This book attempts to present a detailed and critical account of the thought of Antoine-Louis-Claude Destutt de Tracy (1754-1836). Major importance has been placed on the analysis of his published writings. Biographical details have been provided only to the extent necessary to elucidate the circumstances of the composition and publication of his writings: in particular, the intellectual and political currents in France during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods. The book has three main themes. The first is Tracy's philosophy of ideologie, which was concerned to clarify concepts and provide guarantees of reliable knowledge. The second is Tracy's attempt to elaborate a science of social organisation, la science sociale, whose objective was to recommend institutions and policies which could maximise social happiness. The third theme is Tracy's development of liberal and utilitarian approaches to the fields of politics, economics and education. This study began life as a doctoral dissertation at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
I am grateful for the guidance of my supervisor, Professor Ken Minogue, and for helpful comments from Professor Maurice Cranston, Professor Jack Lively, and Dr John Hooper.
`This is an extremely methodological, careful, and thorough piece of research and writing that should be certainly read by anyone interested in the subject.'
Journal of Modern History, 59:4 (1987)
1. Political and Intellectual Background.- Perspectives on Tracy and the ideologues.- Tracy's life and writings: an outline.- 2. Scientific Method and Ideology.- Science and certainty.- The concept of ideologie.- 3. Signs, Language, and the Critique of Metaphysics.- The science of signs.- Metaphysics and religion.- 4. Individuals and Social Relations.- Individual will as desire and action.- The bases of social existence.- 5. Social Morality and Civil Society.- Moral education and policing.- Legislation and instruction.- 6. Social Science and Public Policy.- Tracy's 'science sociale'.- Limits of social mathematics.- 7. Production and Economic Classes.- The creation of wealth.- Economic classes.- 8. The Problem of Economic Inequality.- 9. Liberal Politics and Elitism.- Enlightened democracy.- Critique of Montesquieu.- 10. Public Instruction and Ideology.- Ideological education.- Defence of the 'classe savante'.- 11. Conclusion: Social Science and Liberalism.
Series: International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives Internationales d'Histoire des Idees
Number Of Pages: 229
Published: 31st October 1985
Country of Publication: NL
Dimensions (cm): 29.7 x 21.0
Weight (kg): 1.15