The Philosophy of the American Revolution

The Philosophy of the American Revolution

The Philosophy of the American Revolution

The Philosophy of the American Revolution

Excerpt

In this study of the fundamental philosophical ideas associated with the American Revolution, I focus on the Declaration of Independence and refer on many occasions to other American revolutionary writings of the eighteenth century in an effort to analyze the epistemology, metaphysics, philosophical theology, and ethics upon which the revolutionaries rested their claim to independence. Since they leaned heavily on transatlantic thinkers whom we may rightly call the founding forefathers, I frequently refer to the views of those foreign moralists and jurists whose ideas were used by rebels seeking to justify the steps they took at Philadelphia in 1776. Now that we have passed from celebration in 1976 to sober cerebration, we may repeat what scholars have always known, and what the most candid rebels always admitted, namely, that they did not invent a single idea that may be called philosophical in the philosopher's sense of that word. The self-evidence that the revolutionaries applied to their truths when they used an old term of epistemology, the essence or nature of man to which they appealed in their metaphysical . . .

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