination of ideas of prominent philosophers of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries – most importantly Locke and Malebranche, and to a lesser degree Descartes.137 Quesnay followed Descartes in reducing evidence to that which was self-evident and irrefutable; he followed Malebranche in his formulation of a theodicy, his characterization of the soul, and his reliance on occasional causes; he followed Locke in his dismissal of innate ideas and his emphasis on the importance of sensations in the development of knowledge.138 But Quesnay’s concept of évidence resists simple genealogical analysis because in his attempt to synthesize these disparate ideas into a single consistent and comprehensive system, he subtly transformed them. He articulated them using new terminology and gave them new emphasis, brought them into new combinations, and altered them so that they could be made to support one another. Quesnay was at the forefront of the development of sensationism, the philosophical position that would come to dominate the French intellectual milieu in the second half of the eighteenth century. He was well acquainted, both personally and through their work, with the other founders of Enlightenment sensationism: Condillac, Diderot, Buffon, Helvétius, and d’Alembert. Quesnay’s sensationism was quite similar to the sensationist theories articulated by Condillac, though his first formulations of a sensationist theory were published before Condillac’s treatises.139 Quesnay’s anonymously published “Évidence” was so much in the sensationist mainstream that Jean-Jacques Rousseau suspected it was written by either Condillac or Buffon.140 While sensationism, broadly defined, held that ideas derived exclusively from sensations, sensationists differed on the degree to which they believed that ideas developed passively and directly from sensations and to what degree reflection and memory could actively develop ideas from received sensations. Quesnay’s lengthy article on évidence analysed this complex series of mechanisms by which the mind developed ideas and arrived at knowledge.141 Quesnay treated the complex and various processes in some detail, but what is important for my purposes was the important role that the senses were given in the development of the type of knowledge designated as évidence. Quesnay maintained the distinction of his seventeenth-century predecessors between the passivity of sensing and the activity of reflecting. This distinction was then the basis for his explanation of the two ways that ideas develop: directly and indirectly.

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When the senses transmitted sensations directly to the understanding the sensations could develop into ideas passively, that is, without any active reflection. Reflection, however, could develop ideas actively by working indirectly on received sensations through combination, comparison, and judgment. Quesnay defined évidence as a type of certainty that was based on passively received direct sensations. It was not found in the process of reflection upon these sensations, but in the direct sensations themselves. People could no more refuse the certainty of évidence than they could ignore their present sensations.142 Quesnay stated this irrefutability very clearly at the beginning of his article, where he defined évidence as “a certainty so clear and manifest by itself, that the mind cannot refuse it”; évidence was self-evident.143 As in many other epistemological systems of the time, mathematics was presented as one of the best examples of a type of activity that provided irrefutable évidence. Arithmetic specifically was introduced as a means to create évidence by representing nature precisely and transparently. “A rule of arithmetic,” Quesnay claimed, “decisively subjugates men in disputes that they have amongst themselves over their interests because calculations have an exact and evident relationship with the real objects that interest them.”144 Calculations could create a direct relationship between people and things, and this unmediated relationship would leave no room for disagreement.145 This inability to refuse évidence became centrally important to Quesnay’s arguments as he brought the notion of évidence into the realm of political economy and made it one of the cornerstones of his system. Évidence was an essential element in the formation of the physiocratic catechism, and it became one of the central concepts for the movement. In the physiocratic literature, évidence is endlessly described as “unshakeable” (inébranlable), “irrefutable” (irréfutable), and “irresistible” (irrésistible).146 It is able to “dictate” (dicter), “conquer” (vaincre), “subjugate” (assujetir and soumettre), and take “absolute control” of people.147 In its mathematical expression in calculations it is “decisive” (décisif), it acts “despotically” (despotiquement) and “decides sovereignly” (décide souverainement).148 Évidence, therefore, could provide the type of sanction that Quesnay and Mirabeau longed for in the wake of their failed attempt to create a compelling sanction in the historical Traité de la monarchie. “Calculations can only be attacked by calculations,” they wrote, overconfidently.149 “The number comes, decides the case despotically and without appeal,” Mirabeau wrote to Rousseau, “for tell me what is the counterweight of addition and subtraction.”150 According to Quesnay and Mirabeau, the tableau imparted knowledge almost automatically. Furthermore, the certainty of this knowledge

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qualified it as évidence. The tableau demonstrated that certain changes in the economy necessarily brought about certain effects. Therefore, any particular change in the tableau was supposed to necessarily lead to an idea about the analogical change in the economy as a whole. For example, any change in expenditures between the different classes in the tableau leads almost automatically to knowledge of the effects of such a change in expenditures in the economy:

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These relationships [between expenditures] … are exposed to the eyes in the Tableau économique in a way that their essential and reciprocal connection is perceived so exactly that no change in the quantity or in the order of the distribution of any of the expenditures can be considered without recognizing demonstratively all of the effects that this change must produce in the general system of the economic order. Indeed, the result of this change will be found, all of the sudden, decided by the certainty of the calculation at the bottom of the Tableau.151

The tableau was supposed to be able to create this knowledge because it was an exact visual-mathematical representation of the economy that could be sensed. When one looks at the tableau, they claimed, “everything is simple, everything is striking, everything has an evident relation.”152 The tableau was not only supposed to model specific changes in the economy like some type of calculating machine. Its representational power was supposed to be more profound than that; it was also supposed to present évidence of the natural laws that the physiocrats claimed to base their system upon. It “makes all of the rules of order and all of their consequences sensible, almost palpable.”153 The tableau, then, was meant to provide proof of the existence of natural laws that determine the functioning of the economy. But what were the natural laws, whether physical or moral, and how did one know them? Even though they posited natural laws as the basis of their system, the physiocrats were always quite evasive in actually identifying them. They made vague claims about fundamental ideas (e.g., “the earth is the mother of all goods”), but they did not systematically or specifically identify what the natural laws were.154 It was not until the mid-1760s that Quesnay even attempted to explicitly define the term “natural laws” with any kind of adequacy.155 He did not list them or give specific examples, but rather defined natural laws as the physical and moral laws that in “the regular course of all … events in the natural order [were] self-evidently [évidemment] the most advantageous for the human race.”156 In an obvious reference to the tableau, Quesnay also made clear that once the évidence of the natural laws (or,

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in this case, évidence of the physical dimension of the natural laws) was revealed to people, the truth of these laws would become irrefutable and conformity to these revealed truths would become necessary: “The physical laws, which constitute the natural order most advantageous to the human species and which exactly establish the natural right of all men, are perpetual, inalterable, and decisively the best laws possible. Their évidence imperiously subjugates all intelligence and human reason, with a precision that proves itself in detail geometrically and arithmetically, and that leaves no room for error, imposture, or illicit claims.”157 Although this definition of the natural laws did not identify specific laws, it did foreground the fact that évidence played the central role in revealing these laws to human knowledge. If something was not self-evidently the most advantageous for humanity in the abstract regular course of nature, then it could not function as a natural law and compel assent. The tableau was the instrument to provide the évidence, and thereby compel assent to the actions that necessarily followed from the natural laws. In other words, since the tableau had an analogical relationship to the real economy, anything that was true for the tableau was true for the real economy. Because the natural laws were only “the regular course of all events in the natural order” that were “self-evidently [évidemment] the most advantageous for the human race,” whenever something was shown to be the most advantageous to the human race in the abstract (i.e., in the “regular course of things”), it was shown to be a natural law.158 Therefore, when the tableau demonstrated the most advantageous distribution of expenditures between the different classes of the economy, this distribution was shown to conform to natural law. By being shown to be the most advantageous for humanity, the distribution was made évident as a natural law that could compel assent. Strictly speaking, the laws existed outside of, and prior to, human recognition, according to this account. God had created them and they existed eternally. However, they only took a law-like identity for the organization of political and economic life after there was some demonstration of their self-evidence. We now can see the radicality of Quesnay’s attempt to employ the tableau as évidence for the necessity of a conjectural future. Évidence and conjecture existed at opposite poles of certainty, évidence being of the utmost certainty (i.e., self-evident) and conjecture having so little certainty that, in Condillac’s words, it was “the farthest from évidence.”159 The tableau was Quesnay’s attempt to create a type of radical certainty in conjectural propositions. It was a tool to represent the conjectural as if it were necessary, contingency as if it were necessity, the future

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that could be as the future that must be. The physiocrats believed that they had transformed political economy into a science by eliminating the uncertainty of conjecture and replacing it with the certainty of évidence and the necessity of the natural laws.160 The tableau, then, was an attempt to make physiocratic prescriptions appear necessary and to make the art of conjecture deductive. This point was made explicitly by Dupont de Nemours: “Until Quesnay economic science has been only a conjectural science in which one could reason at most only by induction; since the ingenious invention of the system of the Tableau économique, it has become an exact science, all of whose points can be subjected to demonstrations that are as rigorous and unquestionable as those of geometry and algebra.”161 The tableau was the central tool in the physiocrats’ attempt to create a deductive scientific method for knowing and constructing the future. They believed that the tableau was able to demonstrate what actions had to be taken and what would happen necessarily if those specific actions were taken. For instance, they employed the tableau to argue that the balance of expenditures between the productive and sterile classes must change if the wealth of the nation was to increase. They also used it to show that if the balance was changed by a specific amount (e.g., two million livres), they could foresee that the wealth of the nation would increase by a specific amount over a specific amount of time (e.g., forty million livres over six years). Although Quesnay and Mirabeau did not often write of the future in an explicit fashion, they did make it clear that the tableau was indeed supposed to produce this ability of foresight: “An understanding of the Tableau will give an understanding of the decay in which it is supposed that the circulation might fall. Any man that will go through the trouble necessary to gain all of the principles that derive from this economic study will have his work rewarded by the certainty of the results and the foresight that he will have acquired into the nature and the effects of all political operations.”162 It is quite clear that the tableau was supposed to assumed this role of évidence, uniting humans and the natural order. It was supposed to create a type of almost revelational knowledge.163 It was not about persuasion, it was about rational illumination and scientific revelation. Quesnay and Mirabeau described people who were interested in stifling physiocracy as those who were interested in stopping “the explosion of light.”164 The tableau, then, was so important for them because it was a “truchement universel” – a “universal translator” or “universal intermediary” – that was able to bring all of the elements of the economy together and demonstrate their relationship in a single sign.165 Along with writing and money – both of which the tableau supposedly developed upon – Mirabeau deemed the

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tableau to be one of the three greatest inventions of all time.166 For the physiocrats, the tableau revealed truths so profoundly important for the success of complex societies that Mirabeau was said to have called it “the code of humanity.”167 In light of the radicality of the physiocratic notion of évidence, it is easy to see why many of critics doubted the self-evidence of their évidence.168 Voltaire, for example, did not find the physiocrats’ arguments fully satisfying. His assent was not compelled, and in fact, he doubted that compelled assent was really adequate to convert people. He emphasized the residue of doubt that would remain. In a work that was critical of some physiocratic ideas, Voltaire discussed the way that a geometrician’s proof could be disquieting even when the proof appeared to be correct. Voltaire observed that sometimes “one might have nothing to answer in response and yet is not persuaded. One is dismayed without being convinced. One feels misgivings at the bottom of his soul, a repugnance that keeps him from believing what has been proved.”169 Although many people – most importantly, well-placed savants and administrators – agreed with the physiocratic évidence, this repugnance of the soul was not uncommon. This desire to bypass reasoned reflection by communicating directly with people’s minds through visual signs that presented certain évidence was one of the most radical things that the physiocrats introduced into political economy. Throughout the rest of the century, the physiocratic disciples and people associated with physiocracy continued to develop methods to achieve this direct communication. Dupont de Nemours was the most innovative of the disciples in creating new visual-mathematical forms to express political economic principals.170 Many people recognized the novelty and usefulness of these types of tableaux, as when Condorcet proposed their use in his suggestions for education reforms during the French Revolution. Recognizing a need for visual instruction in the expanding education system, Condorcet believed that “the tableau of the economic science put together by Mr. Dupont could be given to the philosophe-teachers as a model worthy of being studied and meditated upon.”171 One of the most extreme developments of the usage of tableaux in political economy was by the famous savant, tax-farmer, and administrator Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier. Although Lavoisier is best remembered for his central role in the development of modern chemistry, he was a physiocratic fellow-traveller who was inspired by Quesnay’s tableau.172 In his younger days, Lavoisier collaborated with the physiocrat abbé Baudeau to create several tableaux.173 Lavoisier also created economic balance sheets, and throughout the second half of the eighteenth

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century he continued to refine methods of translating the state of the natural order into visual-mathematical representations. During the French Revolution, Lavoisier envisioned a grand statistical project that, by presenting a balance sheet of both the material goods and the finances of the nation, could perfectly communicate the true state of the economy. Although he did not explicitly invoke Quesnay’s tableau économique, Lavoisier’s all-encompassing representation would finally realize Quesnay’s goal of producing irrefutable évidence that could transcend disputation and usher in agreement on issues of political economy. Lavoisier envisioned a new grand tableau that, as he put it, “would contain within a small number of pages the entire science of political economy, or rather, that science would cease to be one because its results would be so clear, so palpable, the different questions raised would be so easy to resolve, that there could no longer be any difference of opinion.”174 Even some of the political economists of the late eighteenth century who did not include tableaux in their published work developed methodological goals that were only introduced in political economy through the tableau. The most important of these goals was to bypass the rational faculty through transparent communication and thus end disputation through compelled assent. For instance, when Condillac, the most accomplished sensationist philosophe, published his first book on political economy in 1776, he too attempted to communicate and develop knowledge of his system in an almost automatic fashion that would not necessitate drawing upon the reasoning process. Condillac tried to achieve this through a strictly deductive method based on his method of analysis that reduced a complex problem to its elementary parts and attempted to synthesize them again through a sequence of analogical propositions. As Condillac wrote, through analysis and synthesis “this science develops by itself. Propositions follow one after the other as so many consequences or successively identical propositions; and the question itself shows the solution so obviously that it is found, so to speak, without having to be sought after by the reasoning process.”175 Utilizing similar sensationist principles and a deductive method, Condillac also attempted to create simple but overwhelming évidence. The Quiet Force of the Possible Plans and prescriptions for a future state of the economy were not novel by the time the physiocrats made their contributions to political economy, but the future that is the subject of the physiocrats is coloured with a new inflection of constructability. The tableau did not simply

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“The Explosion of Light”  93

indicate the possibility of going from the present to the future; it presented the intricate and continued connections linking the present and a given future and it provided arguments for why the course that the physiocrats prescribed was the best and necessary one. The physiocrats showed that if you made specific changes in economic policy and personal spending, specific changes would result. They identified what Heidegger called “the quiet force of the possible” and attempted to amplify this quiet force through the articulation of the complex interconnections of “the economic circle” and the application of graphical arithmetic argumentation.176 In arguing for the vision of the future that they wanted to be constructed, Quesnay and Mirabeau attempted to compel assent through the implementation of arithmetic models that they believed revealed self-evident and incontestable truths; people could choose to disregard the truths, but the physiocrats thought that they could not dispute their validity. In light of this self-assuredness, it is little wonder that many of their contemporaries considered the physiocrats a cult or “sect” carried away by their own enthusiasm. As Rousseau bluntly told Mirabeau, “you attribute too much force to your calculations.”177 While, of course, the assumptions upon which the tableaux were constructed can be – and were – questioned and criticized, Quesnay and Mirabeau established a new mode of arguing for the construction of the future and a new instrument with which to both understand the future and bring it about.178 One way to control the future – or as Condorcet put it, “tame the future” – is by being the cause and author of certain effects actualized in the future.179 The tableau was created to be a guide to this process, to show people – particularly financial ministers – how to bring about a wealthier economy built upon a strong agricultural base and, therefore, a more stable government and “easier circumstances.” With the development of the tableau, we can see that an active orientation towards the future, which looked to make or construct it, developed before the similitude of historical temporality was broken. This active orientation emerged before history was understood primarily in terms of difference and irreversibility. Quesnay, particularly, took an active approach to creating the future while still maintaining a belief in the ultimate limits of historical difference and the potential of change; even while history was still bound by nature, the future was looked to for counsel and, indeed, needed to be made. And let us not forget that before the events of 1789, the word “revolution” still primarily referred to the cyclical recurrence of events and experience, similar to the revolutions of the planets; it did not yet primarily imply the radical disjuncture and beginning anew that it would

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come to signify after the French Revolution. What we see in the work of Quesnay and Mirabeau is a transition to a more active approach to the revolutions; rather than simply allowing things and configurations of experience to cycle back to them, Quesnay and Mirabeau wanted to gain some control over the cycles and the courses of the revolutions. Among other things, they wanted the tableau to demonstrate the necessary, if obscure, effect of “expenditure in the economic circle” on “the political rotation.”180 What was necessary was a science of causes – an etiology – of wealth.181 Quesnay and Mirabeau still ultimately believed in a future of bounded possible experience, yet, within these circumscribed boundaries, they hoped to gain some kind of control of the future actualization of these possibilities. Therefore, the appearance of de-temporalization in the zigzag was misleading; it obscured the fact that the zigzag always and ultimately presented a vision of time, that is, it was always a meditation on and mediation of the present and the future. It did not simply present the future as a static object, but rather, the future – or at least the future state of the economy – appeared as a malleable and dynamic thing that could be configured and reconfigured by the reorganization of the present. And construction and alteration was at the heart of Quesnay and Mirabeau’s project; Mirabeau wrote with scorn of “the reformers and critics who try to set themselves in opposition to a stream without changing its gradient.”182 The tableau was created as the physiocrats’ primary instrument for “changing the gradient,” and it played an important role in bodying forth an active orientation towards the future and giving the future a new presence in the present.

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4 Generating Time: Buffon and the Biological Instruments of Futurity

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The art of creating beings that do not exist, in imitation of those that do, is true poetry. “Dr. Bordeu” in Diderot, Le Rêve de d’Alembert

In the 1770s, the famed French naturalist Buffon carried out a series of novel experiments and calculations to determine the age of the earth. His longest estimates of the age of the earth placed the planet as being somewhere between three and ten million years old, though he did not publish these figures. Instead, based on what he could justify through his experiments, he published the shorter and less provocative claim that the earth was seventy-four thousand, eight hundred and thirtytwo years old. In addition to being constrained by his experimental findings, and perhaps wanting to avoid too strong a reaction from the theologians, Buffon also was concerned with plunging his readers into the unfathomable “dark abyss of time.”1 This calculation is rightly remembered as an important development in the process of breaking free from the biblical account of creation and the establishment of a more accurate account of the age of the earth and its natural history.2 Roughly seventy-five thousand years was still long enough to yield a surprising new vision of the earth’s history and the timescale of nature, considerably longer than the estimate of around six thousand years that was the widely accepted account based on the interpretation of biblical sources. The novelty of Buffon’s calculation, however, has obscured the fact that at the same time as he tried to push back the accepted account of the origins of the earth, he and other likeminded naturalists and philosophes also attempted to gain greater control over the development of things to come. As they opened up deep time behind them, they also searched for natural processes, organic

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mechanisms, and laws of nature that might allow humans to shape the development of living beings. Buffon was at the forefront of the endeavour to identify and theorize the means to construct future states of nature, and throughout the thirty-six volumes of his magnum opus, Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière (Natural history, general and particular, 1749–89), he argued in a variety of ways that humans not only could but should do so.3 While historians of science have analysed his work on the age of the earth, and argued about whether Buffon’s understanding of species was truly historical or fundamentally ahistorical, there has been little recognition of the way that Buffon’s future orientation provided a new model for actively intervening in the flow of time.4 Through his work in natural history and the life sciences, Buffon sought to combat a type of impotence in the face of time’s onward march. Associating productivity, fecundity, and temporality, he tried to take charge of time and resist being, as the poet English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins later put it, “time’s eunich … never to beget.”5 Instead of humanity being held as a captive to what Buffon called “the torrent of time,” he attempted to provide the means to take greater control of the effects of time and begin constructing the future according to wilful human intervention.6 Buffon recognized the high stakes for this project, since “time is the great worker of Nature,” but he believed that people could work on time, rather than merely allowing time to work on people.7 This active orientation towards the future is particularly strong in Buffon’s treatment of a somewhat mundane and rather unlikely subject: the study of domestic animals. Although Buffon held the prestigious and powerful position of director of the King’s Garden, the Jardin de Roi, he dedicated most of his efforts from the mid-1740s to late-1760s to the study of animals. Buffon did not focus his attention merely on domestic animals as they were. He applied a genealogical method of analysis to the relationship of species and varieties, investigating how domestic animals degenerated and how this degeneration could be countered. Buffon believed that the degeneration of animals had primarily natural causes, but that these had been amplified by human ignorance and shortsightedness. Climate, food, and improper breeding were the primary causes within nature that humans had unintentionally amplified by removing animals from their original climates, feeding them improper foods, and not allowing them to freely choose from a large selection of possible mates.8 As with a number of the concepts and terms that Buffon employed, a stable and precise meaning of “dégénération” and the verb “dégénérer” is difficult to establish because of the variety of ways that he employed

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.

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Generating Time  97

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them. But they clearly did not have the exclusively negative connotation that we generally ascribe to them today. Buffon used “degeneration” in a technical sense that went beyond the negative sense of deterioration and vitiation. On some occasions, he clearly opposed degeneration to improvement or perfection, but on other occasions it was used as a more neutral term that simply indicated deviation from the original, whether this deviation was judged to be an improvement or a corruption.9 Buffon made this clear in his piece “De la dégénération des animaux” (On the degeneration of animals) when he wrote that, relative to humans and our needs, some breeds of sheep were “improved in certain regards and tainted in others” and that these were “the same thing relative to Nature.”10 That an animal had degenerated did not necessarily mean that the animal had become physically corrupted or that it had become less useful to humans. In fact, it could be quite the opposite. In this understanding of degeneration as variation, Buffon surprisingly demonstrated that a degenerate animal could have very useful aspects. Although an animal as a whole might be degenerate, some of its traits might be improvements.11 For instance, the rough coat of certain varieties of sheep transformed over the course of generations into fine wool of great value while at the same time their tails became so large and fat that the animals could not walk without difficulty.12 These types of deviations embodied in the varieties of a species and the possibility of combining them in order to selectively bring about further improvements became an important experimental subject for Buffon as he attempted to determine to what extent deviations could be manipulated. How far could deviations from the original prototype of the species go? Where did the boundaries of species lie? Could degeneration be manipulated so as to bring about new varieties of animals? Pregnant with the Future In his experiments and in his writing, Buffon used domestic animals as instruments of futurity. The animals provided the opportunity to intervene in the flow of time and influence the direction and content of its course. If people could control what types of animals were born in the future, they could control at least an element of the future state of nature. Through influencing the generation of animals, humans could influence the generation of the future. Time would still march on, but it would march towards someplace different – or at least it could. One way that Buffon demonstrated this was by highlighting the possibility of selectively breeding animals so as to bring about a combination of traits that had never previously existed. Mentioning that

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98  The Time of Enlightenment

humans had “transformed a sterile grass into wheat,” Buffon hoped that humans might transform domestic animals in as dramatic a fashion.13 He argued that by altering wheat from its original wild form, humans had turned it into a plant that “nowhere exists in the state of nature,” carrying out “a type of creation” that they could achieve again by transforming domestic animals.14 For instance, he wanted to regenerate the French domestic sheep, which he characterized as small, weak, and overly reliant upon humans for survival. But he did not want simply to return the variety to the exact form it had had in the wild (an approximate version of which could still be seen in the wild mountain sheep, the mouflon). The domestic sheep’s fine wool made it more useful to people than the wild sheep, and Buffon did not want to eliminate this advantageous characteristic. He did not want to go back along the same axis of development that had carried the domestic sheep to the point of its present form and character. Rather, he believed that proper interbreeding of the French domestic sheep could make them taller (like the original prototype of the species) and give them nicer wool (like foreign domesticated sheep). He wanted to create a new combination of characteristics that had never coexisted in any variety of sheep by combining the French domestic sheep with two varieties: the mouflon and the Barbary variety of sheep from Spain and England. Since “strength of body and greatness of height are male attributes, [and] thickness [of the wool] and beauty of the skin are female attributes,” French breeders would have to mix female Barbary sheep with male domestic sheep from France, while mixing male mouflon with female domestic sheep from France.15 In another example of creating a new variety of animal through breeding, Buffon claimed that it was possible to “improve” goats by breeding them with sheep.16 He claimed that humans could “change their hair and make it as useful as the most beautiful wool.”17 It was in this way, then, that Buffon’s work gave a new meaning to Leibniz’s oft-repeated assertion that “the present is pregnant with the future.”18 While Leibniz had a vision of nature as profoundly predetermined and, in the case of animals, preformed, Buffon rejected preformation and the traditional understanding of final causes, attempting to understand nature as the product of immanent forces and natural laws. Through Buffon’s demonstration of the human ability to intervene in natural processes and change the character and form of individual animals, as well as varieties and “races,” he demonstrated more clearly than anyone that the present was pregnant with the future in a way similar to an animal’s being pregnant with its offspring. He also demonstrated that humans could similarly affect the outcome of these two pregnancies. More specifically, it was the controlled breeding and

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Generating Time  99

intermixing of domestic animals that provided Buffon with a model to demonstrate the human ability to work with nature to direct the development of the future. Although Buffon never used Leibniz’s phrase, he did play an important role in transforming the relationship between the present and the future in a way that made possible a transformation of the meaning of the phrase. By the French Revolution, when abbé Henri Grégoire reiterated that “the present time is pregnant with the future” he was referring to the radical beginning anew that the revolutionaries were attempting, rather than a more Leibnizian sense of the unfolding of a predetermined future.19 Buffon’s work was a vital part of this transformation of the future from an object – mysteriously and inevitably emerging in a predetermined fashion from the present – to a malleable thing whose birth could be influenced by human action. In writing about nature, Buffon often used gendered language in a way that was not uncommon amongst the savants of his day.20 It is certainly significant that “Nature” was a feminine object whom “man” had to work with in order to dominate. Buffon made female “Nature” complicit in “her” own domination, using her forces and natural laws to control the birthing of the future. Buffon’s orientation towards the future was, therefore, dramatically different from the one Leibniz endorsed. While Buffon looked to the future and attempted to actively construct it, Leibniz, like many early modern Europeans, saw a determined future and called for passivity. The active orientation to the future in Buffon’s work is clearest in his unprecedented approach to animal breeding. Animal breeding as a concerted effort to control the reproduction of animals for human use reached back at least to antiquity. By the early modern era it was undertaken in many parts of the world, including both Europe and the Americas, by people who were interested in producing domestic animals, pets, and animals to carry out agricultural labour. While these practices were widespread and reached far back into the past, it was only in the eighteenth century that a group of people attempted to systematically study breeding so that they could improve the results and have greater control over the types of animals produced.21 This systematic study aimed to develop and refine theories of generation and integrate them with practices of breeding. They looked to breeding to confirm their theoretical assertions about generation and the inheritance of characteristics, while they hoped that increased knowledge of generation could be used to gain greater control over the practices of breeding. This integration of theory and practice was something new in the history of animal breeding. Its development occurred primarily in the work of three French savants in the middle of

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100  The Time of Enlightenment

the eighteenth century, as Buffon, his friend and colleague Pierre-Louis Maupertuis, and the prominent naturalist René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur attempted to understand generation theoretically by identifying the mechanisms that could account for the apparent heritability of certain physical characteristics. It appears that France was unique in Europe at mid-century because of the confluence of both a movement to reform the methods of natural history and vigorous debates over epigenetic theories of generation. Nicholas Russell argues that the English, for example, were not carrying out these types of “scientific” breeding experiments in the eighteenth century because, although they were practising cross-breeding, they did not have applicable theoretical explanations to account for the success of breeding (epigenetic theories were not given the same credence as they were in France), nor was there the same type of systematic recording and studying of results (at least not until later in the century with the emergence of Robert Bakewell).22 In France, Buffon and Maupertuis (along with Quesnay and Diderot) were at the head of the group proposing epigenetic theories and also vociferously criticizing the established methods of natural history. These self-consciously reformist savants portrayed themselves as saving natural history from an obsessively detail-oriented methodology that was focused on observation and interested in enumerating facts at the expense of cultivating interpretation. Réaumur, as an advocate of preformation and a detailed cataloger of insects, was somewhat unfairly offered up as their target in these two related polemics.23 For Buffon and Maupertuis, as well as Réaumur and his partisans such as Charles Bonnet, animal breeding was closely intertwined with the emergent polemic over generation. The results of breeding experiments were utilized by both sides of the debate to provide empirical evidence of their respective theories. Within this divisive context, Maupertuis played an important role in reviving ideas of epigenesis and instigating new lines of inquiry into the inheritance of characteristics, but several elements of Buffon’s experimental practice make his work stand out as the most important of this period in these regards.24 First, Buffon gave breeding experiments a more central role in his work and attributed a greater explanatory power to them. Buffon made it clear to his readers that he spent a lot of time and effort on these experiments (though in the text of Histoire naturelle he did not acknowledge the role of his experimental assistants). He boasted, for example, of spending “many years” doing breeding experiments.25 He also argued that they held an unusual power to reveal something as mystifying as the true division between species: “The kinship of species is one of those deep mysteries of Nature that

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Generating Time  101

man can probe only with experiments as repetitive as they are long and difficult. How can the kinship between species be known other than by the results of thousands upon thousands of attempted unions between animals of different species!”26 Buffon demonstrated and endorsed the type of experimental patience, perseverance, and even stubbornness that the philosophes, such as Diderot, put at the centre of their attempt to advance knowledge of nature.27 Second, his experimental practices fit within his attempt to create a complete knowledge of animals. For example, his theoretical justification for cross-breeding fit into his theory of generation, his intricate explanation of the causes of degeneration, and his understanding of species and variation. Furthermore, since Buffon’s practices were intertwined with this extensive theoretical work, he was in a better position to argue for the necessity of cross-breeding within all groups of domestic animals and plants. Other people had endorsed the systematic cross-breeding of animals well before Buffon; in fact, in his discussion of horse cross-breeding he drew on a document written by the marquis de Brancas relating to the French government’s regulation and centralization of horse-breeding.28 However, while Brancas’s document remained focused on practical issues, Buffon provided a detailed theory that purported to explain how and why cross-breeding improved animals. Buffon’s work subsequently became a key theoretical reference for French horse breeders, such as Claude Bourgelat, and sheep breeders, such as Claude Carlier.29 The Buffonian approach to animal breeding was also developed and popularized by his longtime collaborator on Histoire naturelle, Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton, who in 1766 began a fifteen-year-long, state-sponsored, experimental breeding project to improve the quality of wool of sheep in France.30 The project became the longest, largest, and most systematic project of its kind, resulting in numerous academic papers and the 1782 practical guide Instruction pour les bergers et pour les propriétaires de troupeaux (Instructions for shephards and proprietors of flocks), which in various editions and abridgements circulated widely.31 The third way that Buffon’s breeding practices surpassed those of his peers lay in the fact that Buffon carried out and reported such an extensive array of breeding experiments from the late 1740s until his death in 1788. To use only one decade as an example, in the 1750s Buffon performed breeding experiments with at least the horse and the donkey, the goat and the sheep, the ox and the bison, the dog and the wolf, the dog and the fox, the badger and the stone marten, the rabbit and the hare, the deer and the fallow deer, the peccary and the boar, and the peccary and the pig.32

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This experimental dimension of Buffon’s work is often overlooked, and he is best remembered as a grand theorist of nature with a superior literary style and a flair for synthesis. He was someone who was not afraid to think deeply about big questions and attempt to connect disparate facts into a coherent picture of nature. Both his contemporaries and subsequent scholars have often portrayed his visions of nature as having an insufficient grounding in observation and experience.33 This is partially a result of the polemical context of natural history in the latter half of the eighteenth century. As one of the primary critics of Réaumur and his style of modest observational natural history, Buffon opened himself to counter-attacks from Réaumur’s supporters that emphasized his bold interpretations, characterizing them as wild and ungrounded. In the Encyclopédie entry “Observation,” for example, Buffon was the only modern author listed as one of “the audacious and eloquent theorists” whose imagination got the better of them as they hastily constructed an “ingenious system” on a foundation of too few facts.34 Buffon and his speculative cohort were accused of rendering “their opinions plausible and attractive by the colour of the literary devices that they employ, the variety and strength of the colour, and by striking and sublime images.”35 Although Buffon was an exceptional stylist, this has unduly obscured the experimental orientation that runs throughout his long and varied career.36 Buffon’s claim that experiments and experience (expérience) played a vital role in the sciences, including natural history, was not an empty or perfunctory assertion.37 Even a brief list of the experiments he carried out over his long career demonstrates the extreme diversity of his experimental subjects and the continued role they played in his investigations: enlisting a boy to play a coin-tossing game for more than two thousand tosses in order to solve the St. Petersburg problem of mathematical probability; performing thousands of stress tests on lumber; placing people in hot ovens until they passed out so as to better understand how bodies functioned while exposed to high temperatures; making extensive observations of beef broth with a microscope to determine the existence of spontaneous generation; building very large mirrors in order to ignite objects at a distance; feeding an extremely wide variety of foods to captive animals to understand the effects on them and their offspring; testing rocket acceleration; and timing the cooling of massive balls of hot iron to better understand the cooling of the earth and, therefore, its age.38 However, the experiments that best demonstrate the continued centrality of experiment to his work are those of animal breeding. It appears that he began these experiments in the late 1740s with the attempted interbreeding of a horse and a donkey, and he was already

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writing about the necessity of interbreeding the different races of a species in the first volumes of 1749.39 Throughout the next four decades, he carried out a wide array of interbreeding experiments and continued to enthusiastically report new experimental findings until the last of the supplemental volumes of the Histoire naturelle that appeared shortly before his death in 1788. Unfortunately, there is very little detailed information about Buffon’s breeding experiments. Because he feared being “entombed” in piles of his own papers, Buffon took drastic action, claiming “I burn everything.”40 As if he was bragging, Buffon continued, “when I die, nothing more than useless papers will be found.”41 The small amount of relevant archival material that did survive indicates only a few general things that expand upon what is in Histoire naturelle. For instance, it confirms that Buffon carried out breeding experiments on his own estate at Montbard and establishes that his assistants, such as one of his secretaries, Trécourt, played an important role in collecting and summarizing the results of the experiments.42

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Understanding Species in Time and Time in Species Before we carry out further analysis of Buffon’s breeding experiments, it is necessary to identify Buffon’s unusual understanding of species and the role that he thought degeneration played in the creation of variations within species. As Philip Sloan has demonstrated, there are several important ways in which Buffon drew on the work of Leibniz and savants who worked in a fundamentally Leibnizian vein such as Christian Wolff and Jakob Bernoulli.43 Others have pointed to the way in which Buffon developed some of his theory of generation in relation to Louis Bourguet, the Swiss savant who was instrumental in popularizing Leibniz’s work, especially in francophone areas, as well as introducing Leibniz’s monadology into the life sciences. Buffon clearly drew on Bourguet’s transformation of Leibniz’s dominant monad into the “organic mechanism” and the moule, as well as Bourguet’s discussion of the growth of crystals and intussusception (growth of a form from the inside).44 One of the most important ways that Buffon drew on Leibnizian scholarship was in making a distinction between the “physical and real” on the one hand and the “abstract” on the other. Leibniz developed this distinction in his early work on probability and most memorably in his critique of Newton’s notions of “abstract” time and space. Leibniz argued that an “absolute” time that existed apart from things in the world was “an impossible fiction.”45 In contrast to this fiction, Leibniz

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formulated a “relational” understanding of time, arguing that time was immanent and did not exist outside of the relations between things in the world: “Time does only coexist with creatures and is only conceived by the order and quantity of their changes.”46 There was no “absolute” time prior to, or outside of, things. Time, therefore, became inseparable from things existing in time; it was only the changes of things (such as their movement) that provided the means to measure and know time. Within this framework, things in the world, particularly living beings, became epistemologically and ontologically privileged in relation to time since time sprang from them and was only knowable to humans through them. Leibniz’s disciple Christian Wolff adopted this relational understanding of time and developed it in two subtle and important ways. First, Wolff emphasized the importance of continuity in the succession of things. Second, he and his followers gave the understanding of time a more overtly biological applicability by emphasizing the role of living beings in the constitution of time itself.47 For example, Wolff and his popularizers suggested that microscopic investigations into “the movements of the tiniest animals” would reveal the smallest divisions of time that humans could perceive.48 Just as a pendulum’s regular and continuous movements could mark time, so too could the vibrations of microscopic “animalcula.” In the context of intense early modern microscopic investigations into generation, this connection between the role of the “animalcula” in the generation of animals and in the generation of time was an important one.49 While Buffon did not extensively write about time, nor put forward a consistent or developed theory of time, he did appear to hold a relational understanding of time. For example, in his “Second View of Nature,” one of the essays in Histoire naturelle that presented a grand synthetic vision of nature, he wrote that “time itself is only relative to individuals.”50 Furthermore, throughout his scholarly life, Buffon developed and employed a distinction between the “real” and the “abstract” that was similar to Leibniz’s.51 Sloan has shown that Buffon’s main sources of knowledge of the work and ideas of Leibniz were probably Gabrielle-Émilie du Châtelet’s Institutions physiques (1740) and his correspondence with the Swiss mathematician Gabriel Cramer. Although it is unclear how much Buffon knew of the work of Leibniz, there are indications that he had an extensive knowledge of it through both direct and indirect sources.52 For example, through Buffon’s explicit references in Histoire naturelle, we see that he was aware of some of Leibniz’s wellknown works and ideas, such as his theory of the earth and what Leibniz himself called his two great principles (the law of sufficient reason

