Discours sur la religion

Title: Discours sur la religion

Creator: Paige Gulley

Category: Mind

Creator Commentary:

This piece, modelled after the style of Denis Diderot’s Supplément au Voyage de Bougainville (Supplement to the Voyage of Bougainville), is a discussion between Denis Diderot, the 18th-century French Enlightenment philosopher, perhaps most known for his contributions to the Encyclopédie (Encyclopedia) project; the 20th-century French Nouvelle Vague filmmaker and critic Jacques Rivette; and two unidentified 21st-century characters, one an atheist, the other agnostic. The original purpose of this piece was to explore Diderot’s views on religion, and compare them to those of a 21st-century person and of Rivette, who made a 1966 film of Diderot’s 1760 novel La Religieuse (The Nun). This was accomplished by introducing the religious uncertainty of the agnostic, who does not know what to believe. However, this piece ultimately addresses the fundamental uncertainty of human knowledge and reasoning in general. While he provides convincing arguments against the existence of god, Diderot ultimately recognizes the limitations of his own knowledge of the world, and tries to underline these limits for the other members of the discussion. Whether he succeeds or not is unclear; however, his view of the world provides an example of how one can live with the existential uncertainty we face when we begin to deeply examine our own processes of reason and knowledge-creation.

All of Rivette’s opinions are based on his adaptation of La Religieuse. The opinions of Diderot come from a study of his works and various academic sources about him and/or his writings. Any inaccuracies are mine alone.


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Creator Bio:

Paige Gulley is currently in her final year as an undergraduate at Chapman University. Her love of reading led her to her current job at a public library, but it is her love of languages and cultures that motivate her academic studies. Paige will be pursuing a Master’s in War and Society at Chapman University next year, and then hopes to continue her studies in the field of postcolonial studies. No matter where her life takes her, she intends to live a life of ubuntu, always recognizing the humanity in others and acting accordingly.

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