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The Idea of Europe

Catriona Seth
Rotraud von Kulessa

69. Know the World and Make it a Better Place

Texte intégral

1According to Condorcet, the discovery of America had a huge impact on the whole of humanity and on the freedom of people in Europe and elsewhere. As he writes, he hopes for a pacific republican future.

2It is in this epoch only of the progress of the human mind, that man has arrived at the knowledge of the globe which he inhabits; that he has been able to study, in all its countries, the species to which he belongs, modified by the continued influence of natural causes, or of social institutions; that he has had an opportunity of observing the productions of the earth, or of the sea, in all temperatures and climates. And accordingly, among the happy consequences of the discoveries in question, may be included the resources of every kind which those productions afford to mankind, and which, so far from being exhausted, men have yet no idea of their extent; the truths which the knowledge of those objects may have added to the sciences, or the long received errors that may thereby have been destroyed; the commercial activity that has given new life to industry and navigation, and, by a necessary chain of connection, to all the arts and all the sciences: and lastly, the force that free nations have acquired from this activity by which to resist tyrants, and subjected nations to break their chains, and free themselves at least from feudal despotism. But these advantages will never expiate what the discoveries have cost to suffering humanity, till the moment when Europe, abjuring the sordid and oppressive system of commercial monopoly, shall acknowledge that men of other climates, equals and brothers by the will of nature, have never been formed to nourish the pride and avarice of a few privileged nations; till, better informed respecting its true interests, it shall invite all the people of the earth to participate in its independence, its liberty, and its illumination. Unfortunately, we have yet to learn whether this revolution will be the honourable fruit of the advancement of philosophy, or only, as we have hitherto seen, the shameful consequence of national jealousy, and the enormous excesses of tyranny.

3Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet,
Outlines of an Historical View of the Progress of the Human Mind (1794).

Read the free English text online (1795 edition):​books?id=SLs8AAAAYAAJ&dq=condorcetamericaafricaasia&pg=PA188
Read the free text in the original language (1822 edition):​books?id=hRIPAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover


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