Who is Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyes?

Who is Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyes?

June 25, 2021 Off By Felso

Emmanuel-JoseEmmanuel Joseph Sieyès was a French political theorist and philosopher who lived in France from 3 May 1748 to 20 June 1836.

Sieyès, who studied at the University of Paris and the Sorbonne, is also a clergyman besides his political character. Standing out as one of the main political theorists of the French Revolution, Sieyès has an important role in French political history.

Sieyés, who was a writer and politician during the period of the French Revolution, played a very important role in the beginning and end of the revolution with his ideas. So much so that on June 17, 1789, the representatives of Tiers-Etat in “Etats-Généraux” declared that the sovereignty belongs to the nation and formed the National Assembly, while they were greatly influenced by the ideas of Emmanuel Sieyés. In 1799, Sieyés also played the leading role in the preparation of the government coup that led to the end of the Revolution. In this context, it can be said that Sieyés started the Revolution in June 1789 and ended the Revolution in November 1799 (Sarıca, 1999:98-99).

We can gather the debates that Sieyès heated up under two headings as the concept of “nation” and the understanding of “representation”. Although Sieyès never spoke of “national sovereignty” directly, he indirectly contributed to the theory of “national sovereignty” with his views on the concept of “nation” and “national unity”.

It stands directly opposite the thoughts of Sieyès Rousseau. Rousseau defended popular sovereignty, while Sieyès brought national sovereignty to the fore.

Sieyès is above all a constitutionalist; While developing the theory of nation and representation, he constantly had the idea of ​​drafting a constitution. In this sense, he is not only one of the leading representatives of the social class that carried out the 1789 bourgeois revolution in the field of political thought, but also one of the important theorists of constitutional law.

Sieyés’ ideas came to life to a large extent with the French Revolution. With the concepts of “nation” and “national sovereignty”, Sieyés formed the political foundations of the modern nation-state understanding after 1789.

We can summarize Sieyès’ views on “nation”, “sovereignty” and “representation” under the following headings:

The source of power is the Tiers état, that is, the nation, which is excluded from the privileged classes.
The nation cannot exercise its power on its own, but only through its representatives.
The selection of representatives should be based on the “active citizen” – “passive citizen” distinction, which is the result of the division of labor and natural inequality between people.
The will of the representatives should be limited by the constitution, not by direct instruction from the electorate.
The Constitution will be drawn up by extraordinary representatives, not ordinary representatives. Extraordinary representatives will be elected by the nation and will not be bound by a mandate.
Political power will be exercised on behalf of the nation by the majority of the representatives elected by the majority of the electorate.
Subject Headings
Sieyès’ Nation Conception
Sieyès’ Understanding of Sovereignty and Representation
What is Third Class?
People’s Sovereignty – Nation Sovereignty Distinction

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer Yıldırımph Who is Sieyès?