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In the Scientific Revolution the concept of body evolved along several divergent lines, from conceptions that rely exclusively on extension and motion to more elaborate accounts that include attributes such as solidity and force. A host of complications were disputed, such as atomism versus the infinite divisibility of bodies, the distinction between primary and secondary properties, and the possibility of a vacuum. This chapter explores these and other issues, but with an emphasis on the relationship between body and spatial extension. Descartes's three-part distinction—i.e., whether the relationship between body and extension is conceptually, modally, or really distinct—serves as a framework for investigating the development of early modern theories of material body, a process that laid the basis for the ontology and epistemology of modern science.
The third chapter presents selections from Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Montesquieu, and David Hume, and explains the central theoretical assumptions of classical liberalism. Switching the emphasis from the people apprehended as an organic whole to the people as a collection of individuals, social contract theory presupposes that the state is an artificial entity created by human will and consent. The liberal perspective emphasizes the original equality and freedom of all individuals, often overlooking the unicity of each person, and values the private good over the common good. Excerpts from Hobbes and Locke illustrate the idea of the social contract. Although neither Montesquieu nor Hume embraced the social contract theory, their thought exemplifies the liberal ideas that the state should protect, as much as possible, the right of individuals to pursue their lives as they see fit.
Edward Andrew discusses Pierre Bayle, who held that conscience was the “voice of God,” but that humans can still err. Enlightenment thinkers increasingly insisted that social approval, not God’s voice, guided conscience. Thus, conscience became not about certainty concerning the right course of action, but rather about alignment with social forces that might create stability. Bayle maintained that conscience was a faculty of the person, although subject to error. This distinguished him from Locke, who referenced conscience in his political writings. However, in his Essay concerning Human Understanding, Locke asserted that conscience was only one’s abiding beliefs. Bayle, however, proposed that conscience was the development of applications of natural law and Scripture. Harold Schulweis and Harold Berman are conversation partners for Bayle. Schulweis sees conscience as a force of judgment outside law. Morality is not fixed; rather, the person with an active conscience constantly recalibrates her actions and judges the right thing to do. Berman, however, thought conscience as a force beside law, like a jury that renders its judgment about the right decision under the circumstances.
When influential philosophers prior to the Enlightenment such as Leibniz and Malebranche speculate about the interior life of ‘Man’ they presuppose the elect, saved man. This continues to be the case with Pierre Nicole and Jacques-Joseph Duguet, whose writings coincide with Jansenism’s turn towards a movement of political opposition to absolutism that ended up in Jacobinism. The shadows cast by predestination can still be detected even in Locke and Montesquieu, regarded as the founding figures of the Enlightenment. The theory of election would retain a subliminal presence in the history of the human sciences of the eighteenth century. So too would their increasing preoccupation with causality in psychological and social identity; out of the causes for election and reprobation came the imputation of causes for developmental normality and abnormality (‘idiocy’, ‘imbecility’ etc.) in the history of medicine.
This essay revises traditional notions of the plantation as antithetical to modernity by linking foundational Anglo-American writings about the plantation to English Enlightenment thought. By examining writings about the American plantation enterprise ranging from Thomas Harriot’s Briefe and True Report of the New-Found Land of Virginia (1588/1590) to John Locke’s Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina (1669), this essay establishes a clear relationship between practical considerations of settlement and epistemological and ethical questions central to Enlightenment thinking. Harriot’s text, for instance, performs a shift from deductive to inductive reasoning when considering plantation settlement, thereby anticipating the modern scientific method. Locke’s contribution, however, presages a more dissonant relationship between evolving Enlightenment ideals and the American plantation system as notions such as climatic determinism and the immorality of enslavement became more pervasive.
In this chapter, I argue that the formation of intellectual property was enabled by a cultural transformation, involving the embrace of natural legality, a transformation that parallels, in significant respects, the Christianization of imperial Rome. In this cultural transformation, traditions of Roman law were rediscovered as a naturalistic foundation for sociability and national economic life. The commodification of human creativity and inventive discovery, through intellectual property rights, made sense, within the culture of natural legality, as a justified response to natural, but extraordinary, powers of human creativity, and became part of a broader strategy for national empowerment. The combination of Roman law with interpretations of Christian obligation that emphasized natural sociability and legality gave new form to a natural rights tradition, one that providing legitimating foundations for the recognition of intellectual property under principles of English common law. The chapter concludes with a focus on the U.S. constitutional convention of 1787, and the embrace of intellectual property as part of the constitutional framework for a powerful, national state.
