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Lecture 18

HIS109Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 18: Encyclopedia, Persian Letters

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Kenneth Bartlett

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Active politician
Believed the nobility had a special responsibility to protect the freedom of the nation
Published his Persian Letters Opinions of Persian visitors to France
Also published the Essay on the Spirit of Nations
The book that made him famous was Spirit of the Laws (1748)
Heavily dependant on John Locke’s second treatise of government and Montesquieu’s on
Believed that change would come but must come naturally
Believed in social development of constitutional theory and the social platform which
politics should be built
Dismissed any involvement of God
Then looked at structure of society itself “The decisions that men and women make in
their own lives determine the nature of events”
Once you have a constitution, those laws begin to have an effect in shaping the characters
of personalities and attitudes of the people who live under them
Believed there are certain circumstances where people are content with being submissive
So again, change must happen naturally, and anything outside of that is tyrannical
Argued that pluralism was the natural system of government rather than singularity
England was a much freer society than France because their constitution was more
It’s a mixed constitution where each side worked to protect their own self-interest, so
they worked well together
English are free because of the nature of their constitutional arrangement
France was despotism. The growth of royal power was so eclipsed that the system of
checks and balances was destroyed
He believed it was still possible to save France though
Royal absolutism can be beaten, but it requires all forces in society to reduce it
He made point after point of what was wrong with France and what was right with
He was correct in recognizing that the separation of powers provided elements with
which freedom could be sustained
It’s necessary for the democracy to have the support of the people
Like a Newtonian law, once checks and balances were established, it didn’t need to be
Editor of the Encyclopaedia
Important for arguing the connection between rational freedom of expression and
political action
Argued that you cannot have any freedom in any system unless you have freedom of
Also important by acting on this belief ^^
Worked with John D’Alembert to make the encyclopaedia
Always argued for a more humane political and religious order in France
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