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The Enlightenment and Politics

Chapter

Abstract

The Enlightenment is a sort of political revolution in the broader sense of generalized Copernican cultural revolution or an intellectual movement with revolutionary and other relevant political, notably liberal-democratic, effects and legacies. In particular, these political outcomes comprise the French and American democratic revolutions usually considered, to a greater (the first) or lesser (the second) extent, what Pareto would call the “daughters” of the Enlightenment as their cultural foundation and prelude, specifically their intellectual rationale and herald. On account of its revolutionary influences and legacies, the Enlightenment turns out to be an indirect or “soft” (“velvet”) revolution in politics, notably democracy, as distinguished from direct or true (violent) political, including its own “daughters” the French and American, revolutions. At the minimum, the Enlightenment functions as the cultural functional equivalent or analog and proxy of modern political revolution, even if not as such in the strict sense. In Schumpeterian terms, it does so by virtue of originating as the project and functioning as the process of, like liberal modernity (Bauman 2001), “creative destruction” in politics through the cultural demolition of the old and the creation of new political structures.

Keywords

Creative Destruction French Revolution Religious Freedom Modern Democracy American Revolution 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of North TexasDentonUSA

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