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The light of freedom in the age of enlightenment (2): England and France

Author(s): Molnar Aleksandar

Journal: Filozofija i Društvo
ISSN 0353-5738

Volume: 22;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 129;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: freedom | enlightenment | liberalism | nationalism | England | France

Although the philosophy (as well as the whole movement) of Enlightenment was born in the Netherlands and England in the late 17th and early 18th century, there were considerable problems in defying the freedom. By the mid 18th century, under the influence of „national mercantilism“ (Max Weber), the freedom was perceived in more and more collective terms, giving bith to the political option of national liberalism. That is why in the second half of 18th century this two countries have been progresively loosing importance for the movement of Enlightenment and two new countries emerged at its leading position, striving for democratic liberalism: United States of America and France. However, individual freedom faced not one, but two dangers during its philosophical and institutional development in the Age of Enlightenment: on the one hand, the danger of wanishing in the national freedom, and, on the other hand, the danger of becoming unbound and (self)destructive. The emerging (national) liberalism in England in the 18th century witnessed the first danger, while the second danger appeared in the wake of the Franch revolution. The French were the first in the Modern epohe to realise that the light of freedom is to powerful to be used without considerable precaussions in the establishement of liberal civil society. Therefore, some moderation hat to be taken into consideration. The idea of humanity, i.e. human rights, was at the end found as most helpful in solving the task of preserving individual freedom, without sacrifying social bonds between free individuals.
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