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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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Conservatism and History

(p.1) Introduction
The French Idea of History

Carolina Armenteros

Cornell University Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of Joseph de Maistre's historical thought. For Maistre, history was a moral force, the vehicle of Providence, the site for the accumulation of experience, and the tool for discovering what humanity actually is. It was a nearly total means of explanation, guided by a God who was a source of illumination. Maistre also entertained a set of assumptions about the social and psychological effects of historical evidence that resulted in a distinctive means of deploying historical facts for the purposes of philosophical and political contention. His writings expounded that history is the standard of social, political, and moral truth; that this truth can be expressed in a myriad particular and historically contingent ways; and that history itself develops toward the good through set stages and according to set causes.

Keywords:   Joseph de Maistre, historical thought, historical evidence, Providence, historical evidence, conservatism

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