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Artisanal EnlightenmentScience and the Mechanical Arts in Old Regime France$
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Paola Bertucci

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780300227413

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300227413.001.0001

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Theory, Practice, Improvement

Theory, Practice, Improvement

(p.79) Chapter 3 Theory, Practice, Improvement
Artisanal Enlightenment

Paola Bertucci

Yale University Press

This chapter talks about early attempts to constitute associations dedicated to the improvement of the mechanical arts, casting light in particular on the earlier, little-known Société des Arts founded in Paris during the Regency (1718). It frames such associations within the broader economic history of France, with special attention to the history of artisans' migrations between France and England, and the demands deriving from France's colonial expansion. Artistes involved in these associations advocated a clear distinction between theoretical and practical knowledge, which aimed to discredit the expertise of academic institutions in technical matters. Appropriating Francis Bacon's distinction between operative and speculative knowledge, artistes contrasted the philosophers' search for truth to their expertise on practical matters and their concern with public good.

Keywords:   mechanical arts, Société des Arts, Regency, economic history, France, artisans, aristes, technical matters

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