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and the principle of contradiction).53 There are also traces of Leibnizianism in Histoire naturelle that are quite obvious, but do not make explicit reference to Leibniz. For example, Sloan has pointed out the similarity between Leibniz’s claim that monads are self-sufficient sources of their own action that mirror the universe and Buffon’s assertion about any animal in general: “It wills, acts, it determines itself, it operates and communicates by its senses with the most distant objects. Its self is a centre where everything is connected, a point where the entire universe is mirrored, a world in miniature.”54 This characterization of an animal bears a striking resemblance not only to Leibniz’s description of monads in general, but also to Leibniz’s particular ideas about the role of dominant monads in animals.55 Buffon also explicitly mentioned numerous of Leibniz’s obscure ideas and publications, such as a mathematical technique called analysis situs that Leibniz developed in his correspondence and left unpublished; Leibniz’s “binary arithmetic” and his application of it in attempting to decipher “his Chinese enigma” (i.e., the Yi Jing or Book of Changes), which appeared in Leibniz’s Discours sur la théologie naturelle des chinois; and Leibniz’s account in a report submitted to the Académie des Sciences of a dog that could supposedly speak a number of words.56 In addition to du Châtelet’s book (and his acquaintance with her) and his correspondence with Gabriel Cramer, it seems that Buffon may have had numerous other sources of information about Leibniz. For instance, it is rarely acknowledged that John Turberville Needham, Buffon’s collaborator in his famous microscopic experiments of the 1740s, was himself an avowed Leibnizian.57 Furthermore, when he was visited late in life by Marie-Jean Hérault de Séchelles, Buffon supposedly claimed, “what best showed the genius of Leibniz was perhaps not in the collection of his works; to find his best it was necessary to search the memoirs of the Academy of Berlin.”58 Buffon was in fact a foreign member of the Academy and there is evidence that he read the memoirs of the Academy.59 Hérault de Séchelles also claimed that Buffon included Leibniz – along with himself – as one of the world’s five great geniuses.60 Buffon was not, however, a Leibnizian partisan, although when he turned his attention to questions of natural history in the 1740s, he employed the Leibnizian distinction between the “real” and the “abstract” and treated species similarly to how Leibniz and Wolff treated time. Buffon was critical of contemporary taxonomists like Linnaeus because he felt that they based their classifications on arbitrarily chosen characteristics of animals. The “species” that were identified through these methods were merely “metaphysical” species that represented the arbitrary choices of classifiers rather than true units of

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nature.61 In order to achieve a more truthful understanding of species – one that more accurately represented the divisions of nature – the naturalist would have to be more attentive to nature’s own distinctions. Buffon believed that “the most delicate and important point in the study of the sciences … [is] to know how to distinguish what is really in a subject from what we arbitrarily place there in considering it.”62 Instead of choosing distinctions to privilege when classifying animals, Buffon wanted to observe these distinctions emerge from nature itself. In his development of a method to achieve this, he adapted the Leibnizian approach whereby the real emerged from the concrete relations of things through time. Buffon wanted to abandon the arbitrary “metaphysical” classifications and begin anew. What was needed was a methodology that observed animals in time and, therefore, could more accurately identify nature’s own distinctions without projecting arbitrary human distinctions onto nature. It was for this reason that Buffon revived the criterion of the successful breeding of fertile offspring to determine whether any two individuals were of the same species. Aristotle, John Ray, and Réaumur had employed this criterion before Buffon, although it was largely through Buffon’s articulation of it, and the singular emphasis that he placed upon it, that it became established in modern biology. This was one of the most popular parts of Buffon’s treatment of species. It was adopted widely and spread further through its almost immediate restatement in sources such as Diderot’s “Animal” entry in the Encyclopédie. As Sloan argued, Buffon employed the criterion in a way that differed from that of his predecessors by claiming it was the only criterion.63 Rather than attempting to understand species by lumping them together into orders and classes in an effort to artificially reduce the differences between individuals, Buffon began from their irreducible individuality and difference. Consequently, rather than treating species as classes of individuals, he treated them primarily as lineages of successive beings in time: “It is in comparing nature today to that of other times, and the individuals of the present to past individuals, that we have come to a clear idea of what we call species. The comparison of the number or the similarity of individuals is only an accessory idea, often independent of the first.”64 Only when naturalists adopted a genealogical method would they begin to approach the “physical truth” of species.65 In the introductory methodological discourse to the first volume of Histoire naturelle, Buffon clearly articulated the importance of the observation of a continuous series in establishing this truth. “Physical truths,” he wrote, “are not at all arbitrary and in no way depend on us. Rather than being based on suppositions that we have made, they rest

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Generating Time  107

only on facts. A series of like facts or, if you prefer, a frequent repetition and uninterrupted succession of the same events constitutes the essence of physical truth. What is called physical truth is then only a probability, but a probability so great that it is equivalent to certainty.”66 Buffon applied this methodological conviction about truth and reality to the existence of species. He claimed that species had a “real existence” only in the continuous succession of individuals: “It is neither the number nor the collection of like individuals that make the species. It is the constant succession and uninterrupted renewal of these individuals that constitutes it; … species then is an abstract and general word, of which the thing only exists in considering Nature in the succession of time and in the constant destruction and just as constant renewal of beings.”67 Comparing individual animals across time and understanding the process of generation that linked them was the key to understanding what a species was, and what it could be. Although Buffon drew on Leibniz and Wolff in his approach to species, there were important ways in which he differed from them. Leibniz endorsed a preformationist theory of generation that was consistent with his determinism.68 For Leibniz, the present was pregnant with the future because the future was predetermined and encapsulated in the present. Buffon, however, was critical of final causes and rejected theories of generation that relied on preformation or pre-existence. When we consider Buffon’s work as a whole, it can be said that he developed a non-teleological interpretation of nature and that a non-predeterministic theory of generation was at its core. This non-teleological approach to individuals and their generation, when combined with a relational theory of time that made time immanent and dependent upon individuals, was itself an important step in creating the conditions of possibility for the construction of the future. Once time was something that depended upon the succession of real individuals in the world, and these individuals were not predetermined or preformed, it became possible to alter time through the manipulation of these individuals. By the 1760s, after more than twenty years of working on topics in natural history, Buffon came to treat species as more than merely humanity’s arbitrary projection onto the undifferentiated continuity of nature.69 Having made enough observations, Buffon inductively established the “physical truth” of the existence of species. Furthermore, the observation of such vast variations within fertilely interbreeding groups convinced Buffon of the ultimate unity and immutability of species. However, even though he came to believe that species were immutable and had some kind of eternal existence, he still asserted that they had only an immanent existence through each individual of the species

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and the immutable internal form that had been passed down from the first individual of the species, that is, the moule intérieur (internal mold). The moule intérieur was integral to the process of reproduction, directing the “organic molecules” that came together to form the individual. It ensured that each individual of the species was in some ways like what he called the “prototype” of the species, even if the individuals varied in many ways and did not outwardly resemble their “primitive ancestor.”70 Buffon was vague about what exactly the moule intérieur was and how it worked. He argued that it was a force and treated it as a heuristic concept built on the observation of effects rather than direct observation of the force itself (making it an “occult quality” in the technical terminology of the naturalists and natural philosophers of the day).71 One of the things that Buffon made clear about the moule intérieur was that it could penetrate the mass of matter itself, like the force of attraction. Through its role in generation, the moule intérieur of a species was like a limit that established the realm of possible combinations of organic molecules for each species.72 The moule intérieur also provided a more general type of limit that defined the boundaries of the species and the scope of possible variation of individuals within the species. This made Buffon’s theory of generation neither fully deterministic nor fully open ended. While he rejected final causes, he also did not think that individuals within a species could take any form. Buffon’s opposition to finalism is a complex matter, since his explicit statements against final causes were sometimes complicated by his descriptions of the purpose and function of animal organs and behaviour. Furthermore, although Buffon strongly opposed external final causes, he resorted to a type of modified internal final causation in his description of the process of generation.73 He used the issue of external final causes to argue against a strict version of divine predetermination. According to Buffon, the Creator had provided only a loose type of direction and general goal through an internal final cause for each species that was manifest in the moule intérieur. To be more precise, then, Buffon acknowledged that there were limits to the possible forms that individuals of a species might take, but there was absolutely nothing predetermined about which possible variations would be actualized in the world, or in what order these variations would occur. Cats will never become donkeys and elephants will never become dogs, but we cannot say which combination of traits dogs will have at any given time in the future – at least if humans do not systematically intervene. Deviations from the form of the original ancestors of the species would never change the limits of the species, but they would change the immanent form that individuals took through time.

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Generating Time  109

The decisive difference between Buffon’s theory of generation and the preceding theories of preformation and pre-existence was that the “prototype” did not strictly determine the development of individuals – it could be “altered” and “improved”: “There is in Nature a general prototype in each species on which each individual is modelled, but that appears, in realizing itself, to be altered and improved by circumstances; … the first animal, the first horse, for example, was the external model and internal mould on which all horse that are born, all those that exist, and all those that will be born were formed; but this model, that we know only through copies, was able to be altered or improved in communicating its form and in multiplying itself.”74 Many circumstances could affect the moule, such as overbreeding or weather that was “unnatural” for a specific animal. Overbreeding could also create problems. So, for example, breeding a single stud with many females will eventually result in degenerate progeny: “The first production of this chosen male are, if you will, strong and vigorous; but by pulling copies of this single and same moule, the imprint deforms, or at least does not render Nature in all of its perfection. Consequently, the race must weaken, shrink, and degenerate.”75 Also, animals from warm-weather climates were deemed not well suited for breeding in cold climates because the “cold alone is sufficient to restrain the force of the moule intérieur and diminish the active faculties of development, as it destroys those of reproduction.”76 It was these changing forms of individuals that held the key to identifying the truth of species. Instead of treating a “species” as a logical universal and using it to understand the constant becoming of variations, Buffon looked to the succession of variations embodied in individuals to understand species.77 This move of Buffon’s was a central part of the larger mid-eighteenth-century transition that Ernst Cassirer identified as the development of “a conception of nature which no longer seeks to derive and explain becoming from being, but being from becoming.”78 By grounding being in becoming and not attributing variation within a species to blind chance, as for example Maupertuis and Diderot did, Buffon set himself apart from some of his radical contemporaries working in the life sciences.79 Buffon attempted to identify the causes and processes by which individuals of a particular lineage deviated from the original prototype of their species. This process of deviation, as expressed in the concept of “degeneration,” was central for Buffon, since it was necessary to understand why and how variation occurred if one was to understand the relationship between individuals in the past and individuals in the present. Furthermore, understanding degeneration also held the implicit promise of revealing something about future

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individuals. If humans could adequately understand the process by which change occurred, maybe they would be able to intervene in that process and influence the individuals of the future.

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Man’s Right to “Alter, Change, Destroy, Develop, Renew, and Produce” In writing about degeneration, Buffon stated that it did not affect every characteristic of the animal. Although its effects could be considerable, there were some “essential” characteristics of species that were not affected by degeneration: “The imprint of each species is a type whose principal traits are inscribed in indelible permanent characters forever.”80 The moule intérieur was the mechanism that ensured that this imprint and its primary traits remained unaltered and that the species remained a unified whole. However, there were several types of “exterior and accidental causes” that could alter the “accidental” traits of individuals.81 Changes to these accidental traits could be passed on from individuals to their offspring – a process that would later be known as “the inheritance of acquired characters.”82 If there was a prolonged exposure to the same accidental causes, the transformations of the traits could accumulate and result in a new “race” within the species, which Buffon defined as constant variety, that is, one perpetuated by reproduction. Variations that began as “individual varieties” could become “varieties of the species.”83 It is important to keep in mind, however, that Buffon consistently asserted that “simple accidental varieties … do not divide the unity of the species.”84 No matter the accidental varieties, unity remained. If humans could not change the essential characteristics of a species, they could improve the species by transforming the accidental characteristics of the succession of individuals. Through the manipulation of the accidental characteristics of species, people could help bring about individual beings that had previously “existed” only as possibilities within the limits of a species. In effect, humans could manipulate variations within the species to create new types of races, and in this way “improve” the species without changing anything “essential” about it.85 Furthermore, Buffon thought that considerable improvement could occur quickly, within only a few generations, because the body of an animal was an interconnected whole that would reflect the alteration of even a single part of the whole.86 Change to a single part of the body of an animal could have cascade effects, amplifying and multiplying the transformation throughout the body of the animal. This was supposed to hold true for external qualities such as colour, size, and shape,

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Generating Time  111

as well as for instinct and “the most internal qualities.”87 Small individual changes could, therefore, have large effects on the animal’s form, appearance, and behaviour. Although the internal mould was immutable, animals were extremely malleable. The demonstration of the malleability of animals was further supported by a development in Buffon’s classification of animals that directly resulted from his breeding experiments. Even taking into consideration the paucity of archival sources due to Buffon’s choice to burn his papers, there is enough exposition of the experiments within the pages of Histoire naturelle to establish the importance of the experiments in cases such as this. Buffon’s breeding experiments with animals of supposedly different species brought about this further recognition of the malleability of animals. By asserting that the production of fertile offspring was a crucial criterion for determining if two animals were of the same species, Buffon gave breeding experiments a significant role since they could reveal the true kinship of two animals. For Buffon, the empirical results of breeding experiments transcended the merely “metaphysical” evidence that classifiers such as Linnaeus used to determine species boundaries. Even in the 1750s, when Buffon had still had little success in achieving decisive results from breeding experiments, he articulated how important it was to know if certain pairings of animals could produce fertile offspring: “We do not know if the zebra reproduces with the horse or the ass; … if the dog can reproduce with the fox and the wolf; if the deer reproduces with the cow, the hind with the fallow deer, etc. … The whole knowledge of animals, however, depends on this, as does the exact division of species and the perfect knowledge of their history; the manner of writing it and the art of treating it also depends on this.”88 Breeding experiments had never been given so much importance in the creation of scientific knowledge. As a direct result of reliance upon these experiments, Buffon began to revise traditionally accepted species boundaries among domestic animals. Again and again in Histoire naturelle Buffon demonstrated that a number of supposedly distinct species were actually varieties of either a single species or a smaller number of species than originally thought. This distinctive element of the Histoire naturelle can be seen throughout the course of its many volumes.89 Noteworthy examples of this process were Buffon’s reduction of all of the species of domestic cattle to only two species (the cow and the buffalo) and his even more radical assertion that all species of known sheep degenerated from a single prototype that was similar to the wild mountain sheep, the mouflon.90 At the beginning of writing Histoire naturelle, Buffon acknowledged two hundred species of quadrupeds, but he eventually reduced this

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to thirty-eight primitive types whose variation accounted for the two hundred types he had originally referred to as species.91 The most important result of this process of revising species boundaries was the foregrounding of the mutability of animals. By arguing, for instance, that all sheep were simply varieties of a single species, Buffon implied that great transformations had been brought about within the species. He showed that two types of sheep previously thought to be separate species had actually descended from a common prototype, which meant a great amount of variation had occurred and was the cause of their differentiation. Since Buffon argued that the degeneration of domestic animals was primarily a result of human influence upon them, and that this degeneration accounted for the great variety within domestic animals, his theory created the possibility that humans could continue to modify them in significant ways. If humans had already transformed animals so greatly without following a rational and intentional plan, they could transform them even more drastically if they applied Buffon’s new knowledge of how variations were produced (that is, the role of climate, food, and breeding). He certainly implied this possibility when he gave breeding prescriptions – like those mentioned above – that were intended to create a stronger sheep with better wool. Buffon, at least rhetorically, attributed a role in the original creation of species to God. He also claimed, however, that “man” was the “master of individuals” and had influence upon the development of individual beings.92 God retained the ultimate powers of creation and annihilation, but ceded to humans, according to Buffon, the “right” to “alter, change, destroy, develop, renew, and produce.”93 Buffon also wrote that it was God who “rules … the whole of species.” In light of the fact that Buffon did not attribute to God the role of an active intervening agent, and in light of the supposed rights of alteration obtained by humans, I interpret God’s “rule” over species, as attributed by Buffon, as being the original creation of the first individuals of the species and the establishment of the ultimate limits of possible variations.94 God’s rule, then, did not determine how the variation of species would develop – that was largely the result of human rule. Buffon articulated this mastery over individuals very clearly: “Man … may not only make all of the individuals of the universe serve his needs and his uses, he may also change, modify, and improve species with time. It is even the most beautiful right that he has over Nature.”95 In fact, there are many instances of Buffon using this type of strong language – echoing and inflating the injunction in the book of Genesis – to assert humanity’s “right of conquest” as the “master of the domain of earth.”96 On more

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than one occasion, Buffon claimed that man “was able to march in force to conquer the Universe.”97 But as strong as this language was, Buffon also repeatedly indicated that in this conquest, humans must work with the forces and laws of nature, sharing their empire with nature.98 Domestication could be vicious in the more extreme cases where it did not adhere adequately to nature’s laws. Through these practices humanity “degraded” animals and “disfigured” nature.99 These “tainted” animals were “slaves [with] the stigmata of their captivity and the imprint of their irons.”100 In exercising this type of misguided domination, humans acted “despotically.”101 If people wanted to make the most out of the “ignored treasures” and the “new riches” of nature, they would have to work with nature, according to her laws.102 If people respected the natural laws, they could work with nature – “seconding” and “embellishing” – to produce results that would not appear without human intervention.103 As Buffon wrote, “Nature alone cannot do as much as Nature and man together.”104 For example, wool “is less a substance of Nature than a product of climate, aided by the care of man.”105 Humans helped to create the great quantity of fine wool on European domestic sheep by transporting them from extremely hot and extremely cold climates to more temperate ones.106 Buffon referred to travel literature to support this point, claiming that if a European domestic sheep is transported to a hot climate like Guinea it will lose its wool and come to be covered in hair. If the sheep is transported to a very cold climate, such as Iceland, it would not be able to survive.107 It was in his discussion of sheep that Buffon made one of his most revealing statements about the influence of humans on nature. He used the terms “species,” “genus,” “family,” and “race” to signify a great variety of different things through the course of his decades of writing. Fixing these terms is like shooting at moving targets because he repeatedly changed their meaning as new evidence was gathered. Furthermore, he often seemed to be internally inconsistent.108 But one of the most important distinctions for my argument was an observation he made about genus in an article discussing the relationship between varieties of sheep and goats. In this piece, he directly asserted that human influence had created new genera that had never previously existed: “We have had no influence on the independent animals, but to the contrary we have altered, modified, and changed domestic animals; we have therefore made physical and real genera, very different from those metaphysical and arbitrary genera that have existed only in idea.”109 Although it is not entirely certain what is meant by “genera” here, the significance of this statement is that Buffon very clearly believes these genera are

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new ones, differentiated from other genera by real physical differences (i.e., not simply ones that humans have arbitrary decided to utilize for the purpose of classification) that had not existed before. In this article, “genus” is subordinate to “species.” This is important because it shows that some sort of newness was possible even within the prescribed limits of a species. These genera were new in that they were unprecedented recombinations of the characteristics of a particular species, although they were not completely novel since they remained within recognizable pre-established limits of possibility for the species.

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“Undo with Time What Time Had Done” If humans were to embellish nature by creating new varieties within species, they had to be very careful, as well as persistent. They had to be careful because historically the careless transportation of animals between climates was the greatest cause of degeneration.110 But persistence was just as necessary in attempts to revivify and embellish nature. If people wanted to retain the changes they had caused in nature, they would have to maintain an “ever renewed care.” “If it ceases,” Buffon wrote, “everything languishes, everything deteriorates [s’altère], everything changes, and everything returns under the hand of Nature; she reclaims her rights, effaces the works of man, covers with dust and moss his most sumptuous monuments, [and] destroys them with time.”111 By the mid-1760s, Buffon was even so bold as to write with the authorial voice of all of humanity. “Raw nature is hideous and dying; it is I, and I alone, who can restore it to being pleasing and lively,” Buffon wrote, concluding this enthusiastic passage with the bold claim that “a new nature will come from our hands.”112 The primary means to bring about this new nature in the realm of domestic animals was through controlled interbreeding. Buffon repeatedly asserted the importance of crossing the races and that this was proven through practice.113 “Mixing” and “crossing” held out great potential for countering degeneration because it directly combated the effects of the single greatest cause of the degeneration of animals: humans forcefully transporting of animals from climate to climate.114 To counter this, people could take advantage of nature’s inherent tendency towards equilibrium and balance: It seems that the model of beauty and good is dispersed over all of the earth and that in each climate there resides a portion that always degenerates unless it is reunited with another portion taken from far away … To have beautiful horses and good dogs … foreign males must be given

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to our females and reciprocally foreign females must be given to our males … In mixing contrary races, and above all in renewing them often with foreign races, the form seems to improve itself and Nature revives herself [se reveler] in order to produce all that she might of the best.115

Implicit in Buffon’s discussion of breeding was the fact that if humans could change and modify the succession of beings, they could also change and alter the content of time. In a few passages it seems that Buffon even recognized that this manipulation of the individuals of the species was a manipulation of time. In 1753, Buffon raised the possibility that if two individuals of different varieties had come from the same original stock (that is, if they were of the same species), humans might be able to “undo with time what time had done.”116 Time had played an integral role in creating variation within each species, but humans could use time to change and even remove some of this variation. Buffon’s attempt to counteract degeneration was not, however, an attempt to return animals to a primitive state of nature. He was not generally trying to recover natural forms that had actually existed at a previous time. That is, he was not trying to recreate or recover the first individual in the long chain of succession that is the species. Rather, Buffon attempted to utilize nature’s tendency towards balance to bring about varieties of animals that had never before existed. The improvement of an animal could not be achieved either by strictly retracing the steps backwards towards its original form or by continuing in the same developmental path that it had travelled from the original individual of the species to its present form. Instead, Buffon wanted to create alternative paths that were not ones nature could achieve on its own, since nature produced varieties only “as if by chance.”117 Humans, on the other hand, could employ foresight and planning to create new varieties that would better serve their needs. For Buffon, as discussed in chapter 2, expanding one’s temporal awareness into the past and the future was one of the most important and characteristic developments in becoming a mature human being, and it was only possible when “reason is fully developed.”118 Employing the ability to reason about the future was one of the most important human faculties, and an important differentiation between animals and mature humans.119 If you take away the ability of “man” to know something of the past, present, and future through the vital power of nature, “this divine light, you efface, you obscure his being; he remains merely an animal.”120 Foresight, combined with the will of humans, enabled the mastery of nature and the production of new varieties. By the 1770s, Buffon became even more

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explicit in arguing that it was primarily through the “will of man” that new animals were created and maintained: One might, with time, … bring to light an infinity of new beings that Nature alone could not have produced. The seeds of all living matter belong to her and she forms all of the germs of organized beings. But the combination, succession, assortment, reunion, and separation of each of these beings often depends on the will of man; from then on he is the master, forcing Nature through his combinations and determining [fixer] her by his industry.121

In the late 1760s and 1770s, after completing fifteen volumes of Histoire naturelle on quadrupeds, Buffon revisited his earlier interest in theories of the origins of the earth. But even as he began to give more attention to geological problems than to the degeneration of animals, quadrupeds still remained a central interest of his. He continued to update his articles on the quadrupeds in his many volumes of supplements to the Histoire naturelle, and he even carried out some of his most extensively documented breeding experiments, like those of the chiens-mulets, the hybrid dogs resulting from the mixture of a dog and a wolf.122 Buffon and his team of assistants bred, observed, and documented the four generations of loup-chiens (wolf-dogs) at Buffon’s estate at Montbard (see figure 5).

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From the Great Chain of Being to a Great Network of Becoming Following from the manner in which he complicated the vision of a single direct and linear axis of the development of animals, Buffon experimented with very different ways to represent the order of living beings. He attempted to take into account the true complexity of the relationship between the many internal, external, and behavioural attributes of animals, as well as their genealogical relationships and the ways that humans had manipulated them. For example, in the illustration Table de l’ordre des chiens (Table of the order of dogs) that appeared in 1755 in the fifth volume of Histoire naturelle, while there is the representation of a compass pointing north in the lower right corner, the illustration clearly does not represent a simple geographic distribution. This is evident from a sampling of the origins of the breeds located from left to right in the illustration: Turkish – Danish (small) – Maltese – Danish (large). The location of the geographical origins of the breeds clearly does not follow their graphical representation. This table is therefore a

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Figure 5. Four generations of “chiens-mulets” (hybrid-dogs) that were the offspring of a wolf and a dog. Buffon, “Chiens-mulets,” HN Supplèment (1789), 7: opposite pp. 171, 177, 190, 203.

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Figure 6. Table de l’ordre des chiens from Buffon, HN, vol. 5 (1755), opposite p. 300. It is noteworthy that although this table has a compass pointing north in the lower right corner, the illustration clearly does not represent a simple geographic distribution. This is evident from a sampling of the origins of the breeds located from left to right: Turkish – Danish (small) – Maltese – Danish (large). This table is therefore a genealogical distribution that represents the transformation of varieties and their relationship to one another.

genealogical distribution that represents the transformation of varieties and their relationship to one another (figure 6). Buffon attempted to create an alternative to the well-known concept of the chain of being, which in its dominant eighteenth-century formulation was a continuous chain of beings ascending in order of organization from the simplest organisms to the most complex with no gaps in the chain.123 In contrast to this simplistic linearity, or simple hierarchical scale, Buffon proposed that there was a complex network of relationships that could not be plotted on a single axis, nor contained within a simple ordering table of classification. Nature “does not take a single step that does not go in all directions; in marching forward, she extends

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to the sides and rises above.”124 Buffon, in attempting to organize types of birds, for example, envisioned a new model: “This chain is not a simple thread extended only in length, but is a large web or almost a network, which at intervals casts out side branches in order to unite with the network of another order.”125 This network was not only complex in its synchronic organization; it also could shift over time, displaying diachronic complexity. Buffon’s visions of shifting genealogical webs or trees with irreversibly developing branches that bifurcated and combined with one another was a profound temporalization of the great chain of being. Arthur Lovejoy famously argued that the eighteenth-century naturalists Charles Bonnet and Jean-Baptiste Robinet “temporalized” the chain of being by claiming that a succession of organisms could ascend the chain through the course of many generations.126 Although this theory made a type of transformism possible, it did not portray a profoundly “temporalized” picture of development since it was still linear and since both Bonnet and Robinet were preformationists who believed that movements up the chain of organization were merely the unfolding of a pre-established development. There was little that was undetermined or malleable about the future in Bonnet and Robinet’s conceptions. There was no possibility of humans creating new genera or new races of animals, since all of the forms of animals were accounted for in the original creation of the world and they were merely unfolding through time. Buffon’s vision of a complex multidimensional network of constantly transforming lineages strenuously undermined the possibility of a neat, divinely preordained plan for nature. This undermining of the teleology of the great chain of being was an important contribution to the condition of possibility for a truly open and constructible future. The Colonization of the Future In his attempt to “undo with time what time had done,” Buffon helped create the means to go beyond nature’s original limits.127 Central to his project was the task of opening humanity’s eyes to their own productive power. He attempted to reveal to people their ability to regenerate nature by controlling its products. As he wrote in one of his more enthusiastic passages encouraging humans to realize their power to dominate nature and to adopt an active orientation to the future: “Use this active and devouring element that was hidden from us and that we owe only to ourselves.”128 For Buffon, control of the generation of animals was the central practice that made humans aware of their ability to dominate nature. He

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made this point explicit at the end of one of his most visionary works, “Des époques de la Nature” (The epochs of nature; 1778). In the closing pages, Buffon claimed that the realization that “every day, … species are restored” through crossing, acclimatizing, and civilizing, proves that humanity has great powers to affect nature, of which it has only slowly become aware.129 “Man” was still not fully aware of the power of his intelligence, but Buffon foresaw that “the more he will observe and cultivate Nature, the more he will have the means to subject it.”130 This march of human reason and the application of it to transform nature would yield “opportunities to pull new riches from [nature’s] breast without diminishing the treasures of its inexhaustible fecundity.”131 In this passage about the exploitation of nature through instrumental reason, we can see the form of Enlightenment thought that Horkheimer and Adorno so deftly and memorably criticized in Dialectic of Enlightenment, but we can also see another dimension of it.132 While the passage exemplifies the rationalist hubris that the Enlightenment has been so criticized for, it also shows us that this will to control nature was developed and expressed through quotidian practices that have gone little recognized, and that it played a central role in the emergence of an object that has been largely overlooked – the constructible future. In his work on domestic animals, Buffon remained a firm believer in the strictly established and unchanging limits of species; the “essential” traits of the species would never be changed. But he helped create the possibility of going beyond nature’s original limits by identifying the mechanisms and pointing to the practices by which to exceed those limits. Domestic animals came to literally embody the possibility of change over time and the means to control this change. By acting on animals, people could bring the future into the present while also projecting their present actions into the future. Breeders and naturalists could use the animals to pierce the veil separating the present from the future. Animals became instruments of futurity that could bridge the now and the not-yet. Through an extension of their will onto animals, people could expand their will into the future and begin the rationalized colonization of that future.

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5 The Time of Regeneration: Renewal, Rupture, and Beginning Anew in the French Revolution

All their new institutions (and with them everything is new) strike at the root of our social nature. Edmund Burke, Three Letters Addressed to a Member of the Present Parliament

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The distance is enormous between what the people are and what they might be. Abbé Henri Grégoire, “Sur les moyens de perfectionner les sciences politiques”

On the fourth day of the Month of Frost in the second Year of Liberty – in between the Day of Chicory and the Day of the Pig, two days after the Day of the Turnip and three before the Day of Cauliflower – the National Convention of France came one step closer to a complete reorganization of time. On 4 Frimaire Year II (24 November 1793) – not long after creating a “Republican calendar” with twelve newly named months, each consisting of thirty days divided into three ten-day weeks – the revolutionary leaders extended their reorganization of time to the divisions of the day.1 They did not pursue the logic established in the creation of the calendar by naming increments of the day after healthy foodstuffs or useful farm implements – there was no hour of wheat or minute of the pitchfork. But the new organization of the day was strange enough. The Convention proposed that the day be divided into ten hours with one hundred minutes each and one hundred seconds per minute.2 Acknowledging the disorienting nature of this measure, they made the use of this new division of the day mandatory only for “public acts,” and they delayed the mandate to take effect only on the first day of Year III. From that point on, for all government officials, nine in the morning would be the seventy-fifth minute of the third hour of the day, while five in the evening would be the thirty-third second

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122  The Time of Enlightenment

of the eighth minute of the seventh hour of the day. The bureaucrats would be the first to have to adapt to the new system, but the revolutionary leaders hoped to steadily extend the use of decimal time to reach increasingly larger segments of the public. Alas, the decimal division of the day lasted less than two thousand decimal hours – considerably shorter than the twelve-year life of the Republican calendar.3 The feature that made metric time so promising as a tool of regeneration – its utter novelty – was the very thing that assured its failure. Although these attempts to reorganize time did not succeed in the long term, they were an important and emblematic part of the revolutionary project to break with the past and construct a future in which everything would be new and different.4 While the clamour of secular futurity sounded a distant echo in the Enlightenment, it arrived with a thundering presence in the French Revolution. The leaders, actors, and contemporary commentators of the Revolution radicalized the construction of the future by attempting to totalize it. The revolutionaries not only made the constructability of the future explicit in their discourse, they also aimed their practices at transforming the very ground of human existence – “the whole frame and fabric of the old societies of the world,” as it was disapprovingly, but accurately, characterized by Edmund Burke.5 The French Revolution was an unprecedented development in the history of social engineering because the revolutionaries attempted to re-create people directly through instruction and indirectly through a significant alteration of the environment that surrounded them. In aiming to remake the whole frame and fabric of existence, the revolutionaries intended to remake both the general and the particular – the general structures, institutions, and practices that helped mould collective existence, as well as the actual character, abilities, and physical bodies of individuals. During the Revolution, some people came to believe that it was possible and desirable to transform all dimensions of life, and that any of these dimensions could be given a novel character. It was this expansive and inclusive idea of regeneration, and the attempt to put it into practice, that marked the revolutionary era as the historical moment when modern social engineering fully emerged in European history.6 It also marked the curious process whereby a new understanding of historical temporality was folded back, turned upon itself by those who held and embodied it, so that the very structures of time – the units of time and the tools of timekeeping – came to be treated as malleable objects that could not only reflect but also aid in the construction of the future and the mastery of time. It was, in a sense, when time became both a weapon and the object towards which the weapon was directed. Enlightenment tools and practices for making the future

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The Time of Regeneration  123

appear more constructible helped establish the conditions of possibility for the revolutionary projects of regeneration, including the regeneration of time itself. The metric system was one of the primary attempts to alter the basic structures of existence and establish a new ground that would enable new ties to bind people together. The newly divided day, week, month, and year were an extension of the newly developed metric system that aimed to divide all measures of weight, distance, volume, duration, angle, temperature, and currency into equal divisions divisible by ten.7 Abbé Grégoire claimed that the metric system was “one of the most useful conquests of humanity” because the staggering diversity of ancien régime weights and measures “shackle[d] all social interactions.”8 This somewhat grandiose claim is understandable in light of the estimated 800 different names and 250,000 units of weights and measures that existed in ancien régime France.9 As the historical metrologist Witold Kula concluded, “the metrological chaos prevailing in France was unimaginable,” as even adjacent towns could have completely different names and units of measure.10 The creation of the metric system replaced this chaotic diversity with a uniformity that fostered new types of social and economic interaction and enabled people to be entwined in new ways through everyday practices. The radically regenerative project of the metric system was intimately related to the Revolution’s central role in the development of the modern orientation to the future and the wide-ranging and deep effects that this had on all facets of life in Europe and, in varying degrees, the rest of the world. Lynn Hunt has argued that “a new relationship to time was the most significant change, and perhaps the defining development, of the French Revolution.”11 Within this new relationship to time, I argue, it is the emergence of the active future orientation and its centrality to modern European history and conceptions of modernity that is at the heart of the Revolution’s historical significance.12 In fact, the Revolution can be seen as an enactment of a central generative problematic of modernity: how do you live if God is no longer conceived of as an active intervening agent, all precedents have been stripped of the authority of necessity and compulsion, and the past does not seem to shine an edifying light towards the future? What is life – both collective and individual – when divine preordination and intervention seem to be absent and when the past no longer exists as a collection of existential imperatives? The past could still provide lessons and models, but for many people their authority was questionable and their usefulness and applicability for the future were suspect. For some observers of and participants in the French Revolution, the heuristic value of the past

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was not simply compromised, it seemed to have been annihilated; they felt adrift and without precedents to imitate. Shortly after the Terror, for example, the aphoristic writer Joseph Joubert wrote in one of his notebooks: “Models. There are no more models.”13 For others who had a slightly less dramatic and complete sense of loss and unmooring, the past could still be drawn on, but it did not necessarily dictate and there was no promise that its lessons were still applicable. There were, of course, a range of reactions to the dramatic events of the Revolution and the feelings of disruption and disorientation. While an active approach to constructing the future was common, particularly amongst political leaders and elite intellectuals who inherited the tradition of the philosophes, not everyone reacted to the experiential rupture by developing a more active approach to constructing the future. In fact, many people looked for portents and prophecies that could explain the seemingly unprecedented events. The revived interest in the prophecies of the Renaissance astrologer Nostradamus, for example, was just one of the signs that astrology and soothsaying had not completely disappeared from the political culture.14 The Revolution was, nonetheless, a climax of the long process of the development of secular voluntarism. This is not to say that the Revolution marked the end of secularization, nor that people stopped participating in religious practices or believing in the supernatural, but rather that the voluntaristic predicament of secularity emerged more fully and robustly as a problem. The French Revolution marked the moment when a considerable portion of humanity in Europe began to believe that it had to construct itself out of itself, working on and with time to build a new and better future. For many people who lived through the French Revolution, it seemed that for every realm of existence, models were to be made, not to be followed. An active approach to constructing the future was necessary. “Man must no longer regard himself as a limited being with a fleeting and isolated existence,” Condorcet wrote in 1791, arguing that with the Revolution “he becomes an active part of the great whole and the co-operator of an eternal work.”15 Or, in a similar spirit, as Constantin-François Chasseboeuf de Volney wrote, “man” had come to acknowledge himself as “the artisan of his own destiny.”16 Society, government, and morality – anything and everything – had to be formed through the continual acts of becoming that humanity now found to be its predicament. This situation required action, but also, as Hegel argued in terms that became important for modern intellectual history, a new philosophy that would be focused on the socially and morally unstable orientation of the modern age.17 Commenting on Hegel, and building on Koselleck’s work on historical

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The Time of Regeneration  125

temporality as well as Hans Blumenberg’s work on the “legitimacy of the modern age,” Jürgen Habermas has articulated this philosophical predicament as posing a new challenge in which people have recourse only to normativity and self-creation, so that modernity “has to create its normativity out of itself.”18 Over the course of the nineteenth century, in addition to finding expression in the philosophical work of Hegel and others, this predicament manifested in various forms of historicism. A number of the great literary and historical works of Romanticism, for example, expressed the idea that the early nineteenth century was “the age of the spirit of the age,” a period when, as James Chandler, has written, “the normative status of the period becomes a central and self-conscious aspect of historical reflection.”19

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Experiments in the Ocean of Being In light of the attempt to bring about new social practices and ways of being, the revolutionaries’ actions can be characterized as experiments in practical ontology. Although the term “practical ontology” is not common, it gets at the uncommon nature of these practices aimed at transforming people’s ways of being. Furthermore, the characterization of the actions of the revolutionary leaders as experiments, particularly chemical experiments, was contemporary with the Revolution itself.20 Those people who, like the moderate group of reformers who founded the Société de 1789, were aiming “to perfect the social art,” explicitly saw the Revolution as a social experiment that defied all precedents; for them the Revolution was “a mighty experiment which overthrows all the known principles of social mechanics.”21 Whether to exalt or condemn the Revolution, many French and foreign observers agreed in characterizing the revolutionaries’ actions as experiments. By characterizing the revolutionary project as one of experimental practical ontology, I am not claiming that the revolutionaries embarked on extensive formal ontological analyses. In this sense, like the Enlightenment philosophes, they conformed to Locke’s caution about venturing into the vast and deep “Ocean of Being.”22 But through the manipulation of practices they were attempting to change what it meant to be a human being participating in society. The new structures that the revolutionary leaders were putting into place, such as the metric system, necessitated that people alter their practices to conform to these new structures. These altered practices would result in new habits that would in turn create new dispositions and lead insensibly to new ways of being. This was practical ontology in the sense that through their

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practices they explored and transformed the possibilities of being, or at least attempted to do so. To what extent could existence be transformed, and what was the best way to bring this about? Could the “new man” be brought into being all of a sudden or gradually, perhaps over the course of generation? These questions were often addressed through the discourse of régénération, a term often implying a “new birth” in addition to the meanings of recuperation and rebirth. In the first years of the Revolution, leaders often placed a great amount of hope in the rapidity of transformation. As Mona Ozouf and Antoine de Baecque have shown, this hope in rapid, almost miraculous, transformation shifted over the first years as the promise was not realized.23 During the Terror, there was a renewed effort to bring about regenerative transformations through ambitious and wide-reaching projects that might be able to realize the early hopes of the Revolution. After this concerted effort seemed to have been unsuccessful in fully realizing the new man and transformation of society, leaders during the Thermidorian Reaction attempted to find new methods of regeneration that were less direct and interventionist than those envisioned or implemented during the Terror. The practices of transforming the structures of time and using those new structures to transform people’s ways of being were most pronounced in the first five years of the Revolution, being expressed most strongly in the discourse of the miraculous regeneration of the early years of the Revolution, and then again in the Terror as the Jacobins attempted to bring about the extreme transformation through regenerative projects that, amongst other things, brought to fruition the new clock and calendar. When it came to the question of how to bring about this miraculous birth or extreme regenerative transformation, the methods developed by the revolutionary leaders could be divided into two categories: those that acted upon people through reasoned arguments and rational principles and those that acted upon people without their full awareness, that is, on their habits and dispositions. It is on this latter category that I will focus, particularly because its deceptively radical goals are more obscure and have received less detailed attention from scholars than the more direct means that the revolutionaries utilized to transform people.24 One of the things that made the metric system so radical was that it aimed to destroy what the revolutionaries sometimes called “the empire of habit,” holding people to their ancien régime ways and standing in the way of replacing these with new ways of being. The transformation of habits emerged as a central means for revolutionary leaders to try to achieve that most characteristic goal of the Revolution – the

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The Time of Regeneration  127

impossible task of creating everything from nothing, of bringing about a new world. As both supporters and critics of the temporal reorganization recognized, it was a weapon to “combat the empire of routine” and to “defeat the habits, the inclinations of citizens.”25 It was an attempt to break people of their old ways and instantiate new ways of being. As articulated by some of the architects of the projects of revolutionary regeneration, the destruction and replacement were supposed to occur primarily below the level of awareness of the people being acted upon. It was not a question of explicit proof or persuasion. If one was accustomed to completing a task that took three hours of the twenty-four-hour day, how was one supposed to conceive of it, experience it, and plan for it in “new hours”?26 The difficulty of translating old experiences, habits, practices, and ways of thinking about these into the “new style” of time was not an accident. The creators of decimal time were attempting to create a radical rupture between what they called “old style” and “new style.” Some of them hoped that the break between styles of time would help bring about other ruptures. Experiences and ways of being would be left behind and rendered incommensurate and untranslatable. Of course, this transition was not as miraculous and instantaneous as some of the more radical revolutionaries would have liked, and concordances enabling the translation of old dates and times into new dates and times were numerous.27 The government published an official concordance and it was republished, sometimes in minorly altered forms, in works such as Eleuthérophile Millin’s Annuaire du républicain, ou légende physico-économique.28 But the existence of these concordances belies the fact that the revolutionaries wanted the new clock and calendar to help break from the past, opening what Gilbert Romme, one of the architects of the new style of time, called “a new book on history” in which they could “engrave the annals of regenerated France with a new and pure chisel.”29 Furthermore, the practical usefulness of the concordances was limited, particularly for the divisions of the day. The difficulty of translating the time of day becomes apparent when you find that eight thirty in the morning in old style is exactly the thirty-second tierce, of the sixteenth second, of the fifty-forth minute, of the third hour of the decimal day.30 Not all translations from old style to new style time were as difficult as this one, but most of them were quite disorienting. To calculate this using a concordance, one first has to find that eight in the morning old style is three hours, thirty-three minutes, and thirty-three seconds; then one finds that thirty minutes of old style are equal to twenty minutes, eighty-three seconds, and thirty-two tierces; and finally one adds these together. While there were several easy-to-remember equivalences

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Figure 7. Table for the conversion of time, from Eleuthérophile [Aubin Louis] Millin, Annuaire du républicain, ou légende physico-économique (Paris: Mari-François Drouhin, Year II [1793–94]), n.p. This is a reprint of the official concordance that the government issued.

between the old style and the new style – one new hour was two hours and twenty-four minutes in old style, and two-and-a-half new hours were the same as six old hours – in practical terms it remained very difficult to translate times when they did not coincide with these large and easily memorized divisions31 (see figure 7.

