These brief excerpts from a longer report by the environmental organization Greenpeace highlight the ecological collapse that was taking place all across Eastern Europe by the early 1980s. As extreme as the Polish case sounds, it was unfortunately typical rather than exceptional. All across the region, life expectancies were dropping rapidly, especially for men who were exposed to industrial... Read More »
Rousseau was the most controversial and paradoxical of the writers of the Enlightenment. Born in Switzerland, he published important works on politics, music, and in Emile, education. He also wrote one of the most widely read novels of the century, Julie or the New Heloise. Although an advocate of new educational practices that emphasized the natural development of children’s abilities,... Read More »
John Locke (1632–1704) wrote his Second Treatise of Government early in the 1680s and published it in 1690. In it Locke proposed a social contract theory of government and argued against the idea of "divine right," which held that rulers had a legitimate claim on their office because they were God’s emissaries on earth. Locke believed that government derived from an agreement between men to... Read More »
John Stuart Mill (1806–73), an English civil servant and philosopher, was a firm believer in the liberal, democratic, and anti–absolutist elements of the legacy of the Revolution and hoped to extend these concepts as widely as possible. Most famous for On Liberty (1859) and The Subjection of Women (1869), Mill was profoundly influenced by the French Revolution.
This... Read More »
The most influential German philosopher of the eighteenth century, Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), set the foundations for much of modern philosophy. He lectured on a wide variety of topics, from astronomy to economics. In this short statement from 1798, he captures much of the significance of the French Revolution for his time.
This source is a part of the... Read More »
The German philosopher and founder of international communism, Karl Marx (1818–83), wrote on many occasions about the French Revolution, which he considered the first stage in an eventual worldwide proletarian revolution. In this relatively early work from 1852, Marx compares the French Revolution of 1789 with that of 1848. Marx considered the French Revolution the classic example of the "... Read More »