Dark Side of the Light: Slavery and the French Enlightenment by Louis Sala-Molins

By Louis Sala-Molins

Enlightenment thinkers comparable to Rousseau and Montesquieu are most sensible identified for his or her humanist theories and releasing effect on Western civilization. yet as well known French highbrow Louis Sala-Molins indicates, Enlightenment discourses and students have been additionally complicit within the Atlantic slave alternate, changing into tools of oppression and inequality. Translated into English for the 1st time, darkish aspect of the sunshine scrutinizes Condorcet’s Reflections on Negro Slavery and the works of Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Diderot aspect through facet with the Code Noir (the royal rfile that codified the foundations of French Caribbean slavery) to be able to discover makes an attempt to uphold the humanist venture of the Enlightenment whereas concurrently justifying slavery. Wielding the pen of either the ironist and the moralist, Sala-Molins demonstrates the unsuitable nature of those makes an attempt and the explanations given for this denial of rights, from the imperatives of public order to the unfinished humanity of the slave (and hence the necessity for his innovative humanization via slavery), to the industrial prosperity that trusted his hard work. even as, Sala-Molins makes use of the innovations of literature to provide equivalent weight to the point of view of the “barefooted, the ravenous, and the slaves” via expository prose and scenes among slave and thinker, giving ethical supplier and flesh-and-blood dimensions to concerns generally taken care of as abstractions. Both an pressing critique and a measured research, darkish aspect of the sunshine unearths the ethical paradoxes of Enlightenment philosophies and their world-changing consequences. Louis Sala-Molins is an ethical and political thinker and emeritus professor on the collage of Toulouse. he's the writer of many books, together with Le Code Noir, ou Le calvaire de Canaan and L’Afrique aux Am?riques. John Conteh-Morgan is affiliate professor of French and Francophone, African-American, and African stories at Ohio nation collage. he's the writer of Theatre and Drama in Francophone Africa: A serious advent.

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4 10 '—• Preface While examining the views of the Enlightenment, it will also be useful to see what some of today's complacently selfstyled and so-called philosophers or thinkers have had to say about the Enlightenment. We shall take note of their silences. It will then be tempting to conclude that like the eighteenth century, ours is not lacking in flatterers. 1 Meticulous in its analyses and balanced in its conclusions, this work paints a rather unflattering picture of the way in which French Enlightenment thought mapped out the symbolic geography of the human and the inhuman.

I will be forgiven for not understanding, or for understanding only too well, why the progressive France of 1989 consecrated him by transferring his noble remains to the Pantheon. Could it be France's way of applauding—in these days of halftones and half measures, of pitiful confusion between the just and the unjust, between generosity and moneygrubbing—the fascinating beauty of compromise, the whorish excitement of consensus? Am I straying off course? Let me come back, then, to the point. I realize that I am speaking of the most generous of all of them in talking about Condorcet.

You may be corrupt and corrupting, but you are not liable, from a strictly legal point of view, for impregnating Negresses or forcing them, as you deem fit, into prostitution. As masters, such conduct can only cheapen you; it cannot drag you down the ladder of civility. You are white. In you, as in the best theology of the Holy Trinity, the three sovereignties are irreducible one to the other. However, because you are neither a child, nor an idiot, nor a madman, they constitute an indivisible unity in your soul.

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