The incommunicable secret or the encountered experience: Mystery, ritual, Freemasonry in 18th century French literature
MetadataShow full item record
Other TitlesLe secret incommunicable ou l'experience vecue: mystere, rituel et pensees maconniques dans la litterature francaise au XVIII siecle
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe philosophers of the Enlightenment base their ideas on reason while attracting public attention on the futility of religion. The concept of the universe inherited from Antiquity is rejuvenated by contemporary sciences and, at first sight, we would think that nature governs the supernatural. A number of philosophical works, which would today be considered anthropological, deal with the customs and manners of different countries of the world, inevitably describing the religious cults and ceremonies practiced throughout the centuries. To what extent are these rituals kept, neglected or transformed in the century of Enlightenment? What is the connection between the ceremonies of Antiquity and the rituals practiced in the confined space of modern secret societies? Speculative Freemasonry, introduced to France at the beginning of the 18 th century, counts among its members a number of well-known philosophers. Do these enlightened minds, most of whom are adversaries of religion, practice the rituals based on sacred and incommunicable mysteries? These are some of the questions which this dissertation tries to answer in analyzing the philosophers' (i.e. Voltaire, Dupuis, Boulanger, Demeunier) anthropological views; the origins of Freemasonry and the ancient sacred tradition; the founding murder and the sacrificial ritual; freemasonic and initiatory symbols in Ramsay's Voyages of Cyrus (1727); Ramsay's quest and the mysteries in his Discourse (1736); Casanova's Icosameron (1788), a freemasonic utopia, hermetic allegory and symbolic fable. This dissertation attempts to demonstrate that the denial of the mystery and the supposed domination of the world by reason are only the well-known and visible aspect of the 18 th century.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
French and Italian