Site de Benoît Melançon / Thèses canadiennes en littérature française du XVIIIe siècle

Boucher, François-Emmanuël, «L’héritage du christianisme en France, 1750-1848», Montréal, Université McGill, thèse de doctorat, 2002, 498 p. Dir. : Marc Angenot.

From the Enlightenments to the Romantics, many writers transformed Christianity into a religion of temporal salvation. Whether they manifest, in their writings, a will to destroy it (Voltaire, Helvétius, d’Holbach, etc.) or to surpass it (Leroux, Lamennais, Hugo, etc.), each one of them refer to its dogmas as a paradigm of argumentation from which they suggest a new explanation of the world and, most of all, they propose a transformation of the society that they all wish to be more viable. The goal of my thesis is to make a new analysis of this period that spreads for about a century (1750 à 1848). My hypothesis stipulates that before 1789 the philosophers of the Enlightenment never undertook a real “dechristianization” and that at the turn of the century the writers didn’t exactly returned to Christianity. Far from believing that the argumentation had transformed itself in a mean that is radically different during this historical period that precedes and follows the French Revolution, my goal is to demonstrate that a same will to ameliorate the human condition on earth is manifest in comparable ways throughout these different discourses. The thought of these authors is rather a testimony of a new “sacralization” of which finality is now on a temporal level: the sin, can we read in their writings, is not necessary and, most of all, it is possible to abolish it through social reformations. This desire of a better world is the most important of what Christianity passed on to the thinkers of this period. In consequence of this way of viewing human existence, modernity could be defined not as the end, but rather as the inheritance of Christianity or, to say it all, as its humanization.


Couverture de Francois-Emmanuel Boucher (2005)
Boucher, François-Emmanuël, les Révélations humaines. Mort, sexualité et salut au tournant des Lumières, Berne, Berlin, Bruxelles, Francfort, New York, Oxford et Vienne, Peter Lang, 2005, vii/281 p.

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