1st Edition

Condillac and His Reception On the Origin and Nature of Human Abilities

Edited By Delphine Antoine-Mahut, Anik Waldow Copyright 2024

    This volume explores the philosophy of Étienne Bonnot de Condillac. It presents, for the first time, English-language essays on Condillac’s philosophy, making the complexity and sophistication of his arguments and their influence on early modern philosophy accessible to a wider readership.

    Condillac’s reflections on the origin and nature of human abilities, such as the ability to reason, reflect and use language, took philosophy in distinctly new directions. This volume showcases the diversity of themes and methods inspired by Condillac’s work. The chapters are divided into four thematic sections. Part 1 traces connections between Condillac and his contemporaries to understand the context in which themes and discussions central to Condillac’s own philosophical thinking evolved. Part 2 focuses on the different ways in which Condillac’s philosophy was taken up, challenged, and further developed in nineteenth-century France, before moving in Part 3 to the discussion of thinkers outside of France. Finally, Part 4 looks at the contemporary applications of Condillac’s philosophy in a variety of different fields, such as phenomenology, psychology, and psychopathology.

    Condillac and His Reception will appeal to scholars and advanced students working on early modern philosophy, history of science and intellectual history.

    1. Introduction: Condillac and Us Delphine Antoine-Mahut and Anik Waldow

    Part 1: Condillac and His Intellectual Context

    2. The Materialists (Diderot, La Mettrie, Deschamps) and Condillac’s Theory of Knowledge Guillaume Coissard

    3. Condillac and the Molyneux Problem Peter Anstey

    4. Reinventing Newtonianism: Hypotheses, Systems and Attraction in Condillac Gianni Paganini

    5. Languages of Action, Methodological Signs and Deafness: The Reception of Condillac by the Abbé de L’Épée—or was It the Other Way Around? Marion Chottin

    Part 2: Condillac’s Reception in Nineteenth-Century France

    6. Condillac Restored: The Paradox of Attention in Pierre Laromiguière’s Lessons on Philosophy (1815) Pierre Brouillet

    7. Madness and Ideologist Philosophy of the Mind: Pinel and Condillac on the Dualism of Understanding and Will Samuel Lézé

    8. “The Only, the True French Metaphysician of the Eighteenth Century:” Condillac, Cousin and the “French School” Delphine Antoine-Mahut

    9. Condillac’s Puerile Reveries: The Reception of Condillac in Phrenology and in the Philosophy of Auguste Comte Laurent Clauzade

    Part 3: Condillac’s Influence Beyond France

    10. Between Debate and Reception: Formey Reads Condillac Angela Ferraro

    11. Rethinking the Human Animal with Condillac and Herder Anik Waldow

    12. The Reception of Condillac in Argentina: From the Nineteenth-Century Professors of idéologie to José Ingenieros Silvia Manzo

    Part 4: Contemporary Receptions

    13. Time, Order and the Human Interior: Paths towards Condillac Christopher Goodey

    14. Representations of the Body and Self-Knowledge: Condillac’s Treatise on Sensations and Contemporary Naturalistic Psychology Aliènor Bertrand

    15. Reductions and Radicalisation of Reductions: Condillac, Michel Henry and Maine de Biran Anne Devarieux


    Delphine Antoine-Mahut is Professor of Philosophy at the ENS de Lyon. She has widely published on Cartesianism, its historiography and its various receptions. Among other collective works, she co-directed The Oxford Handbook of Descartes and Cartesianism with Steven Nadler and Tad Schmaltz (2019). Her last book was L’autorité d’un canon philosophique. Le cas Descartes (2021).

    Anik Waldow is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney and specialises in early modern philosophy. She is the author of Hume and the Problem of Other Minds (2009) and Experience Embodied: Early Modern Accounts of the Human Place in Nature (2020).