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A Virtue for Courageous MindsModeration in French Political Thought, 1748-1830$
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Aurelian Craiutu

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691146768

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691146768.001.0001

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Moderation and “Neutral Power”

Moderation and “Neutral Power”

Benjamin Constant’s pouvoir modérateur

(p.198) Six Moderation and “Neutral Power”
A Virtue for Courageous Minds

Aurelian Craiutu

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines political moderation in Benjamin Constant's political thought, with particular emphasis on his search for a “neutral power” that would function as a moderating device, keeping the ship of the state on an even keel. It begins with a commentary on Constant's enigmatic personality before turning to his lesser-known political writings from 1795 to 1799 as well as his better-known works written during the First Empire and the Bourbon Restoration. It then considers the rhetoric of an “extreme center” in the context of moderation as well as Constant's notion of the middle way during the Directory. It also explores Constant's ideas on limited sovereignty and individual liberty, along with his theory of representative government based on the concept of pouvoir modérateur.

Keywords:   political moderation, Benjamin Constant, neutral power, liberty, extreme center, middle way, Directory, limited sovereignty, representative government, pouvoir modérateur

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