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The Time of Regeneration  129

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New Time and New Ways of Being Much as God had permeated all facets of existence in previous eras, the revolutionary esprit was supposed to permeate all facets of the existence of new citizens. In fact, the revolutionary zeal was even supposed to create new facets of being. It was supposed to permeate existence and open up new ways of being through its embodiment in institutions and laws. By aiming at habit and reformulating social structures, the metric system and its reorganization of time were intended to regenerate people at a more fundamental and all-pervasive level than did the formal pedagogy of schools and festivals. By aiming at structures that were fundamental to social life and daily practices, the metric project of reformulating the structures of being avoided what Mona Ozouf has identified as the primary problem of the festivals and schools: attendance.32 While people might have been able to avoid regularly attending schools or festivals (or attending at all), the metric reorganization of the ontological structures targeted the most basic social, political, and economic interactions – the types of daily practices that one could not avoid if one was going to participate in society, or at the very least the marketplace. In order for the schools and festivals to play their role as “the meeting point for the exercise of social virtues,” as Collot d’Herbois put it, people had to be given a place to go to and a time to go there.33 Schools and festivals obviously had to be located in space and time. The decimal divisions, however, were meant to envelope space and time, to apply to all times and all places. They were not localized like schools and festivals. They were not supposed to be anywhere – they were supposed to be everywhere. They did not function like the school and festivals to unite and coalesce, but were intended to permeate and envelope. The metric reforms also enabled individuals to be socially interconnected in new ways by changing the basic structures that supported everyday practices. By carrying out the metric reforms, the revolutionaries conformed to what Rousseau had prescribed for the ideal legislator in The Social Contract. “He must, in a word, take away from man his own resources and give him instead new ones alien to him, and incapable of being made use of without the help of other men,” Rousseau argued. “The more completely these natural resources are annihilated, the greater and the more lasting are those which he acquires, and the more stable and perfect the new institutions.”34 The revolutionary leaders did not simply give people resources that were “alien” to them, they gave them resources that were alien to every person on earth. The metre was a good example of this, since it was a completely new measurement

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(one ten-millionth of the distance from the North Pole to the equator running through Paris) that was only made possible by contemporary surveying instruments and massive financial and logistical support.35 The metric day of ten hours is another excellent example that was not based on any previously implemented formulation of clock time.36 Some revolutionary leaders, such as Condorcet, argued that the French Revolution had to implement radical social and political changes – more radical than some countries that had recently undergone revolutions – because the entrenched social system of corporate privileges, hereditary distinctions, and “feudal tyranny” presented such barriers to the realization of a more enlightened social and political order. Commenting on the more modest transformation of laws and political structure in the newly formed United States, Condorcet claimed that by 1793 “nothing of this innovation reached the mass of the people, nothing changed the relations that had formed between individuals.”37 Because of the greater obstacles, Condorcet argued, “in France, by contrast, the revolution had to embrace the whole economy of the society, change all social relations, and penetrate to the last individuals of the political chain.”38 In a rousing metaphor that seemingly invoked the great chain of being, Condorcet drew on the power of this ancient metaphysical vision of the order of nature to argue that the changes of the French Revolution had transformed society, from the top of the social hierarchy to the bottom, in all social relations, and in every individual, and emphasized the plenitude and penetration of the transformations that many people hoped would be brought about by the Revolution and its projects of regeneration.39 The Republican calendar was one of the leading candidates for a regenerative tool that could be used to bring about new abilities, new modes of social interaction, and subtly but significantly different ways of being. This was because it was a means of providing new structures of everyday social and economic activity, which meant that it could play a role in the destruction and re-creation of habits. Speaking during the Directory in the late 1790s, one legislator highlighted the special ability of the calendar to replace old routines and form new habits. “It is such a great number of men that by weakness, indolence, or even obstinacy, live and die as slaves of the most absurd prejudices and the most unreasonable habits, that, when he must combat the empire of routine, the legislator cannot be active enough,” he argued, as he tried to convince his colleagues to do more to enforce the usage of the Republican calendar.40 While the calendar was understood to be a powerful tool for destroying and recreating habits and ways of being, it was also thought to embody the kind of rational order that would influence not only the

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The Time of Regeneration  131

behaviour but the thinking of all who used it. A well-ordered, rationally constructed calendar could contribute to the proliferation of wellordered, rational thinking. In this way, it was like all elements of the metric system. This point about the ability of rationally ordered weights and measures to influence thought was made by a leader of the temporary agency overseeing the implementation of the metric system. “If we want the people to put some order in their acts and subsequently their ideas, it is necessary that the custom of that order be traced for them by all that surrounds them,” he wrote. “We can therefore look upon the metric system as an excellent means of education to be introduced into those social institutions which conjure up the most disorder and confusion. Even the least practiced esprits will acquire a taste for this order once they know it. It will be retraced by the objects which all citizens have constantly before their eyes and in their hands.”41 This claim may seem excessive, though it does conform to the dominant theory of knowledge that philosophes developed over the course of the Enlightenment and that came to be enshrined as an almost stateendorsed epistemology. This occurred as a lightly modified version of Condillac’s sensationist epistemology was celebrated by the idéologues, his successors during the Revolution who rose during the Directory and came to dominate the Class of Moral and Political Sciences of the National Institute.42 In this newly elevated sensationist epistemology, sense information – and to a degree, peoples’ memories of and reflections upon it – were the source of what people thought and how people thought. The theory that the metric system would have powerful cognitive and behavioural effects was based upon the idea that if people received sensations that shared the characteristics of rational thought, they would begin to think more rationally. People’s processes of thought, whether those people were already well educated or had not had much or any access to formal education, could be affected simply by seeing, handling, and using rationally ordered things in the world. If weights and measures were proportional and there was a regular and consistent relationship between cause and effect, people’s habits and ways of thinking would become more proportional and regular. If metric order structured the world around people, it was believed that people would begin to think, behave, and understand the world in a more orderly, rational fashion. In his analysis of how the metric system was intended to “remake the mentality of citizens,” Ken Alder has shown that the effects of this remaking went beyond the ordering of thought processes and modes of social interaction. He emphasized its economic dimensions, arguing that the metric system was a tool to help remake French

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people into a wholly new type of rational economic actor, which he has called a fully fledged, modern homo economicus.43 The system of naming the months and days of the calendar was another example of the attempt to bring about a useful habituation of thought through the senses. The architect of the system of names, the poet and member of the National Convention Fabre d’Églantine, wanted to “penetrate the understanding of people” and “bring the French people back to agriculture” since, like many, he believed it to be the economic and political base of the French nation.44 His plan was explicitly aimed at countering what the church had achieved through the habituation of the Gregorian calendar with its cycles of religious holidays and practices of commemorative naming. In the place of the religiously derived months and days named after saints, Fabre d’Églantine proposed months that would reflect the seasons and the weather conditions. He also proposed days that would bring people’s attention to useful and important objects of natural history and rural economy. As he explained with regard to the names of months: “By only the pronunciation of the name of the months, each [person] will feel three things perfectly: the character of the season in which it is found, the temperature, and the state of the vegetation.”45 Instead of directing people towards the celebration of saints, the names of the days and the months would transmit, almost automatically, a practical sense of the season and the corresponding activities that must be commenced: “Thus on the first of Germinal [which alludes to germination], … the word will indicate to the imagination, without effort, that Spring is beginning.”46 Names would habituate people to new rhythms, other patterns of practices, and a different sense of passing time. The nomenclature would then redirect minds from spending idle time on idol worship to practical activities that were essential for the economic, and therefore political, success of the nation. This proposed calendar of Fabre d’Églantine was not without precedent. In fact, only a few years before, Sylvain Maréchal created a new calendar with newly named months and days, publishing it in his Almanach des honnêtes gens (Almanac of honest men).47 Several years later, in 1793, anticipating the Republican calendar that was being created, Maréchal published another proposal for a different version of a new calendar.48 This later calendar was adopted by the Paris Commune on 5 October 1793, the same day that the Convention adopted the Republican calendar.49 “To Master the Future” For many people who lived through the events of the French Revolution, it seemed to open up a chasm in time, decisively separating what

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came before from what would come after. For many, time seemed out of joint.50 The whole landscape of possibilities rapidly transformed. What had seemed like only distant possibilities had become realistic hopes for the present, and impossibility began to give way to the ever-expanding realm of the possible. Writing about his hopes for the advancement of the sciences and the refinement and spread of enlightened public instruction, Condorcet admitted that “for a long time I considered these views as dreams that were to be realized only in an indeterminate future and for a world in which I no longer would exist.” But, instead, “a joyous event all of the sudden opened an immense path for the hopes of the human race.”51 The severity of the events of the Revolution and the breadth of the effects that they wrought were so unexpected and transformative that an experiential incommensurability seemed to have inserted itself into the flow of time.52 Individuals brought about the events through their actions, which upon reflection they could hardly recognize as their own.53 Historical actors themselves often found it impossible to explain events and adequately account for their development. Neither grandiose abstract explanations of the origins of the Revolution nor theories about specific instigating causes seemed capable of accounting for the truly unprecedented occurrences. For many of those involved, as the events of the Revolution became more complicated and unprecedented, the causes and origins of the Revolution became more confused and obscure. There also emerged a corresponding awareness of the ability to construct the future. The confusion over how the past could account for the events of the present helped push people to recognize their ability to embody an active orientation towards the future and continue to bring about unprecedented transformation. This process is similar to the process by which a single individual might become aware of know-how or practical understanding they possess but had previously been unaware of. When the flow and continuity of time seemed to be disrupted and the relationship between the past, present, and future became confused, people were spurred to reflect upon historical temporality and their relationship to it. Shocked into reflection, they came to recognize that the future could be made to be radically different from the past and, in fact, they possessed the ability to make it so. It was when “the space of experience” exceeded “the horizon of expectations,” to draw on Reinhart Koselleck’s terms, that the revolutionaries came to reflect on how this occurred and to become aware of their role in bringing it about.54 Although I find this formulation of Koselleck’s useful, my narrative of this process of people becoming aware of the constructability of the future is almost the

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opposite of his. Koselleck provided a functionalist explanation whereby people began constructing the future only after the future was unsure; people became so disoriented and anxious about what the future held that they felt the need to construct it so that they could gain some control over what would come. As I have tried to demonstrate in previous chapters, the practical understanding of the constructability of the future developed well before the Revolution, and in fact it helped make the Revolution possible. The Revolution, then, was only the event that brought forth this understanding and radicalized it by triggering individuals to state it explicitly and forcefully, while also enacting it in a wide variety of practices that pushed the constructability of the future to new extremes. There were many events that contributed to this emerging selfawareness. Some of the important events were the convocation of the Estates General and the call for the cahiers de doléances, the debates of June and July 1789, the fall of the Bastille, the night of 4 August, the king’s flight to Varennes, the massacre of the Champs de Mars, the king’s trial, and the events of the Terror.55 Although this was an extremely complicated series of events involving many historical actors and many discrete occurrences, the emergence of the understanding of the ability to construct the future during the French Revolution can be roughly divided into two phases. The first period actually began before the traditional date used to mark the beginning of the Revolution. During the “pre-Revolution” of 1787 and 1788, as various crises gripped the monarchy and discontent reached new heights, there was an increased desire to bring about political and economic reforms.56 As people called for change as never before, the monarchy made the crucial decision to open itself up to public opinion. This only stoked the nascent desires for transformation and resulted in a spiraling upwards of expectations. The cahiers de doléances and the calling of the Estates General were the ultimate expressions of the monarchy’s openness to public opinion. They were a turning point, as some sort of break with the past began to seem possible. The three pre-revolutionary pamphlets of the abbé EmmanuelJoseph Sieyès were particularly clear expressions of the desire to break with the past. In a pamphlet apparently written between July and August in 1788 (although not published until 1789), he tried to convince the French people that the solutions to their problems did not exist in the archives. He poured “indignation and outrage” on “that mass of writers obsessed with asking the past what we should become in the future.”57 Sieyès was referring to writers such as Henri comte de Boulainvilliers, Gabriel Bonnot de Mably, Jacob-Nicolas

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Moreau, and Louis Adrien Le Paige, who mobilized historical argumentation and archives to ground their various political claims about the legitimacy of monarchical power and the contentious legitimacy of the Parlements. Solutions to present and future problems, Sieyès went on to claim, could not be found in an examination of “so-called origins.”58 An understanding of rights did not secretly exist in the material form of paper and ink; there was little practical value in those rights found “in a few battered parchments written in a servile hand that the tyranny of ages has allowed to be released.”59 The rights that were important to realize and act upon had a different material form: “Your rights are already there, within yourselves … engraved in immortal characters by an almighty hand.”60 Solutions to social and political problems, Sieyès argued, lay in the circumspect futureorientated actions of legislators who would be guided by reason and the concerns of social utility: “Like an architect who, in his imagination, designs and, in some measure, prepares his plan before carrying it out, the legislator conceives of and, in his mind, realizes both the details and the whole of the social order which is fit for a people.”61 In addition to legislators’ taking an active approach to the future, Sieyès encouraged those who were the subjects of legislation to adopt a future orientation because “we do not believe that men who are always looking backwards are suitable to be led forwards.”62 These powerful pages from Sieyès’s pre-revolutionary pamphlet expressed the growing desire to break from the past and to make the present regime ancien (an act of renaming that would not become common until after the events of July 1789).63 But even in Sieyès’s forwardlooking pamphlets, there was not a fully articulated recognition that the future could be so radically different from the past that it could exceed all precedents, nor that a radically new future could be brought about through people’s wilful actions. The primary note of Sieyès’s prerevolutionary rhetoric was the expression of the need to break from the past and abandon the debilitating nostalgia that supported the continued connection to the past: “It is time therefore to abandon our so-called origins to the impenetrable darkness in which they have happily been buried forever. We have no need for inhuman nostalgia.”64 As I have shown in previous chapters, a type of nostalgic attempt to recreate the past – as in the development and utilization of the physiocrats’ tableau économique – was a vital part of the emergence of means to construct the future, but by the time of the Revolution there was a widespread disavowal of this backwards-looking nostalgia. This was an important step in the emergence of the understanding that the future was constructible.

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The vital next step in the process of emergence was brought about by the utterly surprising events of 1789. As a series of events continued to exceed people’s expectations of what was possible, an awareness of their ability to construct the future fully emerged from the takenfor-granted background of experience. With the disorienting shock of events, the constructible future came into being as a fully explicit object of discourse. The revolutionaries then came to articulate sentiments that had only been implicit in the practices of the philosophes that I have analysed in previous chapters. For example, Buffon’s desire to exert control over the future, which I characterized as the colonization of the future, was expressed explicitly by revolutionaries, who recognized the need for the temporal extension of their control. In order for the Revolution to be successful – for the government to bring its transformations to fruition while also creating a stable and lasting order – the revolutionaries, in Billaud-Varenne’s words, needed to “master the future like the present.”65 They needed to extend their control from the present out into the future by constructing that future.

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From a “Dull File” to a “Pure Chisel” The revolutionaries’ desire to create everything anew was simply breathtaking in its scope and ambition: it encompassed the institutional transformation of government and society as well as the cultural transformation of the people and their practices. On the institutional level the revolutionaries attempted to create new forms of central government, regional administration, military structure, church, a new legal system, legal code, national system of education, and a new type of market economy. On the cultural level, among other changes, they attempted to recreate and transform language, civic symbols, fashion, architecture, city planning, gender roles and gender relations, rituals and festivals, and publishing.66 For a brief period, a new civic religion – the cult of the Supreme Being – was even created to replace the last remains of the appropriated and embattled Catholic Church. The proposed revolutionary reforms were as mundane as laws pertaining to legislator’s use of writing paper and as outlandish as proposals for creating a new rationalized language based on decimalization.67 Both the revolutionaries and their foreign supporters (and often their foreign and domestic opponents) saw the Revolution as a demonstration of the possibility of radical and totalizing transformation – one that could remake “the whole previous constitution of the world,” as Schelling wrote to Hegel.68 The most radical revolutionary leaders were not satisfied with the idea that, as Montesquieu had written in The Spirit of the Laws, “politics

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is a dull file that achieves its end by slowly grinding away.”69 They wanted to bring about rapid change to the whole constitution of the world through political action. They wanted everything and they wanted it quickly. Everything was to be built anew, yet “for everything to be reconstructed,” Honoré-Gabriel Riquetti, comte de Mirabeau, the prominent revolutionary and son of physiocrat Victor Mirabeau, wrote, “everything must be demolished.”70 This was a sentiment that started to be aired during the pre-Revolution, but with the events of 1789 it became more radical, more widespread, and articulated in more practical and specific terms. It did not take long during the Revolution for the first of these extreme statements to be voiced. By August of 1789, one of the prominent members of the National Assembly, Jean-Paul Rabaut Saint-Étienne, was already expressing the idea that neither the French past nor the present circumstances of other nations, even ones that had undergone a revolution recently, such as the United States, held prescriptive value for the French present. His own claim, made just the year before in a publication of 1788 – that there were three countries that could be taken as models (the Swiss federation, England, and the United States) – no longer applied.71 By 1789, he asserted that it was only the French present that could prescribe the French future: “French nation, you are not made to receive examples, but to give them.”72 The many similar statements that came from revolutionary leaders and pamphleteers expressed not only the desire of separating from the past, but also the necessity of it.73 It was no longer a choice – a total separation from the past must be completed, and a “complete forgetting of the past,” as Rabaut Saint-Étienne put it, was an essential part of achieving this complete break.74 In July 1790, for example, Bertrand Barère argued that “everything must be new in France and we want to date only from today,” and for this to occur, “all memory of history” had to be effaced.75 The radical totalizing of this need for separation from the past and the destruction of its vestiges was perhaps expressed most clearly and boldly by Rabaut Saint-Étienne in relation to the spatial and administrative restructuring of the country. As a member of the committee charged with drafting the constitution, he was involved in the process of deciding how France should be divided into new spatial and administrative units. This was a fraught process with enormous political and symbolic implications. The provinces, as they were traditionally recognized, would be replaced by smaller and more numerous units that would break apart traditional interests and identities. There was much debate about how to take into consideration “natural” borders (such as mountains and rivers), traditional boundaries (such as languages and cultures), and rational means of division (such as the creating of new

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boundaries out of straight lines and/or equal-sized squares). The territory was to be recomposed in new divisions that would be at once more rational and unfamiliar, but there was significant disagreement about how unfamiliar the new units could be, or should be. In this context, Rabaut Saint-Étienne argued that legislators should not be afraid to wipe away the institutions and structures that were the foundation of life in the Old Regime, including these spatial divisions. In fact, he argued that they had to do this if they were ever to realize the promise of the revolution. “Charged with creating happiness for a people for whom all of the existing establishments consummate unhappiness, it was necessary to renew this very people, to change men, to change things, to change words, and to bring back true principles,” he argued.76 After explicitly connecting his argument to the more general project of regeneration, he continued, “one must renew this people, rejuvenate it, change its forms to change its ideas, change its laws to change its mœurs. Destroy everything, yes, destroy everything, since everything is to be recreated.”77 In addition to these large projects of regeneration that seemed to create or require a dramatic break from the past, there were innumerable smaller projects and campaigns, some of which related to time. The campaign to seize church bells was just one of these, and it also demonstrated the profound conjuncture of the practical and symbolic.78 It served the very practical ends of gathering metal that could be melted down and refashioned into canons that were badly needed for military campaigns.79 It also removed the primary means of daily timekeeping that most people had access to outside of the diurnal rhythms of nature. Removing bells from churches removed one of the means that the Catholic Church had of controlling time through the liturgical rhythms of the day. Although not directly related to the metric reformulation of the hours of the day, the removal of church bells helped remove the daily structures of Old Regime life and make possible new patterns, rhythms, and sense of time. Lynn Hunt has stressed the importance of the determination to definitively break with the past as a if not the central element making possible and determining the internal logic of the Revolution. “From this conviction,” Hunt argues, “all the other major tenets of revolutionary rhetoric followed (including the possibility of democratic rhetoric).”80 It also played an important role in the most radical phase of the Revolution. Novelty itself became fetishized and all that was not new was doubtful and hence became a candidate for elimination. As Saint-Just put it at the outset of the Terror in October of 1793, “in a time of innovation, everything that is not new is pernicious.”81 Under real threats from

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The Time of Regeneration  139

foreign armies, internal conspiracies, and openly resistant groups such as fervent Catholics, aristocrats, and monarchists, the leaders of the Terror attempted to defend the Revolution, consolidate its gains, and quickly transform the country through radical regenerative projects. The metric system was one of the many measures that represented and propagated the new revolutionary valuation of novelty. It was supposed to create a barrier so that looking back on one’s old ways would be as if looking through a glass darkly. The calendar shared this role as a tool of erasure and forgetting with the metric system as a whole, which, in the words of Fourcroy in the National Convention, was intended to “efface even the trace of the territorial and feudal divisions” of the ancien régime.82 The calendar was one of the primary means to get people to agree that, as the poet and deputy Philippe-François Fabre d’Églantine, one of the calendar’s creators, put it, “we can no longer count the years when the king oppressed us as a time in which we lived.”83 The calendar was a tool of rebirth that provided no way for people to refer to events that occurred before Year I officially began on 22 September 1792.84 This absence of a system of backdating heightened the difference between pre- and post-revolutionary temporalities. When people employed Gregorian dating to refer to an event before Year I they were compelled to recognize that this was “old style” time reckoning. The illustrated frontispiece from Eleuthérophile Millin’s guide to the new clock and calendar, Annuaire du républicain, exemplifies the role of the Republican calendar as destroyer of the ancien régime ruled by tyrants and the church (see figure 8). In front of the “Temple of the Year, dedicated to the Months and the Days” the personification of Liberty floats above the ground as Reason strikes down the figures of the ancien régime. The three men who have been struck down carry banners that have the names of popes (saints Anastase, Grégoire, and Pie), kings (saints Charlemagne, Louis, Henri), and monks (saints Benoît, Dominique, François).85 At the top of the temple’s columns are the names of four of the new Republican months. The new names of days are inscribed on these columns, though they are hard to read in some versions of the image because of their small size. As Liberty and Reason propagate the new calendar, they are not only destroying and replacing the old world, they are liberating the common people who stand in awe of their transformative power. This was the weapon of time fully realized. What appeared to some as the possible condition for a monumental leap forward – the wholesale erasure of the past – appeared to others, such as the Danish Astronomer Royal, Thomas Bugge, as a terrible prospect. Bugge studied the French metric reforms as his country’s

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Figure 8. Frontispiece of Eleuthérophile [Aubin Louis] Millin, Annuaire du républicain, ou légende physico-économique (Paris: Mari-François Drouhin, Year II [1793–94]).

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representative to the International Commission on the Metric System that met in Paris from 1798 to 1799. He was particularly concerned with the impact on the sciences and the prospect that the implementation of the metric system might sever “all connections between our descendants and our forefathers” and continue to create a series of epistemological ruptures in the future.86 Since the system was composed of many highly integrated types of measurement, he worried that if some of the types of measurements (like the ten-hour day) were eventually rejected, the confusion would be so great and the problems of translating old data into the new system so substantial that people would stop referring to old data altogether. The revolutionary reforms had already started to create one epistemological rupture, and he did not want this break with the past to reverberate into the future:

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Suppose that posterity, using the new republican calendar, the instruments and tables of the one hundred degrees scale [i.e., right angles being divided into one hundred degrees], only dividing the day into twelve hours, … they would understand neither us nor our forefathers unless they constantly translated our language into theirs and reduced the previous scales of time and space to their scales. They would soon, however, tire of these frequent calculations and reductions, cast aside the old fashioned rubbish and make little or no use of the works of their predecessors.87

Because of the “great loss for the expansion of human knowledge” and the practical difficulties involved in getting “craftsmen, artists, trades people and country people” to adopt the system, Bugge was less than sanguine about its prospects.88 Continuous and periodic epistemological ruptures were the final result that he foresaw and feared. Bugge’s assessment of the dangers of the piecemeal dismantling of the new metric system was in fact realized in scientific practice when, for example, Pierre-Simon Laplace, a respected and powerful savant of the day and one of the strongest advocates of the metric reforms, revised his monumental Exposition du système du monde (1796), eliminating measurements of decimal time. “A Mass Too Great to Push Aside” “The time has not yet come to change the way we divide up the year,” Sieyès argued in June 1793 before the Republican calendar was passed into law.89 It seems that, at least to some degree, Sieyès was correct when he argued that “our customs and our countless entanglements with the customs of neighboring peoples and previous centuries constitute a mass

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too great to push aside.”90 But it was precisely this great mass that other revolutionaries were trying to push aside. Many revolutionary leaders, of course, hoped that the creation of the clock and calendar would have a rapid and significant effect, that it could somehow encourage people to disassociate themselves from their past life, with its specific ways of doing things, and create a wholly new one. Of course this program of disassociation was unachievable – who could completely separate themselves from their own past and therefore themselves? – but it was astonishingly radical in its aims. This was a central part of the experience of the Revolution: surpassing what had previously appeared to be possible. Overcoming the limits of the possible was a theme that radicals like Robespierre continually returned to and developed, not only in their vision of ideal citoyens but also in their understanding of the role of revolutionary leaders. In a debate in the National Convention regarding the compulsory education of all children in communal schools separated from their parents’ homes so as to free the next generation of citoyens from restricting parental influence, Robespierre exhorted his fellow members of the convention to support the proposal: “Citoyens, it is the imagination that ordinarily poses the limits of the possible and the impossible. But when one has the will to do good, it is necessary to have the courage to surpass these limits.”91 Actions, rooted in good intentions, must push beyond the possible, reconfiguring it in the process. Many revolutionaries had hopes of dramatically changing human existence. Everything from the earth to the stars fell under their expansive purview, quite literally. The metric reforms, for instance, were meant to be used not only for weights and measures of earthly things, but also for cosmic entities. Famous astronomers like Lalande, Laplace, and Legendre were some of the strongest advocates for reform. The astronomers and other savants in the Académie des Sciences were convinced that the greater ease of astronomical observation would bring about untold progress in scientific knowledge. Although the revolutionaries’ appetites for radical transformations often exceeded their ability to bring about the changes they desired, the scope of their vision and their optimism in pursuing it inspired a surprisingly wide crosssection of people in Europe and beyond. While the scope of their vision is still inspiring, their truly universal pretensions, which the metric system represented so well, were so extreme that they have also been the target of mockery and derision. The author of one satirical pamphlet published in 1791 wondered if, “thanks to well-directed airships, we would not at last succeed in having the inexpressible charms of our absolute regeneration tasted by the inhabitants of other planets?”92

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The reorganization of the clock and the calendar was one of the most dramatic attempts by the revolutionary leaders to push back the limits of the possible so as to clear the ground for new and unforeseen ways of being. It was one of the central projects that contributed to the Revolution’s being one of those rare historical events that coloured almost all that came after it, in its part of the world and often beyond.93 Having experienced the Revolution and lived for more than a quarter century afterward, Pierre-Louis Roederer might be forgiven for his grandiloquence when he claimed that in the wake of the Revolution, it “is in the sap of all that grows and in the blood of all that breaths.”94 Today, those who aim to influence the development of the future still contend with the possibilities and the limitations that the Revolution brought forth. They face questions about how much of the past should be retained in attempts to produce a new and radically different future, where the optimal balance can be found between conservation and innovation, and how the limits of the possible can be surpassed without leading to either political chaos or harsh governmental measures. These are not only questions still asked by revolutionaries and about revolutions, but questions that remain fundamental to the contemporary world.

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Conclusion: Colonizing the Future

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We children of the future, how could we be at home in this today? Nietzsche, The Gay Science

To take control of the future, some Enlightenment figures in France in the latter half of the eighteenth century adopted the radical goal of understanding and enacting a form of temporal self-determination. The manipulation of time, through the construction of the future, was a tool with which the philosophes attempted to free themselves from a future that was either fundamentally similar to the past and present or divinely predetermined. This brought about a complex mixture of feelings of loss for a past that could never be regained and hope that the future could be made to be better than any previous era. For some, the experience brought the type of displacement, alienation, and nostalgia that François-René Chateaubriand, the émigré writer who fled revolutionary France for an extended America sojourn, expressed so clearly and obsessively in his writing.1 That is to say, not everyone agreed with Condorcet that time could be “tamed.” Many people felt as Thomas Carlyle did when he looked back on the Revolution from the perspective of the 1830s and felt awed by the power of time. “How we stand enveloped, deep-sunk, in that Mystery of TIME,” he wrote, “fashioned and woven out of Time.”2 This post-revolutionary fear in the face of the power of time’s vicissitudes and an overwhelming sense of nostalgia certainly played an important role in the development of the nineteenth century, particularly in artistic expression.3 But an equally profound optimism in the possibilities of human intervention in the development of the future arose, playing a central role in the development of some of the most characteristic activities of what came to be called modernity. As human voluntarism fully emerged out of the

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Conclusion: Colonizing the Future  145

crucible of the Revolution, theories and practices specifically aimed at constructing the future proliferated as never before. Confidence and trepidation, a sense of mastery and a sense of being acted upon, constructability and unpredictability coexisted and characterized the complex experience of historical temporality in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The unexpected events and disorienting changes of the French Revolution, brought about a number of unusual developments in how people thought about and experienced the future. One effect was to alter the status of the future in the discourse of progress inherited from the Enlightenment. In the early years of the Revolution, as people’s expectations were continually challenged, exceeded, and transformed, the future became something that not only could be made or needed to be made, but also something that could be jumped into. A new sense emerged amongst some people living through the Revolution that progress could be extremely rapid. In fact, some thought it could be so quick that transformations that might have taken centuries given the rate of progress during the Enlightenment could now be achieved in a number of years. Major figures such as Condorcet and Robespierre wrote about enormous amounts of progress being made and long periods of time being traversed in extremely brief periods. In a piece about the possibility of improving the human species through public instruction, Condorcet wrote that the Revolution instantly launched the French ahead into a distant future, making even the recent past seem remote: “A single instant put a century of distance between the man of today and that of yesterday.”4 While Condorcet’s contention that a century was traversed in an instant was an extreme expression of this sense of accelerated progress, so too was Robespierre’s observation at the height of the Terror in 1794 that the French “seem to have advanced two thousand years beyond the rest of the human species.” He was even tempted, he admitted, to see them as “a different species.”5 In addition to these ideas about social and political advancement, others began to formulate visions of the distant future that were at once more imaginative and more unsettling, entangling past, present, and future in new ways. For example, in 1791 Constantin-François Chasseboeuf de Volney, a former deputy of the National Assembly, published Les ruines, ou méditations sur les révolutions des empires (Ruins, or meditations on the revolutions of empires), one of the bestsellers of the nineteenth century, in which he revisited a trip he had taken to Egypt and Syria before the Revolution, between 1783 and 1785. He had already published an informative book based on his observations while travelling, but in this work, as he revisited his earlier trip and meditated on

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lost worlds, he also projected himself into the distant future in a way that made him see the present differently. The book opens with a meditation on the ancient ruins of Palmyra; he recounts how he spent days walking through the ruins before finally making it to the valley of the sepulchres, where he walked more before ascending the hills that surround it. As he sat viewing the ruins from a height, with the sun setting and silence descending on the desert, he fell into a deep reverie. “The view of a great city deserted and the comparison of the past with this present state, elevated my heart and lead me to higher thoughts,” Volney wrote.6 He could not help but wonder about how such a great city, and so many great civilizations in history, had fallen. Musing about the evanescence of history, and about this question of the lost and ruined marvels of a number of past civilizations, he was struck by an imaginative thought that was also a sobering realization. This same fate could befall the civilizations of the present day, perhaps even his own. Who knows if it could occur on the banks of the Seine in Paris, the Thames in London, or on the Dutch Zuiderzee. Jumping far into the future to see the present as the past, he asks, “who knows if a traveller like me will not sit one day on mute ruins and cry in solitude over the ashes of the people and the memory of their greatness?”7 An engraving of a man sitting at sunset viewing the great ruins of Palmyra appears in the book near these pages, and after one reads the passage, the outline of Palmyra in this image is like a palimpsest with the traces of Paris able to be sensed, though not quite seen (see figure 9). Five years after Les ruines was published, a French painter named Hubert Robert painted a scene that embodied a future retrospective view similar to what Volney imagined. Though Robert did not include a weeping figure observing a ruined Paris from the banks of Seine or some elevated point nearby, he did depict the ruins of an iconic Parisian building located next to the Seine: the Grande Galerie of the Louvre museum, founded only three years before but depicted as if seen from some point in the distant future. This painting, and others that he would come to create along the same lines, mixed the past, present, and future in interesting and counter-intuitive ways. Many of them took an object of the present and transformed it from the perspective of future retrospection, resulting in a vision that was past, present, and future all in one (see figure 10).8 This discourse of future retrospection would develop in fascinating ways in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Just a few years after Robert painted his first future ruin, the German writer Friedrich Schlegel wrote a brief fragment in Athenaeum, a journal he cofounded in Jena, that would stand as one of the founding works of early German

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Conclusion: Colonizing the Future  147

Figure 9. Man viewing the ruins at Palmyra. Constantin-François Chasseboeuf de Volney, Les ruines, ou méditations sur les révolutions des empires (Paris: Desenne, 1791).

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Figure 10. Hubert Robert, Vue imaginaire de la grande galerie du Louvre en ruines.

