Explain the Role of Philosophers in French Revolution

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The Role of Philosophers in the French Revolution was to inspire people with their revolutionary ideas. Since it was one of the first major revolutions in the world, the philosophers gave the citizens the intellectual legs to stand up and fight against the injustice of the French monarchy.

Some of the most famous and influential French philosophers were Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, and Diderot. Their revolutionary ideas not only encouraged the common people of France to fight for their rights in the French Revolution but also inspired the rest of the world.

Role of Philosophers in the French Revolution

Philosophers played an important role during the French Revolution. With their revolutionary ideas, they inspired the common people of France and prepared them to fight against injustice. They gave the revolution the intellectual discourse needed to overthrow the monarchy for the first time.

  • Montesquieu, in his work ‘In the Spirit of Laws’, proposed a division of power within the government. He divides it into three sections- legislative, executive, and judiciary. This is an idea that we see many countries have adopted, even India.
  • Rousseau, another brilliant mind of the time, came up with the idea of ​​a form of government based on a social contract between the people and their representatives.
  • These philosophers were rational and enlightened. They did not follow the religious rules of the time that believed in the doctrine of God, which established the absolute authority of the emperor and placed him on par with God on earth.
  • In John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government, he openly refuted this theory aggressively.

Ideas of Philosophers in the French Revolution

The ideas of these philosophers became important as they advised the public with rational ideas and also gave them alternatives to their present situations. These works were widely discussed in salons and coffee houses, which were common grounds for socializing in France at the time.

These ideas were disseminated among the people through newspapers and books. For illiterate people, these thoughts were accompanied by speech and reading. Thus, philosophers contributed a lot to bring about the French Revolution.

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