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What works or figures influenced Thomas Paine's ideas and writing?

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In writing The Rights of Man, Paine was actually inspired by a contemporary whose ideas opposed Paine's own: Edmund Burke, best remembered today for his philosophy of the sublime and strong opposition of the French Revolution. In The Rights of Man, Paine sought to refute Burke's argument. The subject of the rights of people to rebel against their governments was a contentious one at the time, and Burke himself was writing amid a groundswell of approval for the revolution that had been stirred up by the popular preacher and mathematician Richard Price. Other figures who wrote against Burke's pamphlet included Mary Wollstonecraft (author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women) and William Godwin. This period was marked by lively debate and came to be known as the Revolution Controversy, with thinkers on both sides of the debate producing pamphlets and collections of essays in order to propagate their points of view.

Wollstonecraft had heard Price give numerous sermons on the topic of revolution and the supposed connection between the French Revolution and the Glorious Revolution that had taken place in England the century before. Price's ideas are generally believed to have been the primary influence on all the key liberal thinkers of the Revolution Controversy. Paine, however, had also been inspired by his own observations in France. He strongly believed that the revolution was justified and that men were born free and equal and must oppose and reject any government that did not also take this view.

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