Romanticism. Schlegel’s fragment, not unlike the work of Volney and Robert, presented an intriguing entanglement of historical temporality in which past, present, and future were brought into a stimulating yet disconcerting relationship. “The historian is a prophet facing backwards,” Schlegel wrote, leaving unstated whether the historian could see the future in the past, which would seem at odds with an understanding of time as linear and irreversible, or whether the prophetic orientation of the historian affirmed the linearity and irreversibility of time by finding in the past merely what would become the future.9 Building on this idea and a painting by Paul Klee, and perhaps also drawing inspiration from Paul Valéry’s statement that “we enter into the future backwards,” Walter Benjamin gave us the famous image of the angel of history flying backwards into the future.10 Writing in the context of the Second World War and exile, Benjamin wrote like a prophetic historian facing backwards, bringing the idea of progress, one of the master concepts of the nineteenth century, into collision with the

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Conclusion: Colonizing the Future  149

experience of twentieth-century catastrophe in one of his most famous “dialectical images”:

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His face turned toward the past, where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.11

Completed in the spring of 1940 and first published in a mimeographed booklet in Los Angeles in 1942 – after Benjamin had taken his own life trying to flee into further exile, and before the full devastation of the war and the Holocaust had occurred – these words saw the promise of progress deliver the angel of history to an unfathomable catastrophe. While there is certainly no direct line connecting the experience and ideas of time in the periods around the French Revolution and the Second War World, the genealogy of future retrospection and its complex relating of past, present, and future is a striking expression of the ambiguities and tensions of modern historical temporality. This complexity and ambivalence emerged intensely from the Revolution, when, for example, in the year before Hubert Robert painted his future ruin of the Louvre, Condorcet went into hiding during the Terror in order to escape persecution and wrote one of the most famous paeans to indefinite progress and a better future, his Esquisse d'un tableau historique des progrès de l'esprit humain (Sketch for a historical picture of the progress of the human mind). At the same time as nostalgia and loss permeated European culture, confidence and hopefulness swelled. We can see this quite clearly in the development from the Enlightenment through the Revolution of ideas about the ability of humans to bring about their own physical improvement. In 1778, for example, Buffon called into question where the limits of improvement lay, asking of “man:” “And what could he not do to himself, that is to say his own species, if the will was always directed by intelligence? Who knows to what point man could improve either his moral or physical nature?”12 Writing his sketch of human progress while in hiding during the Terror, Condorcet felt that improvement was inevitable and unending: humans would either perpetually approach a fixed limit or they would supersede all limits.13 Writing at the close of the French Revolution in 1799, Year VII, PierreJean-Georges Cabanis, legislator and pre-eminent intellectual figure of

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150  The Time of Enlightenment

the “science of man,” adopted an even more prophetic and enthusiastic tone, confident that there were no limits to improvement and that “the hope of perfecting man, of making him more sensible, better, and happier, is no longer chimerical.”14 Writing five years later, Cabanis continued to present a vision of human perfection that was “always progressive, always unlimited.”15 Discussing various means to bring about the physical improvement of the human species, he encouraged his peers to grab the “invisible reins of human nature … extend all the faculties of man” and “embrace the infinite.”16 Within a quarter century, Buffon raised the question of the limits, Condorcet questioned what type of limits existed, and Cabanis wrote as if there were no limits. In the early nineteenth century, the theoretical and practical foundations for large-scale projects of social, economic, and biological engineering became fully explicit and articulated as the previously taken for granted ability to construct the future became the object of widespread attention. For people like the utopian socialist visionaries Henri Saint-Simon and Charles Fourier, as well as the visionary social thinker Auguste Comte, the Revolution brought forth newfound possibilities for transforming human beings.17 In fact, in their more enthusiastic moments, they were even led to wonder if humanity’s influence could not reach the workings of the cosmos. Comte, for example, asked if humans might not have the knowledge, although not yet the physical means, to make the orbit of the earth less elliptical.18 Although these thinkers had their fanciful moments, their extensive thoughts on the practicalities and theoretical possibilities of social, political, and economic reorganization gave a new thoroughness and breadth to the articulation of the active orientation towards the future. The active orientation found one of its most systematic and influential written expressions in Auguste Comte’s wide-ranging project of positivism. In articulating “a positive philosophy” and “social physics” that played an important role in the development of what came to be sociology, Comte believed that in the mid-nineteenth century he was helping to begin “the second or positive phase” of the French Revolution.19 In this nascent positive phase, Comte argued, “a basis for the new social state has to be constructed.” Comte’s system of positivism was created to facilitate the human construction of the future. He argued for the malleability of natural and social processes, the necessity of human intervention in the development of these processes, and the role of foresight in directing these modifying interventions. Comte focused his project on the development of humanity’s puissance modificatrice, its modifying force or power. His project included modifying and improving individual human beings in their biological, moral, and intellectual

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Conclusion: Colonizing the Future  151

dimensions, as well as the modification of social and political organization and the natural environment that humanity was immersed in. Rationalized foresight was at the heart of this project to develop the puissance modificatrice and bring about the desired future state. Although these statements by Comte were some of the clearest and most systematic expressions of the active orientation towards the future, they were by no means the last. Even at the time Comte was writing, the articulation of this orientation had proliferated far beyond the rarified world of philosophical discourse and social theory. Nineteenth-century Europe, however, was characterized by a great diversity of feelings about the future and ideas of what would come and how well people could construct it or know it. There was more pivoting and changing of opinions and feelings than in the eighteenth century. Ambivalence would continue and would define historical temporality through the nineteenth century, perhaps with the more positive gaining the upper hand in the later part of the century, but always being shadowed by the negative and catastrophic. The tension between these different ideas and feelings about the future – something that can be constructed versus something uncertain and out of control; something to be hopeful about versus something to be uneasy about and fearful of; a world that might be better or a world of new ruins – dynamized the engagement with the future and intensified the concern for its relationship to the past and the present. The broad strokes of this dynamic were perhaps most evident in the manner in which the idea of progress was elevated as an article of secular faith and an organizing principle of many societies from the middle of the nineteenth century to the First World World, at the same time as fears of decadence and degeneration in cultural, political, psychological, racial, and moral terms became widespread and central to these very societies.20 Of course, ideas of time and understandings of historical temporality have not remained the same over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. And yet, after all of the developments of these centuries, there are still ways that modern ideas about the future and the complexities of our practical orientations to historical temporality demonstrate similarities to the orientation to the future of the late eighteenth century. These ideas and complexities persisted across many of the major developments of the nineteenth century in which ideas and experiences of time were directly affected: the intensification and formalization of progress as a concept and its elevation to a master concept; the formalization of historicism and the formation of history as a discipline; the ascendance of the modern regime of probability; the imperial consolidation of the idea of a singular path of modernity; and the role of temporality and

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ideas of time in colonialism.21 In addition to these changes, a number of major transformations of ideas, experiences, structures, and practices related to time have occurred since the Second Industrial Revolution in the late nineteenth century: the social, economic, and political processes that led to and enabled integration and standardization of global time (“world standard time”); the sense of a continued acceleration of social and technological change that led to disorientation and anxiety; the growth of a technocratic confidence in predicting and controlling the future in disciplines like economics and futurology; the catastrophic experience of the Second World War and the Holocaust; the creation of nuclear weapons that were capable of bringing an end to human history; the postmodern loss of faith in metanarratives; the recognition of uncertainties associated with modern forms of “risk society”; and the growing awareness of human-induced climate change and the attendant attention to the importance and difficulty of envisioning the future and attempting to influence its development.22 Long after the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, the future orientation and the ways that it reoriented our relationship to the past and present continue to present us with both a practical imperative and a theoretical problem. The question of whether we can and should pursue what some modern commentators have called the “colonization of the future” is something that we inherited from the Enlightenment.23 In fact, amongst the many concepts, principles, questions, and problems created by the figures of the Enlightenment, the promise and peril of pressing into a future of our own making appears to be one of the elements that has only increased in prominence in and relevance to our contemporary world. This has come into focus acutely in the first two decades of the twenty-first century as concern over climate change and the possibilities of avoiding its catastrophic effects has given new intensity and urgency to the discourse of influencing the future. That concern has also played a role in the reassessment of past actions and a formation of new concepts such as the Anthropocene, the idea that there is a geological age defined by human influence on the earth. Many scholars argue that the Anthropocene began in the eighteenth century with the increase in fossil fuel usage and the first steps of the Industrial Revolution in some parts of Europe. Some have also argued that Enlightenment figures like Buffon were amongst the first to recognize the human influence on climate.24 Although there are many ideas of what precisely the Anthropocene is and when it began, one thing that is clear about the idea is that it engages thoughts on historical temporality and the future. Dipesh Chakrabarty has argued that the Anthropocene and the crisis of climate change have broken our sense of the continuity

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Conclusion: Colonizing the Future  153

between past, present, and future. “The current crisis can precipitate a sense of the present that disconnects the future from the past by putting such a future beyond the grasp of historical sensibility.” In order to grasp the impact of climate change and begin to engage with “the finitude of humanity,” Chakrabarty has written, “we have to insert ourselves into a future ‘without us’ in order to be able to visualize it.”25 “It is not surprising,” Chakrabarty has observed, “that the crisis of climate change should produce anxieties precisely around futures that we cannot visualize.”26 Many speculative books have been published in which an author imagines a future where a climate catastrophe has occurred or is imminent. While the vast majority of these are works of science fiction and speculative fiction, there are also a considerable number of non-fiction works such as Alan Weisman’s imagining the future of the earth without human beings in the best-selling The World Without Us.27 Scholars have also contributed to this nascent genre of speculative climate catastrophe, with even a methodologically conservative discipline like history seeing several contributions, including The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future, in which Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway combine the ways that science fiction writers imagine futures and historians look back upon the past. The authors “imagine a future historian looking back on a past that is our present and (possible) future.”28 In their book, Oreskes and Conway get to prophetically look forward and backward, giving a new sense to Schlegel’s aphorism about historians as prophets facing backwards. The development of the concept of the Anthropocene and of a consensus about the catastrophic potential of human-induced climate change created a situation in which the past was newly conceived of as having contained a revolution that people were not aware of while they lived through it. Furthermore, this was not the kind of political and social revolution that was the most common object of radical political discourses such as that of Marxism. As Bruno Latour observed about this disorienting situation: “How could we not be destabilized in realizing that the revolution longed for by progressive minds has perhaps already come about? And that it has come not from a presumed change in the ‘ownership of means of production’ but from a stupefying acceleration in the movement of the carbon cycle!”29 Commenting on the work of historians of the Anthropocene, such as Dipesh Chakrabarty, Latour connected this destabilizing awareness with a sense of historical temporality, observing that “in an era when commentators are deploring the ‘lack of a revolutionary spirit’ and the ‘collapse of emancipatory ideals,’ how can we not be astonished that historians of nature are the ones revealing, under the name of the Great Acceleration, whose beginnings

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marks the Anthropocene, that the revolution has already occurred, that the events we have to confront are not situated in the future but in a recent past?”30 But this new understanding of the past and the revolution that has already happened did not evacuate the future of importance; instead it increased urgency for immediate coordinated actions that could avert a catastrophe, or at least minimize the severity of climate change. Quick and decisive action became all the more important, as did the ability to imagine the possible futures and to represent these to the public and politicians in persuasive ways that would help generate decisive ameliorating actions. The legacy of the eighteenth-century practices for constructing the future can be found in almost all facets of modern life. In addition to debates about the Anthropocene and the climate crisis, it is particularly evident in the life sciences, where biological engineering is pursued along many paths and scientific experimentation is conceived of as “a machine for making the future,” as Noble Prize–winning molecular biologist François Jacob put it.31 But this orientation towards the future is as present in the fields of economic planning and public policy as it is in the scientific realms like genetic engineering and genomic medicine. It continues to raise the question of whether the benefits of self-creation are worth the price of the self-alienation that results from the attempts to construct a radically different future. Or as Nietzsche observed, “how could we be at home in this today” as “children of the future”?32

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Notes

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Introduction   1 On Mercier, see Léon Béclard, Sébastien Mercier: Sa vie, son oeuvre, son temps: Avant la Révolution, 1740–1789 (Paris: H. Champion, 1903); and Jean-Claude Bonnet, ed., Louis Sebastien Mercier (1740–1814): Un hérétique en littérature (Paris: Mercure de France, 1995).  2 Louis-Sébastien Mercier, L’an deux mille quatre cent quarante: Rêve s’il en fût jamais (Amsterdam: Van Harrevelt, 1771), 14–15. All translations from French are mine unless otherwise noted. Mercier’s novel went through eleven French editions by 1799 and was quickly translated into German, Dutch, Italian, and twice into English. Everett C. Wilkie, Jr., “Mercier’s L’An 2440: Its Publishing History during the Author’s Lifetime, Part I,” Harvard Library Bulletin 32 (Winter 1984): 16. In all, the novel went through at least twenty-five editions. Robert Darnton, The Forbidden Bestsellers of Pre-Revolutionary France (New York: W.W. Norton, 1996), 115.  3 Mercier, L’an deux mille quatre cent quarante, 26.  4 Mercier, L’an deux mille quatre cent quarante, 24.   5 On Mercier and the book, also see the editor’s introduction in Louis-Sébastien Mercier, L’an deux mille quatre cent quarante: Rêve s’il en fut jamais, ed. Raymond Trousson (Bordeaux: Ducros, 1971); and Darnton, Forbidden Bestsellers, 115–36.   6 Kant distinguished between a people’s being enlightened versus in the process of enlightenment in relation to the German situation in 1784. Immanuel Kant, “An Answer to the Question: ‘What Is Enlightenment?’” (1784), in Political Writings, ed. Hans Reiss, trans. H.B. Nisbet, 2nd ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 58. For more on Mercier’s work and how “uchronias” like it differed from traditional utopias, see Bronislaw Baczko, Utopian Lights: The Evolution of the Idea of Social Progress, trans. Judith L. Greenberg (New York: Paragon House, 1989), 122–8, 247–51.

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156  Notes to pages 4−7   7 On Mercier’s urban tableaux, see Geneviève Boucher, Écrire le temps: Les tableaux de Louis Sébastien Mercier (Montreal: Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 2014).  8 Louis-Sebastién Mercier, Tableau de Paris, ed. Jean-Claude Bonnet (Paris: Mercure de France, 1994). For an English translation of some of the work, and a useful introduction, see Mercier, Panorama of Paris, ed. Jeremy Popkin, trans. Helen Simpson and Jeremy Popkin (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999).  9 Louis-Sebastién Mercier, Le nouveau Paris, ed. Jean-Claude Bonnet (Paris: Mercure de France, 1994). 10 Of course, Napoleon’s coup in the year following the publication of Le nouveau Paris began another disruptive period in which many of the social, legal, and political advances of the Revolution were mitigated or reversed. 11 Year I was announced in 1793 while being retroactively applied to 1792. 12 See Lorraine Daston, “Introduction: The Coming into Being of Scientific Objects,” in Biographies of Scientific Objects, ed. Lorraine Daston (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 1–14; Daston, “Historical Epistemology,” in Questions of Evidence: Proof, Practice, and Persuasion across the Disciplines, ed. James Chandler, Arnold I. Davidson, and Harry Harootunian (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 282–9; Ian Hacking, Historical Ontology (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002); and Hacking, “Historical Meta-Epistemology,” in Wharheit und Geschichte, ed. Wolfgang Carl and Lorraine Daston (Göttingen: Vanedhoeck and Ruprecht, 1999), 53–77. 13 This language of construction was used by people in the eighteenth century when they started to explicitly articulate the practices of building the future during the French Revolution. Sieyès wrote of the construction of the social world as the practice of “social architecture.” Volney wrote about man being “the artisan of his own destiny.” Abbé Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès, Qu’est-ce que le Tiers état? (1789), ed. Roberto Zapperi (Geneva: Droz, 1970), chap. 4, §7, p. 176 ; Constantin-François Chasseboeuf de Volney, Les ruines, ou méditations sur les révolutions des empires (Paris: Desenne, 1791), 36. 14 Léger-Marie Deschamps, La vérité, ou le vrai système, in Œuvres philosophiques, ed. Bernard Delhaume (Paris: Vrin, 1993), 2:315. 15 On Deschamp, his system, and its relation to other utopian ideas, see Charles Rihs, Les philosophe utopistes: Le mythe de la cité communitaire en France au XVIIIe siècle (Paris, 1970); Frank E. Manuel and Fritzie P. Manuel, Utopian Thought in the Western World (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 1979); and Baczko, Utopian Lights. 16 On Deschamp and the philosophes, see André Robinet, Dom Deschamps: Le maître des maîtres du soupçon (Paris: Vrin, 1994).

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Notes to pages 7−10  157

17 The most detailed and systematic study of this type of language is Jean-Paul Schneider, “Le mot ‘avenir’ dans l’Encyclopédie,” in Avenir et sociétés idéales au XVIIIe siècle, ed. Marie-Odile Bernez (Dijon: Editions Universitaires de Dijon, 2004), 15–29. 18 The Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, par une Société de Gens de lettres, ed. Denis Diderot and Jean-Baptiste Le Rond d’Alembert (1751–1772) is teeming with entries and scattered passages that decry this charlatanism. See, for example, “Astrologie,” “Chaldéens,” “Divination,” “Influence,” “Présage,” “Prédiction,” “Pressentiment.” Also see Condillac’s chapter on divination in Traité des systêmes (Paris: Fayard, 1991 [1749]), 37–54. 19 Immanuel Kant, The Contest of Faculties (1798), in Political Writings, ed. Hans Reiss, trans. H.B. Nisbet, 2nd ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 177. 20 On the early radical phase of the Enlightenment, see Margaret Jacob, The Radical Enlightenment: Pantheists, Freemasons, and Republicans (Boston: Allen and Unwin, 1981); Ann Thomson, Bodies of Thought: Science, Religion, and the Soul in the Early Enlightenment (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008); and, with reservations, Jonathan Israel, Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity, 1650–1750 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001); and Israel, Enlightenment Contested: Philosophy, Modernity, and the Emancipation of Man, 1670–1752 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006). 21 Israel, Radical Enlightenment, 7. 22 On the Enlightenment “package” of values see Israel, Enlightenment Contested, 11, 869. 23 John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, ed. Peter H. Nidditch (Oxford: Clarendon, 1975), bk 1, chap. 1, §7. 24 On the development of civilisation, see Michael Sonenscher, “Barbarism and Civilization,” in A Companion to Intellectual History, ed. Richard Whatmore and Brian Young (Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2016), 288–302. On society, see Marcel Gauchet, “De l’avènement de l’individu à la découverte de la société,” Annales, économies, sociétés et civilisations 34 (May–June 1979): 451–63; Brian C. J. Singer, Society, Theory and the French Revolution (New York: St Martin’s, 1986); Keith Michael Baker, “Enlightenment and the Institution of Society: Notes for a Conceptual History,” in Main Trends in Cultural History, ed. Willem Melching and Wyger Velema (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1994), 95–120; and Keith Michael Baker, “A Foucauldian French Revolution?” in Foucault and the Writing of History, ed. Jan Goldstein (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1994), 187–205. On species, see Phillip R. Sloan, “From Logical Universals to Historical Individuals: Buffon’s Idea of Biological Species,” in Histoire du concept d’espèce dans les sciences de la vie, ed. Scott Atran et al. (Paris: Foundation

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158  Notes to pages 10−15 Singer-Polignac, 1987), 101–40; and Jacques Roger, Buffon: A Life in Natural History, ed. L. Pearce Williams, trans. Sarah Lucille Bonnefoi (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997), 309–35. On population, see Michel Foucault, Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977–78, ed. Michael Senellart, trans. Graham Burchell (New York: Palgrave, 2007). On the nation, see David A. Bell, The Cult of the Nation in France: Inventing Nationalism, 1680–1800 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001). 25 On the Enlightenment in the Atlantic world, see Henry F. May, The Enlightenment in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976); James E. McClellan III, Colonialism and Science: Saint Domingue in the Old Regime (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992); Jorge CañizaresEsguerra, How to Write the History of the New World: Histories, Epistemologies, and Identities in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001); Nina Reid-Maroney, Philadelphia’s Enlightenment, 1740–1800 (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2001); Susan Manning and Francis D. Cogliano, eds., The Atlantic Enlightenment (Burlington: Ashgate, 2008); Gabriel Paquette, ed., Enlightened Reform in Southern Europe and Its Atlantic Colonies, c. 1750–1830 (Burlington: Ashgate, 2009); William Max Nelson, “The Atlantic Enlightenment,” in The Atlantic World, 1450–1850, ed. D’Maris Coffman, Adrian Leonard, and William O’Reilly (New York: Routledge, 2015), 650–66. For an interesting attempt to stretch the geographical and chronological boundaries of the Enlightenment, arguing for its global reach in the nineteenth century, see Sebastian Conrad, “Enlightenment in Global History: A Historiographical Critique,” American Historical Review 117, no. 4 (2012): 99–1027. 26 See, for example, the analysis of “futuremaking” in Matthew D. O’Hara, The History of the Future in Colonial Mexico (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018). 27 For an excellent analysis of the social, political, intellectual, and patronage contexts of the Jardin de Roi and Buffon’s important position in these interlocked contexts, see E.C. Spary, Utopia’s Garden: French Natural History from Old Regime to Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000). 28 See Daniel Mornet’s study of the holdings of five hundred private libraries, “Les enseignements des bibliothèques privées (1750–1780),” Revue d’histoire littéraire de la France 17 (1910): 449–96. 29 Mornet, “Les enseignements des bibliothèques privées.” Also see Roger, Buffon, 184. 30 For more on the relationship by analogy that connected the three economies, see Emma Spary, “Political, Natural, and Bodily Economies,” in Cultures of Natural History, ed. N. Jardine, J.A. Secord, and E.C. Spary (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

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Notes to pages 15−16  159

31 See the discussion in Georges-Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon, “Le lièvre,” Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière (Paris: Imprimerie royale, 1756) (hereafter HN), 6:248–50. 32 Victor Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau, “Fragment d’une préface de “François l’Amiable,” in Les manuscrits économiques de François Quesnay et du marquis de Mirabeau aux Archives Nationales (M. 778 à M. 785), ed. Georges Weulersse (Paris: Paul Geuthner, 1910), 102. 33 Penelope J. Corfield, “Time and the Historians in the Age of Relativity,” Geschichte und Gesellschaft (special issue on time in the twentieth century) 25 (2015): 71–91; and Caroline Rothauge, “Es is (an der) Zeit: Zum “temporal turn” in der Geschichtswissenschaft,” Historische Zeitschrift 305, no. 3 (December 2017): 729–46. Also see the five articles in the “Multiple Temporalities” forum in History and Theory 53, no. 4 (December 2014), the five articles in the special section on “Temporalities” in Past and Present (May 2019), and the entire thematic issue “Presenting Futures Past” in the history of science journal Osiris 34, no. 1 (2019). 34 Christopher Clark, Time and Power: Visions of History in German Politics, from the Thirty Years to the Third Reich (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019), 4. 35 On the advantages and disadvantages of turns and “turn talk,” see the articles in the forum “Historiographical ‘Turns’ in Critical Perspective” in American Historical Review 117, no. 3 (June 2012): 698–813. 36 For the more conceptual and historiographical works in the temporal turn in historical studies, see Reinhart Koselleck, Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time, trans. Keith Tribe (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985); Koselleck, The Practice of Conceptual History: Timing History, Spacing Concepts, trans. Todd Samuel Presner and Kerstin Behnke (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002); Koselleck, Sediments of Time: On Possible Histories, trans. and ed. Sean Franzel and Stefan-Ludwig Hoffman (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2018); Lucian Hölscher, Die Entdeckung der Zukunft (Frankfurt: Fischer Taschenbuch, 1999); François Hartog, Regimes of Historicity: Presentism and Experience of Time (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015); Lynn Hunt, Measuring Time, Making History (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2008); Kathleen Davis, Periodization and Sovereignty: How Ideas of Feudalism and Secularization Govern the Politics of Time (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008); Chris Lorenz and Berber Bevernage, eds., Breaking Up Time: Negotiating the Border between Present, Past, and Future (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2013); and Marek Tamm and Laurent Oliver, eds., Rethinking Historical Time: New Approaches to Presentism (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019). A pioneering work that historicized time was Krzysztof Pomian, L’ordre du temps (Paris: Gallimard, 1984).

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160  Notes to page 16 37 For example, see Peter Fritzsche, Stranded in the Present: Modern Time and the Melancholy of History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004); Stefan Tanaka, New Times in Modern Japan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004); Penelope J. Corfield, Time and the Shape of History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007); Roxanne Panchasi, Future Tense: The Culture of Anticipation in France between the Wars (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2009); Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton, Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2010); Berber Bevernage, History, Memory, and State-Sponsored Violence: Time and Justice (New York: Routledge, 2012); the forum “Histories of the Future,” American Historical Review 117, no. 5 (December 2012): 1402–85; On Barak, On Time: Technology and Temporality in Modern Egypt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013); Vanessa Ogle, The Global Transformation of Time, 1870–1950 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015); Avner Wishnitzer, Reading Clocks, Alla Turca: Time and Society in the Late Ottoman Empire (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015); Sebastian Conrad, “‘Nothing Is the Way It Should Be’: Global Transformations of the Time Regime in the Nineteenth Century,” Modern Intellectual History 15, no. 3 (November 2018): 821–48; Paul J. Kosmin, Time and Its Adversaries in the Seleucid Empire (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2018); Jenny Andersson, The Future of the World: Futurology, Futurists, and the Struggle for the Post-Cold War Imagination (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018); Yulia Frumer, Making Time: Astronomical Time Measurement in Tokogawa Japan (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018); Sara Pursley, Familiar Futures: Time, Selfhood, and Sovereignty in Iraq (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2019); and Clark, Time and Power. 38 On the rise of history in Europe in the eighteenth century and how this relates to historical thinking and writing in a longer global context, see Prasenjit Duara, Viren Murthy, and Andrew Sartori, eds., A Companion to Global Historical Thought (Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014); and Georg G. Iggers, Q. Edward Wang, and Supriya Mukherjee, eds., A Global History of Modern Historiography, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2016). 39 Koselleck’s work on historical time, which began to appear in the 1960s, is the most important exception. Also see Lucien Febvre, The Problem of Unbelief in the Sixteenth Century: The Religion of Rabelais, trans. Beatrice Gottlieb (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982 [1942]), 393–400. Jacques Le Goff’s articles on time in the Middle Ages, which began to appear in 1960, were also important. In English, see Jacques Le Goff, Time, Work, and Culture in the Middle Ages, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980); and Le Goff, History and Memory, trans. Steven Rendall and Elizabeth Claman (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992). For a creative and eclectic work on modern time and

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Notes to pages 16−17  161

modernism, see Stephen Kern, The Culture of Time and Space, 1880–1918 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983). 40 Michel de Certeau, “L’histoire, science et fiction,” Le genre humain, 7–8 (1983): 162. François Hartog cites this observation by de Certeau as one of the inspirations for his own important work, Regimes of Historicity: Presentism and Experience of Time (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015), 2, 8. 41 On the development and reception of Koselleck’s thought, see Niklas Olsen, History in the Plural: An Introduction to the Work of Reinhart Koselleck (New York: Berghan Books, 2012); and Stefan-Ludwig Hoffman, “Koselleck in America,” New German Critique 44, no. 3 (132) (November 2017): 167–87. There is still not an extended account of Koselleck’s thought in relation to Heidegger’s. One of the best accounts comes from a book review of Koselleck’s Futures Past by the phenomenologist David Carr in History and Theory 26, no. 2 (May 1987): 197–204. 42 Martin Heidegger, The Concept of Time, trans. William McNeill (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992 [1924]), 14. In Being and Time, Heidegger states the more developed form of this claim, one entangled in a network of other claims and idiosyncratic terms, as “the primary phenomenon of primordial and authentic temporality is the future.” Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (New York: Harper, 1962), 378. 43 See Keith Tribe, “Translator’s Introduction,” in Koselleck, Futures Past; Olsen, History in the Plural; and Hoffman and Franzel, “Introduction,” in Koselleck, Sediments of Time. 44 Heidegger was also, of course, working within an intellectual tradition, building on philosophical ideas about time, particularly those developed by Kant, Dilthey, and Husserl. In this case, the particularly important development was Husserl’s attentiveness to the future in the form of “protentions” in his phenomenology of internal time-consciousness. It is not unreasonable to judge, nonetheless, that “Heidegger is the first to provide a genuine phenomenological account of the future.” David Couzens Hoy, The Time of Our Lives: A Critical History of Temporality (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009), 147. 45 Heidegger, Being and Time, 380. In an even more complicated locution, Heidegger also wrote that “temporality temporalizes itself as a future which makes present in the process of having been.” Heidegger, Being and Time, 401. 46 Koselleck, Futures Past, 5. 47 Koselleck, Futures Past, 5, 33. 48 Koselleck, Futures Past, 34. 49 The relation between past, present, and future is recognized, of course, in many investigations of time and futurity reaching back to foundational reflections on time such as those by Augustine. See Saint Augustine,

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162  Notes to page 18 Confessions, trans. Henry Chadwick (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 221–45. Within the historical scholarship on time, see the enlarged “social specious present” in Carl L. Becker, The Heavenly City of EighteenthCentury Philosophers (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1932), 119–21 and 140. For a more sociological approach to the way that the past, present, and future can exist as a “simultaneous presence” experientially and conceptually, see Norbert Elias, Time: An Essay, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1992). Also, for a social theory of time drawing on the phenomenological approach and attentive to the role of practices, dispositions, and power in the way that “social agents temporalize themselves,” see Pierre Bourdieu, “Social Being, Time and The Sense of Existence,” Pascalian Meditations, trans. Richard Nice (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000), 206–45. 50 Hartog, Regimes of Historicity. On “time regimes” and “temporal regimes,” see Aleida Assmann, Is Time Out of Joint? On the Rise and Fall of the Modern Time Regime (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2020 [2013]). On “regimes of temporality,” see Siep Stuurman, The Invention of Humanity: Equality and Cultural Difference in World History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017); and Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent, “Of Times and Things: Technology and Durability,” in French Philosophy of Technology: Classic Readings and Contemporary Approaches, ed. Sacha Loeve, Xavier Guchet, and Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent (New York: Springer, 2018), 279–98. 51 Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot, baron de l’Aulne, “Fragments et pensées détachées pour server à l’ouvrage sur la géographie politique,” in Œuvres de Turgot, ed. Gustave Schelle (Paris: Félix Alcan, 1913), 1:331. 52 Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas Caritat, marquis de Condorcet, A Monsieur *** sur la société de 1789 (1790) in Oeuvres de Condorcet, ed. A. Condorcet O’Connor and F. Arago (Paris: Firmin Didot, 1847), 10:71. 53 On deep time see, Martin J. S. Rudwick, Bursting the Limits of Time: The Reconstruction of Geohistory in the Age of Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005). On timelines, see Rosenberg and Grafton, Cartographies of Time. On the history of clocks, clock time, and time discipline in the eighteenth century and before, see Carlo M. Cipolla, Clocks and Culture, 1300–1700 (New York: Walker, 1967); David S. Landes, Revolution in Time: Clocks and the Making of the Modern World (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 1983); Gerhard Dohrn-van Rossum, History of the Hour: Clocks and Modern Temporal Orders (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996); and Michael Sauter, “Clock Watchers and Stargazers: Time Discipline in Early Modern Berlin,” American Historical Review 122, no. 3 (June 2007): 685–207. Although it is focused on the period after the eighteenth century, also see the classic E.P. Thompson, “Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism,” Past & Present, 38, no. 1 (1967): 56–97.

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Notes to pages 19−21  163

54 Koselleck’s student Lucian Hölscher is the only one to seriously pursue the question of the transformation of the future in Europe in the decades before that French Revolution, though he did so along the lines of Koselleck. See Hölscher, Die Entdeckung der Zukunft. Lynn Hunt has pursued the question of the future during the French Revolution, and Peter Fritzsche has pursued it after the Revolution. See Hunt, “The World We Have Gained: The Future of the French Revolution,” American Historical Review 108, no. 1 (February 2003): 1–19; Hunt, Measuring Time, Making History; and Fritzsche, Stranded in the Present. For a collection of works about past visions of the future, see Régis Bertrand, Maryline Crivello, and Jean-Marie Guillon, eds., Les historiens et l’avenir: Comment les hommes du passé imaginaient leur futur (Aix-en-Provence: Presses Universitaires de Provence, 2014). On the development of terms and concepts such as “modernity,” “modernité,” “neu Zeit,” and “Neuzeit,” see Koselleck, Futures Past and Practice of Conceptual History. On the development of ideas of the future in eighteenth-century Mexico, see O’Hara, History of the Future. 55 Hartog, Regimes of Historicity.

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Chapter 1. Making Time Different 1 Nicolas de Malebranche, De la recherche de la verité, in Œuvres, ed. Geneviève Rodis-Lewis and Germain Malbreil (Paris: Gallimard, 1979), 1:57. For more on Malebranche’s theory of generation, see Jacques Roger, Les sciences de la vie dans la pensée française du XVIIIième siècle, 2nd ed. (Paris: Armand Colin, 1971); and Andrew Pyle, Malebranche (New York: Routledge, 2003), 158–86. 2 Malebranche, De la recherche de la verité, 1:57. 3 See Roger, Les sciences de la vie, and Peter J. Bowler, “Preformation and Pre-existence in the Seventeenth Century: A Brief Analysis,” Journal of the History of Biology 4, no. 2 (Fall 1971): 221–44. 4 Jacques Roger wrote about the implicit atemporality and ahistoricity of the theory of pre-existence, observing that “pre-existence excludes time, excludes the whole idea of a history of life.” Les sciences de la vie, 389. 5 For the use of this phrase, see Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, The Principles of Philosophy, or, the Monadology, in Philosophical Essays, trans. and ed. Roger Ariew and Daniel Garber (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1989 [1714]), §22, p. 216; Leibniz, Principles of Nature and Grace Based on Reason (1714), in Philosophical Essays, §13, p. 211; Leibniz, Theodicy, ed. Austin Farrer, trans. E.M. Huggard (Chicago: Open Court, 1985 [1710]), §360, p. 341. For Leibniz’s endorsement of preformation, see “A New System of the Nature and Communication of Substances, and of the Union of the Soul and Body”

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164  Notes to pages 22−5 (1695), in Philosophical Essays, 140; Principles of Nature and Grace, §6, p. 209; and Monadology, §74, p. 222. 6 Pyle, Malebranche, 171–2. On ideas of the future in early modern Europe, with some critiques of Koselleck’s thesis differentiating the early modern from modernity, see Andrea Brady and Emily Butterworth, eds., The Uses of the Future in Early Modern Europe (New York: Routledge, 2010). For an instructive comparison, see J.A. Burrow and Ian P. Wei, eds., Medieval Futures: Attitudes to the Future in the Middle Age (Rochester: Boydell, 2000). 7 Reinhart Koselleck, Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time, trans. Keith Tribe (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985), 21–38, 267–88. 8 Leibniz, Theodicy, §58, p. 154. 9 François-Alexandre Aubert de La Chesnaye des Bois, “Avis,” in Jakob Klein, Doutes ou observations de Mr. Klein … (Paris: Bauche, 1754), 3–4, quoted in E.C. Spary, “The ‘Nature’ of Enlightenment,” in The Sciences in Enlightened Europe, ed. William Clark, Jan V. Golinski, and Simon Schaffer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), 279–280. 10 Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Caritat de Condorcet, Esquisse d'un tableau historique des progrès de l'esprit humain, in Tableau historique des progrès de l’esprit humain: Projets, Esquisse, Fragments et Notes (1772–1794), ed. JeanPierre Schandler and Pierre Crépel, et al. (Paris: Institut National d’Études Démographiques, 2004). 11 Condorcet, Esquisse, 458. 12 Condorcet, Esquisse, 458. 13 See the many notes, drafts, and summaries, as well as the final text that was posthumously published, in Condorcet, Tableau historique. 14 Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle, Entretiens sur la pluralité des mondes habités (1686), in Œuvres complètes, ed. Alain Niderset (Paris: Fayard, 1991), 111. 15 See M.S. Anderson, The War of the Austrian Succession, 1740–48 (New York: Longman, 1995); Lee B. Kennett, The French Armies in the Seven Years’ War: A Study in Military Organization and Administration (Durham: Duke University Press, 1967); Matthew Smith Anderson, War and Society in Europe of the Old Regime, 1618–1789 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988); James C. Riley, The Seven Years’ War and the Old Regime in France: The Economic and Financial Toll (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986). 16 Guy Chaussinand-Nogaret, The French Nobility in the Eighteenth Century: From Feudalism to Enlightenment, trans. William Doyle (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985); Jay M. Smith, Nobility Reimagined: The Patriotic Nation in Eighteenth-Century France (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005); Pierre Rétat, “Luxe,” Dix-huitième siècle 26 (1994): 79–88; and John Shovlin, The Political Economy of Virtue: Luxury, Patriotism and the Origins of the French Revolution (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006).

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Notes to pages 25−7  165

17 For the historical development of this perceived crisis, see Carol Blum, Strength in Numbers: Population, Reproduction, and Power in EighteenthCentury France (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), 1–20; and Jean-Marc Rohrbasser, “Montesquieu, l’arithmétique politique et les questions de population,” in Arithmétique politique dans la France du XVIIIe siècle, ed. Thierry Martin (Paris: Institut National d’Études Démographiques, 2003), 133–45. On the role of Jean-François Melon’s ideas about colonization and depopulation in the genealogy of theories of population, see Madeleine Dobie, Trading Places: Colonization and Slavery in Eighteenth-Century French Culture (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2010), 206–15. 18 Antoine Le Camus, “Projet pour conserver l’espèce des hommes bien faits, réserver les hommes vigoureux pour la culture des terres, & augmenter le nombre des Soldats,” in Memoires sur divers sujets de médecine (Paris: Ganeau, 1760), 289. Originally, this was published as an article in the Journal œconomique appearing in February 1757. 19 See Michael Kwass, “Consumption and the World of Ideas: Consumer Revolution and the Moral Economy of the Marquis de Mirabeau,” Eighteenth-Century Studies 37, no. 2 (Winter 2004): 196–7. 20 Buffon, “De la Nature. Première vue,” HN (1764), 12:xv. Buffon had suggested this earlier: “When left to act at liberty … Nature never forgets to reclaim her rights.” Buffon, “Le chien,” HN (1755), 5:196. 21 Victor Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau, “Mémoire sur l’agriculture envoyé à la très-louable sociéte d’agriculture de Berne,” in L’Ami des hommes, ou traité de la population (Avignon, 1760 [first printed 1759]), 5:22. 22 For the history of the term “regeneration,” see David A. Bell, The Cult of the Nation in France: Inventing Nationalism, 1680–1800 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), 75–6; and Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall, The Abbé Grégoire and the French Revolution: The Making of Modern Universalism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 57–8. 23 François Quesnay, Despotism in China, in China A Model for Europe, ed. and trans. Lewis A. Maverick (San Antonio: Paul Anderson, 1946), 303. 24 Mirabeau, L’ami des hommes, 2:21. In Philosophie rurale, Mirabeau and Quesnay used this phrase again in a broader sense to also excoriate governments that do not give great enough attention to the arts and sciences. Victor Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau, [and François Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, ou économie generale et politique de l’agriculture, reduite à l’ordre immuable des loix physiques & morales, qui assurent la prosperité des empires (Amsterdam: Les Libraires Associes, 1764 [1763]; reprint, Darmstadt: Scientia Verlag Aalen, 1972), 3:14. 25 Quesnay in Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, 1:332. Quesnay was the sole author of this chapter of Philosophie rurale.

