Napoleon good or bad?

I remember last week in class and as I sit here studying for my test, the discussion my class has had about Napoleon. In class we had debates about whether or not Napoleon stuck true to the revolutionary ideals or betrayed them during his reign. After hearing both sides of the argument it has been hard to fall on either side. Although, he can be argued good or bad, I believe he was the right leader for the time. Napoleon was able to bring the stability and the strength that France needed at that time. Napoleon brought the country economic stability, social mobility, religious freedom as well as making France a strong military force. Even with the things I have listed many could say he still betrayed the ideas of the French Revolution, but it makes one begin to wonder even though he betrayed the ideals of the French Revolution is it okay because he made France a stronger country?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Napoleon good or bad?

  1. Benjamin says:

    Perhaps another interesting foil in our task of analyzing Napoleon (and something I imagine will have relevance all year) is whether we are being a tad to ethnocentric or closeted in our discussion of him. It seems to me that we are essentially assessing Napoleon’s “morality” or “goodness” by traits like whether he truly cared about the impoverished, his effect on the French populace, and many other notions we just consider a good or great person to have. But are these traits truly so homogenous throughout all the different philosophers of the millennia? Honestly, the man who first comes to mind is the 19th century German thinker Friedrich Nietzsche and, more specifically, his concept of the Übermensch (it seems that the translation is so contentious it’s better just to leave it in the German). While I know there’s considerable dispute over what exactly Nietzsche meant by this definition, I think a rough approximation might be somewhat of an “over-man,” one who is able to overcome and transcend the relative boundaries of his or her era. Further, Nietzsche apparently sees Napoleon as somewhat of a real life example of this idea (though, again, I believe it’s contested whether Nietzsche sees Napoleon as an Übermensch or just Übermensch-like). I think this characterization might have some basic coherency, for, if nothing else, Napoleon was a brilliant general and statesman who accomplished seemingly unrivaled feats of grandeur and glory. Now, I’m far from actually understanding Nietzschean moral philosophy in any meaningful depth, and the Übermensch concept does seem to be a little dubious, but I think there’s still a value to all this. At least for me, it seems easy to get into the trap of compartmentalizing people as “good” or “bad” using our own moral paradigms, the products of our own times, our own societies, and our own various other beliefs. I realize that meaningful discourse would be impossible without these basic “guidelines,” but I would hope that the next time I quickly label or discuss a figure from the past, I don’t ignore the possibility that my perceptions of him or her are, at lest partially, the product of preconceived, arbitrary notions.

  2. Lisa Goldsman says:

    I have been wondering the same question, Monty. He did bring major stability to the time, as you said Monty, which was a main progression that France really did need. But, when people argue him to be good or bad towards revolutionary values, they interpret the bases of good and bad off of their own mindsets. That is the point that Ben brought up, which I agree with completely. I personally believe, based on my outlooks on good and bad, that Napoleon was a leader who worked for the people, making him a labeled “good” leader in my eyes. He did what he needed to, stabilizing France economically and religiously, showing his desire to improve the country by impending well-suited benefits. He might have betrayed the previously placed ideas of France, but each leader has a different point they want to push for the benefits of their country, and Napoleon pushed points he saw fitted. But, he could be argued good or bad, due to the interpreters viewpoints on the meanings of good and bad.

  3. sweiswasser2015 says:

    Napoleon, in my opinion, was an oppressive dictator who completely contradicted the ideals of the revolution. While I understand the arguments coming from the opposite side, Napoleon’s Civil Code completely contradicted the ideals of the revolution. For instance, although women had a louder voice after the revolution (considering their voice during the revolution), Napoleon’s civil code diminished their importance by making them property of men. Napoleon’s civil code also stated that birth should not determine one’s privileges, however Napoleon then gave nobles special privileges.

    On the contrary, however, France was in an unstable state when Napoleon took control. One must consider the fact that France needed stability and a dictator was, in my opinion, the best solution to this instability. The problem with Napoleon, however, was essentially that he did not belong as a ruler. Napoleon was a military general who combined his values of military with his dictatorial rule. Napoleon was relentless in both a military and ruling environment.

  4. areynolds2015 says:

    I feel as though Napoleon would have been a great leader if he wasn’t so egotistical and arrogant. For example, when Napoleon’s army was fighting in Russia during the winter, he shouldn’t have gone to Moscow. Instead, he should have stopped at Smolensk and went back to Paris after that battle was won, but Napoleon insisted that his army kept going till they reach Moscow. This unfortunately cost him over 500,000 men. Also, even after Napoleon was exited, he still insisted on gaining power back and tried so hard to even though his prime was up. Eventually, Napoleon lost his final battle at Waterloo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *