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Benjamin Constant and the Ideas of Republicanism

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    0489896 - FLÚ 2019 RIV CZ eng J - Článek v odborném periodiku
    Fořtová, Hana
    Benjamin Constant and the Ideas of Republicanism.
    Acta politologica. Roč. 10, č. 2 (2018), s. 33-46. E-ISSN 1803-8220
    Institucionální podpora: RVO:67985955
    Klíčová slova: B. Constant * Mme de Staël * A. De Tocqueville * political theory * liberalism * liberty * French revolution * civic republicanism * virtue * patriotism
    Kód oboru RIV: AA - Filosofie a náboženství
    Obor OECD: Philosophy, History and Philosophy of science and technology

    Benjamin Constant is considered as a classical liberal thinker due to his conviction that men establish political authority in order to protect their pre-existing rights, his theory of limited sovereignty and the modern concept of liberty described as a possibility to enjoy our private pleasures. Throughout his life Constant defended his liberal views, at the same time, while persuaded of the progress of mankind and therefore of the impossibility to revive the ancient conception of liberty, he was clearly aware of the dangers of modern society made up of solitary individuals and of the need of a social bond so that the liberal constitution could be maintained. The aim of this paper is to show that through his effort to overcome the atomisation of modern society, Constant comes in some respects close to the ideas of civic republicanism as developed for example by Pettit or Spitz, in the republican tradition, he stresses the need to overcome our selfish passions and to create a legal framework so that we may enjoy our freedom. In his famous speech distinguishing two forms of liberty, Constant emphasizes the importance of combining both kinds of liberty as well as the necessity of political participation. Nonetheless, the preservation of liberty may require more than that. Constant refuses modern moral theories based on the notion of selfinterest and utility and demonstrates that the selfishness and passivity they promote may lead to despotism. Liberty is so precious because it enables the full development of human dignity of individual human beings as well as mankind as a whole. Morality that buttresses liberty, according to Constant, must be individual and based on our passions. The virtuous and disinterested deeds that make human greatness possible are based on “religious sentiment” - a moral sentiment that can be expressed in the public sphere as “patriotism”. Thanks to this sentiment, we are capable of overcoming the selfishness of modern sensibility dominated by calculation as well as of offering sacrifices that liberty sometimes demands. Moreover, thanks to this sentiment, we can accomplish our destiny as moral beings.
    Trvalý link: http://hdl.handle.net/11104/0285463
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