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166  Notes to pages 28−9 26 On historical thought in the Enlightenment, see Sophie Bourgault and Robert Sparling, eds., A Companion to Enlightenment Historiography (Leiden: Brill, 2013); and Karen O’Brien, Narratives of Enlightenment: Cosmopolitan History from Voltaire to Gibbon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997). For classic studies of the historical thought of Montesquieu, Voltaire, and d’Alembert, see David Carrithers, “Montesquieu’s Philosophy of History,” Journal of the History of Ideas 47, no. 1 (1986): 61–80; J.H. Brumfitt, Voltaire Historian (New York: Oxford University Press, 1958); Ronald Grimsley, Jean d’Alembert (New York: Oxford University Press, 1963); Judith Shklar, “D’Alembert and the Rehabilitation of History,” Journal of the History of Ideas 41 (1981): 643–64; and Frank Manuel, Shapes of Philosophical History (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1965). 27 Buffon, “Animaux communs aux deux continents,” HN (1761), 9:127. On ancient ideas of nature, see Pierre Hadot, The Veil of Isis: An Essay on the History of the Idea of Nature, trans. Michael Chase (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006). 28 Anonymous [Pierre-Nicolas Changeux], Traité des extrêmes, ou des éléments de la science de la réalité (Amsterdam: Darkstée et Merkus, 1767), 1:234; JeanBaptiste Robinet, De la nature (1768), 5:148, quoted in Arthur O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (New York: Harper and Row, 1965), 274–5. 29 Denis Diderot, Le rêve de d’Alembert, in Œuvres complètes de Diderot, ed. Herbert Dieckmann, Jean Varloot, et al., (Paris: Hermann, 1987), 17:128. 30 Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot, baron de l’Aulne, “Second discours, sur le progrès successifs de l’esprit humain, prononcé le 11 décembre 1750,” in Oeuvres de Turgot, ed. Dupont de Nemours, new edition edited by Eugène Daire and Hippolyte Dussard (1844 [reprint: Osnabrück: Otto Zeller, 1966]), 2:597. 31 Anonymous [Jean-Jacques Ménuret de Chambaud], “Séméiotique, or séméiologie,” in Encyclopédie, 14:937. 32 There is little known about the life of this philosophe outside of his published writing. Even his first name (Pierre-Nicolas or Pierre-Jacques), and when in his life it might have changed, is a point of confusion. In addition to the Traité des extrêmes, he published the Bibliothèque grammaticale abrégée, ou nouveaux mémoires sur la parole et sur l’écriture (Paris: Lacombe, 1773). The only work that I am aware of that focuses on an analysis of his work is Giorgio Tonelli, “Pierre-Jacques Changeux and Scepticism in the French Enlightenment,” in Scepticism in the Enlightenment, ed. Richard H. Popkin, Ezequiel de Olaso, and Giorgio Tonelli (Boston: Kluwer, 1997), 51–68. Changeux’s ideas about language are mentioned briefly in Sophia Rosenfeld, Revolution in Language: The Problem of Signs in Late Eighteenth-Century France (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), 97. For his

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Notes to pages 29−33  167

creation of a barometer that he submitted to the Académie des Sciences, see W.E. Knowles-Middleton, The History of the Barometer (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1964), 286, 289, 290. The Biographie universelle gives some biographical information on Changeux and lists his name as Pierre-Nicolas. It does not make any mention of a name change. Biographie universelle, ancienne et moderne, new edition (Paris: Vièville et Capiomont, n.d. [reprinted, Bad Feilnbach, Germany: Schmidt Periodicals, 1998]), 7:476. 33 Changeux, Traité des extrêmes, 1:235. 34 Changeux, Traité des extrêmes, 1:234. 35 On the moule, see Jacques Roger, Buffon: A Life in Natural History, ed. L. Pearce Williams, trans. Sarah Lucille Bonnefoi (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997); and Peter Hanns Reill, Vitalizing Nature in the Enlightenment (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005). 36 Georges-Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon, “Des époques de la Nature,” Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière, … Supplément (Paris: Imprimerie royale, 1778), 5:26–7. As I explain in chapter 4, Buffon’s ideas about the relationship of species and genus varied throughout the many volumes of his work. In addition to his usage of these terms reflecting conceptual changes, it also appears that he was inconsistent with the meaning that he ascribed to the terms. 37 Victor de Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau and François Quesnay, Traité de la monarchie (1757–59), ed. Gino Longhitano (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1999), 3. 38 Mirabeau and Quesnay, Traité de la monarchie, 3. 39 See Lorraine Daston, Classical Probability in the Enlightenment (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988); Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150–1750 (New York: Zone Books, 1998), 350–60; and Lorraine Daston, “Strange Facts, Plain Facts, and the Texture of Scientific Experience in the Enlightenment,” in Proof and Persuasion: Essays on Authority, Objectivity and Evidence, ed. Suzanne Marchand and Elizabeth Lunbeck (Turnhout: Brepols, 1996), 42–59. 40 See Ernst Cassirer, The Philosophy of the Enlightenment (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951), 56–64. 41 A. O. Lovejoy, “The Parallelism of Deism and Classicalism,” in Essays in the History of Ideas (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1948), 79–80. 42 On Hume and the uniformity of nature, see Cassirer, Philosophy of the Enlightenment, 62; and Daston, Classical Probability, 198–203. 43 Jean le Rond d’Alembert, “Discours préliminaire des editeurs,” Encyclopédie, 1:xx; Montesquieu, De l’eprit des lois (1748), in Œuvres complètes, ed. Roger Caillois (Paris: Gallimard, 1951), 2:233. 44 James Larson, “The Most Confused Knot in the Doctrine of Reproduction,” in The Quantifying Spirit in the Eighteenth Century, ed. Tore Frängsmyr, J.L.

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168  Notes to pages 34−7 Heilbron, and Robin E. Rider (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 267–8. 45 Condorcet, “Réflexions sur la méthode de déterminer la probabilité des événements futurs, d’après l’observation des événements passés,” Mémoires de l’Académie Royale des Sciences, 1783 (Paris, 1786), 548. Quoted in Daston, Classical Probability, 281. 46 See Henry Vyverberg, Human Nature, Cultural Diversity, and the French Enlightenment (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989). 47 Condorcet, “Observations de Condorcet sur le vingt-neuvième livre de l’Esprit des Lois,” in Œuvres, ed. Condorcet O’Connor and Arago, 1:376–7. 48 Montesquieu, De l’eprit des lois, bk. 29, chap. 18, p. 882. 49 Montesquieu, De l’eprit des lois, bk. 29, chap. 18, p. 882. 50 Montesquieu, De l’eprit des lois, bk. 29, chap. 18, p. 882. 51 Condorcet was adamant, however, that a uniformity of public opinion was undesirable. See Emma Rothschild, Economic Sentiments: Adam Smith, Condorcet, and the Enlightenment (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), 198–9. 52 Condorcet, “Observations de Condorcet sur le vingt-neuvième livre,” 377. 53 Gerd Gigerenzer, Zeno Swijtink, Theodore Porter, Lorraine Daston, John Beatty, and Lorenz Krüger, The Empire of Chance: How Probability Changed Science and Everyday Life (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 24. Also see Daston, Classical Probability, 174–82. 54 Daston, Classical Probability, 165. 55 Daston, Classical Probability, 165.

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Chapter 2. Living the Future 1 On Turgot’s role in the development of Enlightenment ideas of progress, see Frank E. Manuel, Prophets of Paris (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962), 13; Ronald L. Meek, Social Science and the Ignoble Savage (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976); Reinhart Koselleck, Critique and Crisis: Enlightenment and the Pathogenesis of Modern Society (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1988), 139. This importance continues to be affirmed. For example, see Lynn Hunt, Measuring Time, Making History (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2008), 57–65; Silvia Sebastiani, The Scottish Enlightenment: Race, Gender, and The Limits of Progress, trans. Jeremy Carden (New York: Palgrave, 2013), 7, 47; and Jonathan Sheehan and Dror Wahrman, Invisible Hands: Self-Organization and the Eighteenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 252–8. 2 Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot, “Tableau philosophique des progress successifs à l’esprit humain,” in Œuvres de Turgot, ed. Gustave Schelle (Paris: Félix Alcan, 1913), 1:217.

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Notes to pages 37−40  169

3 Turgot, “Plan du second discours,” in Œuvres de Turgot, 1:303–4. 4 Turgot, “Plan du second discours,” 1:303–4. 5 On the emergence of the analogy of Native Americans and ancient Europeans and its development and formalization in the writing of José de Acosta and Joseph-François Lafitau, see Anthony Pagden, The Fall of Natural Man: The American Indian and the Origins of Comparative Ethnology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986). 6 Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot, “Etymologie,” in Encyclopédie (1756), 6:104. 7 As far as I am aware, this has not been analysed in the historiography. On ideas of progress, classic works are J.B. Bury, The Idea of Progress: An Inquiry into Its Origin and Growth (London: Macmillan, 1920); Charles Frankel, The Faith of Reason: The Idea of Progress in the French Enlightenment (New York: King’s Crown, 1948); Frank E. Manuel, Prophets of Paris (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962); and David Spadafora, The Idea of Progress in Eighteenth-Century Britain (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990). Also see Pierre-André Taguieff, Le sens du progress: Une approche historique et philosophique (Paris: Flammarion, 2004); and Yohan Ariffin, Généalogie de l’idée de progress: Histoire d’une philosophie cruelle sous un nom consolant (Paris: Félin, 2012). 8 On the extremely complicated history of the term “Carib” and its use as an ethnic identifier, first by Europeans and eventually by the people it was meant to designate, see Peter Hulme, Colonial Encounters: Europe and the Native Caribbean, 1492–1797 (New York: Metheun, 1986), 45–87; Doris Garraway, The Libertine Colony: Creolization in the Early French Caribbean (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005), 39–42; and B.W. Higman, A Concise History of the Caribbean (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 48. 9 See Meek, Social Science and the Ignoble Savage; Christopher J. Berry, Social Theory of the Scottish Enlightenment (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997); Silvia Sebastiani, The Scottish Enlightenment: Race, Gender, and The Limits of Progress, trans. Jeremy Carden (New York: Palgrave, 2013); and Frank Palmeri, State of Nature, Stages of Society: Enlightenment Conjectural History and Modern Social Discourse (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016). On Samuel Pufendorf’s theoretical foundations of the four-stages theory, see Istvan Hont, The Jealousy of Trade: International Competition and the Nation-State in Historical Perspective (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2005), 159–84. 10 Meek, Social Science and the Ignoble Savage. There were, of course, critics and dissenters such as William Falconer and Johann Gottfried von Herder in the 1780s and 1790s; Meek, 184–98. 11 Joseph-Marie Degérando, “Considérations sur les diverses méthodes à suivre dans l’observation des peuples sauvages” (1800), in Aux origines

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170  Notes to pages 41−3 de l’anthropologie française: Les mémoires de la Société des Observateurs de l’Homme en l’an VIII, ed. Jean Copans and Jean Jamin (Paris: Sycomore, 1978), 131. 12 Johannes Fabian, Time and the Other (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983), 31. 13 On Degérando and the Observers of Man in the history of anthropology, see George W. Stocking, Jr., Race, Culture, and Evolution: Essays in the History of Anthropology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 13–41; and Jean-Luc Chappey, La Société des Observateurs de l’homme: Des anthropologues au temps de Bonaparte (Paris: Société des Études Robespierristes, 2002). On Degérando more generally, see Jean-Luc Chappey, Carole Christen, and Igor Moullier, eds., Joseph-Marie de Gérando (1772–1842): Connaître et réformer la société (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2014). 14 Bloch most famously articulated the concept in Heritage of Our Times, trans. Neville and Stephen Plaice (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990 [1935]). Also see David C. Durst, Weimar Modernism: Philosophy, Politics, and Culture in Germany, 1918–1933 (Oxford: Lexington Books, 2004), 1–32; and Frederic J. Schwartz, “Ernst Bloch and Wilhelm Pinder: Out of Sync,” Grey Room 3 (Spring 2001): 54–89. 15 Fabian developed his ideas about the denial of co-evalness in relation to Bloch’s terminology, though he chose not to use the terms or analyse Bloch’s idea. See Fabian, Time and the Other, 31, 182n19. Koselleck occasionally employed Bloch’s terminology, though as far as I know, he did not develop his ideas on this topic at length. It played an important part in his conceptual work, but he did not explore its historical emergence in the eighteenth century. See, for example, Koselleck, Future’s Past, 94, 247–9, 279. Koselleck’s theory of sediments or layers of time (Zeitschichten) grew out of conceptual difficulties with the simultaneity of the nonsimultaneous. See Koselleck, Sediments of Time: On Possible Histories, trans. and ed. Sean Franzel and Stefan-Ludwig Hoffman (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2018), xiii, 45. Also see Helge Jordheim, “Multiple Times and the Work of Synchronization,” History and Theory 53 (December 2014): 498–518. 16 Anonymous [Guillaume-François Le Trosne], Mémoire sur les vagabonds et les mendiants (Soissons and Paris: P.G. Simon, 1764). 17 See Daniel Roche, Humeurs vagabondes: De la circulation des hommes et de l’utilité des voyages (Paris: Fayard, 2003); and Olwen Hufton, The Poor of Eighteenth-Century France, 1750–1789 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1974). 18 Le Trosne referred to vagabonds as domestic enemies in a separate work; see his Discours sur l’état actuel de la magistrature, et sur les causes de sa décadence (Paris: Panckoucke, 1764), 25. On Le Trosne and his relation to the natural law tradition and its concept of the enemy of humanity

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Notes to pages 44−50  171

(hostis humani generis), see Dan Edelstein, The Terror of Natural Right: Republicanism, the Cult of Nature, and the French Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 29–30. 19 Le Trosne, Mémoire sur les vagabonds, 8. 20 On Ségur, see Leon Apt, Louis-Philippe de Ségur: An Intellectual in a Revolutionary Age (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1969). On Ségur and French representations of Russia and eastern Europe more generally, see Larry Wolff, Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994); and Marc Bélissa, La Russie mise en Lumières: Représentations et débats autour de la Russie dans la France du XVIIIe siècle (Paris: Kimé, 2010). 21 Louis-Philippe, comte de Ségur, Mémoires, souvenirs, et anecdotes, par le comte de Ségur, quoted in Wolff, Inventing Eastern Europe, 22. 22 Ségur, Mémoires, in Wolff, Inventing Eastern Europe, 20, 24. 23 Louis-Jacques Moreau de la Sarthe, “Considérations sur quelques traces de l’état sauvage chez les peuples polices, et histoire particulière de petit canton de Saterland,” La Decade philosophique, littéraire, et politique 35 (20 Fructidor Year XII [1803]): 450. 24 Moreau de la Sarthe, Considérations, 452. 25 Moreau de la Sarthe, Considérations, 452. 26 Joyce Chaplin, An Anxious Pursuit: Agricultural Innovation and Modernity in the Lower South, 1730–1815 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993). 27 Chaplin, Anxious Pursuit, 25. 28 Chaplin, Anxious Pursuit, 50. 29 Chaplin, Anxious Pursuit, 49. 30 Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton, Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2010), 19, 96. 31 On these three illustrations, see Rosenberg and Grafton, Cartographies of Time, 143–7. 32 Rosenberg and Grafton, Cartographies of Time. 33 Immanuel Kant, Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View (1798), in Anthropology, History, and Education, ed. Günter Zöller and Robert B. Louden, trans. Mary Gregor et al. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 294. 34 Immanual Kant, “Conjectural Beginning of Human History” (1786), in Anthropology, History, and Education, 167. 35 Kant, “Conjectural Beginning of Human History,” 167. 36 Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discours sur l’origine et les fondemens de l’inégalité parmi les hommes, in Œuvres complètes, ed. Bernard Gagnebin and Marcel Raymond (Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1964), 3:144. 37 Rousseau, Discours sur l’origine, 3:158.

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172  Notes to pages 50−4 38 For example, Gilbert Chinard, L’Amérique et le rêve exotique dans la littérature française au 17e et 18e siècle (Paris: Droz, 1934), 352; George Pire, “JeanJacques Rousseau et les relations du voyage,” Revue d’Histoire littéraire de la France 56, no. 3 (1956): 355–78; and Rousseau, Œuvres complètes, 3:1321. 39 On Du Tertre in general, see Hulme, Colonial Encounters; Philip P. Boucher, Cannibal Encounters: Europeans and Island Caribs, 1492–1763 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992); and Garraway, The Libertine Colony. 40 Jean-Baptiste Du Tertre, Histoire générale des Antilles habitées par les François … (Paris: Thomas Jolly, 1667), 2:385. Carets were probably the shells of a variety of sea turtle; see Peter Hulme and Neil L. Whitehead, eds., Wild Majesty: Encounters with Caribs from Columbus to the Present Day (Oxford: Clarendon, 1992), 131. 41 Du Tertre, Histoire générale des Antilles, 2:385. 42 Du Tertre, Histoire générale des Antilles, 2:383–4. 43 Du Tertre, Histoire générale des Antilles, 2:384. 44 Du Tertre, Histoire générale des Antilles, 2:386. 45 Jean-Baptiste Labat, Nouveau voyage aux isles de l’Amerique (Paris: PierreFrançois Giffart, 1722), 2:53–4. 46 Peter Melville, Romantic Hospitality and the Resistance to Accommodation (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2007), 51. 47 Rousseau, Discours sur l’origine, 3:144. 48 Rousseau, Discours sur l’origine, 3:144. See Du Tertre, Histoire générale des Antilles, 2:357. 49 Rousseau, Discours sur l’origine, 3:144. 50 On hammocks in collections across Europe, see Karen Ordahl Kupperman, America in European Consciousness, 1493–1750 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995), 343. On hammocks in collections and in prints, see Lia Markey, “Stradao’s Allegorical Invention of the Americas in Late Sixteenth-Century Florence,” Renaissance Quarterly 65, no. 2 (Summer 2012): 385–442. 51 Rousseau, Discours sur l’origine, 3:166. 52 Rousseau, Discours sur l’origine, 3:144. 53 Rousseau, Discours sur l’origine, 3:172. 54 Boucher, Cannibal Encounters, 122. 55 Christian Marouby, “Adam Smith and the Anthropology of Enlightenment: The ‘Ethnographic’ Sources of Economic Progress,” in The Anthropology of the Enlightenment, ed. Larry Wolff and Marco Cipolloni (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007), 90–91. 56 Michel de Certeau, The Writing of History, 221, quoted in Anthony Pagden, European Encounters with the New World: From Renaissance to Romanticism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), 47.

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Notes to pages 55−7  173

57 Claude-Adrien Helvétius, De l’esprit (Amsterdam: Arkstée and Merkus, 1758), 2:68. Boucher noted that Helvétius repeated this story of the Carib and hammock. Boucher, Cannibal Encounters, 123. 58 Jean-François Saint-Lambert, “Legislateur,” in Encyclopédie (1765), 9:358. 59 Jean-François Saint-Lambert, Les Saisons, 5th ed. (Amsterdam, 1773), 95. 60 Anonymous [Jean-Baptiste-Claude (Delisle) de Sales], De la philosophie de la nature (Amsterdam: Arkstée and Merkus, 1770), 2:454. Also see the philosophical dialogue between a Carib and a Parisian, 3:27–39. 61 Suard shared the work with the abbé Morellet and Henrik Jansen. On the editions, see James Chandler, England in 1819: The Politics of Literary Culture and the Case of Romantic Historicism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 127; Fania Oz-Salzberger, Translating the Enlightenment: Scottish Civil Discourse in Eighteenth-Century Germany (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995); and Sebastiani, Scottish Enlightenment. 62 William Robertson, The History of America (London and Edinburgh: Strahan, Cadell and Balfour, 1777), 1:309–10. On the lack of foresight amongst Amerindians, also see 315. 63 Notice how the citing of two sources might lend the observation more credence to some readers and help reaffirm the larger observation even though Labat was copying Du Tertre. 64 L’Année littéraire 6 (1778): 339–40. 65 Jean-Baptiste-René Robinet, ed., Dictionnaire universel des sciences morale, économique, politique et diplomatique, ou bibliothèque de l’homme-d’état et du citoyen (1778), 5:363. The entry is attributed to Raynal’s Histoire des deux Indes, though it gets the title wrong. 66 “Inégalité,” in Encyclopédie méthodique: Logique et métaphysique (Paris: Panckoucke, 1786), vol. 3, pt. 2, 426. 67 For an example of the trope in private correspondence, see Lettres en partie inédites de Madame Roland, ed. C.A. Dauban (Paris: Henri Plon, 1867), 1:340. 68 Jean-François Saint-Lambert, Principes des mœurs, chec toutes les nations; ou Catéchisme universel (Paris: Agasse, 1798), 1:182–3. This is from the section “De la femme,” which is sometimes referred to on its own. 69 On Buffon and the science of man, see Sergio Moravia, “The Enlightenment and the Science of Man,” History of Science 18, no. 4 (December 1980): 247–68; Michèle Duchet, Anthropologie et histoire au siècle des Lumières (Paris: Albin Michel, 1995); Georges Gusdorf, Dieu, la nature, l’homme au siècle des lumières (Paris: Payot, 1972); and Christopher Fox, Roy Porter, and Robert Wokler, eds., Inventing Human Science: EighteenthCentury Domains (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995). For Buffon’s importance in Scottish history and stadial theory, see Paul Wood, “The Natural History of Man in the Scottish Enlightenment,” History of Science 28, no. 1 (March 1990): 91–4; Paul Wood, “Buffon’s Reception in

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174  Notes to pages 57−61 Scotland: The Aberdeen Connection,” Annals of Science 44, no. 2 (1988): 169–90; and Sebastiani, Scottish Enlightenment. 70 Buffon, “Discours sur la nature des Animaux,” HN (1753), 4:54. 71 Buffon, “Discours sur la nature des Animaux,” HN (1753), 4:59–62. 72 Buffon, “Discours sur la nature des Animaux,” HN (1753), 4:61. 73 Buffon, “Discours sur la nature des Animaux,” HN (1753), 4:58. 74 Buffon, “De la vieillesse et de la mort,” HN (1749) 2:602–3. 75 Denis Diderot, “Sur les femmes,” quoted in Natania Meeker, “‘All times are present to her’: Femininity, Temporality, and Libertinage in Diderot’s ‘Sur les femmes,’” Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 3, no. 2 (Fall/ Winter 2003): 70.

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Chapter 3. “The Explosion of Light” 1 On the physiocrats, see Liana Vardi, The Physiocrats and the World of the Enlightenment (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012); Philippe Steiner, La “nouvelle science” de l’économie politique (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1998); and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, The Origins of Physiocracy: Economic Revolution and Social Order in Eighteenth-Century France (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1976). On the history of the physiocratic school, see Georges Weulersse’s works Le mouvement physiocratique en France de 1756 à 1770, 2 vols. (Paris: F. Alcon, 1910); La physiocratie à la fin du regne de Louis XV, 1770–1774 (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1959); La physiocratie sous les ministères de Turgot et Necker, 1774–1781 (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1950); and La physiocratie à l’aube de la Révolution, 1781–1792, ed. Corinne Beutler (Paris: Éditions de l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, 1985). On the role of the physiocrats in the development of political economy more generally, see Jean-Claude Perrot, Une histoire intellectuelle de l’économie politique, XVIIe–XVIIIe siècle (Paris: Éditions de l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, 1992); Simone Meyssonier, La balance et l’horloge: La genèse de la pensée libérale en France au XVIIIe siècle (Montreuil: Editions de la Passion, 1989); and Catherine Larrère, L’invention de l’économie au XVIIIe siècle: Du droit naturel à la physiocratie (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1992). 2 For exceptions, see Reghinos Theocharis, Early Developments in Mathematical Economics (London: Macmillan, 1983). On the physiocrat Charles Richard de Butré’s use of algebra in unpublished political economic papers, see Loïc Charles and Christine Théré, “Charles Richard de Butré: Pioneer of Mathematical Economics,” Journal of the History of Economic Thought 38, no. 3 (September 2016): 311–27. 3 The tableau has been seen as a precursor to modern growth theory, general equilibrium, input-output tables, the reproduction models of Sraffa,

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Notes to pages 61−2  175 and the Harrod-Domar growth model; see Loïc Charles, “The Tableau Économique as Rational Recreation,” History of Political Economy 36, no. 3 (2004): 446–9. 4 For interpretations of the tableau, see Ronald Meek, Economics of Physiocracy: Essays and Translations (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1963); Walter Eltis, “François Quesnay: A Reinterpretation 1: The Tableau Économique,” Oxford Economic Papers 27, no. 2 (1975): 167–200; Gianni Vaggi, The Economics of François Quesnay (Durham: Duke University Press, 1987); Steven Pressman, Quesnay’s Tableau Économique: A Critical Reassessment (New York: Augustus Kelley, 1994); and Lars Herlitz, “From Spending Reproduction to Circuit Flow and Equilibrium: The Two Concepts of the Tableau Économique,” European Journal of the History of Economic Thought 3, no. 1 (1996): 1–20. For interpretations of the tableau within a larger cultural and intellectual context, see Steiner, La “nouvelle science,” and Fox-Genovese, The Origins of Physiocracy. For the scientific context of the tableau, see Paul P. Christensen, “Fire, Motion, and Productivity: The Proto-Energetics of Nature and Economy in François Quesnay,” in Natural Images in Economic Thought: “Markets Read in Tooth and Claw,” ed. Philip Mirowski (New York: Cambridge, 1994), 249–88. 5 On “sensationism” (sometimes referred to as “sensationalism”), see John C. O’Neal, The Authority of Experience: Sensationist Theory in the French Enlightenment (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996). 6 For the only works that adequately attend to the visual character of the tableau, see Loïc Charles, “The Visual History of the Tableau Économique,” European Journal of the History of Economic Thought 10, no. 4 (Winter 2003): 527–50; and Charles, “Tableau Économique as Rational Recreation.” On the use of the term tableau to mean picture, see Charles, “Tableau Économique as Rational Recreation,” 455–6. 7 François Quesnay, M. 784, no. 711, Archives Nationales, Paris. For the dating of this tableau see Ronald L. Meek, “The 1758–9 ‘Editions’ of the Tableau Économique,” in Quesnay’s Tableau Économique, trans. and ed. Marguerite Kuczynski and Ronald L. Meek (New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1972), xviii. 8 Victor Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau [and François Quesnay], “Tableau Œconomique avec ses explications,” in L’ami des hommes, ou traité de la population (1760), 6:1–228 (separate pagination). On the complicated story of the first three “editions” of the tableau, see Meek, “The 1758–9 ‘Editions’ of the Tableau Économique,” ix–xx. 9 François Quesnay to Victor Mirabeau, no date (written soon after the creation of the first edition of the tableau in late 1758). The letter was republished in the original French as an appendix to Stephen Bauer, “Quesnay’s Tableau Économique,” Economic Journal 5, no. 17 (March 1895): 20.

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176  Notes to pages 62−6 10 The livre was a basic unit of money in eighteenth-century France. Twenty sous were equal to a livre. 11 Quesnay, “Impôts,” in François Quesnay et la Physiocratie (Paris: Institut National d’Études Démographiques, 1958), 2:583. 12 Jean Egret, Louis XV et l’opposition parlementaire, 1715–1774 (Paris: A. Colin, 1970); Dale Van Kley, The Damiens Affair and the Unravelling of the Ancien Régime, 1750–1770 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984); Julian Swann, Politics and the Parlements of Paris under Louis XV, 1754–1774 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995); and John D. Woodbridge, Revolt in Prerevolutionary France: The Prince de Conti’s Conspiracy against Louis XV, 1755–1757 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995). 13 James C. Riley, The Seven Years’ War and the Old Regime in France: The Economic and Financial Toll (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986). 14 Colin Jones, The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon (New York: Penguin, 2002), 240. 15 Weulersse, Le mouvement physiocratique. 16 Fox-Genovese, The Origins of Physiocracy, 76. 17 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], “Tableau Œconomique avec ses explications,” in L’ami des hommes, 218. 18 François Quesnay, “Hommes (Économie politique)” (unpublished article written for the Encyclopédie), in François Quesnay et la Physiocratie, 2:511–78. 19 Boisguilbert was the most important of these predecessors. See Gilbert Faccarello, Aux origines de l’économie politique libérale: Pierre de Boisguilbert (Paris: Anthropos, 1986). 20 The term “physiocracy” was popularized in 1767 with the publication of Dupont de Nemours’s edited compilation La physiocratie. 21 Quesnay, in Victor Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau [and François Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, ou économie generale et politique de l’agriculture, reduite à l’ordre immuable des loix physiques & morales, qui assurent la prosperité des empires (Amsterdam: Les Libraires Associes, 1764 [1763]; reprint, Darmstadt: Scientia Verlag Aalen, 1972), 1:420. Quesnay was the sole author of this chapter, the seventh, of Philosophie rurale. 22 Mirabeau to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 30 July 1767, in Correspondance complète de Jean Jacques Rousseau, ed. R.A. Leigh (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1979), 33:256. 23 François Quesnay, “Extrait des économies royales de M. de Sully,” reproduced in the original French in Kuczynski and Meek, Quesnay’s Tableau Économique, 22. 24 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, 1:114. 25 Pierre-Samuel Dupont de Nemours, Éphémérides du citoyen 12 (1771): 10. Also see Victor Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau, “Fragment d’une préface de “François l’Amiable,” in Les manuscrits économiques de François Quesnay

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Notes to pages 66−8  177

et du marquis de Mirabeau aux Archives Nationales (M. 778 à M. 785), ed. Georges Weulersse (Paris: Paul Geuthner, 1910), 102. 26 Mirabeau to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 30 July 1767, in Correspondance complète de Jean Jacques Rousseau, 33:258. 27 François Quesnay, “Grains,” in Encyclopédie (1757), reproduced in François Quesnay et la Physiocratie, 2:496. 28 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], “Tableau Œconomique avec ses explications,” in L’ami des hommes, 19–20. 29 Quesnay wrote six articles for the Encyclopédie, “Évidence” (Evidence), “Fermiers” (Farmers), “Grains” (Grain), “Hommes (Économie politique)” (Men [Political economy]), “Impôts” (Taxes), “Intérêt de l’argent” (Interest on money). Only the first three were published, under “M. Quesnay, le fils,” one of the many pseudonyms that Quesnay employed (he would also use the pseudonyms Bellial des Vertus, M. Nisaque, M.N., M. Alpha, and M.A.). Quesnay withdrew the latter three articles when the Encyclopédie had to delay publication because of its problems with the royal censors. 30 Quesnay, “Impôts,” in François Quesnay et la Physiocratie, 2:581–2. 31 Quesnay, “Impôts,” 2:581–2. Also see Mirabeau, Théorie de l’Impôt (1761). 32 Mirabeau, Philosophie rurale, quoted in Meek, Economics, 140. 33 On English agricultural and the agronomes, see André J. Bourde, The Influence of England on the French Agronomes, 1750–1789 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1953). 34 For the physiocrats’ assessment of Sully, see Georges Weulersse, “Sully et Colbert jugés par les physiocrates,” Revue d’histoire des doctrines économiques et sociales 10 (1922): 234–51. 35 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], “Tableau Œconomique avec ses explications,” in L’ami des hommes, 199. Also see Quesnay, “Extrait des économies royales de M. de Sully,” 20, note a (continued from page 19). 36 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, 3:321. 37 François Quesnay, “Problème Economique,” Journal de l’Agriculture, du Commerce et des Finance, August 1766, quoted and trans. in Meek, Economics, 188. 38 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, 2:354 39 Reinhart Koselleck, Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time, trans. Keith Tribe (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985), 39–54; I. Bernard Cohen, Revolutions in Science (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 1985), chap. 13; and Keith Michael Baker, Inventing the French Revolution: Essays on French Political Culture in the Eighteenth Century (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990). For examples of Quesnay and Mirabeau’s employment of the terms “revolution” and “revolutions” see Philosophie rurale, 2:51–2; also see Quesnay’s manuscript marginalia quoted and translated in Meek, Economics, 68, extracts v and vi.

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178  Notes to pages 68−71 40 Quesnay, “Extrait des économies royales de M. de Sully,” 22. 41 For the importance of ideas of equilibrium and balance in Enlightenment social thought, political economy, and science, see M. Norton Wise, “Mediations: Enlightenment Balancing Acts, or the Technologies of Rationality,” in World Changes: Thomas Kuhn and the Nature of Science, ed. Paul Horwitch (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992), 207–56. 42 Quesnay, “Extrait des économies royales de M. de Sully,” 20, note a (continued from page 19). 43 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], “Tableau Œconomique avec ses explications,” in L’ami des hommes, 105. 44 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], “Tableau Œconomique avec ses explications,” in L’ami des hommes, 200. He also flatly declared that “the net product of the cultivation of grain in the kingdom of France, when the annual advances yield 100 per cent, could hardly extend beyond 1,200 million.” Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, 2:374, note a. 45 On the circularity of the economy, see François Quesnay, “Sur les travaux des artisans: Second dialogue,” originally in Journal d’agriculture (November 1766), reprinted in François Quesnay et la Physiocratie, 2:908–9. 46 Quesnay, “Sur les travaux des artisans,” 886. 47 Fox-Genovese, Origins of Physiocracy, 273. 48 François Quesnay, “Analyse de la formule arithmétique du Tableau économique,” in Physiocratie (1766), reprinted in François Quesnay et la Physiocratie, 2:793–812. 49 François Quesnay, “Remarques sur les variations de la distribution des revenus annuels dune [sic] nation,” remark 8, n.p., reprinted in Kuczynski and Meek, Quesnay’s Tableau, appendix A, n.p. 50 Quesnay, “Remarques,” remark 8, n.p. In other works, Quesnay and Mirabeau claim that France only reproduces 35 per cent of the annual advances, and they also analyse a “nation in decline” that only reproduces 20 per cent. In the “Extrait” of the “second edition” (4n1) there is a discussion of a kingdom with a situation very much like that of France at the time; this kingdom only reproduces “about 20 per cent” of the annual advances. 51 Perrot, Une histoire intellectuelle de l’économie politique, analyses the way that the physiocrats based the hypothetical states of some of the tableau on actual French statistics figures available to them. 52 Quesnay, “Extrait des économies royales de M. de Sully,” 6. 53 Quesnay, “Explication,” vii. 54 Quesnay to Mirabeau, in Bauer, “Quesnay’s Tableau Économique,” 20. 55 Meek, Economics, 293. 56 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], “Tableau Œconomique avec ses explications,” in L’ami des hommes, 208.

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Notes to pages 71−2  179

57 Quesnay to Mirabeau, in Meek, Economics, 116. 58 Quesnay, “Explication,” iii. 59 Some interpreters of the tableau believe that it “divides not only expenditures but farmers and artisans into progressively smaller groups, each depending on progressively reduced streams of money and commodity exchanges.” This was only true of the manuscript version (the “first edition”) of the zigzag tableau. For the subsequent editions of the tableau – the only ones that were known to the public – this does not make sense because the representation of money in the tableau descended, as Mirabeau made clear, “to the last penny of the sums.” Are we to believe that there was some unfortunate farmer who lived on a penny a year? For an example of this interpretation of the zigzag tableau see the otherwise excellent article by Christensen, “Fire, Motion and Productivity,” 256–7. 60 G.W. Leibniz, “Letter to Coste 19 December 1707,” in Leibniz – Deutsche Schriften, ed. G.E. Guhraner (Berlin, 1838), 2:48, quoted in Koselleck, Futures Past, 15. 61 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, The Principles of Philosophy, or, the Monadology, in Philosophical Essays, ed. and trans. Roger Ariew and Daniel Garber (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1989 [1714]), §22, p. 216; Leibniz, Principles of Nature and Grace Based on Reason [1714], in Philosophical Essays, §13, p. 211; Leibniz, Theodicy, ed. Austin Farrer, trans. E.M. Huggard (Chicago: Open Court, 1985 [1710]), §360, p. 341. 62 On the debates on luxury, see John Shovlin, Political Economy of Virtue: Luxury, Patriotism, and the Origins of the French Revolution (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006); and Pierre Rétat, “Luxe,” Dix-Huitième Siècle 26 (1994): 79–88. 63 Quesnay, “Remarques,” remark 16, n.p. For more on Mirabeau’s concerns with luxury see Michael Kwass, “Consumption and the World of Ideas: Consumer Revolution and the Moral Economy of the marquis de Mirabeau,” Eighteenth-Century Studies 37, no. 2 (Winter 2004): 187–213. Also see the discussion in Gino Longhitano, “La monarchie française entre société d’ordres et marché: Mirabeau, Quesnay, et le Traité de la monarchie (1757–1759),” in Victor de Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau and François Quesnay, Traité de la monarchie (1757–59), ed. Gino Longhitano (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1999), xix–xxiii. 64 Quesnay, “Remarques,” remark 16, n.p.; Quesnay, “Extrait des économies royales de M. de Sully,” 5. 65 Quesnay, “Remarques,” remark 16. 66 Quesnay, “Explication,” ii. 67 Quesnay, “Explication,” ii. The figure of 400 livres, rather than 500 livres, is printed in the text; however, the errata, as well as corrections written into the proof copy in Quesnay’s hand, indicate that the figure should be 500

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180  Notes to pages 73−7 livres. See the notification of errata (xii) and “Notes to the ‘Third Edition,’” in Kuczynski and Meek, Quesnay’s Tableau, note 3. 68 Quesnay, “Extrait des économies royales de M. de Sully,” 12, note a. 69 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], “Tableau Œconomique avec ses explications,” in L’ami des hommes, between pages 100 and 101. For manuscript drafts of tableau that show imbalances in expenditures favouring the sterile class, see page 64 of Mirabeau and Quesnay, first draft manuscript of “Explications,” Ms. 12,101, Bibliothèque de l’Arsénal, Paris; and the tableaux between pages 30–1 and 62–3 in Mirabeau and Quesnay, second draft manuscript of “Explications,” Ms. 12,101, Bibliothèque de l’Arsénal, Paris. 70 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], “Tableau Œconomique avec ses explications,” in L’ami des hommes, 219. 71 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, 3:36–40. 72 In is worth noting that the précis and formule versions of the tableau did not simply replace the zigzag. For instance, a zigzag tableau was still included at the beginning of Philosophie rurale, the same text that introduced the abbreviated forms of the tableau. 73 François Quesnay, unsigned handwritten note, M. 784, no. 7222, Archives Nationales, Paris. 74 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, 1:xlv. 75 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, 1:xlv. 76 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, 3:50–2. 77 For an exemplary effort at deciphering all of the various steps and figures of this unusual tableau, see Meek, Economics, 142–4n1. Also see Vaggi, Economics of François Quesnay, 155–7. 78 Although Philosophie rurale was not published until 1763, Quesnay and Mirabeau had been sitting on a draft since 1761 that included many finished chapters. The delay seems to have been a response to the volatile situation resulting from the state’s increased restrictions on the publication of critical works. 79 Dupont de Nemours created a similar multiyear tableau that he published in 1764 to demonstrate the effects of six years of continuous increase in the price of grain; Pierre-Samuel Dupont de Nemours, L’exportation et de l’inportation des grains (1763–64), ed. Edgard Depitre (Paris: Paul Geuthner, 1911), 46. For an analysis of this tableau, see Vaggi, Economics of François Quesnay, 157–61. 80 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, 365. 81 Opponents of the physiocrats often criticized them for expressing themselves in an obscure fashion. For example, the philosophe Grimm wrote that Quesnay “is not only naturally obscure, he is even systematically obscure and he pretends that truth should never be stated clearly”; Baron de Grimm, Correspondance littéraire, philosophique et critique (Paris, 1813),

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Notes to pages 77−8  181

pt. 1, 2:481, quoted in Thomas P. Neill, “Quesnay and Physiocracy,” Journal of the History of Ideas 9, no. 2 (April 1948), 173. 82 For more about the heated political context of the grain trade in France in the middle of the eighteenth century, see Steven L. Kaplan, Bread, Politics and Political Economy in the Reign of Louis XV (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1976). 83 Abbé Ferdinando Galiani, Dialogues sur le commerce des bleds, ed. Fausto Nicolini (Napoli: Riccardo Ricciardi, 1959 [1770]). One of the most successful elements of Galiani’s critique was his re-articulation of the criticism that the physiocrats relied on abstract theories that were not adequately grounded in empirical observation. There was some justification for this argument, although it overlooked parts of their published and unpublished works that call for attention to historical and national particularities. The physiocrats strongly believed that their theories were universally valid, but that some degree of accommodation had to be made in applying their theories to specific economies. This was articulated particularly clearly by Quesnay in a passage of a letter about David Hume’s political and economic ideas. Although Quesnay was searching for universally true natural laws – “institutions generales,” as he called them in this letter – he was still attuned to the difficulties of application, and he deemed Hume’s ideas insufficient because they did not apply well to circumstances outside of England, particularly those of France. François Quesnay to anonymous, autographed undated letter, John Boyd Thatcher Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections, The Library of Congress, Washington, DC. 84 Abbé Ferdinando Galiani to A.M. Suard, 8 September 1770, in Correspondance, ed. Lucien Pérey and Gaston Maugras (Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1881), 1:245–6. 85 Ferdinando Galiani to Louise d’Epinay, 5 May 1770, in Correspondance, ed. Georges Dulac and Daniel Maggetti (Paris: Editions Désjonquères and Presses Universitaires de France, 1992–97), 1:157. 86 Rousseau to Mirabeau, 26 July 1767, in Correspondance complète de Jean Jacques Rousseau, 33:241. 87 Mirabeau to Rousseau, 30 July 1767, in Correspondance complète de Jean Jacques Rousseau, 33:257. 88 Rousseau to Mirabeau, 26 July 1767, in Correspondance complète de Jean Jacques Rousseau, 33:240. 89 Johann Heinrich Jung-Stilling, Jubelrede über den Geist der Staatswirtschaft (Mannheim: Academia, 1787), 18, quoted in David F. Lindenfeld, The Practical Imagination: The German Science of State in the Nineteenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 27. For more on the often enthusiastic reception of physiocracy in Germany and elsewhere in the world, see Bernard Delmas, Thierry Demals, and Philippe Steiner, eds., La

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182  Notes to pages 79−80 diffusion internationale de la Physiocratie, XVIIIe–XIXe (Grenoble: Presses Universitaires de Grenoble, 1995). 90 The existing manuscripts of Traité de la monarchie have been compiled, compared, and annotated in an excellent edition edited by Gino Longhitano. 91 Quesnay in Mirabeau and Quesnay, Traité de la monarchie, 24n29. 92 See Lorraine Daston’s similar point about “coercing assent” through mathematical means, Classical Probability in the Enlightenment (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), 300. Fox-Genovese also emphasized Quesnay and Mirabeau’s “continuing search for a necessity sufficient to command the obedience of sovereigns.” Origins of Physiocracy, 205. 93 For a strong criticism of historians and their inadequate works, see Quesnay in Mirabeau and Quesnay, Traité de la monarchie, 175n392. 94 Quesnay in Mirabeau and Quesnay, Traité de la monarchie, 115. 95 For more about the importance of the undermining of the topos of Historia Magistra Vitae, see Koselleck, Futures Past. 96 André Morellet, Fragment d’une lettre sur la police des grains (Brussels, 1764), 28–9, quoted in Daniel Gordon, Citizens without Sovereignty: Equality and Sociability in French Thought, 1670–1789 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 213. 97 The critiques of historical method and the discipline of history that were already found in the Traité only increased in vehemence as Quesnay further articulated the physiocratic project: “Let us not seek into the history of nations or into the mistakes of men, for that only presents an abyss of confusion. Historians have only endeavored to satisfy the curiosity of their readers, and their too literal erudition does not serve to throw light which can illuminate this darkness.” Quesnay, Despotism in China, included in full in China: A Model for Europe, trans. and ed. Lewis A. Maverick (San Antonio: Paul Anderson, 1946), 273. 98 Quesnay discussed “l’abus des mots” in “Du Commerce: Premier dialogue entre M.H. et M.N …,” originally in Journal d’agriculture (June 1766), reprinted in François Quesnay et la Physiocratie, 2:818. On the “abuse of words,” see Hannah Dawson, Locke, Language, and Early Modern Philosophy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007); and Ulrich Ricken, Linguistics, Anthropology, and Philosophy in the French Enlightenment: Language Theory and Ideology, trans. Robert E. Norton (New York: Routledge, 1994), 160–73. 99 For more on the ideas of these three philosophes regarding communication, and the role of their personal relationship in the development of these ideas, see Sophia Rosenfeld, Revolution in Language: The Problem of Signs in Late Eighteenth-Century France (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), 36–56. For more on Rousseau’s obsession with transparency see Jean Starobinski, Jean-Jacques Rousseau: La transparence et l’obstacle (Paris: Gallimard, 1976 [1957]).

