Center for Global Humanities Lecture/Seminar Series

Radical Enlightenment and the Making of the French Revolution (1750-1800)

WCHP Lecture Hall
Jonathan Israel
Free and open to the public
jonathan israel
Jonathan Israel

Modern European History Professor, Institute for Advanced Study

Practically all contemporaries at the end of the eighteenth century thought that the main cause of the French Revolution was something called "modern philosophy." Very few modern historians have taken their explanation very seriously. But are we right to dismiss it without really considering it? What, in any case, did contemporaries mean when they said that "la philosophie moderne" was the principal cause of the Revolution? Obviously, their view was closely connected with the issue of Human Rights and public declarations of Human Rights such as that promulgated by the French National Assembly in August 1789. Do we have anything to learn about Human Rights, Philosophy or Modern History from this strange historiographical paradox?


WCHP Lecture Hall
United States

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