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The French RepublicHistory, Values, Debates$
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Edward Ducler Berenson, Vincent Duclert, and Christophe Prochasson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449017

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449017.001.0001

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(p.95) 10 Liberty
The French Republic

Jeremy Jennings

Cornell University Press

This chapter delves into an analysis of the concept of “liberty,” particularly in the context of French republicanism. It posits two different forms of liberty: the “ancient” and the “modern.” Stated in its simplest terms, “modern” liberty amounts to the right to go about one's life and business, to associate with others, to practice a religion, and to express an opinion without constraint. The liberty of the ancients, by contrast, amounts to the full participation by citizens in the public life of their community. This liberty, however, is combined not only with a disregard for the virtues of private life but also with “the complete subjection of the individual to the authority of the community.” The chapter shows how these conflicting definitions of liberty have come to shape the character of French republicanism over the years.

Keywords:   liberty, modern liberty, ancient liberty, definitions of liberty, French republicanism, French Revolution

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