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Social Morality and Civil Society

  • Brian William Head
Chapter
Part of the Archives Internationales D’Histoire Des Idees/International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 112)

Abstract

Tracy’s identification of a kind of social instinct in man plays a large part in his account of how society and social progress are possible. But there remained critical problems, for both social theory and political practice, concerning how to reconcile individual and social interests. How was it possible to identify and counteract those desires and actions which are antisocial, or destructive of the liberty and happiness of one’s fellow citizens? To what extent could education, in the broadest sense, encourage certain kinds of desires and weaken or repress others?

Keywords

Moral Education Social Morality Moral Sentiment Dishonest Behaviour Social Instinct 
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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Notes

  1. 1.
    Tracy, “Memoire sur la faculte de penser”, p. 287; Louis de Bonald, Melanges (Paris, 1819), vol. II, pp. 311–319; B. Constant, Melanges (Paris, 1829), pp. 240–254; Condorcet, Selected Writings, ed. K.M. Baker (New York, 1976), pp. xxvii–xxviii of “Introduction”; C.H. Van Duzer, Contributions of the Ideologues, p. 95.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    B. Constant, loc. cit.; Condorcet, “The Nature and Purpose of Public Instruction” (1791), in Selected Writings, esp. pp. 122–134.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cf. Helvetius, De I’esprit (1758), ed. F. Chatelet (Paris, 1973), pp. 492–501; I. Cumming, Helvetius (London, 1955); A. Keim, Helvetius (Paris, 1907). On Beccaria, cf. D.-J. Garat, Memoires historiques sur la vie de M. Suard… (Paris, 1820), vol. II, pp. 203–8. Tracy cited Beccaria’s view that “the most certain means of rendering a people free and happy is to establish a perfect method of education”: see title page of Commentary (Philadelphia, 1811 ).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Cf. Dictionnaire de la Constitution frangaise (Paris, 1791 ), article “Instruction publique”, pp. 257–9; A. Sicard, L’education morale et civique avant et pendant la Revolution (Paris, 1884 ).Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    P.-L. Roederer, Oeuvres (Paris, 1853–9), vol. V, pp. 151–2, 156–8; also pp. 107–129 on moral catechisms. For a completely different view see L.-C. Saint-Martin, Reflexions d’un observateur (Paris, 1798 ).Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    J.-B. Say, Olbie, ou essai sur les moyens de reformer les moeurs d’une nation (Paris, an VIII: 1800 ). A slightly abridged version was reprinted in Say’s Oeuvres diverses (Paris, 1848), pp. 581–615. Olbie was favourably reviewed in la Decade, 20 ventose an VIII (11 March 1800), pp. 476–485.Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    Cf. R. Lote, “Histoire de la philosophic”, in G. Hanotaux (ed.), Histoire de la Nation frangaise (Paris, 1920-24), XV, p. 531 and 531 n. l: Destutt de Tracy was “a former colonel who had retained in his theories a little military rigidity”, and who “recommended recourse to the gendarme in matters of morality”. La Grand Encyclopedic, before 1850, claimed that “Destutt de Tracy is one of those materialists who replace God with a gendarme”: cited in J. Cruet, La philosophie morale et sociale de Destutt de Tracy (Tours, 1909), p. 156. Finally, E. Joyau claimed that Tracy “simply wanted recourse to gendarmes and squadrons of cavalry to fortify the teaching of morality”: La philosophie en France pendant la Revolution (Paris, 1893 ), pp. 174–5.Google Scholar
  8. 52.
    Cf. Lafayette, Memoires, vol. III, p. 384, where Tracy’s close friend attributed la demoralisation of the Revolution to the breakdown of law and order after the Jacobin victory in the Legislative Assembly in August 1792.Google Scholar
  9. 58.
    Cf. review of Bentham’s Traites de legislation (1802), and of an anonymous work on Seneca and Helvetius, in Mercure de France, 3 vendemiaire an XI (25 September 1802), esp. pp. 21-23 and ibid., 9 thermidor an XII (28 July 1804), esp. p. 263.Google Scholar
  10. 61.
    A. Canivez, “Les Ideologues”, p. 109..The concept of “hygiene” comes from the writings of Cabanis: cf. Oeuvres philosophiques, vol. I, p. 109 and vol. II, pp. 221–5.Google Scholar
  11. 62.
    M. Regaldo, “Lumieres, elite, democratic: la difficile position des ideologues”, Dix-hui- tieme siecle, no. 6 (1974), p. 207.Google Scholar
  12. 63.
    For a different kind of elitism among the philosophes, in which only the masses were held to require the moral discipline of religion, cf. R.I. Boss, “The development of social religion”, Journal of the History of Ideas, vol. 34 (1973), pp. 577–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht 1985

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  • Brian William Head

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