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La Monarchie éclairée de l’abbé de Saint-Pierre (1658-1743), une science politique des Modernes

Abstract : The Abbé de Saint-Pierre, best known for his Project for Perpetual Peace, in fact left a much larger and more coherent body of political and moral writing, but it has been only partially studied. This book, the first systematic exploration of his entire corpus, offers a complete re-evaluation of this important author’s contributions to the Enlightenment. From the first decades of the 18th century, Saint-Pierre set forth a pioneering vision of politics as the harmonization of interests, anticipating Bentham as a utilitarian. He imagines replacing the system of inherited power and clientele networks which structured Old Regime society and determined the exercise of power under absolutism, with a rationalized, meritocratic and dynamic organization. He argued for the political values of social utility and public good to take the place of the Christian ideals of perfection and the aristocratic ideals of personal charisma. As a deist seeking to reconcile morality and religion, Saint-Pierre argued that the search for salvation through active piety must also promote social justice and beneficence -- and that only the indivisible power of a rationalized monarch, informed by competent elites, could carry out the reforms necessary to yield a government which would produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number. Saint-Pierre, thus, provided among the first arguments for an imposed welfare state, well before the sources more frequently associated with that idea -- political economists, cameralists and the physiocrats.
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Submitted on : Friday, September 6, 2019 - 8:18:16 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, October 19, 2021 - 11:35:04 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-02280091, version 1



Carole Dornier. La Monarchie éclairée de l’abbé de Saint-Pierre (1658-1743), une science politique des Modernes. Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, pp.461, 2020. ⟨hal-02280091⟩



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