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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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Redemption by Suffering

Redemption by Suffering

Social Violence and Historical Development in the Éclaircissement sur les sacrifices

(p.156) Chapter 4 Redemption by Suffering
The French Idea of History

Carolina Armenteros

Cornell University Press

This chapter focuses on Éclaircissement sur les sacrifices (1809), which revolutionized the European understanding of the relationship between society and violence. The Éclaircissement is a historical progressivist text. While it does not use the word “progress,” it consistently alludes to the systematic, totalizing, radical, and rational improvement of the human condition. Like progress, Maistrian sacrifice—the most controlled and regulated form of violence—enables humans to advance continuously toward higher stages, even unto rebirth. In this the Éclaircissement exceeds the Enlightenment. Where the philosophes had aspired to improve humanity physically and morally through reason, Maistre looks forward to the complete and essential transformation of humanity, out of itself and onto a higher state, through the reasoned and measured manipulation of violence.

Keywords:   violence, historical progressivist text, humanity, Maistrian sacrifice, Enlightenment, Éclaircissement

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