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The French Idea of HistoryJoseph de Maistre and His Heirs, 1794-1854$
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Carolina Armenteros

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449437

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449437.001.0001

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A Brief Intellectual Biography

A Brief Intellectual Biography

Chapter:
(p.20) A Brief Intellectual Biography
Source:
The French Idea of History
Author(s):

Carolina Armenteros

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801449437.003.0002

This chapter provides a brief intellectual biography of Joseph de Maistre. Born in Chambéry in 1753, Maistre was educated like most upper-class, French-speaking Catholic boys of his time—by the clergy (likely the Jesuits), receiving a thorough grounding in the Greek and Latin classics. By fifteen he had already read Voltaire, and was harboring encyclopedic ambitions. At sixteen, Maistre enrolled in the law course at the University of Turin, where the works of Enlightenment philosophy were required reading, though his familiarity with them dated from earlier days. The major new intellectual influence Maistre came across during his prerevolutionary adulthood was illuminism. It offered Maistre a variety of intellectual attractions. The study of the occult sciences—astrology, alchemy, magic—seems to have been among them, and indeed his self-teaching of Greek and interest in ancient Platonism and Hermetism date from this period.

Keywords:   University of Turin, Enlightenment, illuminism, occult sciences, astrology, alchemy, magic, Platonism, Hermetism

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