Unraveling NATURAL Utopia: Diderot's supplement to the voyage of bougainville


Diderot's Supplement to the Voyage of Bougainville has often been read as a Rousseauian condemnation of modern civilization judged against the standard of pure Nature. A cursory reading of the Supplement does appear to present Tahiti as a natural utopia and Europe as a civilized prison. This essay rejects such a reading by demonstrating that the Supplement actually undermines any clear opposition between virtuous nature, represented by Tahiti, and corrupt civilization, represented by Europe. Although Diderot truly does offer a stinging critique of modern Europe, he refuses to offer "natureg" as a redemptive alternative. Instead, the Supplement offers an implicit critique of the politics of moralism. © 2009 SAGE Publications.

Publication Title

Political Theory