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Notes to pages 80−1  183

100 For an excellent brief discussion of the Enlightenment theories of language and the context of their emergence, see Rosenfeld, Revolution in Language, 13–36. The inventory of Quesnay’s library upon his death shows that he owned numerous works by John Locke, Montesquieu, and abbé Batteux. See “Inventaire et Liquidation aprés le decés [sic] de M. François Quesnay,” 29 December 1774, series 3E 45/158, Étude Huber de Versailles, Archives départementales des Yvelines, Yvelines, France. 101 The inventory of Quesnay’s library also shows that he owned many of the most important works by Diderot (Lettre sur les aveugles), Buffon (Histoire naturelle), Condillac (Essai sur l’origine des connaissances humaines, Traité des systêmes, Traité des sensations, and Traité des animaux), d’Alembert (Mélanges de littérature, d’histoire et de philosophie), and Helvétius (De l’esprit). Quesnay’s acquaintance with d’Alembert is also evident in his letter to d’Alembert congratulating him on his “Discours préliminaire” in the Encyclopédie and communicating his “most distinguished and tender sentiments of esteem and friendship.” “Inventaire et Liquidation … de M. François Quesnay,” Archives départementales des Yvelines; François Quesnay to Jean-Baptiste Le Rond d’Alembert, 1751[?], Slg. Darmst. 2g, 1756 (1), F. Quesnay, Bl 1–2, Staatsbibliothek, Berlin; and Arthur M. Wilson, Diderot (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972), 185. Also see Hecht, “La vie de François Quesnay,” in François Quesnay et la Physiocratie, 1:252. 102 Steiner has observed that Quesnay began to publish his views on language as early as 1747 in his Essai physique sur l’œconomie animale, 2nd ed. (Paris: Guillame Cavelier, 1747), 3:283–4. Steiner, La “nouvelle science,” 23. Also see Bellial des Vertus [François Quesnay], “Discussions géométriques,” in Polygonométrie, Second mémoire sur la polygonométrie, Discussions géométriques, Trisection de l’angle (Versailles, 1771), separate pagination, 1. 103 François Quesnay, “Lettre de M. Alpha, Maitre-ès-Arts, à l’auteur des Éphémérides, sur la langage de la science économique,” in Éphémérides du citoyen (October 1767), republished in François Quesnay et la Physiocratie, 2:948. 104 For exemplary passages that explicitly state these concerns with language, see François Quesnay, “Sur les travaux des artisans: Second dialogue,” in François Quesnay et la Physiocratie, 2:912; Quesnay, “Du Commerce,” in François Quesnay et la Physiocratie, 2:815–18. Throughout his collaboration with Mirabeau, Quesnay consistently attempted to clarify the language in Mirabeau’s drafts of manuscripts. In addition to changing and adding words, phrases, and whole paragraphs, Quesnay also included long notes about the importance of expressing ideas clearly in language. See, for example, Quesnay in Mirabeau and Quesnay, Traité de la monarchie, 114n256. 105 One of late-eighteenth-century France’s most distinguished scholars of ancient languages and mythology, Antoine Court de Gébelin was himself

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184  Notes to page 81 a part of the physiocratic school, quite literally. When the physiocrats established a formal course in 1767 to teach the economic science, Court de Gébelin, the eventual author of Le monde primitif, was in charge of teaching the use of the tableau économique. Victor Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau, “Ouverture d’un cours économique,” in Les manuscrits économiques de François Quesnay et du marquis de Mirabeau aux Archives Nationales (M. 778 à M. 785), ed. Georges Weulersse (Paris: Paul Geuthner, 1910), 95; Antoine Court de Gébelin, Le monde primitif, analysé et comparé avec le monde moderne (Paris: l’auteur, 1773–82). 106 Condillac was the most persistent advocate of this position, which only became more clearly and strenuously stated throughout the development of his work. 107 [Victor Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau,] “Discours pour la rentrée de nos Assemblées de l’hiver, 1775 à 1776,” unsigned handwritten manuscript, 4 December 1775, M. 780, no. 92, Archives Nationales, Paris, p. 33. 108 On the history and historiography of “civilization” as a term and a concept, see Michael Sonenscher, “Barbarism and Civilization,” in A Companion to Intellectual History, ed. Richard Whatmore and Brian Young (Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2016). “Humanisme” was first used in French in Éphémérides du citoyen 1 (1765): 265; cited in Sonenscher, “Physiocracy as a Theodicy,” History of Political Thought 23, no. 2 (Summer 2002): 335. The phrase “l’art social” appears to have been first used by Mirabeau and then developed by other physiocrats like the abbé Baudeau; see Brian W. Head, “The Origins of ‘La Science Sociale’ in France, 1770–1800,” Australian Journal of French Studies 19, no. 2 (1982): 119. Due to his continuous creation of new words, the Correspondance littéraire deemed Mirabeau “ridiculously neological”; La Harpe, ed., Correspondance littéraire (Geneva: Slatkine Reprints, 1968), letter 19, 1:130. 109 Pierre-Samuel Dupont de Nemours, The Autobiography of Du Pont de Nemours, trans. Elizabeth Fox-Genovese (Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, 1984) (written in 1792 and published in French as L’enfance et la jeunesse de Du Pont de Nemours racontées par lui-même, ed. Henry A. du Pont [Paris, 1906]), 271. 110 Dupont de Nemours, The Autobiography of Du Pont de Nemours, 272. 111 Quesnay to Mirabeau, n.d., M. 784, no. 702, Archives Nationales, Paris; also included in the original French in Bauer, “Quesnay’s Tableau Économique,” 21. 112 For a typical passage about the superiority of images over the written and spoken word, see abbé Jean-Baptiste Dubos, Réflexions critiques sur la poesie et la peinture (Paris: Jean Mariette, 1719), 1:375–87. Also see Pierre Zoberman, “Voir, savoir, parler: La rhétorique de la vision au XVIIe et au début du XVIIIe siècles,” Dix-septième siècle 133 (October–December 1981): 409–28; Carl Havenlange, “L’institution du regard au XVIIIe siècle,” in

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Notes to pages 81−3  185

Visualisation, ed. Roland Mortier (Berlin: Arno Spitz, 1999), 11–23; and John Bender and Michael Marrinan, The Culture of Diagram (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010). 113 Dubos, Réflexions critiques, 1:381. 114 Denis Diderot, Prospectus de l’Encyclopdédie, in Œuvres complètes de Diderot, ed. Herbert Dieckmann, Jean Varloot, et al. (Paris: Hermann, 1976), 5:101. 115 Dubos, Réflexions critiques, 1:292. 116 Quesnay, “Sur les travaux des artisans,” in François Quesnay et la Physiocratie, 2:887. For more on Quesnay’s attempt to make expressions conform to reality, see his discussion of how the general denomination “commerce” is in need of clarification (because by not distinguishing between different types of commerce it “confounds a multitude of different realities”): Quesnay, “Premier Dialogue entre M.H. et M.N. …,” in François Quesnay et la Physiocratie, 2:825. 117 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], “Tableau Œconomique avec ses explications,” in L’ami des hommes, 21–2. 118 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], “Tableau Œconomique avec ses explications,” in L’ami des hommes, 214; Mirabeau to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 2 July 1767, in Correspondance complète de Jean Jacques Rousseau, 33:185. 119 See Gustave Schelle, Le docteur Quesnay (Paris: Felix Alcan, 1907), 15; and Hecht, “La vie de François Quesnay,” in François Quesnay et la Physiocratie, 215. Quesnay began the apprenticeship at the age of sixteen in 1711. 120 Charles-Nicolas Cochin, Mémoires inedits de Charles-Nicolas Cochin sur le comte de Caylus, Bouchardon, les Slodtz, ed. Charles Henry (Paris: Charavay Frères, 1880), 80. 121 Schelle indicates that Quesnay’s “panegyrists” suggested that he studied and lodged with the elder Cochin, but Schelle is sceptical. Schelle, Le docteur Quesnay, 17. 122  Quesnay referred to “hiéroglyphes arithmétiques” in marginal notes to a draft of Philosophie rurale; see Weulersse, Les manuscrits, 81. Quesnay also mentions “hiéroglifes arithmétiques” in a letter to Mirabeau in 1761 chastising him for showing his “repugnance” with them in an early draft of Philosophie rurale; see Quesnay to Mirabeau, 1761, in Schelle, Le docteur Quesnay, appendix D, 396. For examples of Mirabeau’s usage see “Tableau Œconomique avec ses explications,” in L’ami des hommes, 21, 214. 123 See Mirabeau, “Critique de l’ouvrage de Morellet intitulé: Réflexions sur les avantages d’écrire et d’imprimer sur les matières d’administration,” in Weulersse, Les manuscrits, 122. 124 See the editorial note in François Quesnay et la Physiocratie, 2:687n1, and Meek, Economics, 40. 125 In some of their many uses of “hiéroglyphes” they seem to have intended both connotations. Even in Philosophie rurale, where in one sentence

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186  Notes to pages 83−4 they acknowledged that the tableau appeared to be “an indecipherable hieroglyph” for some people, in the next sentence they referred to the tableau as a “tissu” (tissue), evoking Diderot’s important discussion of hieroglyphs in Lettre sur les sourds et muets. Diderot had written about a “tissu d’hiéroglyphes” (a tissue, web, or network of hieroglyphs) as an ideal type of transparent, sublime communication. Quesnay and Mirabeau referred to the tableau as “this tissu of intertwined and repeated lines.” Denis Diderot, Lettre sur les sourds et muets, in Œuvres complètes de Diderot, 4:169; Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, 1:108. For more on Diderot’s thoughts on hieroglyphs and their role in his theories of expression, see James Doolittle, “Hieroglyph and Emblem in Diderot’s Lettre sur les sourds et muets,” Diderot Studies 2 (1952): 148–67; and for an insightful analysis of Diderot’s hieroglyphic stage and his disillusionment with the possibility of transparent representation after 1765, see Norman Bryson, Word and Image: French Painting of the Ancien Régime (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 179–203. 126 William Warburton, Essai sur les hiéroglyphes des Egyptiens: où l’on voit l’origine et le progrès du langage et de l’écriture, l’antiquité des sciences en Egypte et l’origine du culte des animaux, trans. M.-A. Léonard des Malpeines and re-edited by Patrick Tort (Paris: Aubier, 1977 [1744]), 104–9. Warburton’s Essai was a partial translation of his The Divine Legation of Moses Demonstrated on the Principles of a Religious Deist (1738–41). The Encyclopédie articles such as “Écriture,” “Écriture des Egyptiens,” and “Hiéroglyphe” were based on Warburton’s work. See Madeleine V. David, Le Débat sur les écritures et l’hiéroglyphe aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (Paris: SEVPEN, 1965). Also see Clifton Cherpack, “Warburton and Some Aspects of the Search for the Primitive in Eighteenth-Century France,” Philological Quarterly 36, no. 2 (April 1957): 221–33; and Rosenfeld, Revolution in Language, 36–48. 127 Louis de Cahusac, “Ballet,” in Encyclopédie, 2:43; Denis Diderot, Lettre sur les sourds et muets, in Œuvres complètes de Diderot, 4:169. On Diderot and hieroglyphics, see James Doolittle, “Hieroglyph and Emblem in Diderot’s Lettre sur les sourds et muets,” Diderot Studies 2 (1952): 148–67; and Norman Bryson, Word and Image, 179–203. Also see Rosenfeld, Revolution in Language. 128 Abbé Etienne Bonnot de Condillac, Cours d’études pour l’instruction du Prince de Parme (1775), in Œuvres philosophiques de Condillac, ed. Georges Le Roy (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1947), 1:430. 129 Pierre-Samuel Dupont de Nemours, De l’origine et des progrès d’une science nouvelle (1768), in Physiocrates, ed. Eugène Daire (Paris: Guillaumin, 1846), 339. Furthermore, in Philosophie rurale, 1:106, Quesnay and Mirabeau wrote of three types of commerce and that “the circulation, the order, and

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Notes to pages 84−5  187

the proportions of these three sorts of commerce are traced and evaluated in the Tableau.” 130 François Quesnay, “Analyse de la formule arithmétique de tableau économique,” originally published in Journal d’agriculture (June 1766), reprinted in François Quesnay et la Physiocratie, 2:796. 131 M.A. [François Quesnay], “Despotisme de la Chine,” Ephémérides du citoyen, ou bibliotheque raisonnée des sciences morales et politiques 3 (1767): 26–9. On the debate about the relationship of Chinese characters and Egyptian hieroglyphs, see Erik Iversen, The Myth of Egypt and Its Hieroglyphs in European Tradition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 106–7. 132 Quesnay, “Despotisme de la Chine,” Ephémérides du citoyen, 3:26–9, 4:9–14. Unfortunately, these passages were not included in the excerpt of Le despotisme de la Chine included in François Quesnay et la Physiocratie, 2:917–34. 133 See Fox-Genovese, Origins of Physiocracy, 74–6. Also see François Quesnay, handwritten manuscript, Despotisme de la Chine, Winterthur Manuscripts, Group 2, Series E, item 69 (access number 5679), Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE. Pages 60–72 of this manuscript were not included in the version of the text published in Éphémérides du citoyen. 134 Abbé Nicholas Baudeau, “Observations économistes à M. l’abbé de Condillac par l’abbé Baudeau,” Nouvelles Éphémérides (April–May 1776), quoted in Shelagh Eltis and Walter Eltis, “The Life and Contributions to Economics of the abbé Condillac,” in Condillac, Commerce and Government, Considered in Their Mutual Relationship, trans. Shelagh Eltis (Northampton: Edward Elgar, 1997), 47. 135 Simon-Nicolas-Henri Linguet, Annales politiques, civiles, et littéraires du dixhuitieme siecle 3 (1777): 245–6; and Linguet, Réponse aux docteurs modernes ou Apologie pour l’auteur de la Théorie des loix et des Lettres sur cette théorie, avec la Réfutation de systême des philosophes économistes (1771), 1:123, 127–8; 2:13, 14–15, 28–32. A “magical square” (quarrés magiques or carrés magiques) was a visual-mathematical amusement whose operations people had traditionally explained as supernatural, and which some self-consciously enlightened mathematicians claimed to be able to explain based upon simple rules. Linguet appears to be implying that the tableau was no more than a simple visual-mathematical amusement that was incorrectly attributed extraordinary powers. For more on the magical square, see “Sur les quarrés magiques,” Histoire de l’Académie Royale des Sciences (1750 [published in 1754]): 124; and D’Ons-en-Bray, “Méthode facile pour faire tels quarrés magiques que l’on voudra,” Mémoires de l’Académie Royale des Sciences (1750 [published in 1754]): 241–71. 136 Linguet, Réponse aux docteurs modernes, unpaginated illustration between pages 30 and 31 of volume 2. Quesnay himself wrote about

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188  Notes to pages 86−7 the I Ching in his series of articles on China, presenting it in a manner that implicitly highlighted the similarities to the tableau économique: an enigmatic diagram that nonetheless provided the foundation for the science of government. M.A. [François Quesnay], “Despotisme de la Chine,” Ephémérides du citoyen, 84. On Linguet and other mocking critics of the physiocrats, see Arnaud Orain, “Figures of Mockery: The Cultural Disqualification of Physiocracy (1760–1790),” European Journal of the History of Economic Thought 22 (2015): 383–419. 137 On Quesnay, his epistemology, and the intellectual context, see Vardi, The Physiocrats; Loïc Charles and Christine Théré, “Physiocracy as an Eighteenth-Century Science,” Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology 35A (2017): 11–34; and Fox-Genovese, Origins of Physiocracy, 68–99. 138 On Quesnay and Malebranche, see Catherine Larrère, “Malebranche revisité: L’économie naturelle des Physiocrates,” Dix-huitième siècle 26 (1994): 117–38; Michael Sonenscher, “Physiocracy as a Theodicy,” 326–39; and Akiteru Kubota, “Quesnay, disciple de Malebranche,” in François Quesnay et la Physiocratie, 1:169–96. 139 See Quesnay, “Préface,” in Mémoires de l’Académie royale de chirurgie 1 (1743). Before publishing his article “Évidence” in the Encyclopédie, Quesnay further developed his notion of évidence in the second edition of Essai physique sur l’œconomie animale (1747). The relevant excerpts from both “Préface” and Essai physique are included in Œuvres économiques et philosophiques de F. Quesnay, ed. Auguste Oncken (Paris: Jules Peelman, 1888). 140 Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “Notes sur De l’Esprit,” in Œuvres complètes, ed. Michel Launay (Paris: Seuil, 1971), 2:426. 141 For more on Quesnay’s ideas about “evidence,” see Vardi, The Physiocrats; and Charles and Théré, “Physiocracy as an Eighteenth-Century Science.” 142 François Quesnay, “Évidence,” in Encyclopédie, vol. 6 (1756), reprinted in François Quesnay et la Physiocratie, 2:398. 143 Quesnay, “Évidence,” 2:397. 144 Quesnay, “Évidence,” 2:411. 145 Only calculations have the power to counter calculations, or, as Mirabeau put it, “calculations can only be attacked by calculations.” Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, xlii–xliii. 146 See Le Mercier de la Rivière’s painfully repetitious discussion of the “the irresistible force of évidence” in L’ordre naturel et essentiel des sociétés politiques (Paris: Fayard, 2001 [1767]), 72, 118, 124, 125. 147 For the use of “dicter” see Le Mercier de la Rivière, L’ordre naturel, 122. For the use of “vaincre” see Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, 1:xxxviii.

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Notes to pages 87−91  189

148 For the decisiveness of “just and well-established calculations,” see Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, 3:261. For calculations deciding “sovereignly,” see Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, 1:xliii. 149 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, 1:xlii–xliii. 150 Mirabeau to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 30 July 1767, in Correspondance complète de Jean Jacques Rousseau, 33:260. 151 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, 1:333–4. 152 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, 1:68. 153 “Avertissement de l’auteur,” Ephémérides du citoyen 1 (1767): 23–4. 154 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], “Tableau Œconomique avec ses explications,” in L’ami des hommes, 15. 155 See Quesnay, “Droit naturel,” in François Quesnay et la Physiocratie, 2:729–42. 156 Quesnay, “Droit naturel,” 2:740. 157 François Quesnay, “Despotisme de la Chine,” in François Quesnay et la Physiocratie, 2:924. 158 Quesnay, “Droit naturel,” 2:740. 159 Condillac, Cours d’études pour l’instruction du Prince de Parme, 1:680. 160 Dupont de Nemours wrote of Quesnay’s contribution to political economy that he “made an exact and regular Science of this study, that before him had been merely that of a mass of hazardous conjectures.” Pierre-Samuel Dupont de Nemours, “Discours prononcé le neuf Janvier 1769, par M. le Marquis César Beccaria …,” Éphémérides du citoyen 6 (1769): 147n23. 161 Pierre-Samuel Dupont de Nemours, in the Journal de agriculture, du commerce et des finances (June 1766), cited in Jean-Pierre Poirier, Lavoisier, Chemist, Biologist, Economist (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1996), 99. 162 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], “Tableau Œconomique avec ses explications,” in L’ami des hommes, 20–1. 163 As Le Mercier de la Rivière wrote, the tableau demonstrated that it was “by the means of évidence, [that] we communicate with the divinity.” Le Mercier de la Rivière, L’ordre naturel, 74. For a similar take on the tableau, évidence, and flashes of insight, see Vardi, The Physiocrats, 3, 21, 68–82. 164 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, 1:xlii. 165 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, 1:53. 166 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, 1:52–4. 167 Mirabeau’s son, Hénri comte de Mirabeau, made this claim in Lettres écrites du Donjon (Paris: Garnery, 1792), 2. 168 The critics of évidence were numerous, and so were those who denounced the physiocrats as a cult. In addition to the critics already cited, also see Gabriel Bonnot de Mably, Doutes proposés aux philosophes économistes sur

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190  Notes to pages 91−3 l’ordre naturel et essentiel des sociétés politiques (1768) in Collection complètes des œuvres de l’abbé de Mably (Paris, 1794–95), 11:1–256. Although Diderot was an enthusiastic supporter of physiocracy for a period – even calling himself a “physiocratic neophyte” and allowing two short fables of his about évidence to be published in the Éphémérides du citoyen – he eventually came to agree with Galiani’s sharp critiques and to write that “I do not think that the evidence or any other method can make laws immutable.” Diderot, Political Writings, ed. Mason and Wokler (New York: Cambridge University Press), §12, p. 92. For more on Diderot’s relationship with the physiocrats, see Ellen Marie Strenski, “Diderot, For and Against the Physiocrats,” in SVEC 57 (1967): 1435–55. 169 Voltaire, L’homme aux quarante écus (1768), ed. Brenda M. Bloesch, in Les œuvres complètes de Voltaire (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1999), 66:299. 170 See the tableaux in Pierre-Samuel Dupont de Nemours, On Economic Curves, trans. and ed. Henry W. Spiegel (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1955), between pp. 12 and 13; and Dupont de Nemours, L’exportation et de l’inportation des grains (1763–64), ed. Edgard Depitre (Paris: Paul Geuthner, 1911), 46. 171 Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Caritat de Condorcet, “Sur l’instruction publique,” in Œuvres complètes de Condorcet (Paris: Henrichs et al., Year XIII [1804]), 9:21–2. 172 Lavoisier, the great reformer of chemical nomenclature, also shared the goal of clarifying and simplifying economic and financial nomenclature. For Lavoisier’s interest in reforming financial nomenclature while he was the National Treasury commissioner in 1791, see Poirier, Lavoisier, 283. 173 For Lavoisier’s involvement with the creation of Baudeau’s tableaux and those of his own, see R. Suadeau, Les représentations figurées des Physiocrates, 2nd ed. (Paris: Recueil Sirey, 1958), 7, 20. 174 Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, De la richesse territoriale du royaume de France, ed. Jean-Claude Perrot (Paris: Editions du C.T.H.S., 1988), 124–5. 175 Abbé Étienne Bonnot de Condillac, Le commerce et le government, considérés l’un relativement à l’autre (Geneva: Slatkine, 1980 [reprint of Paris, 1776]), 374, quoted in Pierre Crépil, “Mathematical Economic and Probability Theory: Charles-François Bicquilley’s Daring Contribution,” in Gilbert Faccarello, Studies in the History of French Political Economy: From Bodin to Walras (New York: Routledge, 1998), 81. Condillac was criticized by the physiocrats for not employing the tableau. In chastising Condillac for “this wrong to knowledge,” abbé Baudeau accused him of being a “disciple” of Quesnay’s. See Baudeau, “Observations économistes,” 443. 176 Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (New York: Harper, 1962), 446; Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, 61, quoted in Fox-Genovese, Origins of Physiocracy, 302.

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Notes to pages 93−6  191

177 Rousseau to Mirabeau, 26 July 1767, in Correspondance complète de Jean Jacques Rousseau, 33:240. 178 Abbé Galiani, François Forbonnais, and Jacques Necker are three of the better-known and insightful critics, while Voltaire’s satirical “man of forty écus” (based on Quesnay’s work) is a well-known critique of the dangers of reducing man to an economic being. 179 Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Cartitat, marquis de Condorcet, quoted in Manuel, Prophets of Paris (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962), 65. 180 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale (1763 ed.), 61, quoted in FoxGenovese, Origins of Physiocracy, 302. 181 Mirabeau [and Quesnay], Philosophie rurale, quoted in Meek, Economics, 69. See also Quesnay, “Extrait des économies royales de M. de Sully,” 20, note a (continued from page 19); Mirabeau [and Quesnay], “Tableau Œconomique avec ses explications,” in L’ami des hommes, 11–12. 182 Victor Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau and François Quesnay, Philosophie rurale (1764 ed.), 1:114–15, with reference to the one-volume edition of 1763 and manuscript drafts in the Archives Nationales, M. 779, trans. and quoted in Meek, Economics of the Physiocracy, 69. For notes on Meek’s attributing authorship of this section to both Mirabeau and Quesnay see 37n1 and 69n1.

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Chapter 4. Generating Time 1 Jacques Roger, Buffon: A Life in Natural History, ed. L. Pearce Williams, trans. Sarah Lucille Bonnefoi (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997), 412. 2 See Stephen Toulmin and June Goodfield, The Discovery of Time (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965), 142–50; Krzysztof Pomian, L’ordre du temps (Paris: Gallimard, 1984), 297; and Paolo Rossi, The Dark Abyss of Time: The History of the Earth and the History of Nations from Hooke to Vico, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), 108. For more on Buffon’s calculations of the age of the earth, see the introduction to Georges-Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon, Les Époques de la nature, ed. Jacques Roger (Paris: Éditions du Museum, 1988), lx–lxvii. Also see Martin Rudwick, Bursting the Limits of Time: The Reconstruction of Geohistory in the Age of Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), 115–31, 139–50. 3 The Histoire naturelle was published in four subdivisions with varying titles. Georges-Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon, Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière, 15 vols. (Paris: Imprimerie royale, 1749–67); Buffon, Histoire naturelle des oiseaux, 9 vols. (Paris: Imprimerie royale, 1770–83) (designated below as HNO); Buffon, Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière,… Supplément, 7 vols. (Paris: Imprimerie royale, 1774–89) (designated below as HN Supplément); Buffon, Histoire naturelle des minéraux, 5 vols. (Paris: Imprimerie royale, 1783–8).

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192  Notes to pages 96−8 4 Phillip R. Sloan, “From Logical Universals to Historical Individuals: Buffon’s Idea of Biological Species,” in Histoire du concept d’espèce dans les sciences de la vie, ed. Scott Atran et al. (Paris: Foundation Singer-Polignac, 1987), 101–40, and Jacques Roger, “Buffon et l’introduction de l’histoire dans l’Histoire naturelle,” in Buffon 88: Actes du colloque international pour le bicentenaire de la mort de Buffon, ed. Michel Delsol (Paris: J. Vrin, 1992), 193–205. For an interpretation of Buffon’s work as ahistorical, see John H. Eddy, Jr., “Buffon’s Histoire naturelle, History? A Critique of Recent Interpretations,” ISIS 85 (1994): 644–61. On Buffon, time, and history, also see Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, “Buffon: Zeit, Veränderung, und Geschichte,” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 12, no. 2 (1990): 203–22; and Thierry Hoquet, “Buffon: From Natural History to the History of Nature,” Biological Theory 2, no. 4 (December 2007): 413–19. 5 Gerard Manley Hopkins to Robert Bridges, 1 September 1885, in Gerard Manley Hopkins: Selected Letters, ed. Catherine Phillips (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 215. 6 Buffon, “De la Nature. Seconde vue,” HN (1764), 13:iv. 7 Buffon, “Les animaux sauvages,” HN (1756), 6:60. 8 Buffon first put forth his theory of degeneration in his lengthy discussion of variation in the human species, “Variétés dans l’espèce humaine,” HN (1749), 3:371–530. 9 Buffon, “De la dégénération des animaux,” HN (1766), 14:318. On degeneration in Buffon, see Herbert Dieckmann, “Natural History from Bacon to Diderot: A Few Guideposts,” in Essays on the Age of Enlightenment in Honor of Ira O. Wade, ed. Jean Macary (Geneva: Droz, 1977), 104; Phillip R. Sloan, “The Idea of Racial Degeneracy in Buffon’s Histoire Naturelle,” Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 3 (1973), 306; and ClaudeOlivier Doron, L’homme altéré: Races et dégénérescence (XVIIe–XIXe siècles) (Ceyzérieu: Champ Vallon, 2016). 10 Buffon, “De la dégénération des animaux,” HN (1766), 14:318. 11 Buffon, “De la dégénération des animaux,” HN (1766), 14:318. 12 Buffon, “De la dégénération des animaux,” HN (1766), 14:318. 13 Buffon, “Le chien,” HN (1755), 5:195. 14 Buffon, “Le chien,” HN (1755), 5:195. Buffon repeats these observations about wheat in “Des époques de la nature,” HN Supplèment (1778), 5:249. 15 Buffon, “De la dégénération des animaux,” HN (1766), 14:319. 16 The verb “perfectionner” can be translated as either “to perfect” or “to improve.” I have chosen to translate it as “to improve” since Buffon did not give any indication that processes such as breeding could ever achieve something like a perfect animal; in fact, he felt that “there is … nothing perfect in Nature” and that nature is always in the process of becoming; it does not reach endpoints. Buffon, “Introduction à l’histoire des minéraux,” HN Supplément (1774), 1:16.

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Notes to pages 98−100  193

17 Buffon, “De la dégénération des animaux,” HN (1766), 14:320. 18 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, The Principles of Philosophy, or, the Monadology, in Philosophical Essays, trans. and ed. Roger Ariew and Daniel Garber (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1989 [1714]), §22, p. 216; Leibniz, Principles of Nature and Grace Based on Reason (1714), in Philosophical Essays, §13, p. 211; Leibniz, Theodicy, ed. Austin Farrer, trans. E.M. Huggard (Chicago: Open Court, 1985 [1710]), §360, p. 341. 19 Abbé Henri Grégoire, “Extraites d’un ouvrage du citoyen Grégoire sur les moyens de perfectionner les sciences politiques,” Mémoires de l’Institut Nationale des Sciences et Arts 1 (1796): 556. 20 See Ludmilla Jordanova, Sexual Visions: Images of Gender in Science and Medicine between the Eighteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989); Londa Schiebinger, The Mind Has No Sex? Women in the Origins of Modern Science (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989); Londa Schiebinger, Nature’s Body: Gender in the Making of Modern Science (Boston: Beacon, 1993); and Ludmilla Jordanova, Nature Displayed: Gender, Science, and Medicine, 1760–1820 (London: Longman, 1996). 21 See Nicholas Russell, Like Engend’ring Like: Heredity and Animal Breeding in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986); Jacques Mulliez, Les chevaux du royaume: Histoire de l’élevage du cheval et de la création des haras (Paris: Montalba, 1983); Mary Terrall, “Speculation and Experiment in Enlightenment Life Sciences,” in Heredity Produced: At the Crossroads of Biology, Politics, and Culture, 1500–1870, ed. Stefan MüllerWille and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007), 253–75; Terrall, The Man Who Flattened the Earth: Maupertuis and the Sciences in the Enlightenment (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 199–230, 310–48; and Doron, L’homme altéré. 22 Russell, Like Engend’ring Like, 45. 23 For more on Réaumur, his ideas on generation, and his interest in breeding, see René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur, Art de faire éclore des œufs et d’élever en toute saison des oiseaux domestiques de toutes espèces, 2 vols. (Paris: Imprimerie royale, 1749); and Mary Terrall, Catching Nature in the Act: Réaumur and the Practice of Natural History in the Eighteenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013). 24 On Maupertuis’s role, see Roger, The Life Sciences in Eighteenth-Century French Thought, ed. Keith R. Benson, trans. Robert Ellrich (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997), 369–94, 439–41; Terrall, The Man Who Flattened the Earth, 199–230, 310–48; and Michael H. Hoffheimer, “Maupertuis and the Eighteenth-Century Critique of Preexistence,” Journal of the History of Biology 15, no. 1 (Spring 1982): 119–44. 25 Buffon, “La chèvre,” HN (1755), 5:63.

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194  Notes to pages 101−2 26 Buffon, “Les mulets,” HN Supplément (1776), 3:32. 27 Denis Diderot, Pensées sur l’interprétation de la nature (1753), in Œuvres complètes de Diderot, ed. Herbert Dieckmann, Jean Varloot, et al. (Paris: Hermann, 1981), 9:64–6, 70–3 (§§ 37, 42, 44). 28 Mulliez, Les chevaux du royaume, 208–10. 29 Mulliez, Les chevaux du royaume, 213; and Doron, L’homme altéré. 30 On the project, see E.C. Spary, Utopia’s Garden: French Natural History from Old Regime to Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 110; André J. Bourde, Agronomie et agronomes en France au XVIIIe siècle (Paris, SEVPEN, 1967); Louis Roule, Daubenton et l’exploitation de la nature (Paris: Flammarion, 1925), 109–33. 31 Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton, Instruction pour les bergers et pour les propriétaires de troupeaux (Paris: P.-D. Pierres, 1782); Daubenton, “Mémoire sur le mécanisme de la rumination, et sur le tempérament des bêtes à laine,” MARS, 1767 (Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1770 [presented 13 April 1768]): 389–98; Daubenton, “Observations sur des bêtes à laine parquées pendant toute l’année,” MARS, 1772 (Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1775 [presented 15 November 1769]): 436–44; Daubenton, “Mémoire sur l’amélioration des bêtes à laine,” MARS, 1777 (Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1780 [presented 9 April 1777]): 79–87; Daubenton, “Mémoire sur les remèdes les plus nécessaires aux troupeaux,” HSRM 1776 (Paris, 1779 [presented 3 December 1777]): 312–20; Daubenton, “Mémoire sur les régimes le plus nécessaire aux troupeaux, dans lequel l’auteur détermine par des expériences ce qui est relatif à leurs alimens et à leur boisson,” HSRM 1777–78 (2) (Paris, 1780 [presented 11 December 1778]): 570–8. Also see Charles Coulston Gillispie, Science and Polity in France at the End of the Old Regime (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), 165–8; Bourde, Agronomie et agronomes, 2:857–78. 32 Buffon, “L’asne,” HN (1753) 4:377–403; “Les mulets,” HN Supplément (1776), 3:3–7, 14; “Le boeuf,” HN (1753), 4:470; “Le chien,” HN (1755), 5:210–17; “Le blaireau,” HN (1758), 7:104–10; “Le daim,” HN (1756), 6:167; “Le pécari,” HN (1763), 10:22. 33 See Jeff Loveland, Rhetoric and Natural History: Buffon in Polemical and Literary Context (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2001), 25–51; and James L. Larson, Interpreting Nature: The Science of Living Form from Linnaeus to Kant (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994), 78–81, 137. Important exceptions to the emphasis on style at the expense of experiment are Roger, Buffon, chap. 19, and Claire Salomon-Bayet, L’Institution de la science et l’expérience du vivant: Méthode et expérience à l’Academie royale des sciences, 1666–1793 (Paris: Flammarion, 1978), 310–24. 34 “Observation,” in Encyclopédie, 11:314. 35 “Observation,” in Encyclopédie, 11:314.

