Rights of Man: Being an Answer to Mr. Burke's Attack on the French Revolution / Edition 1

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More About This Textbook

Overview

Written in part as a theoretical reply to the stodgy conservatism of Edmund Burke's Reflections on the French Revolution (1790), Paine's Rights of Man (1791-92) sets forth a manifesto of popular democratic rule in the established tradition of John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In it Paine offers a discussion of the nature of political man and proceeds to encourage the grass-roots revolutionary movements that seek to analyze critically and, where necessary, reform or replace social and political institutions, many of which tend only to repress those whom they were initially designed to serve.

Paine's enthusiasm, courage, and boundless commitment to reason are the intellectual rapiers that strike impressive blows for the defense of freedom and for the self-determination of all persons. His dedication to liberty is not so blind as to endorse reform uncritically.

In Part II of Rights of Man Paine does set himself against those who would rebel for the mere sake of rebellion. Revolution must contain within its being not only the displacement of the previous regime but also a rationally formulated alternative that will meet the needs of the people.

History has come to regard him as the figure who gave political cogency to the liberating ideas of the Enlightenment, and his great pamphlets, Common Sense and Rights of Man, are seen as classic arguments in defense of the individual's right to assert his or her freedom in the face of tyranny.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780879753795
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 2/28/1987
  • Series: Great Books in Philosophy
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 188
  • Product dimensions: 5.37 (w) x 8.33 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 24 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2005

    Not bad at all

    One might assume that a book on political philosophy promises to be a rather dry read, but, aside from a foray into English tax reform in Part Two, this is largely not the case for Rights of Man. Paine's work remains immenitely readable. It was fascinating to read the case for so many of the central principles of American democracy. Many of these principles, including democracy, political equality, liberty, and the separation of church and state we accept as given, and hardly take the time to examine theri foundation. Paine is writing in a time when these ideas were actively being debated.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    Rights Hard Won

    While Paine's goal was to defend the French Revolution as it took place, he also provides, perhaps unwittingly, a treatise on natural rights that governments should and must respect if they are to have any legitimacy. He also covers what it means to be a government and where the true power lies. A great plain-language text that is still relevant today, Rights of Man is a must read for anyone interested in some of the theory behind the Constitutional debates in our own country 200+ years ago.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2012

    Amongst the most important writings ever.

    In short, freedom isn't free.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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