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Thomas Paine was born in 1737 in England and died in 1809 in New York. He was what we call now an intellectual activist of the 18th century and he took part in all the great revolutions of his age. He influenced the American Revolution with his book “common sense” published in 1776 in which he denounces the English administration in the thirteen colonies. Three years after, hepublished “the rights of man” ( in 1791) to answer to Edmund Burke an Irish Philosopher who commented the French revolution in his philosophical work “reflections on the revolution in France” in 1790.
For a better understanding we need to talk about Edmund Burke’s Reflection and more generally: is way of thinking. Despite the fact that Burke was a philosopher of the 18th century he didn’t agreedwith the age of reason created by his compeers. Burke was more attached by old beliefs like prejudice. That’s why for burke the revolution in France is doomed. He believes in prejudice to guide (control) the people through the following ages. For him prejudices allow the nation to react quickly to an emergency situation and are the only way to avoid tyranny.
Thomas Paine sees the French Revolutiondifferently that’s why he wrote this pamphlet as an answer to Edmund Burke. The text in our booklet is an extract of his answer entitled “The Rights of Man”. This extract is divided into two parts:
-In the first one, he sums up Edmund Burke’s point of view and arguments by quoting few lines of the philosopher reflection he published in 1990. And the second part he exposes his own point of view.He explains that every country and every man should have the right (or at least the choice) to decide of their fates.
-The French revolution: started in 1789 and it was a bloody revolution. The people armed themselves and attack the king’s army. The French king Louis XVI was executed in 1993.
-The English parliament of 1688: it was the parliament during the glorious revolutionthat asked to William of orange to come and take the place of James the second. It was the end of the absolute monarchy and the beginning of the parliamentary monarchy. There was many act or laws voted in this age to limit the power of the king and bring the stability to the kingdom.
-William the third and Marie the second: came to take the crown
James II: The former king of England afterWilliam of orange came on the island.
We chose to develop are commentary like Mr. Paine structured his pamphlet. It’s easier to do like that because Paine’s reflection is already some kind of a commentary that’s why we will just follow the text. So in the first part we will see the opinion of Mr. Burke or more precisely what Thomas Paine is going to contradict. Next in the second part we will see theauthor’s point of view and why he disagrees with Mr. Burke. Finally we will see the consequences of this text in the conclusion.
Partie 1:
According to Paine, Burke thinks that the people has no more rights and I quote:” (line 2) to choose their own governors, to cashier them for misconduct, and to form a government for themselves”
since the people submitted themselves to the parliament of1688 the people has no longer any rights to rebel anymore. And he even goes further by saying that if the people still have this right they have to abdicate it and obey blindly to the parliament. (Line 19: “most solemnly renounce and abdicate it, for themselves, and for all their posterity, for EVER”)
For Burke, a parliamentary monarchy is the only way to prevent tyranny and civil war tosubmerge the country. He doesn’t believe in absolute monarchy or in a Kingdom ruled by the people. For him the parliament of 1688 did the only thing they should do in their time and the people must obey to the laws and acts signed on that time. According to Paine, Burke said in his reflection that the people of England bind and submitted themselves forever to the parliament of 1688. He quotes two...
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