This article focuses on the evolution of the concept of civilisation in the French language through the analysis of socio-political discourse from Enlightenment to the Revolution and of the Anglo-French transfers and translations of different English historians and philosophers who first started using the concept in the second half of the eighteenth century. In the interaction between the French and English Lumières, civilization came forward as a meta-concept pitted against that of the contract theory advanced by authors such as Adam Ferguson, with a distinct perspective of an overarching natural history of mankind. Drawing upon the results produced by Frantext and a history of the use of concept in different theoretical frameworks, the author demonstrates the construction of civilisation in its relationship to various antonyms (barbare, sauvage, barbarie), rhetorical uses and conceptions of history.
An Ambiguous Transfer
Departing from Mario Turchetti's study on the concept of tyranny and tyrannicide, the author sets out to explore its specific use in the political discourse in the eighteenth century. Originally, as in the works of Plato and Montesquieu, tyranny was used in reference to degenerate forms of government. Tyranny and tyrannicide gained additional significance with its inclusion in the virulent discourse during the radicalization of the French Revolution. Based on the myth of Brutus and other classical sources, anti-tyrannical rhetoric in the form revolutionary literature and propaganda spurted political activism. As the figure of the king became the main obstacle to liberty and the foundation of a new republic, tyranny and tyrannicide became key concepts in the revolutionary movements.