Vol. 7 No. 2 (2014): Formare per metafore. Arte, scienza, natura

Metafore del meccanico nel pensiero di Diderot. Arti e tecniche

Published December 30, 2014
  • metaphor,
  • Diderot,
  • Encyclopédie,
  • mechanical arts
How to Cite
Quintili, P. (2014). Metafore del meccanico nel pensiero di Diderot. Arti e tecniche. Aisthesis. Pratiche, Linguaggi E Saperi dell’estetico, 7(2), 93-107. https://doi.org/10.13128/Aisthesis-15292


The natural philosophy of Diderot is built from the experience of the fundamental Description des Arts in the Encyclopedia, or from the «great and beautiful collection of machines» which the work provides a very rich representation. Models and metaphors that Diderot constructs to describe the world of organic beings, from the Pensées sur l'Interpretation de la nature (1753), are inspired by the world of the mechanical arts and crafts. The manouvriers d’expériences, the experimental philosophers, are the great inventors and discoverers of the secrets of nature and living being: to them Diderot inspire itself and his work as a philosopher of nature and arts. From the loom to weave socks, to the fire pump, the description of the machine proceeds through a complex network of metaphors that combine the operation of the instrument to that of organic life. The machine energises itself and the organism, in turn, is mechanized in a maze of functional architectures, according to new models and artistic metaphors of living beings, other than cartesian one. Diderot does not cease to be mechanistic still in his last vitalistic works, from Le Rêve de D’Alembert, to the Éléments de Physiologie. The new world of handicraft and artisans remains the key reference point in the philosophical work of the encyclopaedist-naturalist: weaving loom socks and sensible harpsichord are the two tools / metaphors that describe the man and his rational and specific nature.


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