Intellectual Founders of the Republic: Five Studies in Nineteenth-Century French Republican Political Thought

Synopsis

This innovative study of French political culture re-examines the origins of modern republicanism through the lives and political thought of five nineteenth-century intellectuals: Jules Barni, Charles Dupont-White, Emile Littre, Eugene Pelletan, and Etienne Vacherot. By their writings andtheir political practices at the local, national, international levels these thinkers made major contributions to the founding of the new republican order in France. Drawing on a range of archival and published sources, the book sheds new light on classical republican thinking on such key issues asthe interpretation of the 1789 Revolution, the definition of citizenship, the meaning of patriotism, the relationship between central government and local democracy, the value of individual liberty, and the place of education and religion in publica and private life. These five studies also breaknew ground in the conceptualization of nineteenth-century French intellectual history. The writings of these thinkers demonstrate the ideological pluralism and diversity of moderate French republican thought during this period. Positivism appears as an important and influential doctrine, but itshegemonic aspirations were successfully resisted by the abiding incluences of Saint-Simonism, socialism, doctrinaire liberalism, and neo-Kantianism. It emerges that the ideological potency of republican doctrine lay in its complexity and sophistication, as reflected in its capacity to effect asynthesis among these different approaches. Through its analysis of the writings and political practices of these five thinkers Intellectual Founders of the Republic offers critical insights into the history of political thought as well as modern French republicanism. It underlines both thesignificance of contextuality in the interpretation of political discourse, and the continuing relevance of classical republicanism in making sense of contemporary moral and political dilemmas.

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