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By Frederick Charles Copleston

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Sample text

He himself came from Geneva, and he admired the vigorous and independent political life of the Swiss canton, which he contrasted with the sophisticated and artificial atmosphere of French civilization and with the monarchic constitution and oppressive ways of the ancien regime. Indeed, Rousseau's ideas about active popular government would be quite impracticable in anything but a Greek city-state or a small Swiss canton. At the same time his democratic ideas were influential in the movement which found expression in the French Revolution.

Emphasis was laid on cultural and intellectual factors, and attention was paid to the life of the people and to men's habits and customs. This emphasis is clear, for instance, in Voltaire's Essai sur les 1namrs. Again, Montesquieu emphasized the influence of material conditions, such as climate, on the development of a people or nation and on its customs and laws. At the same time the historiography of the eighteenth century suffered from serious defects. In the first place historians were, generally speaking, insufficiently critical of their sources and disinclined to carry out the work of historical research and of painstaking evaluation of evidence and documents which is required for objective writing.

For the Rules for tile Dtrecttonof the Mmd, M. P. T. S. for the Passions of the Soul, O. O. for Obj~ctions and Replies to Objections respectively. T. , 1897-1913. , VI. 3. , VI, 5. 63 I be~n ~sed. 2 After leaving La Fleche, Descartes amused himself for a short while, but he soon resolved to study and to learn from the book of the world, as he put it, seeking a knowledge which would be useful for life. He accordingly attached himself to the army of Prince Maurice of Nassau. This may appear to have been a somewhat odd move to make.

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