UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The social and political thought of Simon Nicolas Henri Linguet Nichol, Alexander Earl


This thesis is a reassessment of Simon Nicolas Henri Linquet, a thinker of originality and a trenchant critic of the ancien régime of eighteenth century France. It purports to show a unity within Linquet's thought obscured by previous conflicting interpretations which portray Linquet variously as a conservative and an apologist of absolute monarchy, a reactionary and advocate of slavery and despotism, or a strident and perspicacious critic of French society whose insights have earned for him a place in the socialist tradition. In the belief that this disagreement as to Linquet's place in the intellectual life of eighteenth century France had arisen from a tendency to abstract his thought from its context, I have examined it as a response to the inadequacies of French jurisprudence (of which his training as a barrister made him aware), to the ambitions of the parlements of France, to the physiocratic program of economic reform, to the philosophy of the enlightenment and the activities of its proselytizers. Moreover, in thus weaving Linquet's thought back into the social political, and intellectual fabric of eighteenth century France I have addressed myself, in particular, to that body of interpretation which has portrayed Linquet as a precursor of nineteenth century socialism. From this study I have concluded that social concern is not the exclusive preserve of ideologies which assume the existence of inalienable human rights. Those elements of Linquet's thought which have prompted others to include him in the socialist tradition are compatible with the principles of absolute monarchy

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