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Notes to pages 102−3  195

36 Interestingly, even by our contemporary standards there are indicators that some of the experiments that Buffon oversaw, like the extensive experiments on the strength and durability of wood and the cooling time of iron balls, demonstrate a “rigour in applying experimental method.” Fernando Zocchi, “Accuracy of Buffon’s 200-Year-Old Experimental Data,” Nature 336 (November 1988): 318. 37 Buffon, “Premier Discours. De la manière d’étudier & de traiter l’histoire naturelle,” HN (1749), 1:62. 38 For the coin tossing see Buffon, “Essai d’arithmétique morale,” HN Supplément (1777), 4:87–8; for the humans put into ovens see Buffon, De l’homme, ed. Michèle Duchet (Paris: F. Marapero, 1971), 219–22; for the burning mirror see Buffon, “Sixième mémoire: Expérience sur la lumière, & sur la chaleur qu’elle peut produire,” HN Supplément (1774), 1:399–516; for the experiments with rockets see Lesley Hanks, Buffon avant le “Histoire naturelle” (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1966); for the experiments with cooling balls of hot iron see the preface to the first volume of Buffon, Histoire naturelle minéraux (Paris: Imprimérie royale, 1783). For his experimentation with the diet of animals, see the example of Buffon feeding a badger “meat, eggs, cheese, butter, bread, fish, fruits, nuts, grains, roots, etc.” Buffon concluded that the badger would eat anything it was offered, though it liked raw meat the best. Buffon, “Le blaireau,” HN (1758), 7:106. 39 See the comments on horse interbreeding in Buffon, “Variétés dans l’espèce humaine,” HN (1749), 3:529. 40 Buffon, quoted in Humbert-Bazile, Buffon, sa famille, ses collaborateurs, et ses familiers, ed. and augmented by Henri Nadault de Buffon (Paris: Jules Renouard, 1863), 27. 41 Buffon, quoted in Humbert-Bazile, Buffon, 27. 42 See Trécourt, “Suite des observations faites par Trécourt sur les Loups cines [sic] en 1776,” handwritten report, MS 865, fol. 2, Bibliothèque centrale du Muséum national d’histoire naturelle, Paris; and see Trécourt, “Des loups Chiens par Trécourt, Du mûle 1re Génération né le 6 Juin 1778,” handwritten report, MS 865, fol. 1, Bibliothèque centrale du Muséum national d’histoire naturelle, Paris. These notes and observations by Buffon’s secretary Trécourt were the basis for short pieces on dogs and hybrid wolf-dogs that Buffon published in the supplemental volumes of Histoire naturelle. 43 Phillip R. Sloan, “Buffon, German Biology, and the Historical Interpretation of Biological Species,” British Journal for the History of Science 12, no. 41 (1979): 109–20; and Sloan, “From Logical Universals to Historical Individuals.” 44 For more on Bourguet, see François Duchesneau, “Louis Bourguet et le modèle des corps organiques,” in Antonio Vallisneri l’edizione del testo

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196  Notes to pages 103−5 scientifico d’età moderna (Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 2003), 3–31; “Bourguet,” in Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York: Charles Scribner’s and Sons, 1978), vol. 15, suppl. 1, 52–9; and Roger, Buffon, 24, 99–102, 124–5, 128–30, 134–8. I disagree with Roger’s judgment that Buffon was “surely not Leibnizian enough” to draw on Bourguet’s transformation of the monadology into the “organic mechanism” to explain animal generation. 45 Leibniz to Clarke, “Fourth Letter,” in G.W. Leibniz and Samuel Clarke, Correspondence, ed. Roger Ariew (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2000 [1717]), §6, p. 23. 46 Leibniz to Clarke, “Fifth Letter,” in Leibniz and Clarke, Correspondence, §55, p. 50. 47 Sloan, “Buffon, German Biology,” 114. 48 Gabrielle-Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, marquise du Châtelet, Institutions physiques, 2nd ed. (Amsterdam, 1742), 126, reprinted in Christian Wolff, Gesammelte Werke: Materialien und dokumente (New York: Georg Olms, 1988), pt. 3, vol. 28; also see Jean-Henri-Samuel Formey, La belle Wolfienne (La Haye: Jean Neaulme, 1746), 4:78n28, reprinted in Wolff, Gesammelte Werke (1983), pt. 3, vol. 16, no. 2. Leibniz himself had been enthusiastic about the philosophical implications of microscopic investigations, and it does not appear that he related the microscope to the perception of time. See Catherine Wilson, “Leibniz and the Animalcula,” in Studies in Seventeenth-Century European Philosophy, ed. M.A. Stewart (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), 153–75. 49 On the relationship between microscopic investigations, theories of generation, and philosophy see Catherine Wilson, The Invisible World: Early Modern Philosophy and the Invention of the Microscope (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995). 50 Buffon, “De la Nature. Second vue,” HN (1765), 11:i. For more on Buffon and time, see Rheinberger, “Buffon: Zeit, Veränderung, und Geschichte.” 51 On the question of the distinction between the real and the abstract, Sloan has done an admirable job of tracing this distinction though various stages of Buffon’s work. He also has recognized that Buffon probably also drew on a similar distinction made by Berkeley in conflicts over the calculus. See Sloan, “From Logical Universals to Historical Individuals,” 109–12. 52 Sloan is the scholar who has most fruitfully analysed the relationship between the work of Buffon and Leibniz. In addition to the works already cited, see Sloan, “Buffon Studies Today,” History of Science 32 (1994): 474–6. Also see Annie Ibrahim, “La pensée de Buffon: Système ou anti-système?” in Buffon 88, 177–9. For the general reaction to Leibniz in France, see William Henry Barber, Leibniz in France, from Arnauld to Voltaire: A Study in French Reactions to Leibnizianism, 1670–1760 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1955). 53 Jean Piveteau even wrote of Buffon as a “faithful disciple of Leibniz” with regard to the theory of the earth and the application of “slow causes”

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Notes to page 105  197

[causes lentes] and the principle of continuity to all of nature. Jean Piveteau, in Georges-Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon, Œuvres philosophiques, ed. Jean Piveteau (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1954), xiii. On sufficient reason, see Buffon, “Histoire générale des animaux,” HN (1749): 2:78–9. For Buffon’s justification of the hypothesis of the moule intérieur (internal mould) through what appears to be Leibniz’s principle of contradiction, see Buffon, “Histoire générale des animaux,” HN (1749), 2:35–7. 54 Buffon, “Comparison des animaux & des vegetaux,” HN (1749), vol. 2, quoted in From Natural History to the History of Nature: Readings from Buffon and His Critics, ed. and trans. John Lyon and Phillip R. Sloan (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame, 1981), 23. For Leibniz’s assertion of these characteristics, see Monadology, §18, p. 215; §56, p. 220; and §62, p. 221; and Principles of Nature and Grace, §3, p. 207. 55 There seems to be more than a coincidental relationship between the moule intérieur and the dominant monad. Buffon justified his hypothesis of the moule intérieur by arguing that its existence was non-contradictory. The justification thus appears to rely on one of Leibniz’s self-professed “two great principles,” the principle of contradiction, which Leibniz explained as the proposition: “that which involves a contradiction to be false, and that which is opposed or contradictory to the false to be true.” Buffon, “Histoire générale des animaux,” HN (1749), 2:35–7; Leibniz, Monadology, §31, p. 217. 56 For his mention of analysis situs, see Buffon, “Histoire des animaux,” HN (1749), 2:373–4. This mathematical technique was left largely unpublished until the appearance of the nineteenth-century edition of Leibniz’s works Die Philosophischen Schriften, ed. C.I. Gerhardt, 7 vols. (Berlin, 1875–90). Also see Roger, Buffon, 149. On Leibniz’s “binary arithmetic” and “his Chinese enigma,” see Buffon, “Essai d’arithmétique morale,” HN Supplément (1777), 4: 115. Leibniz’s account of the dog appeared in a report submitted to the Académie des Sciences, although Buffon does not mention how he became aware of it. See Buffon, “Histoire naturelle de l’homme,” HN (1749), 2:440. 57 Needham even discussed Leibniz in his writing about the microscopic experiments; see John Turberville Needham, Nouvelles observations microscopiques; … (Paris: L.-E. Ganeau, 1750), 263. Also see, for example, the discussion of Leibniz in Needham, Nouvelles recherches physiques et métaphysiques sur la nature et la religion, avec une nouvelle théorie de la terre … (London and Paris: Lacombe, 1769), 146–8. 58 Marie-Jean Hérault de Séchelles, in Lyon and Sloan, From Natural History to the History of Nature, 372. 59 Buffon to Gabriel Cramer, 14 December 1748, “La correspondance BuffonCramer,” Revue d’histoire des sciences et leurs applications 14, no. 2 (April– June 1961): 129.

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198  Notes to pages 105−8 60 Marie-Jean Hérault de Séchelles, Voyage à Montbard (Paris: Librairie des Bibliophiles, 1890 [1801]), 37. 61 Buffon’s critique of the “arbitrary” classificatory practices of Linnaeus played an important role in the philosophe’s critique of the “spirit of system” (esprit de système) and the related methodological emphasis on the empirical study of individuals. For instance, d’Alembert praised Buffon’s critique in the preliminary discourse of the Encyclopédie – the text that introduced the distinction between the “spirit of system” (esprit de système) and the “systematic spirit” (esprit systèmatique). Jean le Rond d’Alembert, “Discours préliminaire des editeurs,” Encyclopédie, 1:xvi. Also see Diderot’s echoing of Buffon’s critique of Linnaeus and the “méthodistes” in Pensées sur l’interprétation de la Nature, in Œuvres complètes de Diderot, 9:75–7 (§§ 48, 49). 62 Buffon, “Premier Discours. De la manière d’étudier & de traiter l’Histoire Naturelle,” HN (1749), 1:61. Buffon even claimed “man is not made by Nature for the contemplation of arbitrary things.” Buffon, “Le cerf,” HN (1756), 6:65. 63 Sloan, “Racial Degeneracy in Buffon,” 314n21. 64 Buffon, “L’asne,” HN (1753) 4:385. 65 With the concept of “physical truth,” Buffon was adapting Jakob Bernoulli’s Leibnizian approach to probability that distinguished between “moral” and “physical” certainty. Sloan has shown how Buffon was drawing on Bernoulli’s Ars conjectandi (1713) and his development of Leibnizian principles as they apply to problems of probability and induction: “From Logical Universals to Historical Individuals,” 115–18. For Bernoulli’s development of a Leibnizian approach to probability see Ian Hacking, The Emergence of Probability: A Philosophical Study of Early Ideas about Probability, Induction and Statistical Inference (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1975), 143–65. 66 Buffon, “Premier Discours. De la manière d’étudier & de traiter l’Histoire Naturelle,” HN (1749), 1:54–5. 67 Buffon, “L’asne,” HN (1753) 4:384–5. This chapter was written in 1750 although it was not published until 1753. 68 For Leibniz’s thoughts on generation, see “A New System of the Nature,” 140; Principles of Nature and Grace, §6, p. 209; and Monadology, §74, p. 222. 69 Buffon, “De la Nature. Seconde vue,” HN (1764), 13:i–iv. Also see Sloan, “From Logical Universals to Historical Individuals.” 70 Buffon, “Le cheval,” HN (1753), 4:216. Also see Buffon, “De la Nature. Première vue,” HN (1764), 12:iv; and Buffon, “Des époques,” HN Supplèment (1778), 5:26–7. 71 On the moule, see Peter Hanns Reill, Vitalizing Nature in the Enlightenment (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 1–70. 72 Peter J. Bowler, “Bonnet and Buffon: Theories of Generation and the Problem of Species,” Journal of the History of Biology 6, no. 2 (1973): 271.

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Notes to pages 108−11  199

73 For the polemical context surrounding final causes, see Loveland, Rhetoric and Natural History, 52–76. 74 Buffon, “Le cheval,” HN (1753), 4:215–16. 75 Buffon, “Le buffle, le bonasus, l’aurochs, le bison et le zebu,” HN (1764), 11:294. 76 Buffon, “Le tigre,” HN (1761), 9:134. 77 Sloan emphasizes this shift in his article about Buffon’s concept of species aptly entitled “From Logical Universals to Historical Individuals.” For a brief account of Sloan’s important interpretation of Buffon’s understanding of species, see his “The Gaze of Natural History,” in Inventing Human Science: Eighteenth-Century Domains, ed. Christopher Fox, Roy Porter, and Robert Wokler (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 131–3. 78 Ernst Cassirer, The Philosophy of The Enlightenment, trans. Fritz C.A. Koelln and James P. Pettegrove (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951), 80. 79 See Maupertuis, Système de la nature, §45, in Œuvres de Mr. de Maupertuis, new ed. (Lyon: Jean-Marie Bruyset, 1756), 2:148–9. 80 Buffon, “De la Nature. Seconde vue,” HN (1764), 13:ix. Buffon also writes about unchanging, “essential” traits in “Le cheval,” HN (1753), 4:217. 81 For “exterior, accidental causes” see Buffon, “Variétés dans l’espèce humaine,” HN (1749), 3:530. Wool and horns are identified as nonessential, “accidental characteristics” in “Le mouflon et les autres brebis,” HN (1764) 11:364. Hair is identified as an accidental trait of bison in “Le buffle, le bonasus, l’aurochs, le bison et le zebu,” HN (1764), 11:292. 82 The French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, chevalier de Lamarck, whose name is still associated with the idea of “the inheritance of acquired characters,” was not the first to propose the idea, as specialists of Lamarck have long pointed out. On the history and historiography of this issue, see Richard W. Burkhardt Jr., “Lamarck, Evolution, and the Inheritance of Acquired Characters,” Genetics 194 (August 2013): 793–805. 83 Buffon, “Variétés dans l’espèce humaine,” HN (1749), 3:530. 84 Buffon, “Le buffle, le bonasus, l’aurochs, le bison et le zebu,” HN (1764), 11:292. 85 See Buffon, “Le cheval,” HN (1753), 4:215–17. 86 Buffon wrote that this could occur “in a short period of time, that is to say, a very small number of generations.” Buffon, “Le cheval,” HN (1753), 4:217. For the claims of small causes having widespread effects in the animal body, see Buffon, “Le buffle, le bonasus, l’aurochs, le bison et le zebu,” HN (1764), 11:290. 87 Buffon, “Le buffle, le bonasus, l’aurochs, le bison et le zebu,” HN (1764), 11:290. 88 Buffon, “La chèvre,” HN (1755), 5:63. 89 For example, see Buffon “Le cheval,” HN, vol. 4 (1753); “Le chien,” HN, vol. 5 (1755); “Le buffle, le bonasus, l’aurochs, le bison et le zebu,” HN, vol. 11 (1764); “Le mouflon et les autres brebis,” HN, vol. 11 (1764); “Le pigeon,” HNO, vol. 2 (1771).

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200  Notes to pages 111−13 90 For a discussion of how these two claims about cows and sheep fit into Buffon’s changing theory of species, see Paul L. Farber, “Buffon and the Concept of Species,” Journal of the History of Biology 5, no. 2 (1972): 272. 91 This reduction was also the result of the comparison of animals of the old and the new world. Buffon, “De la dégénération des animaux,” HN (1766), 14:358–74. For more on this very complicated transformation, see Roger, Buffon, 328–35. 92 Buffon, “Les animaux domestiques,” HN (1753), 4:171–2. 93 Buffon, “De la Nature. Première vue,” HN (1764), 12:iv. 94 For Buffon’s discussion of God as the creator of the natural laws and “general effects,” but not as an active agent intervening to bring about specific effects, see “Sur la nature des animaux,” HN (1753), 4:104. 95 Buffon, “Le chien,” HN (1755), 5:195. 96 Buffon, “De la Nature. Première vue,” HN (1764), 12:xiv. Buffon made it clear that as “a right of Nature” humanity was the “master” of plants and animals. Buffon, “Les animaux domestiques,” HN (1753), 4:170. For a pioneering analysis of Buffon’s special role in reconfiguring humanity’s relationship to the natural environment, see Clarence J. Glacken, Traces on the Rhodian Shore: Nature and Culture in Western Thought from Ancient Times to the End of the Eighteenth Century (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), 655–705. Glacken believed that through the eighteenth century, Buffon was the only person to have given “the idea of man as modifier of nature … the philosophic importance it deserved” (p. 704). 97 Buffon, “Les animaux domestiques,” HN (1753), 4:173. 98 Buffon, “De la Nature. Première vue,” HN (1764), 12:xi. 99 Buffon, “De la dégénération des animaux,” HN (1766), 14:317. 100 Buffon, “De la dégénération des animaux,” HN (1766), 14:317. 101 Buffon, “Le buffle, le bonasus, l’aurochs, le bison et le zebu,” HN (1764), 11:295. Buffon also say that humanity’s inhumane domestication practices verged on “tyranny”; see “De la dégénération des animaux,” HN (1766), 14:317. 102 Buffon, “De la Nature. Première vue,” HN (1764), 12:xiv. 103 Buffon writes of “seconding” in, among other places, “De la Nature. Première vue,” HN (1764), 12:xi, and of “embellishing” in “Le buffle, le bonasus, l’aurochs, le bison et le zebu,” HN (1764), 11:295. 104 Buffon, “Le chèvre,” HN (1755) 5:60. Buffon made this assertion numerous times in a variety of contexts; see, for example, “Le cheval,” HN (1753), 4:249. 105 Buffon, “Le mouflon et les autres brebis,” HN (1764) 11:366. 106 Buffon, “Le mouflon et les autres brebis,” HN (1764) 11:364. 107 Buffon, “Le mouflon et les autres brebis,” HN (1764) 11:354. 108 In addition to these terms being used differently than we use them today, the task of establishing their meaning is complicated by the fact that

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Notes to pages 113−15  201

Buffon occasionally used some of them interchangeably (e.g., “family” and “genus” and, later, “genus” and “race”), that there were shifting hierarchical relationships between them (e.g., at different times “genus” was either a higher-order classification than “species” or a subordinate one), that Buffon himself seems to be inconsistent in places, that often the meanings have to be interpreted from the manner in which they are used rather than from any definition, and that these variables shifted fluidly throughout his many volumes. Two valiant and helpful efforts to make sense of this situation are Roger, Buffon, 309–35, and Sloan, “From Logical Universals to Historical Individuals.” 109 Buffon, “Le mouflon et les autres brebis,” HN (1764) 11:369. 110 Buffon, “Le buffle, le bonasus, l’aurochs, le bison et le zebu,” HN (1764), 11:296. 111 Buffon, “De la Nature. Première vue,” HN (1764), 12:xv. Buffon had suggested this earlier: “When left to act at liberty … Nature never forgets to reclaim her rights.” Buffon, “Le chien,” HN (1755) 5:196. 112 Buffon, “De la Nature. Première vue,” HN (1764) 12:xiii. 113 For example, see Buffon, “Des mulets,” HN Supplément (1776), 3:15. 114 Buffon, “Le buffle, le bonasus, l’aurochs, le bison et le zebu,” HN (1764), 11:296. 115 Buffon, “Le cheval,” HN (1753), 4:216–17. In the species of buffaloes and oxen, as with the horse, “the crossed races are always the most beautiful.” Buffon, “Le buffle, le bonasus, l’aurochs, le bison et le zebu,” HN (1764), 11:295. 116 Buffon, “L’asne,” HN (1753), 4:383. 117 Buffon, “Le pigeon,” HNO (1771), 2:497. Buffon worked with several collaborators on Histoire naturelle des oiseaux. Philibert Guéneau de Montbeillard was his primary collaborator on the first six volumes (1770–79), and then abbé Gabriel-Léopold-Charles-Aimé Bexon took on a more prominent role for the last three volumes (1780–83). Even though Buffon did not write all of the articles for these volumes, he always commented on the manuscripts and made corrections. Furthermore, he approved each article and placed his signature on the vast majority of them, as he did on “Le pigeon.” See Roger, Buffon, 381–2. For Buffon’s signature on this article, see E. Genet-Varcin and Jacques Roger, “Bibliographie de Buffon,” in Buffon, Œuvres philosophiques, 523. 118 Buffon, “Sur la nature des animaux,” HN (1753), 4:58. 119 Buffon, “Sur la nature des animaux,” HN (1753), 4:53–4, 101–10. Buffon was also interested in using probability to aid inductive reasoning; see his “Essai d’arithmétique morale,” which was written in the 1730s and published with apparently minimal revision in HN Supplément (1777), 4:48–148. The belief that foresight was one on the primary abilities separating mature humans

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202  Notes to pages 115−21 from animals was shared by philosophes like Maupertuis and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. See Maupertuis, “Sur le souvenir & la prévision,” Lettres, in Œuvres de Mr. de Maupertuis (1756), letter 2, 190–1. 120 Buffon, “Sur la nature des animaux,” HN (1753), 4:110. 121 Buffon, “Le pigeon,” HNO (1771), 2:497. For more on Buffon’s ornithology, see Paul Lawrence Farber, The Emergence of Ornithology as a Scientific Discipline: 1760–1850 (Boston: D. Reidel, 1982), 7–26. 122 Buffon, “Chiens-mulets,” HN Supplément (1789), 7:165–218 123 Arthur O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (New York: Harper and Row, 1965). 124 Buffon, “Nomenclature des singes,” HN (1766), 14:22–3. See Buffon, “Les phoques,” HN (1765), 13:330. Also see the excellent article by Giulio Barsani, “Buffon et l’image de la Nature: De l’échelle des êtres à la carte géographique et à l’arbre généalogique,” in Buffon 88, 255–96. 125 Buffon, “Oiseaux qui ne peuvent voler,” in Œuvres philosophiques, 417, quoted in Sloan, “Buffon, German Biology,” 120. 126 Lovejoy, Great Chain of Being, 242–87. 127 Buffon, “L’asne,” HN (1753), 4:383. 128 Buffon, “De la Nature. Première vue,” HN (1764), 12:xiii. 129 Buffon, “Des époques de la nature,” HN Supplèment (1778), 5:252. 130 Buffon, “Des époques de la nature,” HN Supplèment (1778), 5:253. 131 Buffon, “Des époques de la nature,” HN Supplèment (1778), 5:253. 132 Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, trans. John Cumming (New York: Herder and Herder, 1972).

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Chapter 5. The Time of Regeneration 1 Gilbert Romme on 19 September 1793 presented the proposal to the Committee of Public Instruction, which then submitted it to the Convention, where it passed on 5 October 1793, being included in the decree of 4 Frimaire Year II (24 November 1793). See James Guillaume, ed., Procès-verbaux du Comité d’Instruction Publique de la Convention Nationale (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1894), 2:438–50 (this work is designated below as PVCIP). For the history of decimal time in the Revolution, see Paul Smith, “La division décimale du jour: L’heure qu’il n’est pas,” in Genèses et diffusion du sytème métrique, ed. Bernard Garnier and Jean-Claude Hocquet (Caen: Éditions-Diffusion du Lys, 1990). 2 Although it had not been applied to temporal divisions before, the idea of a decimal system was by no means new. See Maurice Crosland, “Nature and Measurement in Eighteenth-Century France,” SVEC 87 (1972): 277–309; and Ken Alder, The Measure of All Things: The Seven-Year Odyssey and Hidden Error That Transformed the World (New York: Free Press, 2002), 86.

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Notes to pages 122−3  203 3 Decimal time went into effect on 1 Vendémiaire Year III and was rescinded on 18 Germinal Year III (22 September 1794 to 7 April 1795); it existed for 198 days. The calendar was made official on 5 October 1793 (although the first day of Year I was backdated to 22 September 1792, the day that the republic was established) and was abolished on 1 January 1806. 4 On the history of the Republican calendar, see Matthew John Shaw, “Time and the French Revolution, 1789–Year XIV,” Ph.D. diss., University of York, England, 2000; James Friguglietti, “The Social and Religious Consequences of the French Revolutionary Calendar,” Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1966; Bronislaw Baczko, “Le calendrier Républicain: Décréter l’étérnité,” in Les lieux de mémoire, ed. Pierre Nora (Paris: Gallimard, 1984), 1:37–83; Mona Ozouf, “Revolutionary Calendar,” in Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution, ed. François Furet and Mona Ozouf, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 1989), 538–47; Michael Meinzer, Der französische Revolutionskalendar (1792–1805): Planung, Durchführung und Scheitern einer politischen Zeitrechnung (Munich: Oldenbourg, 1992); Mona Ozouf, “The Festival and Time,” in Festivals and the French Revolution, trans. Alan Sheridan (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988), 158–96; L’espace et le temps reconstruits: La Révolution française, une révolution des mentalités et des cultures? (Aix-en-Provence: Publications de l’Université de Provence, 1990); and Sanja Perovic, The Calendar in the French Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012). 5 Edmund Burke to William Smith (29 January 1795), in The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke (London: John C. Nimmo, 1887), 6:367. 6 On the idea of regeneration in the Revolution, see Mona Ozouf, L’homme régénéré: Essais sur la Révolution française (Paris: Gallimard, 1989); Antoine de Baecque, The Body Politic: Corporeal Metaphor in Revolutionary France, 1770–1800, trans. Charlotte Mandell (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997), 131–56; David A. Bell, The Cult of the Nation in France: Inventing Nationalism, 1680–1800 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001); Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall, The Abbé Grégoire and the French Revolution: The Making of Modern Universalism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005); Andrew Jainchill, Reimagining Politics after the Terror: The Republican Origins of French Liberalism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2008), 62–107; and William Max Nelson, “Colonizing France: Revolutionary Regeneration and the First French Empire,” in The French Revolution in Global Perspective, ed. Suzanne Desan, Lynn Hunt, and William Max Nelson (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013), 73–85. 7 Enthusiasm for decimalization even led to proposals to create a new language based on the decimal system. See Sophia Rosenfeld, Revolution in Language: The Problem of Signs in Late Eighteenth-Century France (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), 205, 325n94. For the general history of

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204  Notes to pages 123−4 the metric system, see Bernard Garnier and Jean-Claude Hocquet, eds., Genèses et diffusion du sytème métrique; John L. Heilbron, “The Measure of Enlightenment,” in The Quantifying Spirit in the Eighteenth-Century, ed. Tore Frängsmyr, J.L. Heilbron, and Robin E. Ride (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 207–42; Adrien Favre, Les origines du système métrique (Paris: Presses Universitaires des France, 1931); and Guillaume Bigourdan, Le système métrique des poids et mesure (Paris: Gauthiers-Villars, 1901). 8 Abbé Henri Grégoire, addressing the National Convention on 25 November 1792, in PVCIP, 1:241–2. Part of Grégoire’s enthusiasm for the metric system was the role it played in annihilating the diversity of languages and locally specific terminology. See abbé Henri Grégoire, “Sur la nécessité et les moyens d’anéantir les patois et d’universaliser l’usage de la française,” presented to the Convention Nationale on 16 prairial Year II (4 June 1794), in Une politique de la langue: La Révolution française et les patois: L’enquête de Grégoire, ed. Michel de Certeau, Dominque Julia, and Jacques Revel (Paris: Gallimard, 1975), 309. 9 See Alder, Measure of All Things, 2; and Ronald Zupko, French Weights and Measures before the Revolution: A Dictionary of Provincial and Local Units (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978). 10 Witold Kula, Measures and Man, trans. R. Szreter (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 174. 11 Lynn Hunt, Measuring Time, Making History (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2008), 68. Sanja Perovic has also argued that “The French Revolution, while often studied as a political, social, or cultural event, instead poses primarily a problem in the history of representations of time.” Perovic, The Calendar in the French Revolution. 12 This active future orientation has not, however, been a great focus of historical scholarship, and there are few works that directly address the topic of the future in the Revolution. There are some relevant observations in the works of Koselleck, Baczko, and Hunt already cited. Two works that address futurity more directly are Marisa Linton, “Ideas of the Future in the French Revolution,” in Enlightenment and Revolution: Essays in Honour of Norman Hampson, ed. Malcolm Crook, William Doyle, and Alan Forrest (Burlington: Ashgate, 2004), 153–68; and Mona Ozouf, “Passé, présent, avenir à travers les textes administratifs de l’époque révolutionaire,” in L’école de la France: Essais sur la Révolution, l’utopie et l’enseignement (Paris: Gallimard, 1984), 55–73. 13 Joseph Joubert, note written on 21 November 1796, in Carnets, ed. André Beaunier (Paris: Gallimard, 1938), 1:192. 14 See Stéphane Gerson, Nostradamus: How an Obscure Renaissance Astrologer Became the Modern Prophet of Doom (New York: St. Martin’s, 2012), 120–42.

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Notes to pages 124−7  205

15 Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Caritat de Condorcet, “Sur l’instruction publique,” in Œuvres complètes de Condorcet (Paris: Henrichs et al., Year XIII [1804]), 9:21–2. 16 Constantin-François Chasseboeuf de Volney, Les ruines, ou méditations sur les révolutions des empires (Paris: Desenne, 1791), 36. 17 See Jürgen Habermas, “Modernity’s Consciousness of Time and Its Need for Self-Reassurance,” in The Philosophical Discourse on Modernity: Twelve Lectures, trans. Fredrich Lawrence (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987), 1–44. 18 Habermas, “Modernity’s Consciousness of Time,” 7. Also see Hans Blumenberg, The Legitimacy of the Modern Age, trans. Robert M. Wallace (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1983). 19 James Chandler, England in 1819: The Politics of Literary Culture and the Case of Romantic Historicism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 78. On the post-revolutionary developments, see Peter Fritzsche, Stranded in the Present: Modern Time and the Melancholy of History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004). On “the epochs of the concept of an epoch,” see Blumenberg, Legitimacy of the Modern Age, 116, 457–81. 20 See Jessica Riskin, Science in the Age of Sensibility: The Sentimental Empiricists of the French Enlightenment (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 268–81. 21 Journal de la Société de 1789 (10 July 1790), 40, quoted in Keith Michael Baker, “Politics and Social Science in Eighteenth-Century France: The Société de 1789,” in French Government and Society, 1500–1850: Essays in Memory of Alfred Cobban, ed. J.F. Bosher (London: Althone, 1973), 209. 22 John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, ed. Peter H. Nidditch (Oxford: Clarendon, 1975), bk. 1, chap. 1, §7. 23 Ozouf, L’homme régénéré; and de Baecque, The Body Politic. 24 Already in his Reflections on the Revolution in France of 1790, Edmund Burke, focused on the revolutionaries’ attack on “manners” and “custom.” More recently in Festivals and the French Revolution, Mona Ozouf analysed the attempt to affect mœurs and habits through festivals. Also see Andrew Jainchill’s analysis of the regeneration of mœurs after the Terror, Reimagining Politics after the Terror. 25 Opinion de Sherlock, Député de Vaucluse. Sur le projet de résolution relatif au calendrier républicain (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, Thermidor, Year VI), 2. (AD VIII, 15C, Archives Nationales, Paris). Opinion de Lanjuinais, sur l’introduction du calendrier des tyrans, dans la Constitution républicaine (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, Thermidor, Year III), 3. (AD VIII, 15C, Archives Nationales, Paris). Also see Rapports fait par Bonnaire, sur le calendrier républicain (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, Thermidor, Year VI), 2, where Bonnaire also writes of “l’empire de la routine” (AD VIII, 15C, Archives Nationales, Paris).

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206  Notes to pages 127−30 26 “Old hours” and “new hours” are mentioned, amongst other places, at the bottom of the table in PVCIP, 2:892. 27 The National Convention even included measures for public instruction in their official decree of the reorganization of time. They published official concordances to be distributed and used to introduce people to the new style of time. See PVCIP, 2:873–92. 28 Eleuthérophile [Aubin-Louis] Millin, Annuaire du républicain, ou légende physico-économique (Paris: Mari-François Drouhin, Year II [1793–94]). 29 Gilbert Romme, Rapport sur l’ère de la République, par G. Romme, séance du 20 Septembre 1793 (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, n.d.), reprinted in PVCIP, 2:441. 30 For this calculation I used the third table (“Pour réduire les Heures, Minutes, et Secondes anciennes, en Heures, Minutes et Secondes décimales”) of the Instruction sur l’ère de la République, et sur la division de l’année (Decreed by the National Convention on 27 Vendémiaire) in Millin, Annuaire du républicain, n.p. 31 I disagree with Bronislaw Baczko that the relationship between new and old style was “a bit complicated, but not too difficult to remember.” Bronislaw Baczko, Utopian Lights: The Evolution of the Idea of Social Progress, trans. Judith L. Greenberg (New York: Paragon House, 1989), 164–5. 32 Ozouf, Festivals and the French Revolution, 200. 33 Collot d’Herbois, Quelques idées sur les fêtes décedaires (Paris: Imprimerie national, Year III), quoted in Ozouf, Festivals and the French Revolution, 200. 34 Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract (1762), in The Social Contract and the Discourses, trans. G.D.H. Cole, J.H. Brumfitt, and John C. Hall (New York: Everyman’s Library, 1993), 213. 35 On the long, expensive, fraught, and ultimately flawed endeavour to create the metre, see Alder, Measure of All Things. 36 Although decimalization was not implemented during the Enlightenment, the article on that topic in the Encyclopédie recommended that the day, among other things, be decimalized. “Décimal,” in Encyclopédie, 4:669–70. 37 Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Caritat de Condorcet, Esquisse d'un tableau historique des progrès de l'esprit humain, in Tableau historique des progress de l’esprit humain: Projets, esquisse, fragments, et notes (1772–1794), eds. JeanPierre Schandeler and Pierre Crépel, et al. (Paris: Institut national d’études démographiques, 2004), 398. Although it was originally published posthumously by editors under the title Esquisse d’un tableau historique des progrès de l’esprit humain, it appears in this critical edition as Prospectus d’un tableau historique des progrès de l’esprit humain since this was the title Condorcet left on the manuscript. Since Esquisse is so widely used, I refer to it in this manner. 38 Condorcet, Esquisse, 398.

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Notes to pages 130−3  207

39 On the chain of being, see A. O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1936). 40 Opinion de Sherlock, Député de Vaucluse. Sur le projet de résolution relatif au calendrier républicain (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, Thermidor, Year VI [1797–98]), 2. (AD VIII, 15C, Archives Nationales, Paris). 41 Adrien-Marie Legendre et al., L’agence temporaire des poids et mesures aux citoyens rédactuers de la Feuille du Cultivateur (Paris: Imprimerie de la République, Year III [1794–95]), 9, quoted in Ken Alder, “A Revolution to Measure: The Political Economy of the Metric System in France,” in The Values of Precision, ed. M. Norton Wise (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), 58. 42 Leading idéologues, such as Cabanis and Destutt de Tracy, explicitly expressed their desire to be disciples of Condillac. When the Insitut was formed in 1795, the first of the six sections of the Class of Moral and Political Sciences was given the name Analyse des sensations et des idées, directly reflecting the continued importance of Condillac. See Martin S. Staum, Minerva’s Message: Stabilizing the French Revolution (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1996), 27–9. For challenges to Condillac’s theories and institutionalization, see Staum, Minerva’s Message, 113–15. 43 Alder, “Revolution to Measure,” 56, and Measure of All Things, 132–8. 44 Philippe-François Fabre d’Églantine, Rapport fait à la Convention Nationale dans la séance du 3 du second mois de la second année de la République Française, au nom de la commission chargé de la confection du calendrier, par Ph.-Fr.-NA. Fabre d’Églantine, député de Paris à la Convention Nationale (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, n.d.), reprinted in PVCIP, 2:697–8. 45 Fabre d’Églantine, Rapport, in PVCIP, 2:701. 46 Fabre d’Églantine, Rapport, in PVCIP, 2:701. 47 Almanach des honnêtes gens: L’an premier du règne de la Raison. Pour la présente année (Paris, 1788). 48 Almanach des républicains pour servir à l’instruction publique (Paris, 1793). 49 See James Friguglietti, “The Social and Religious Consequences of the French Revolutionary Calendar,” PhD diss., Harvard University, 1966,” 5. For more on Maréchal, see Maurice Dommanget, Sylain Maréchal: L’égalitaire “L’homme sans Dieu” (Paris: Spartacus, 1950); and Perovic, The Calendar in the French Revolution. 50 Lynn Hunt, “The World We Have Gained: The Future of the French Revolution” American Historical Review 108, no. 1 (February 2003): 1–19. 51 Condorcet, “Sur l’instruction publique,” 9:382. 52 See Hunt, “The World We Have Gained.” 53 See, for example, the comments made by the deputies of the National Assembly about their own actions on the night of 4 August 1789 in Timothy Tackett, Becoming a Revolutionary: The Deputies of the French

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208  Notes to pages 133−5 National Assembly and the Emergence of a Revolutionary Culture (1789–1790) (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), 174–5. Also see Hunt, “The World We Have Gained,” 4–5. 54 Reinhart Koselleck, Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time, trans. Keith Tribe (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985). 55 See Tackett, Becoming a Revolutionary; Timothy Tackett, When the King Took Flight (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003); François Furet, “Night of August 4th,” in Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution, ed. François Furet and Mona Ozouf, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 1989); William H. Sewell Jr., “Historical Events as Transformations of Structures: Inventing Revolution at the Bastille,” in Logics of History: Social Theory and Social Transformation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), 225–70; and Michael P. Fitzsimmons, The Night the Old Regime Ended: August 4, 1789, and the French Revolution (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003). Antoine de Baecque has also paid close attention to the role of events in transforming the discourse of regeneration in The Body Politic, 131–56. 56 See Jean Egret, La pre-Révolution française, 1787–1788 (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1962). 57 Abbé Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès, Views of the Executive Means Available to the Representatives of France in 1789, in Political Writings, trans. and ed. Michael Sonenscher (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2003), 16. On these writers, see François Furet and Mona Ozouf, “Two Historical Legitimations of EighteenthCentury French Society: Mably and Boulainvilliers,” in Furet, In the Workshop of History, trans. Jonathan Mandelbaum (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), 125–39; and Keith Michael Baker, Inventing the French Revolution: Essays on French Political Culture in the Eighteenth Century (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 31–106. 58 Sieyès, Views of the Executive Means, 17. 59 Sieyès, Views of the Executive Means, 18. 60 Sieyès, Views of the Executive Means, 18. 61 Sieyès, Views of the Executive Means, 17. 62 Sieyès, Views of the Executive Means, 18. 63 According to François Furet, the term “ancien régime” was already used in the cahiers de doléances, but only in reference to the administration. See Furet, “Ancien Régime,” in Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution, 605. 64 Sieyès, Views of the Executive Means, 17. For more on the anti-historical turn in the pre-Revolution period and Revolution, see Dale Van Kley, “From the Lessons of French History to Truths for All Times and All People: The Historical Origins of an Anti-Historical Declaration,” in The French Idea of Freedom: The Declaration of the Rights of Man, ed. Van Kley (Stanford: 1994), 72–113.

