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Diderot's Dialogic Difference

Susan Pinette
The French Review
Vol. 81, No. 2 (Dec., 2007), pp. 339-350
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25481106
Page Count: 12
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Diderot's Dialogic Difference
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Abstract

This article takes as its focus Diderot's Supplément au voyage de Bougainville, and it contends that its dialogical form embodies Diderot's conceptualization of cultural variation. First, it argues that Diderot's text posits this conceptualization thematically and formally. Second, this paper maintains that the Supplément presents dialogue as an inherent aspect of ethnographic knowledge. The Supplément enters into the then unresolved methodological quarrel between Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Bougainville. The Supplément changes the focus of their debate, tracing out a middle path that recognizes the importance of scientific observation but marks its limitations, and positing self-knowledge as the ultimate goal of ethnography.

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