Changes of State

Changes of State: Nature and the Limits of the City in Early Modern Natural Law

ANNABEL S. BRETT
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7rthb
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    Changes of State
    Book Description:

    This is a book about the theory of the city or commonwealth, what would come to be called the state, in early modern natural law discourse. Annabel Brett takes a fresh approach by looking at this political entity from the perspective of its boundaries and those who crossed them. She begins with a classic debate from the Spanish sixteenth century over the political treatment of mendicants, showing how cosmopolitan ideals of porous boundaries could simultaneously justify the freedoms of itinerant beggars and the activities of European colonists in the Indies. She goes on to examine the boundaries of the state in multiple senses, including the fundamental barrier between human beings and animals and the limits of the state in the face of the natural lives of its subjects, as well as territorial frontiers. Drawing on a wide range of authors, Brett reveals how early modern political space was constructed from a complex dynamic of inclusion and exclusion. Throughout, she shows that early modern debates about political boundaries displayed unheralded creativity and virtuosity but were nevertheless vulnerable to innumerable paradoxes, contradictions, and loose ends.

    Changes of Stateis a major work of intellectual history that resonates with modern debates about globalization and the transformation of the nation-state.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3862-2
    Subjects: History, Political Science, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. A NOTE ON THE TEXT
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION ON THE THRESHOLD OF THE STATE
    (pp. 1-10)

    This is a book about what the sixteenth-century philosopher John Case called “the sphere of the city.”¹ By it he meant, and I mean, the political space that human beings have constructed as a space in which to live a distinctively human life. “City” here is not “city” in the sense of an urban environment,urbsin the Latin. “City” is instead the Latincivitas, a civic not a stone structure. Again, this is not, at least in the first instance,civitasin its sense as a city like London, but in its sense as synonymous with therespublica, the...

  6. CHAPTER ONE TRAVELLING THE BORDERLINE
    (pp. 11-36)

    We begin, then, in the middle of the sixteenth century, in Spain, with Francisco de Vitoria (ca. 1485–1546) and his Dominican colleagues at the university of Salamanca. They are famous for their reconstitution and redeployment of Thomas Aquinas’s theory of natural law to address the new problems of the sixteenth century, problems that beset Spain along with the rest of Europe: the power of the crown both within its own commonwealth and in relation to other commonwealths, and these powers both within Europe and overseas. This was a century of conflict in which European states fought within themselves for...

  7. CHAPTER TWO CONSTRUCTING HUMAN AGENCY
    (pp. 37-61)

    In the last chapter, we saw how Soto’s essentially Thomist view of a human being’s juridical status was premised upon Aquinas’s understanding of human agency. The critical dimension that I want to highlight now is that this human agency isfreeagency. It is freedom, ordominiumover my own actions, which makes me different from all other animals; and it is the foundation of the world of the moral, the juridical, and the political, which are all continuous with one another and from which animals— and a fortiori all other natural agents—are excluded. But over the century with...

  8. CHAPTER THREE NATURAL LAW
    (pp. 62-89)

    We have seen, then, that for almost all of our authors the construction of human being as free being coincides with the construction of the subject of law. Government by law is not the application of external force (violence), nor is it the harnessing or engendering of passion or appetite (natural inclination)—even if, as we shall explore in chapter 6, it cannot separate itself entirely from these physical dimensions of government. Rather, it works by commanding choice, and it demands a subject capable of choice: free in the sense of the last chapter. That choice is not simply between...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR NATURAL LIBERTY
    (pp. 90-114)

    We finished the last chapter by comparing Vázquez and Arriaga with Hobbes, two different theories that collapse the obligatory force of theius gentiuminto natural law, resting partly on the difference betweeniusas a faculty of action and law as an obligatory rule. It is this distinction—somewhat the elephant in the room of the last chapter—that needs to come to the fore now if we are to understand the juridical dynamics that mark the domain of theius gentium, leading ultimately to the formation of the commonwealth or state. As is very familiar, one of the...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE KINGDOMS FOUNDED
    (pp. 115-141)

    One of the key markers of the early modern natural law tradition is the pervasive understanding of the unsustainability of a condition of equal natural liberty governed only by natural law. The writers with whom we are concerned use various words to indicate the pressure on that pristine juridical situation:“convenience,”“commodity,”“necessity,” and—perhaps most prominently of all—“utility.” Of themselves, these words are not part of a juridical vocabulary: they refer to the concrete goods of life. As such, they draw in considerations not of rights but of psychological attitudes, which all our authors explore to a greater or lesser extent....

  11. CHAPTER SIX THE LIVES OF SUBJECTS
    (pp. 142-168)

    In the last chapter we saw how the commonwealth or state is constructed as a union of human beings in a moral, juridical, or artificial body, the being of which is by definition different from that of the individual human beings by whom it is made or who constitute its matter. In one way or another, the civic balloon has gone up. But where does that leave the natural bodies of its members? In this chapter we turn to look at the relationship of the state to its subjects as necessarily physically embodied beings.

    The primary way in which the...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN LOCALITY
    (pp. 169-194)

    In the last chapter we examined the nature of the state’s command over its subjects as physically embodied beings, and the limits of the obligation of its law in that context. In this chapter, I want to consider the limits of obligation in another context, that of subjects travelling from one commonwealth to another. One might think that this is to consider the question of “inside” and “outside” in a completely different, and non-metaphorical, sense. But I hope to show that the essential problematic is the same. Like the body of the subject, the physical movement of the traveller implicates...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT RE-PLACING THE STATE
    (pp. 195-224)

    As the multifaceted discussions we examined in the last chapter illustrate, for Hobbes and many of his contemporaries locality or situation is an essential presupposition of the way they think about sovereignty and subjection. However, it is at the same time something that emerges only obliquely as they consider particular figures away from home such as travellers, migrants, fugitives, or ambassadors. In this chapter I want to address the issue of the place of the city directly, and to pursue the broader implications of place in relation to the metaphysics of human agency with which this book has been concerned...

  14. BIBLIOGRAPHY OF WORKS CITED
    (pp. 225-236)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 237-242)