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The social, moral and political thought of Destutt de Tracy

Garnham, B. G. (1973) The social, moral and political thought of Destutt de Tracy. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis examines Destutt de Tracy's thought in the realms of political economy, legislation, religion, morale, education and language, and the manner in which Tracy's ideas are deduced from the principles of idéologie. Idéologie, as the study of the human intellectual faculties, seeks to establish the manner in which the mind gains knowledge from the senses and conceives complex ideas; once these procedures are understood, the process of judgement may be perfected and error may be eliminated from human reasoning. In this way principles of absolute certainty may, in Tracy's view, be established in all aspects of social thought. This thesis devotes one chapter to an examination of Tracy's concept of idéologie and his attitude to the work of other philosophers, in particular Condillac, whom he describes as the founder of the science. Another chapter is devoted to Tracy's concept of the will and the principles which may be deduced from it, and which lie at the basis of his thought in the fields mentioned above. Tracy's methodology is studied throughout the body of the thesis, where emphasis is laid upon the way in which he emphasises deduction rather than observation and where, although he conceives of a practical aim for his enquiries - the creation of a just society where men may enjoy freedom and happiness - he searches for philosophical truths to be applied in social, moral and political contexts. The first chapter of this thesis contains a biographical study of Tracy, establishing, where it is possible to do so, the facts of his career as soldier, statesman and philosopher. An appendix contains thirty hitherto unpublished letters written by Tracy to Joseph Rey.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1973
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Sep 2013 09:31

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