In De rerum natura, Lucretius does not appear to derive his position on matter from the idea that there must exist a fundamental and unbridgeable gap between material substance and the means used to represent this substance to readers. Instead, he sees an engagement with poetic language—and the material pleasures that this language produces in his readers' bodies—as the starting point in the development of a materialist point of view. The Lucretian perspective— wherein figure and substance are intimately conjoined, rather than inherently distinct from one another—persists as a philosophical legacy in eighteenth-century France and shapes the period's discussions of the role of literature in forming and moving readers.
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