The Social & Political Ideas of Some Great French Thinkers of the Age of Reason: A Series of Lectures Delivered at King's College, University of London, during the Session 1928-29

The Social & Political Ideas of Some Great French Thinkers of the Age of Reason: A Series of Lectures Delivered at King's College, University of London, during the Session 1928-29

The Social & Political Ideas of Some Great French Thinkers of the Age of Reason: A Series of Lectures Delivered at King's College, University of London, during the Session 1928-29

The Social & Political Ideas of Some Great French Thinkers of the Age of Reason: A Series of Lectures Delivered at King's College, University of London, during the Session 1928-29

Excerpt

The present volume--the fifth of the series on social and political ideas--is devoted to French thinkers of the so-called Age of Reason. The term "Age of Reason," like the term "Augustan Age," which was used to denote the period covered by the preceding volume, is a vague one. It is necessary for our purpose that it should be so; for movements of thought are less limited by boundaries of time and space than are movements of politics, and all that can be done in defining them is to indicate broadly the decades or centuries within which they attained their maximum of intensity. The Age of Reason may be roughly dated as the period which elapsed between the death of Louis XIV in 1715 and the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789. This period, covered by the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI, was that in which the hitherto dominant authorities of Church and State were questioned and widely repudiated. It was the period that saw the rapid spread of scepticism and the ominous approach of social revolution. Hence the study of the thinkers, and particularly the French thinkers, of the "Age of Reason" is very largely a study of those intellectual forces that helped to inaugurate the modern democratic and unbelieving world.

The succeeding volume of this series will, it is hoped, be devoted to the thinkers of the Revolutionary Age itself--to Paine, Godwin, Bentham, Burke, and their contemporaries.

F. J. C. HEARNSHAW

KING'S COLLEGE UNIVERSITY OF LONDON

December 1929 . . .

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