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Notes to pages 136−7  209

65 Jacques-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne, Principes régénérateurs du système social (Paris: R. Vatar, pluviôse, Year III [1795]; reprint Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1992), 115. 66 For the revolutionary linguistic projects see Rosenfeld, Revolution in Language. For civic symbols and fashion more generally, see Lynn Hunt, Politics, Culture, and Class in the French Revolution (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), and Aileen Ribiero, Fashion in the French Revolution (London: Batsford, 1988). For the architectural and city planning projects, see James A. Leith, Space and the Revolution: Projects for Monuments, Squares, and Public Building in France, 1789–1799 (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1991). For transformations in the legal status of women, see Suzanne Desan, The Family on Trial in Revolutionary France (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004). For the new rituals and festivals see Ozouf, Festivals and the French Revolution. For changes in the periodical press, and print culture more generally, see Robert Darnton and Daniel Roche, eds., Revolution in Print: The Press in France, 1775–1800 (Berkeley: University of California Press and New York Public Library, 1989). 67 On writing paper, see Ban Kafka, “The Demon of Writing: Paperwork, Public Safety, and the Reign of Terror,” Representations 98, no. 1 (May 2007): 1–24. For decimalized language, see Rosenfeld, Revolution in Language, 205, 325n94. 68 Friedrich Wilhelm Schelling to Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, 4 February 1795, in Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Briefe von und an Hegel, ed. J. Hoffmeister, 4 vols. (Hamburg, 1952–60), 1:21, quoted in John Edward Toews, Hegelianism: The Path Toward Dialectical Humanism, 1805–1841 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1980), 31. 69 Charles Louis Secondat, Baron de la Brède et Montesquieu, De l’esprit des lois, in Œuvres complètes, vol. 2 (Paris: Gallimard, 1951), pt. 3, bk. 14, chap. 13, p. 487. 70 Honoré-Gabriel Riquetti, comte de Mirabeau, “Premiers discours: De l’instruction publique, ou de l’orginisation du corps enseignant” (1791), in Bronislaw Baczko, ed., Une éducation pour la democratie: Textes et projets de l’epoque revolutionnaire (Paris: Garnier Frères1982), 71. 71 Jean-Paul Rabaut Saint-Étienne, A la nation française: Sur les vices de son gouvernement, sur la nécessité d’établir une constitution, et sur la composition des Etats-Généraux ([Paris,] November 1788), 28–32. 72 Jean-Paul Rabaut Saint-Étienne presented on 23 August 1789, in Réimpression de l’Ancien Moniteur, 1:378. 73 Antoine de Baecque has provided an excellent analysis of these pamphlets in The Body Politic, 131–56. 74 Jean-Paul Rabaut Saint-Étienne to the Société des Amis de la Consitution de Nimes, 28 February 1791, in “Rabaut de Saint-Étienne, sa

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210  Notes to pages 137−41 correspondance pendant la Révolution (1789–1793),” ed. Armand Lods, in La Révolution française 35 (July–December 1898): 262. 75 Bertrand Barère, quoted in Ozouf, L’école de la France, 33. 76 Jean-Paul Rabaut Saint-Étienne, Nouvelles réflexions sur la nouvelle division du royaume (Paris, 1790), 5. 77 Rabaut Saint-Étienne, Nouvelles réflexions, 6. 78 For a general treatment of bells during the Revolution, see Alain Corbin, Village Bells: Sound and Meaning in the 19th Century French Countryside, trans. Martin Thom (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), 3–44. For the campaign against the church and the role of bell seizure in that campaign, see Michel Vovelle, La Révolution contre l’église, de la raison à l’être suprême (Paris: Editions Complexe, 1988). 79 Corbin, Village Bells, 10. 80 Lynn Hunt, “The ‘National Assembly,’” in The French Revolution and the Creation of Modern Political Culture, vol. 1, ed. Keith Michael Baker (New York: Pergamon, 1987), 404. For a more general discussion of the importance of the desire to break with the past in the French Revolution see Hunt, Politics, Culture, and Class in the French Revolution. 81 Louis-Antoine Léon de Saint-Just, “Rapport fait au nom du comité de salut public,” in Réimpression de l’Ancien Moniteur (19 Vendémiaire Year II [10 October 1793]), 18:109. 82 The statement was in a work authored by Fourcroy that was adopted by the National Convention; see 11 September 1793 in Archives parlementaires de 1787 à 1860, première série (Paris: Paul Dupont, 1908), 73:669. 83 Fabre d’Églantine, Rapport, in PVCIP, 2:697. 84 There was some debate over whether to refer to events before Year I by their relationship to the Republican era rather than using the relevant “old style” date. Romme argued that because the Republican and preRepublican eras were incommensurate, they should not have the same dating systems applied to them. 85 This and other details of the illustration are explained in a prefatory description in Millin, Annuaire du républicain. 86 Thomas Bugge, report on The International Commission on the Metric System, in Science in France in The Revolutionary Era, ed. Maurice P. Crosland (Cambridge, MA, and London: Society for the History of Technology and MIT Press, 1969), 202. The commission was not actually very “international;” it was attended by representatives from nine Western and Central European republics and kingdoms. 87 Bugge, Science in France, 202. 88 Bugge, Science in France, 202, 204. 89 Abbé Sieyès, June 1793, in Archives parlementaires, quoted in Ozouf, “Revolutionary Calendar,” in Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution, 538.

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Notes to pages 142−5  211

90 Abbé Sieyès, June 1793, in Archives parlementaires, quoted in Ozouf “Revolutionary Calendar,” in Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution, 538. 91 Robespierre in the “Suite de la discussion sur l’instruction publique” in the National Convention on 13 August 1793, in PVCIP, 2:278. 92 Quoted in de Baecque, The Body Politic, 154–5. 93 See Joseph Klaits and Michael H. Hatzel, eds., The Global Ramifications of the French Revolution (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994); C.A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780–1914: Global Connections and Comparisons (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2004); David Armitage and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, eds., The Age of Revolutions in Global Context, 1760–1840 (Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010); Suzanne Desan, Lynn Hunt, and William Max Nelson, eds., The French Revolution in Global Perspective (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013); and Alan Forrest and Matthias Middell, The Routledge Companion to the French Revolution in World History (New York: Routledge, 2016). 94 Pierre-Louis Roederer, L’esprit de la Révolution de 1789 (Paris: Les Principaux Libraires, 1831), 13.

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Conclusion 1 For an excellent analysis of the rise of nostalgia and its relationship to time and history, as well as Chateaubriand’s exemplary role in articulating these feelings and understandings, see Peter Fritzsche, Stranded in the Present: Modern Time and the Melancholy of History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004). On Chateaubriand and historical time, also see François Hartog, Regimes of Historicity: Presentism and Experience of Time (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015), 65–95. On nostalgia, see Thomas Dodman, What Nostalgia Was: War, Empire, and the Time of a Deadly Emotion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018). 2 Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution: A History (New York: Random House, 2002), pt. 2, bk. 3, chap. 1, 332–3. 3 On the experience and concept of nostalgia, see Dodman, What Nostaligia Was. 4 Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Caritat de Condorcet, “Sur l’instruction publique,” in Œuvres complètes de Condorcet (Paris: Henrichs et al., Year XIII [1804]), 9:382. 5 Maximilien Robespierre, “Sur les rapports des idées religieuses et morales avec les principes républicains, et sur les fêtes nationales (18 Floréal Year II [7 May 1794]), in Œuvres de Maximilien Robespierre, ed. Marc Bouloiseau and Albert Soboul (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1967), 10:444–5.

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212  Notes to pages 146−50 6 Constantin-François Chasseboeuf de Volney, Les ruines, ou méditations sur les révolutions des empires (Paris: Desenne, 1791), 5. 7 Volney, Les ruines, 12. 8 On Robert and time, see Nina L. Dubin, Futures and Ruins: Eighteenth-Century Paris and the Art of Hubert Robert (Los Angeles: Getty, 2010). 9 Friedrich Schlegel, Philosophical Fragments, trans. Peter Firchow (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991), 27. 10 Valéry employed the assertion in several speeches from 1932; see, for example, his Variétés IV (Paris: Gallimard, 1938), 139. Schlegel and Valéry were two of the authors that were most important to Benjamin, and he owned the Klee painting, though of course he made something new in his passage about the angle of history. See Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings, Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014); the many quotations of these authors in Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 1999); and the use of Schlegel’s phrase in Walter Benjamin, Gesammelte Schriften (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1972), 1:1237. 11 Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 1968), 261–2. 12 Buffon, “Des époques de la nature,” HN Supplèment (1778), 5:253. 13 Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Caritat de Condorcet, Esquisse d'un tableau historique des progrès de l'esprit humain, in Tableau historique des progress de l’esprit humain: Projets, esquisse, fragments, et notes (1772–1794), eds. JeanPierre Schandeler and Pierre Crépel, et al. (Paris: Institut national d’études démographiques, 2004). 14 Pierre-Jean-Georges Cabanis, “Lettre sur un passage de la Décade philosophique et en général sur la philosophie de l’esprit humain,” in La Décade philosophique, littéraire et politique 21 (30 Germinal, Year VII), 149–59, reprinted in Œuvres philosophiques de Cabanis, ed. Claude Lehec and Jean Cazeneuve (Paris, 1956), 2:513. 15 Pierre-Jean-Georges Cabanis, Coup d’œil sur les révolutions et sur la réforme de la medicine (1804), in Œuvres philosophiques, 2:211. 16 Cabanis, Coup d’œil, in Œuvres philosophiques, 2:210–11. 17 For an analysis of these men and how their projects of transformation related to some of their important predecessors in France, such as Turgot and Condorcet, see Frank Manuel, Prophets of Paris (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962). 18 Andrew Wernick, Auguste Comte and the Religion of Humanity: The PostTheistic Program of French Social Theory (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 174–5.

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Notes to pages 150−2  213

19 For instance, Comte made this point in 1848 and recognized that “this revolution has now been agitating Western nations for sixty years.” Auguste Comte, A General View of Positivism; or, Summary Exposition of the System of Thought and Life Adapted to the Great Western Republic, Formed of the Five Advanced Nations, The French, Italian, Spanish, British, and German, which, Since the Time of Charlemagne, Have Always Constituted a Political Whole (Paris, 1848; reprinted, Dubuque: Brown Reprints, 1971), 63. 20 On decadence and degeneration, see Daniel Pick, Faces of Degeneration: A European Disorder, 1848–1918 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989); Daniel Kevles, In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985); and Charles Bernheimer, Decadent Subjects: The Idea of Decadence in Art, Literature, Philosophy, and Culture of the fin de siècle in Europe (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002). 21 Reinhart Koselleck, Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time, trans. Keith Tribe (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985); Koselleck, The Practice of Conceptual History: Timing History, Spacing Concepts, trans. Todd Samuel Presner and Kerstin Behnke (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002); Krzysztof Pomian, L’ordre du temps (Paris: Gallimard, 1984); Sebastian Conrad, “’Nothing Is the Way It Should Be’: Global Transformations of the Time Regime in the Nineteenth Century,” Modern Intellectual History 15, no. 3 (November 2018): 821–48; Ian Hacking, The Taming of Chance (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990); On Barak, On Time: Technology and Temporality in Modern Egypt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013); Giordanno Nanni, The Colonisation of Time: Ritual, Routine and Resistance in the British Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012). 22 Stephen Kern, The Culture of Time and Space, 1880–1918 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983); Vanessa Ogle, Global Transformation of Time, 1870–1950 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015); Hartmut Rosa, Social Acceleration: A New Theory of Modernity, trans. Jonathan Trejo-Mathys (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013); Sarah Sharma, In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014); Jonathan Crary, 24/7 (London: Verso, 2014); Jenny Andersson, The Future of the World: Futurology, Futurists, and the Struggle for the Post-Cold War Imagination (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018); David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991); Hartog, Regimes of Historicity; Chris Lorenz and Berber Bevernage, eds., Breaking Up Time: Negotiating the Border between Present, Past, and Future (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2013); Ulrich Beck, Risk Society (London: Sage, 1992); Dipesh Chakrabarty, “The Climate of History: Four Theses,” Critical Inquiry 35 (Winter 2009): 197–222; and Dipesh Chakrabarty, “Anthropocene Time,” History and Theory 57, no. 1 (March 2018): 5–32.

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214  Notes to pages 152−4

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23 The first usage of the phrase “the colonization of the future” that I am aware of is in Torsten Hägerstrand, “Time and Culture,” in The Formulation of Time Preferences in a Multidisciplinary Perspective, ed. Guy Kirsch, Peter Nijkamp, and Klaus Zimmermann (Berlin: WZB-Publications, 1988), 40–1. Anthony Giddens popularized the phrase through his usage in Modernity and Self-Identity (New York: Polity, 1991). 24 On Buffon and the idea of the Anthropocene, see Noah Heringman, “Deep Time at the Dawn of the Anthropocene,” Representations 129 (Winter 2015): 56–85. Also see Alan Mikhail, “Enlightenment Anthropocene,” EighteenthCentury Studies 49, no. 2 (2016): 211–31. On seventeenth- and eighteenthcentury debates about climate change, see Anya Zilberstein, A Temperate Empire: Making Climate Change in Early America (Oxford: Oxford Univeristy Press, 2016). 25 Chakrabarty, “Climate of History,” 197–8. In this passage, he is referring to Alan Weisman’s non-fiction book The World Without Us (New York: St. Martin’s, 2007). Authors of speculative fiction have, of course, also engaged in this thought experiment. 26 Chakrabarty, “Climate of History,” 212. 27 Weisman, The World Without Us. 28 Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015), ix. 29 Bruno Latour, Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime, trans. Catherine Porter (Cambridge: Polity, 2017), 39. 30 Latour, Facing Gaia, 39. 31 François Jacob, The Statue Within: An Autobiography, trans. Franklin Philip (New York: Basic Books, 1988), 9. 32 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Books, 1974), 338.

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Index

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Page numbers in italics refer to figures. agriculture: physiocrats views of, 65–6; productivity in, 25, 65 Alder, Ken, 131 Alembert, Jean Baptiste Le Rond d’, 7, 33, 64, 80, 86, 183n101, 198n61 Almanach des honnêtes gens (Almanac of honest men), 132 “ancien régime,” 208n63 animal breeding, 9, 12, 19, 97–103, 106, 111, 201n115 animals: accidental characteristics of, 199n81; classification of, 106, 111; comparison to “imbeciles,” 57–8; degeneration of, 26, 96, 109, 112; difference between humans and, 57; genera of, 113–14; human ability to transform, 111–12, 113, 119, 120; idea in inheritance in, 110, 199n82; natural law and, 113; regeneration experiments, 98 Anthropocene, 152–4 Baecque, Antoine de, 126 Bakewell, Robert, 100 balanced state of the economy, 71 Barbeu-Dubourg, Jacques, 46 Barère, Bertrand, 137

Batteux, Charles, 80 Baudeau, Nicholas, 91 being: development of new possibilities of, 10, 125–6. See also chain of being Benjamin, Walter, 148–9 Bernier, François, 56 Bernoulli, Jakob, 103, 198n65 Bertin, Henri-Léonard-JeanBaptiste, 64 Bexon, Gabriel-Léopold-CharlesAimé, 201n117 Billaud-Varenne, Jacques-Nicolas, 136 Bloch, Ernst, 42, 170n15 Blumenberg, Hans, 125 Bonnet, Charles, 100, 119 Boucher, Philip, 54 Boulainvilliers, Henri de, 134 Bourgelat, Claude, 101 Brancas, Louis de, 101 Buffon, Georges-Louis Leclerc, comte de: breeding experiments of, 12–13, 14, 97–103, 106, 111, 116, 201n115; on children’s perception of time, 58; classification of animals, 111–12, 119; collaborators of, 80, 201n117; concept of chain of being, 118–19;

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216 Index concept of “physical truth,” 198n65; correspondence with Cramer, 105; on creation of species, 112–13; critique of Linnaeus, 198n61; critique of Réaumur, 102; on degeneration of domestic animals, 26, 96–7, 109, 110, 112, 115; on differences between humans and animals, 57; discussions of le moral, 15; estimates of the age of the earth, 95; experiments of, 102, 195n36, 195n42; on faculties of humans, 115–16; gendered language of, 99; on genera of animals, 113–14; Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière, 14, 15, 26, 31, 96, 103, 106, 111, 116, 117; on human ability to dominate nature, 99, 113, 115, 119–20, 200n96; idea of movement of continuous flux, 28; on “imbeciles,” 57–8; on importance of observation, 106–7; Leibniz and, 196n52, 196n53; on limits of improvement, 149, 150; on methods of natural history, 100; on mixing races of animals, 114–15; moule intérieur hypothesis, 30–1, 108–10, 197n55; official appointments of, 14, 96, 105; public prominence of, 14; on the quadrupeds, 111, 116; on relationship of species and genus, 31, 113–14, 167n36, 201n108; scientific studies of, 96, 116, 196n51; sources of knowledge of, 104–7; terminology of, 201n108; theoretical works of, 101; theory of generation of, 103, 108–9; on the torrent of time, 96; understanding of species, 30, 31, 101, 103, 107–8; understanding of time, 104; use of probability, 201n119; vision of nature, 99, 102, 104, 107, 114

Bugge, Thomas, 139, 141 Burke, Edmund, 121, 122, 205n24 Cabanis, Pierre-Jean-Georges, 149–50, 207n42 Caribs: agriculture of, 54; comparison to women, 56–7; culture of, 54; decline of, 39; foresight, 39–40, 50, 51, 52–4, 55, 57; and the hammock, trope of, 49–50, 51, 55–7; modest needs of, 53; notions of exchange, 51–2; in philosophical works, 54–5; sense of ownership, 51–2 Carlier, Claude, 101 Carlyle, Thomas, 144 Cassirer, Ernst, 109 Certeau, Michel de, 16, 54 chain of being, 116, 118–19 Chakrabarty, Dipesh, 152–3 Chandler, James, 124, 125 change: evolution of ideas of, 28, 29–30, 31, 32 Changeux, Pierre-Nicolas, 28, 29, 166n32 Chaplin, Joyce, 45, 46 Chateaubriand, François-René, 144 Cherokee people, 46 children’s perception of time, 58 Chinese characters, 84–5 Choiseul, Étienne-François, duc de, 64 chronological charts, 46, 47–8 Clark, Christopher, 15 Class of Moral and Political Sciences, 131, 207n42 climate change: disruption of time and, 152–3 clock time: critique of, 16–17 Cochin, Charles-Nicolas, 82 Collot d’Herbois, Jean-Marie, 129 commerce: types of, 186n129 Comte, Auguste, 150–1, 213n19

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Index 217 Condillac, Étienne Bonnot de, 80, 84, 86, 89, 92, 131, 190n175, 207n42 Condorcet, Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Caritat, marquis de: belief in uniformity of nature, 33–4; Esquisse d’un tableau historique des progrès de l’esprit humain, 24, 149, 206n37; on French Revolution, 124; on hopes of the human race, 133; on idea of progress, 24, 145; on limits of improvement, 150; proposal of the use of tableaux, 91; on socially oriented learned society, 18; on social relations, 130; on taming the future, 93; vision of time, 144 Confucius, 84 continuous flux, 11, 27–8 Conway, Erik M., 153 Court de Gébelin, Antoine, 183n105 Cramer, Gabriel, 104 Creek people, 46

Destutt de Tracy, Antoine-LouisClaude, 207n42 Diderot, Denis: on art of creating beings, 95; on change, 28; critique of évidence, 190n168; Deschamps and, 7; discussion of hieroglyphs, 83–4, 186n125; Encyclopédie project, 64, 106; on role of language in communication, 80; on visual representations, 82; on women, 58 differential temporality, 58–9 Discourse on the Origins of Inequality among Men (Rousseau), 49–50, 53–5, 56 Dod, Daniel, 46 Dod, Stephen, 46 dog breeding, 116, 117 Dubos, Jean-Baptiste, 80, 81, 82 Du Châtelet, Emilie Gabrielle, 104, 105 Dupont de Nemours, Pierre-Samuel, 81, 90, 91, 180n79, 189n160 Du Tertre, Jean-Baptiste, 50–3, 54

Damiens affair, 64 Daston, Lorraine, 32, 35 Daubenton, Louis-Jean-Marie, 101 decimal system, 202n2, 203n3 Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, 4–5 deep time, 18 degeneration: causes of, 13, 109; concept of, 10–11, 96–7, 109–10; of domestic animals, 26; of the economy, 26; effects of, 110; fears of, 25–6; natural tendency towards, 26; vs. perfection, 97 Degérando, Joseph-Marie, 40–3 Delisle de Sales, Jean-BaptisteClaude, 55 denial of co-evalness, 41 Descartes, René, 86 Deschamps, Léger-Marie, 7

earth’s age: estimates of, 95–6 economic science, 15, 64–5 Eddy, Isaac, 46 Egyptian hieroglyphs, 83, 84 emboîtement: concept of, 21 empires: decline of, 27 Enclos, Anne “Ninon” de l’, 56 Encyclopédie, 64, 81–2, 157n18, 206n36 England: economic productivity, 67, 70 Enlightenment: characteristics of, 10; criticism of, 120; idea of progress, 11, 23, 24, 37–43, 54; ideas about the future, 5, 7–8, 9, 152; phases of, 9; vision of time, 144 évidence: concept of, 86–7; critics of, 189n168; definition of, 87; mathematical, 87; of natural laws, 88–9; physiocratic notion of, 87, 91, 92

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218 Index Fabian, Johannes, 41, 170n15 Fabre d’Églantine, Philippe-FrançoisNazaire, 132, 139 festivals: formal pedagogy of, 129 Fitch, Thomas, 46 Fontenelle, Bernard Le Bovier de, 24 foresight: Enlightenment ideas of, 49–58 Fourcroy, Antoine-François, 139 Fourier, Charles, 150 France: agriculture production, 67, 70; degeneration of ways of life, 10–11, 25–6; Diplomatic Revolution, 64; grain trade, 77; net product of, 75, 77; political and economic development of, 64; taxation system, 67; unit of money in, 176n10 French Revolution: calendar reform, 121–2, 123, 203n3; Catholic Church and, 136; construction of the future, 8–9, 13, 19, 122–4, 133–4, 136; creation of new things, 129, 136, 137–8; daily practices, 129; debates on compulsory education, 142; goal of, 126–7; human voluntarism and, 124, 144–5; important events of, 4–5, 134; metric reforms, 121–2, 123, 126, 129–30, 142; origins of, 133; radical phase of, 138–9; reorganization of time, 123–4, 127–8, 143, 204n11, 206n27; separation from the past, 137, 138; social and political changes, 130; as social experiment, 125; territorial divisions and, 138; transformative effects of, 132–3 Fritzsche, Peter, 163n54 Furet, François, 208n63 future: colonization of, 152, 214n23; as constructed object, 5–7, 9, 19, 61, 136, 145, 154; control of, 7,

93, 136; determinism of, 21–2; Enlightenment and vision of, 7–8, 9; foresight of, 8, 39; French Revolution and idea of, 6, 13, 124, 133–4; literary and artistic perspectives on, 146; orientation towards, 6, 8–9, 151, 154; philosophical ideas about, 5, 6, 8, 17–18, 19, 22–3, 39, 151, 161n44, 163n54; progress and, 145, 148–9; relation to the past and present, 12, 18, 21, 72, 145–6, 152–3; in science fiction, 153; statistical predictions of, 35 future retrospection, 146, 149 Gadamer, Hans-Georg, 16 Galiani, Ferdinando, 77–8, 181n83 generation: theory of, 21, 100 Glacken, Clarence J., 200n96 Grafton, Anthony, 46 Grégoire, Henri, 99, 121, 123, 139, 204n8 Gregorian calendar, 132 Grimm, Friedrich-Melchior, 55 Habermas, Jürgen, 125 hammock: symbolism of, 39, 53; trope of the Carib and, 49–50, 51, 55–7 Hartog, François, 18 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 124, 125, 136 Heidegger, Martin: Being and Time, 161n42; idea of the future, 17–18, 161n45; ideas about time, 16–17, 161n44; on phenomenon of primordial temporality, 161n42 Helvétius, Claude-Adrien, 7, 55, 64, 80 Hérault de Séchelles, Marie-Jean, 105 hiéroglyphe: connotation of the word, 83–4

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Index 219

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Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière (Buffon): central topics of, 26, 31; generations of hybrid-dogs, 117; influence of, 15; publication of, 103; Table of the order of dogs, 116, 118; vision of nature, 96, 104 historical development: stages of, 37–9, 40, 53 historical temporality, 5, 7, 8, 11, 16–20, 37, 38, 42, 46, 58–9, 67, 93, 122, 133, 148, 149, 151–3 Holbach, Paul Henri Thiry, baron d’, 55 Hölscher, Lucian, 163n54 homo economicus, 132 Hopkins, Gerard Manley, 96 human agency, 9 humans: ability to transform nature, 119–20, 200n96; vs. animals, 57; important faculties of, 115–16; manipulation of species, 113–14, 115 human voluntarism, 25–6, 144–5 Hume, David, 33, 181n83 Hunt, Lynn, 123, 138, 163n54 Husserl, Edmund Gustav Albrecht, 161n44 “imbeciles,” 57–8 improvement: limits to, 149–50 indéfinie (indefinite), 24 Indigenous Caribbeans: supposed lack of foresight, 39, 49–56 insurance companies, 35 International Commission on the Metric System, 141 Israel, Jonathan, 9 Jacob, François, 154 Jainchill, Andrew: Reimagining Politics after the Terror, 205n24 Jansenists, 64 Joubert, Joseph, 123, 124

Kalinago culture, 54 Kant, Immanuel, 8, 49, 53, 155n6; Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, 49 Klee, Paul, 148, 212n10 Koselleck, Reinhart: idea of the future, 17–18, 22; on revolutionaries, 133, 134; theory of time, 16, 19, 170n15; work on historical temporality, 124 Kula, Witold, 123 Labat, Père Jean-Baptiste, 52, 54 La Chesnaye des Bois, FrançoisAlexandre Aubert de, 23 Lafitau, Joseph-François, 38 Lalande, Jérôme, 142 Lamarck, Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet de, 199n82 language of construction, 156n13 Laplace, Pierre-Simon, 141, 142 Larson, James, 33 Latour, Bruno, 136, 153 Lavoisier, Antoine-Laurent, 91–2, 190n172 law of nature, 27, 28–9, 33–5, 88–9, 113 Le Camus, Antoine, 26 Legendre, Adrien-Marie, 142 Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm: “binary arithmetic” of, 105; Buffon’s relationship to his ideas, 103–7, 196n52, 196n53, 197n55; description of monads, 105; Discours sur la théologie naturelle des chinois, 105; on philosophical implications of microscopic investigations, 196n48; on “physical” vs. real”, 103–4; on predetermined future, 22; on present pregnant with the future, 21, 72, 98, 99, 107; on “real” vs.

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220 Index

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“abstract,” 105; understanding of time, 104, 105 Le Paige, Louis-Adrien, 135 Léry, Jean de, 54 Le Trosne, Guillaume-François: Mémoire sur les vagabonds et les mendiants, 43; on poor and “vagabonds,” 43–4, 59 Linguet, Simon-Nicolas-Henri, 85, 187n135 Linnaeus, Carl, 198n61 “living monument”: people as, 43–5 Locke, John: Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 80; idea of “Ocean of Being,” 10, 125; on sensations, 86 Lovejoy, Arthur, 32, 119 Lower Brittany, 45 Löwith, Karl, 16 luxuries of subsistence, 72, 73 Mably, Gabriel Bonnot de, 134 “magical square,” 85, 187n135 Malebranche, Nicolas, 21, 22, 86 Maréchal, Sylvain, 132 Marouby, Christian, 54 Maupertuis, Pierre-Louis, 100, 202n119 Meek, Ronald, 71 Ménuret de Chambaud, Jean-Jacques, 29 Mercier, Louis-Sébastien: futurist fiction of, 3–5, 155n2 metaphysics of uniformity, 32–6 metric system: cognitive and behavioural effects of, 131–2, 204n8; implications for science, 141; introduction of, 123, 125; radicalism of, 126; surveying instruments and, 129–30; symbolism of, 123, 139

Millin, Eleuthérophile [Aubin-Louis]: guide to the new clock and calendar, 139; publications of, 127, 140 Mirabeau, Honoré-Gabriel Riquetti, comte de, 14, 25, 62, 137 Mirabeau, Victor Riquetti, marquis de: actualization of the future, 72, 94; approach to reform, 94; on balanced state of the economy, 71; correspondence of, 62, 78; debates on luxury, 72; on decline of men, 26; defense of physiocrats, 66; economic analysis of, 66, 70; ideas about political economy, 64–5, 67, 78–9; L’ami des hommes, 14, 25, 62; on limits to growth, 69; on net product of France, 66, 178n44, 178n50; on productive class, 73–4; on progress and recovery, 68; public prominence of, 15; on role of language in communication, 81; and tableau économique, 60, 62, 83, 90–1; on taxation, 67; Traité de la monarchie, 79; on types of commerce, 186n129; on variations of humans, 31; on visual representations, 82; on wealth of nations, 74, 77 modernity: idea of, 9, 124–5 monarchical power: debates on legitimacy of, 135 Montbeillard, Philibert Guéneau de, 201n117 Montesquieu, Charles de Secondat, baron de: De l’esprit des lois, 25, 33, 34, 80, 136; Les lettres persanes, 25; on politics, 136–7; on uniformity of nature, 33, 34 moral, the (le moral), 15, 25 Moreau, Jacob-Nicolas, 134–5 Moreau de la Sarthe, Louis-Jacques, 45 Morellet, André, 80

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Index 221 moule intérieur (interior mould), 30–1, 197n55 Native Americans: analogy between ancient Europeans and, 37–8; in chronological charts, representation of, 48, 48; progress of, 46 natural man, 43–4, 59 nature: development of concept of, 109; diversity of, 33; exploitation of, 120; uniformity of, 29, 32–4; variations of, 31; See also law of nature Needham, John Turberville, 105, 197n57 net product, 62, 66, 75, 77, 78, 178n44, 178n50 Newton, Isaac, 32, 103 Nietzsche, Friedrich, 144, 154 Nostradamus, Michel de, 123, 124

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“Ocean of Being”: idea of, 10, 125 Oreskes, Naomi, 153 Ozouf, Mona, 126, 129, 205n24 Pacific Islanders: as “living monuments,” 43; temporality ascribed to, 39–43 Paris: French Revolution and transformation of, 4–5; futurist representation of, 3–5 past: French Revolution and idea of, 123–4, 134–5; relation to the future and the present, 12, 18, 21, 72, 98, 107, 145–6, 152–3 Perovic, Sanja, 204n11 Philosophie rurale, 69, 70, 74, 180n78, 185n125 physical realm (le physique), 15 “physical truth”: concept of, 106–7, 198n65 physiocracy: the term, 65–6

physiocrats: on balanced economy, 68; critics of, 77–8, 91, 180n81, 181n83; on economic recovery, 64–6; economic science and, 15, 65, 90, 92, 183n105; on évidence, 86–9; on foreign trade, 67; on generation of wealth, 66; influence of, 64, 78; linguistic reform of, 80–2; notion of bounded temporality, 68; political and social position of, 64; project of agricultural modernization, 65; projects of regeneration, 26–7; understanding of progress, 68; view of nature, 67–8; views on degeneration, 26; vision of the future, 77–8, 89–90 Piles, Roger de, 80 Piveteau, Jean, 196n53 political economy: ideal of balanced state, 68–9; notion of évidence in, 86–9; visual-mathematical forms, 61, 91 population decline, 25, 26 positivism, 150–1 practical ontology, 125–6 pre-existence: theory of, 21 preformation: theory of, 21 present: relation to the future and the past, 12, 18, 21, 72, 98, 107, 145–6, 152–3 Priestley, Joseph, 46 primordial temporality, 17, 161n42 productive class of the society, 62, 66, 71, 73–4, 75 progress: future and the discourse of, 145, 148–9; limits of, 23–4, 149; philosophical idea of, 11, 19, 36, 50, 68; role of foresight in, 39, 53–4; stadial theory of, 40, 42, 43, 45, 59; theories of, 23 proprietary class of the society, 70, 71

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222 Index Quesnay, François: on agricultural production, 66–7; approach to revolution, 94; “arithmetic hieroglyphics” of, 61–2, 83–5; artistic career of, 82; concept of évidence of, 86–9; contribution to political economy, 27, 31, 67, 69, 70, 71, 78–9, 189n160; correspondence with Mirabeau, 62, 81; creation of tableau économique, 60, 62, 64, 69, 70, 74, 83, 90; critique of history, 182n97; d’Alembert and, 183n101; debates on luxury, 72, 73; development of sensationism, 86; Encyclopédie articles, 66, 70, 80, 85; friends and patrons of, 80; ideas about language, 183n104; on importance of foresight, 60, 79; on increase in wealth, 77; library of, 80, 183n100–1; on limits to growth, 69; on macroeconomic issues, 67; on productive class, 66, 73–4; on progress and recovery, 64–5, 68; public prominence of, 14; on reproduction of annual advances, 178n50; on role of communication, 80–1, 82; on sanction for monarchs, 79, 80; search for true natural laws, 35, 88–9, 181n83; on taxation, 67; Traité de la monarchie, 79; on types of commerce, 186n129; vision of the future, 72, 77–8, 89–90, 93, 94; on visual representations, 81–3; works on China, 27, 84–5, 187n136 Rabaut Saint-Étienne, Jean Paul, 137–8 Réaumur, René-Antoine Ferchault de, 100, 102 regeneration: concept of, 13–14, 15, 26–7, 122–3, 126 regularity: concept of, 32–6

Republican clock and calendar: adoption of, 132, 141; beginning of the Year I, 139, 156n11; decimal time, 122, 203n3; design of, 121; naming of months and days, 132, 139; rationalism of, 131; reference to events before Year I, 139, 210n84; as regenerative tool, 130; social practices and, 130–1; as tool of erasure and forgetting, 139 revolution: meaning of the word, 93–4; physiocratic understanding of, 68 Robert, Hubert, 146, 148, 149 Robertson, William: The History of America, 55, 56 Robespierre, Maximilien, 142, 145 Robinet, Jean-Baptiste-René, 7, 28, 55, 119 Rochefort, Pierre de, 82 Romme, Gilbert, 127, 210n84 Rosenberg, Daniel, 46 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques: characterization of the Caribs, 49–50, 53–4; criticism of physiocrats, 66, 78, 93; Discourse on the Origins of Inequality, 49, 56; on foresight, 53–4, 202n119; on ideal legislator, 129; idea of “natural man,” 43, 53–4; on means of communication, 80; on origin of society, 11, 53–4; polemics with Mirabeau, 66, 78; The Social Contract, 129 Les ruines, ou méditations sur les révolutions des empires (Volney): discourse of future retrospection, 146; illustrations from, 147; publication of, 145–6 Russell, Nicholas, 100 Saint-Just, Louis-Antoine-Léon de, 138 Saint-Lambert, Jean-François de, 55, 56, 58

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Index 223 Saint-Simon, Henri de, 150 sameness over time, 17, 19, 28–31, 67–8, 93 “savages”: in philosophical works, representation of, 37–59 Schelling, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph, 136 Schlegel, Friedrich, 146, 148, 153, 212n10 schools: formal pedagogy of, 129 secular voluntarism, 25, 124, 144–5 Ségur, Louis-Philippe de, 44 sensationist epistemology, 86–7, 131 Seven Years’ War, 25 sheep: regeneration experiments, 98, 113 Sieyès, Emmanuel-Joseph, 134–5, 141, 156n13 simultaneity: visual representation of, 46, 47 simultaneity of the non-simultaneous: concept of, 38–42, 58, 59; examples of, 43–6 Sloan, Philip, 103, 106, 196n51, 196n52 Smith, Adam, 40, 54 social architecture, 156n13 social engineering, 13–14, 19–20, 122 Society of the Observers of Man, 41 species: accidental and essential characteristics of, 110; creation of, 112–13; essential traits of, 120; human manipulation of, 110–11, 115; immutable internal form of, 108; limits of, 31, 120; moule intérieur mechanism of, 30–1, 108, 109, 110; reproduction of, 108; restoration of, 120; varieties within, 30, 110 sterile class of society, 62, 66, 71, 73, 74, 75, 180n69 St. Petersburg, Russia: observations about, 44

Strauss, Friedrich, 46 Suard, Jean-Baptiste-Antoine, 55 tableau économique (the economic picture): argument against luxury, 72, 73; certainty of knowledge of, 87–8; classes of the economy, 62; conjectural science of, 89–90; critique of, 85, 187n135; development of, 12, 14, 27, 60–2, 78–9, 85, 88, 135; editions of, 62, 63, 70, 72, 74; effectiveness of, 74; as évidence, 88–90; formule version of, 74, 75, 180n72; graphical forms of, 62; as hieroglyphic representation, 83–5, 186n125; imbalances in expenditures in, 180n69; importance of, 93; modelling capacities of, 70–1, 72, 75; net product, 62, 77; orientation towards the future, 61, 72, 74, 77, 85, 89–90, 93; political economy and, 91, 92; précis version of, 74, 75, 180n72; progression of the proprietor’s revenue, 75, 76; relationship to the real economy, 70, 89; representation of money, 179n59; representation of the capital exchange, 71–2, 73, 75, 89, 90; tableau inverse form, 75; uniformity of natural laws and, 35; visuality of, 62; zigzag form of, 69–71, 74–5, 179n59, 180n72 taxation, 67 temporality: everyday, 17; regimes of, 18, 19; uncanny, 11, 42, 46. See also historical temporality Thermidorian Reaction, 126 time: creation of “new style” of, 127; European perception of, 42; evolution of ideas of,

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224 Index uniformity of nature, 32–6 universal history: discourses of, 37–8 “vagabonds,” 43–4 Valéry, Paul, 148, 212n10 visual representations, 81–3 Volney, Constantin-François Chasseboeuf de: approach to constructing the future, 124; travels of, 145–6; works of, 145, 147 Voltaire, 7, 91 Warburton, William, 80, 83 War of Austrian Succession, 25 wealth: progression of, 68; regeneration of, 69 Weisman, Alan, 153 Wilson, James, 46 wolf-dogs, 116, 117 Wolff, Christian, 103, 104, 105 women: absence of foresight, 56–7; as civil-savage hybrids, 58; vs. men, 56 Wright, James, 46 Y-King (I-Ching), 85, 188n136 Young, Arthur, 45

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16, 17, 27–8, 151–2; French Revolution’s relationship to, 123–4; idea of control over, 96, 144; linearity and irreversibility of, 148; manipulation of, 144; philosophical ideas about, 17, 161n44; relational understanding of, 104; reorganization of, 121–2, 127–8, 129, 203n3, 206n27; table for the conversion of, 128; theory of layers of, 170n15; as tool of social engineering, 19–20; zigzag as vision of time, 94. See also clock time; deep time; historical temporality; temporality Trudaine de Montigny, Jean-CharlesPhilibert, 64 Turgot, Anne-Robert-Jacques: discourse of universal history, 37–8; foreseeing the present, 18; idea of progress, 23, 26, 37–8; ministerial posts of, 64, 78; oration at the Sorbonne, 37; on people as monuments, 37, 43; on stasis of nature, 28–9; theory of stadial progress, 40

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