The Circle of Rights Expands

The Circle of Rights Expands: Modern Political Thought after the Reformation, 1521 (Luther) to 1762 (Rousseau)

Arthur P. Monahan
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 245
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  • Book Info
    The Circle of Rights Expands
    Book Description:

    Monahan's reading of individual philosophers, including the work of Spinoza, sixteenth-century advocates of religious toleration, and the radical Diggers and Levellers of England in the mid- seventeenth century, constitutes a convincing overview of the political theory of the period.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6028-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
    David Braybrooke
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    CONSENT, COERCION AND LIMIT(1987), the first of two earlier volumes in a trilogy of which this is the last unit, examined Western political thinking in the period roughly between 1050 and 1350. There I developed the thesis that medieval political writers, both religious and secular, reflected a basic though not usually well specified principle integral to any rational theory of polity, that the exercise of legitimate authority requires an understanding and acceptance of the concept of “limit.” What today might be called absolute or unlimited authority, thus, is antithetical to a proper conception of legitimate rule. It is tyrannical;...

  5. I Continental Europe in the Reformation Era
    (pp. 13-108)

    ONE IMPORTANT FEATURE of Western political thought that had its origins in the early Reformation period (particularly in the run-up to and events of the French wars of religion in the 1560s and 1570s), even though the principles it embodied took several centuries to receive even marginal practical implementation, was the notion that political unity need not entail religious uniformity. Regrettably, however, as with so many other features of an adequate theory of polity, while the concept of toleration expressed in the mid-sixteenth century owed more to actual political circumstances than to abstract political theorizing, it enjoyed little acceptance in...

  6. II Seventeenth-Century England’s Response to the Reformation and Its Aftermath
    (pp. 109-190)

    SETTING THE CONTEXT FOR A RELATIVELY comprehensive examination of English political thought in the 1600s entails going back to one of its important manifestations in the period before Pufendorf began to publish in the 1660s, a date by which England had already experienced the civil wars of the 1640s, a royal execution, and the short-lived Cromwellian republican commonwealth before the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II. Hobbes, too, had already published his major political treatises, and John Locke was beginning to articulate his early political and economic views. Understanding the significance of the Hobbesian and Lockean contributions to the...

  7. III Back to the Continent: Spinoza and Rousseau
    (pp. 191-219)

    EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY CONTINENTAL POLITICAL THINKING is interesting in the first instance because of its continuity in perspective and context with earlier and contemporary English thought rather than with the Reformation and post-Reformation positions of Bodin, Althusius, Grotius, and Pufendorf. At the same time the first thinker to be considered here, Spinoza, has a unique interest insofar as his position reflects a scientific and comprehensive formulation not seen in English political thought of the period while clearly expressing itself in terms that connect it with that of Thomas Hobbes.

    Baruch (Benedict) de Spinoza warrants consideration as a political thinker less for the...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 220-222)

    CONCLUDING A MANUSCRIPT of this magnitude, let alone attempting the same for a trilogy of works spanning a period of more than six and a half centuries, is formidable to the point of being problematic. Withal, however, the attempt should be made. The issue of continuity across so lengthy a historical period concerning the concepts of popular consent – the people’s basic rights in any legitimate polity – and the corresponding concept of limit to legitimate authority can be observed across the entire period, even though the new and modern late sixteenth-century idea of sovereignty, seen first in Bodin and later in...

  9. Index
    (pp. 223-225)