by Mason Tattersall*

Dr. Jonathan Israel’s April 26 talk at Oregon State, “Radical Enlightenment and the French Revolution,” presented the key figures in the early (1789-93) stage of the Revolution as proponents of what Israel terms the Radical Enlightenment. Contrary to some accounts Israel characterizes the rise of Robespierre and the Reign of Terror not as a radicalization of the Revolution and the Enlightenment project that underlay it, but as a counter-revolutionary populist reaction against the Radical Enlightenment ideas and policies of the early leaders of the revolution (orators, philosophers, newspaper editors). Israel’s talk centered around a banquet held by The British Club, a group of Anglo-American intellectuals in Paris, on the 17th of November 1792. Continue reading