Single Idea 7667

[catalogued under 22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / e. Human nature]

Full Idea

Diderot is among the first to preach that there are two men: the artificial man, who belongs in society and seeks to please, and the violent, bold, criminal instinct of a man who wishes to break out (and, if controlled, is responsible for works of genius.

Gist of Idea

There are two sides to men - the pleasantly social, and the violent and creative


report of Denis Diderot (works [1769], Ch.3) by Isaiah Berlin - The Roots of Romanticism

Book Reference

Berlin,Isaiah: 'The Roots of Romanticism' [Pimlico 2000], p.51

A Reaction

This has an obvious ancestor in Plato's picture (esp. in 'Phaedrus') of the two conflicting sides to the psuché, which seem to be reason and emotion. In Diderot, though, the suppressed man has virtues, which Plato would deny.