Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Talk at Bilkent 22/06: Sandrine Berges on Sophie de Grouchy

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31-french-revolution-1789-granger

“Sophie de Grouchy and the publication of Condorcet’s Sketch of Human Progress: a tale of exclusion”.

Wednesday 22 June, 12:40 – 13:30, H235

In this paper I examine some of the evidence for collaboration between Condorcet and Sophie de Grouchy on the writing of the Sketch of Human Progress, but also, uncover the ways in which the publication and reception of that text worked to exclude a woman who was a philosopher in her own right from a work she clearly contributed to.

In 1795, the Convention of the French Republic, regretting its role in bringing about Condorcet’s death, commissioned 3000 copies of his last piece, a Sketch of Human Progress. Daunou was chosen to edit it and wisely, he asked Condorcet’s widow and collaborator, Sophie de Grouchy, to co-edit. This same text was re-edited by Grouchy in 1802 when she brought out the complete works of her husband, but when in 1847 Arago, of the Academie Francaise, decided to publish a new edition of the complete works, he put the Daunou/Grouchy edition of the Sketch aside and instead ‘went back to the manuscript’ provided him by his own co-editor, the Condorcets’s daughter Eliza.

A look at the manuscript itself shows that it would have been hard to extract a clear text from it – it is hard to decipher, heavily annotated, and clearly waiting further revisions. Moreover, some of the annotations appear to be in Grouchy’s hand, suggesting that she may have collaborated with her husband on the manuscript.

There are other reasons to suppose that husband and wife may have worked together on the Sketch, some relating to the history of this particular work, but also because they had collaborated in the past.

If I am right that Sophie de Grouchy had a hand in the writing of the Sketch, it seems that we have strong reasons not to dismiss – and indeed to prefer – her edition of that same text in 1795, and again 1802, as she would have been in a much stronger position to make sense of that very messy manuscript than an editor half a century later would.

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Written by Sandrine Berges

June 14, 2016 at 2:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Reblogged this on Feminist History of Philosophy.

    Sandrine Berges

    June 14, 2016 at 2:41 pm


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