Bronislaw Baczko

Switzerland/Poland

2011 Balzan Prize for Enlightenment Studies

For his contribution to philosophical reflection dedicated to Rousseau’s thought and to the study of the political and social consequences of the Enlightenment on the French Revolution.


Bronislaw Baczko (*1924–†2016) has dedicated his whole academic career to the accumulation of knowledge and to the analysis of the French Enlightenment from various points of view.
Written in Poland under the Communist regime, his first work, which reconstructs the logic of Rousseau’s thought, is still unanimously recognized as a classic. Subsequently, he elaborated an entire series of studies on the political and social dimensions of the French world of the Enlightenment.
Thus, he has made a decisive contribution to the revision of the significance and interpretation of the French Revolution that historians presented on the occasion of the celebration of the Bicentennial in 1989.
Starting with his profound knowledge of the great thinkers of the period, from Voltaire to Condorcet, he has equally given an account of the social milieu and the world of representations in which the writers created their works.
Because of the profound coherence and existential interrogation that are characteristic of him, his work bears witness to the exceptional quality of a scholar of and heir to the Enlightenment.

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