The Centre for the History of European Discourses was incorporated in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities in August 2015.

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If literary representations are to be believed, the charlatan seems to have been established in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries as a clearly recognisable figure, with a distinctive (though to modern eyes quite disparate) set of qualities. His primary relation to knowledge was his claim to magical healing. Before about 1730, narrative appears most likely to represent him as a figure of amusement, rather than the object of high-minded denunciation. However, the business of denunciation seems to become more prominent in the middle of the eighteenth century, as the relation between medicine and philosophy becomes a central philosophical issue. This paper will use La Mettrie's work as a focus for a series of questions about unmasking, unveiling, and the perception of truth. Not only did La Mettrie struggle to deal with these questions: his œuvre and his person were themselves the subject of much contestation. Denouncing and denounced, he satirised the physicians of the Sorbonne in Les Charlatans démasqués, only to be condemned in his turn by Diderot as an improper philosopher, in every sense of the term.

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