Wilson, Arthur M. “Why Did the
Political Theory of the Encyclopedists Not Prevail? A Suggestion.” French Historical Studies, vol. 1, no. 3, Duke University Press, Society for French Historical Studies, 1960, pp. 283–94. JSTOR, JSTOR, doi:10.2307/285970.
Wilson, aware his title begs the question, claims that there is more political theory in the Encyclopédie
than most expect to see as the Encyclopedists had to evade censors by hiding their political thoughts within other articles and adopt special techniques such as devious cross-references. The political theory of the Encyclopédie, Wilson asserts, is neither “Rousseauistic” nor physiocratic and closely resembles that of John Locke and Thomas Jefferson with a stress on rights for individuals (and their guarantee) and a small government with a limited role in the lives of citizens. However, after the French Revolution, the “Rousseauistic” style government persisted which Wilson claims was due to the French retaining their tradition of favoring strong governments, since they can promote nationalism better than Diderot’s style. However, Wilson asserts that elements of the Encyclopédie’s political theory have appeared throughout history and, while they are often disputed, have become engrained in French thought.
Country of Publication: United States
Main Classification: Politics
7/14/2020: Created page.