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By Brian Singer

This is a truly diversified e-book concerning the French Revolution of 1789-94. the fear is much less with a transformation in society than a metamorphosis within the relation society establishes with itself. the following the focal point is on society's presentation (and illustration) thought of no longer easily from the point of view of some privileged intellectuals, yet as a social and ancient procedure inseparable from the establishment of society's political measurement. via a detailed examining of the progressive texts of the interval, the writer is ready to hint in the back of the skin of occasions and clash topics of a extra summary, basic personality - topics relative to the 'discovery' of society, the development of the countryside, and what for the revolutionaries used to be the scandal in their separation. whereas keeping a constancy to the eighteenth century, this e-book opens up new theoretical views that remove darkness from the nature of either a undeniable innovative background and a extra basic political modernity.

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Extra info for Society, Theory and the French Revolution: Studies in the Revolutionary Imaginary

Example text

Formerly, with God perceived as both omnipotent and oimniscient, whoever shared in His authority, at whatever distance or in whatever capacity, shared in His illumination. One was powerful because one partook of the power that bestowed meaning on the world; and the world's meaning, its coherence and order, was made present by those who mediated between the earthly and heavenly kingdoms. When significations bore a far greater force than that possessed by any mere concept, lone did not - contrary to enlightened opinion of the late eighteenth century - need to be a master of ruse in order to master (an unjust) power.

It is as though the alterity that was embodied in the position of external transcendence, and that symbolically removed society from all threat of uncertainty, is now transformed into an alterity internal to society, an aherity which cannot but open society to the insecurity of its own questioning. In sum, society becomes its own mystery, and precisely because it must draw the principles of its form, substance and significance from within itself. As a mystery the question of society demands a response, if only to restore society to a modicum of intelligibility (which is to say that this demand responds to more than a simply intellectual necessity).

Of course, if those belonging to this body employ their knowledge - and the power such knowledge implies - only in the interests of furthering the moral law, they will remain mankind's benefactors. But by the very terms of Volney's argument, the only thing preventing the body of philosophes from converting their almost unlimited power to do good into an unparalled capacity for corporate domination is their moral integrity. To be sure, if the truth were truly evident to the senses, the visibility of any such corruption in the use of knowledge would prevent its emergence.

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