Ideals of the Eighteenth Century French Enlightenment: A Foreshadowing of Twentieth Century Human Rights Theory
West, James C.
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In my survey of the major philosophes and their positions on the Enlightenment ideals pertaining to humanity and human rights, I have chosen to omit the philosophe Jean-Jacques Rousseau. I recognize his importance as one of the principal intellectuals of eighteenth century France, and do not doubt the relevancy that his ideas could bear on the subject. However, certain aspects of Rousseau's thought seem to me to be contrary to the nature of my thesis, and thus I have omitted him to avoid discrepancy. Also, I originally intended for the survey to include at least a few more of the philosophers, such as Helvetius and d'Holbach, but time and circumstances not allowing, I have limited the survey to the four philosophes herein included. The term philosophe.is a French word which has not yet been fully Anglicized. A movement is under way to make it a part of the English language, and I have contributed to this movement by choosing not to underline it as a foreign usage. This thesis which I am writing for my Senior Individualized Project represents an integrated combination of the academic concerns which have most interested and inspired me during my four years at Kalamazoo College. As a double major in the departments of French and Political Science, I came up with this topic as being that which most encompasses what I have learned in the two areas. Although I have become more interested in my French studies during the progress of my academic career, my·studies in political science have made me aware of and often angry towards what I perceive as being an often unnecessarily unfair world. Hence my interest in human rights.
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