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Falsehood Disguised

Unmasking the Truth in La Rochefoucauld

by Richard Hodgson

Publication Year: 1995

Falsehood Disguised analyzes La Rochefoucauld's ideas on truth and falsehood in the context of his views on self-love, on the passions, and on vice and virtue. It also explores his views on the subject in relation to what he sees as the extremely fragile foundations of the social contract.

Published by: Purdue University Press

Series: Purdue Studies in Romance Literatures

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quotes

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pp. iii-viii


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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xii

Like many of his seventeenth-century contemporaries, La Rochefoucauld was passionately interested in the nature of truth. He learned very early that given the powerful internal and external forces at work to prevent human beings from successfully carrying out their endless search for truth, distinguishing...

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pp. xiii

I would like to thank all the people who helped me, directly and indirectly, with the writing of this book. My warmest . thanks go to my colleagues and friends Larry Bongie and Ralph Sarkonak, who read the manuscript with great care and provided much-needed criticism and suggestions. I would also like...

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Chapter One-Introduction:Truth and Falsehood in La Rochefoucauld

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pp. 1-11

The frontispiece of the 1665 edition of La Rochefoucauld's Maximes displays a Cupid-like winged figure who has just removed a mask from a bust of Seneca. The scene depicted has often been viewed as symbolizing La Rochefoucauld's attitude toward Stoicism in general and the classical concept of "virtue"...

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Chapter Two-La Rochefoucauld and the Baroque Worldview

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pp. 13-26

Before we examine in greater detail, through a close reading of his works, La Rochefoucauld's ideas concerning truth and its various masks and disguises, it is of vital importance to place his moral writings in what is by no means the only context in which they can or should be studied, but one with the advantage of providing...

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Chapter Three-Truth and Its Masks: In Search of I'Etre Vrai

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pp. 27-38

In La Rochefoucauld's eyes, our eternal search for truth, in a wide range of areas but particularly in the illusory world of human motivations and, human interaction, is continually being thwarted by the many masks that, for a multitude of reasons, we social creatures constantly find it advantageous, and...

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Chapter Four- Self-love, Self-interest, Self-deception

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pp. 39-55

Just as the theme of truth and falsehood begins and in a sense ends the Reflexions diverses, the concept of amour-propre is the theme with which the text of the Maximes opens and closes. However, l'amour-propre is not just the idea that La Rochefoucauld stresses at both the beginning and the end of the Maximes...

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Chapter Five- A Theory of the Passions

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pp. 57-67

Throughout his writings, La Rochefoucauld portrays self-love as only one of the many passions that originate in the perpetual "movements" of the human heart and help to keep the "soul" of the afflicted individual in a state of continual agitation and uncertainty. According to La Rochefoucauld, the multitude of...

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Chapter Six- Vices and Virtues

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pp. 69-78

In La Rochefoucauld's moral system, there is little doubt that true virtue, like true friendship and true love, does exist," but. like many other human qualities and attributes, it rarely exists in a pure form. 'What we usually consider to be virtue is either merely the appearance of virtue or else virtue that is intricately...

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Chapter Seven- Disguising the Truth from Others

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pp. 79-95

For many writers: of the Baroque period, the idea that social . life is founded primarily if riot exclusively upon artifice and illusion was a fundamental principle upon which all attempts to analyze or satirize the foibles and follies of the social being were necessarily based. In Gracian's extraordinarily rich and...

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Chapter Eight- Useful Lies: Truth, Honnetete, and the Social Contract

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pp. 97-108

One of the central ethical problems La Rochefoucauld addresses is how to reconcile his view of society as a world of perpetual illusion-making and mutual deceit with his belief that truthfulness and sincerity are what distinguish the real honnete homme from the ambitious trickster who is wearing only the mask of...

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Chapter Nine- La Rochefoucauld and Posterity: The Continuing Debate

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pp. 109-124

Since La Rochefoucauld's death, the issues he raised about the difficulties we' all face in trying to discover the truths of everyday life and, in a wider context, the debate about the nature 'of truth to which he made such an important contribution have continued to fascinate, provoke, and inspire his readers. In the...

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Chapter Ten- Conclusion: The Modernity of La Rochefoucauld

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pp. 125-130

Of the many problems La Rochefoucauld addresses in the Maximesand in the Reflexions diverses, the elaborate and infinitely varied disguises that falsehood can wear and the arduous nature of the task of penetrating those disguises in order to arrive at the truth are both central concepts in his view of .human nature-what we would today call his psychology. As...

Appendix: English Translations

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pp. 131-152


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pp. 153-162

Select Bibliography

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pp. 163-172


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pp. 173-176

E-ISBN-13: 9781612491042
E-ISBN-10: 1612491049
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557532183
Print-ISBN-10: 1557532184

Page Count: 196
Publication Year: 1995

Series Title: Purdue Studies in Romance Literatures