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The Influence of the Enlightenment on the French Revolution (College) Paperback – June, 1973

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Product Details

  • Series: College
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: D C Heath & Co; 2 edition (June 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0669820245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0669820249
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,220,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joseph M. Hennessey on November 26, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Perhaps i am being a little stingy in not giving 'The Influence of the Enlightenment on the French Revolution,'edited by William F. Church, five stars, because it is almost of the nature of a book of collected essays like this, all on the same topic, to sometimes repeat, and some of the essays contradict each other.

The book's title captures the contents of the book; each of the 15 essays advert to one of the most discussed intellectual puzzles of the last 200+ years, how much influence, if any, did the enlightenment authors and writings have on bringing about the French revolution? The two possible extreme answers to this question, that there was zero influence, or that the enlightenment was the sole cause of the revolution, are the only opinions unanimously ruled out. All 15 authors in this book agree that there were varying levels of influence, but some would say more, some less. The majority of the collected essays are from conservatives who destested the revolution, and most of these blamed the enlightenment for much of the scourge, but there are a few essays from authors who, from the more liberal perspective, agreed with the outcome of the revolution, although not approving of its violent excesses.

I found the 13th essay, that of Henri Peyre, to be the most persuasive. He says, although not using this word, that there was a dialectical relationship between the 2 main causes of the French revolution, the misery felt by the French people in the 18th century, and the ideas of the philosophes. Neither of these causes would have caused the revolution by itself. The misery would not have been articulated without the ideas, and the ideas would not have brought about the revolution unless they derived from, and cogently explained, real life complaints.
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