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The French Idea of HistoryJoseph de Maistre and His Heirs, 1794-1854$
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Carolina Armenteros

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449437

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449437.001.0001

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The Statistical Beginnings of Historical Thought

The Statistical Beginnings of Historical Thought

Joseph de Maistre against Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1794–96

Chapter:
(p.35) Chapter 1 The Statistical Beginnings of Historical Thought
Source:
The French Idea of History
Author(s):

Carolina Armenteros

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801449437.003.0003

This chapter describes the genesis of Maistrian historical thought in De l'état de nature and De la souveraineté du people (1794–96), two essays that refute Jean-Jacques Rousseau and contain most of Maistre's historical thought in potentia. It was in refuting Rousseau that Maistre redefined nature as a mysterious divine agent and a source of reason; he insisted that will and perfectibility are history's main agents and society's foundations; and developed the ideas on probability and moral conscience that were so important for his realist conservatism and his philosophy of history. Indeed, the essays include a sophisticated model of historical causation that constitutes an early example of moral statistical theory.

Keywords:   historical thought, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, nature, will, perfectability, moral conscience, realist conservatism, historical causation, moral statistical theory

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