I first wrote about this on 4 August 2004, so I will cannibalize that material and in another entry add some comments based on my recent (re-)reading of this issue.
Here we find a critical review of the philosophical positions of the French Enlightenment and related issues of that time and ours, including the philosophical reaction to the birth of modern chemistry, debates surrounding the nature of life from a materialist perspective, the mind-body problem, the germs of emergent materialism, Spinoza, La Mettrie, Diderot, and more. Here is the table of contents:
VOLUME 22, NUMBER 1. THE RENEWAL OF MATERIALISM
François Dagognet Materialism: A Philosophy of Multiple Revivals
Annie Bitbol-Hespériès Descartes, Reader of Harvey: The Discovery of the Circulation of Blood in Context
Yves Charles Zarka Being and Action in the Thought of Ralph Cudworth
Meriam Korichi Defining Spinoza's Possible Materialism
Ann Thomson La Mettrie, Machines, and the Denial of Liberty
Amor Cherni Brute Matter and Organic Matter in Buffon
Annie Ibrahim The Life Principle and the Doctrine of Living Being in Diderot
A. Suratteau-Iberraken Medical Vitalism and Philosophical Materialism in the Eighteenth-Century Debate on Monsters
Roselyne Rey Diderot and the Medicine of the Mind
Alexandre Métraux The Emergent Materialism in French Clinical Brain Research (1820-1850)
Pierre Kerszberg The Mental Chemistry of Speculative Philosophy
Didier Gil Is Consciousness a Brain Process?
Guillaume le Blanc From Matter to Materiality According to Canguilhem
Jean-Claude Bourdin The Uncertain Materialism of Louis Althusser
Antonio Negri Alma Venus. Prolegomena to the Common
Miguel Vatter Phenomenology in Kant's Idealism: Review of Pierre Kerszberg's Critique and Totality
Canguilhem, Althusser, and Negri belong to the 20th century. The latter two are still in fashion, and while I do not recommend them, you can read Negri's article on the web:
Antonio Negri, "Alma Venus. Prolegomena to the common," trans. Patricia Dailey & Constantino Costantini.
The editor's introduction to this issue cites a study showing that Marx and Engels got French materialism wrong in The Holy Family. As it happens, part of said article has been translated into English:
By Olivier-Rene Bloch
[Excerpts translated by Tom Weston from "Marx, Renouvier, et l'histoire du materialisme." This work originally appeared in La Pensee, numero 191, fevrier, 1977, pp. 3 - 42. It has been reprinted in Olivier Bloch, Matieres a histoires, Librarie Philosophique J. Vrin, 6, Place de la Sorbonne, 75005 Paris. This translation is in the public domain, October, 1997.]
Gil, Didier. "Is Consciousness a Brain Process?", Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal, vol. 22, no. 1, 2000, pp. 227-253.
This is one of the finest dissections of the competing philosophies underlying artificial intelligence I've seen.
(To be continued)