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Hume Studies Volume 27, Number 1, April 2001, pp. 85-97 Hume and Berkeley in the Prussian Academy: Louis Frédéric Ancillon's "Dialogue between Berkeley and Hume" of 1796 S. CHARLES, J. C. LAURSEN, R. H. POPKIN, AND A. ZAKATISTOVS Introduction Louis Frédéric Ancillon was a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences and Belles Lettres whose imagined dialogue between Berkeley and Hume was read to the Academy in 1796 and published in 1799.1 It is important as an indicator of the reception of Hume and Berkeley in francophone philosophical circles in late eighteenth-century Prussia. Our introduction is followed by an English translation with notes. Sébastien Charles is at the Faculty of Theology, Ethics, and Philosophy at Sherbrooke University, Sherbrooke, Québec, JlK 2Rl, Canada; e-mail: schariOl@courrier.usherb.ca John Christian Laursen is Professor of Political Science, University of California-Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521-0118, USA; e-mail: laursen@wizard.ucr.edu Richard H. Popkin is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Washington University and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at UCLA. His address is 15349 Albright St. #204, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272, USA; e-mail: rpopkin@pop9.humnet.ucla.edu A. Zakatistovs is at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ottawa, 70 Laurier Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, KlN 6N5, Canada; e-mail: zakatistovs@yahoo.com 86 Charles, Laursen, Popkin, and Zakatistovs Ancillon's Life and Work Ancillon was born in Berlin in 1740, grandson of Huguenot historian Charles Ancillon, who had been forced to flee France upon the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.2 He was named to the Academy in 1786 shortly after winning one of its prizes for an essay on the social function of religion, and died in 1814.3 His Discourse on the Question: Besides inspiration, what are the qualities that assure that the Holy Books are superior to profane books? of 1782 won a prize from the Academy of Rouen in 1778 and he brought out a Latin Judgment of the Judgments about the Cartesian Argument for the Existence of God in 1792.4 Ancillon was a member of the "Speculative Philosophy" Class of the Academy . P. L. M. de Maupertuis headed this class until his death in 1759, and left his mark in at least two ways that we can still see in Ancillon. On the one hand, he had respect for philosophical skepticism, using it against the Wolffians and materialists, and on the other hand, he feared its effects on morality and Christianity.5 Other members of the academy in Ancillon's day such as Jean-Bernard Mérian (d. 1807), Jean-Henri-Samuel Formey (d. 1797), and Jean de Castillon (d. 1791) carried on the tradition of respecting, adapting , and using skepticism, even as they fought some of its implications and defended Christianity.6 Other members of the class in Ancillon's day included Johann Jacob Engel, Friedrich Nicolai, Christian Selle, and Frédéric de Castillon. Together, these philosophers ranged over the available philosophy with particular interest in Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, Wolff, Diderot, Rousseau, Hume, and, especially after about 1790, Kant.7 The Academy was one of the chief sources of the dissemination of the work of David Hume in the eighteenth century. Mérian translated the first Enquiry into French in 1758 and Johann Georg Sulzer wrote the notes for the first German translation of it (1755).8 Mérian especially had great respect for the philosophical acuity of Hume, and Mérian's "On the Phenomenalism of David Hume" of 1793 may have inspired Ancillon to write his "Dialogue."9 Mérian was also a partisan of Berkeley's theory of vision against that of Condillac and Diderot. Berkeley's work was available in French as early as Alciphron and The Theory of Vision in 1734.10 A Discourse Addressed to Magistrates came out in French in 1738,u followed by Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous in 174412 and Shis, under the title of Recherches sur les vertus de l'eau de goudron, in 1745.13 Ancillon's first essay for the Mémoires oÃ- the Academy was entitled "Considerations on the state of nature."14 He pointed out that...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-9921
Print ISSN
0319-7336
Pages
pp. 85-97
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-26
Open Access
No
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