Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If You Use a Screen Reader

This content is available through Read Online (Free) program, which relies on page scans. Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.

Burning Laws and Strangling Kings? Voltaire and Diderot on the Perils of Rationalism in Politics

Dennis C. Rasmussen
The Review of Politics
Vol. 73, No. 1 (WINTER 2011), pp. 77-104
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23016493
Page Count: 28
  • Read Online (Free)
  • Download ($12.00)
  • Subscribe ($19.50)
  • Cite this Item
Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Burning Laws and Strangling Kings? Voltaire and Diderot on the Perils of Rationalism in Politics
Preview not available

Abstract

The thinkers of the French Enlightenment are frequently depicted as political rationalists, meaning that they advocated subjecting all laws, institutions, and practices to the withering light of reason, and discarding those found wanting by its standards. However, two of the most prominent philosophes, Voltaire and Diderot, were in fact opponents of the kind of political rationalism that they are often thought to have embraced. Both of these thinkers rejected the idea of a single "rational" political order, advocated gradual reform rather than wholesale change, and denied that the steady application of reason could produce inevitable or endless progress. In effect the Enlightenment was a "revolt against rationalism" (as Peter Gay has called it) not only in the epistemological, psychological, and ethical spheres, but also in the political one.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
77
    77
  • Thumbnail: Page 
78
    78
  • Thumbnail: Page 
79
    79
  • Thumbnail: Page 
80
    80
  • Thumbnail: Page 
81
    81
  • Thumbnail: Page 
82
    82
  • Thumbnail: Page 
83
    83
  • Thumbnail: Page 
84
    84
  • Thumbnail: Page 
85
    85
  • Thumbnail: Page 
86
    86
  • Thumbnail: Page 
87
    87
  • Thumbnail: Page 
88
    88
  • Thumbnail: Page 
89
    89
  • Thumbnail: Page 
90
    90
  • Thumbnail: Page 
91
    91
  • Thumbnail: Page 
92
    92
  • Thumbnail: Page 
93
    93
  • Thumbnail: Page 
94
    94
  • Thumbnail: Page 
95
    95
  • Thumbnail: Page 
96
    96
  • Thumbnail: Page 
97
    97
  • Thumbnail: Page 
98
    98
  • Thumbnail: Page 
99
    99
  • Thumbnail: Page 
100
    100
  • Thumbnail: Page 
101
    101
  • Thumbnail: Page 
102
    102
  • Thumbnail: Page 
103
    103
  • Thumbnail: Page 
104
    104