After a generation of academic critique and legal and political transformation, the field of law-and-religion stands in the midst of a crisis. Theorists in disciplines ranging from religious studies and anthropology to international relations and law have problematized the category of “religion” from a variety of perspectives. To be sure, these theorists have rarely, if ever, sought to do away with the category, either as an empirical descriptor or as a tool of analysis. Rather, they have shown its historically contingent, politically constructed, and perennially contested nature.
Post-colonial theorists, for example, have argued for the Eurocentric genealogy of “religion” and its global diffusion through colonialism and its aftermath. Legal critics have undermined the perennial protestations of theological agnosticism by courts in the West; in the United States, such criticism has revealed an implicit strand of “low-church” Protestant presuppositions.
The Conclusion demonstrates the global-historical and interdisciplinary importance of early modern developments in the history of majority rule. It sketches the modern history of majoritarian decision-making in the elected assemblies of the United States, the United Kingdom, continental Europe, and the postcolonial polities that emerged from their empires and the tumult of the two world wars. It then explains the basic ways in which the history of the rise of the majority in early modern Britain and its empire recasts majority rule as a political problem in a way that has important implications for political science, political theory, and wider public debate. It shows that all of the basic maladies identified today in debates over the state of representative democracy were present, identified, and discussed in the seventeenth century. In particular, contemporaries experienced and described the threat that majority rule posed to the role of rational, informed argument and inclusion in national decision-making.
Chapter 4 looks at ways the Bible functioned as an instrument of legal power around the turn of the eighteenth century in county assizes, in reports by the ordinary of Newgate, and in the majority of printed sermons from the period. I then discuss the different responses to that legal power in writing about the Bible by John Locke, Anthony Collins, and Matthew Henry. This chapter argues that it is not the aesthetic, narrative dimensions of the Bible that have been eclipsed in the modern age, as Hans Frei contends, so much as the scope of its legal and political address.
Chapter 6 traces the appearance of the Bible as a series of legal or forensic documents (book, scroll, certificate) in part one of Pilgrim’s Progress (1678) and then as a series of entertaining things (food, digestive, mirror) in part two (1684). The shift in appearance from legal document to entertaining thing shows Bunyan’s fiction moving through channels already carved out by the circulation of the scriptures in late-seventeenth-century England: a literary channel in which the Bible was held to be the supreme book of wisdom; a legal channel in which the Bible was used to justify state authority; and a domestic channel in which the Bible was used to speak the language of intimacy. This chapter also touches on writing about the Bible by John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, and Mary Rowlandson to show how Bunyan uses scripture not to imagine life-after-death in the Celestial City but life on the outskirts of that City, here in this world.
The discoveries of the new science of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries offered unique challenges to philosophers concerned with answering scepticism or with defending common-sense beliefs. This chapter focuses on how Descartes, Locke, and Berkeley took up those challenges. Descartes’s philosophical project brought to the forefront the tensions embedded in the confrontation between common sense, science, and scepticism. His insistence on raising the strongest sceptical doubts and on answering them with absolute certainty often left common-sense beliefs behind. Confronted with this result, and perhaps also with Descartes’s own failure to answer the sceptic, Locke weakened both the force of his own scepticism and the degree of certainty he demanded in his philosophical views. Moreover, he was often willing to privilege common-sense beliefs over arguments conflicting with them. In these ways, he provided a system which reconciled common sense, science, and scepticism more adequately than Descartes. Berkeley, convinced that his predecessors’ work left the sceptic unscathed, developed views which, he claimed, completed this reconciliation project. But the chapter shows that his views fall short of this goal. The work of these philosophers put in place the foundations upon which later thinkers would tackle this reconciliation challenge.
This chapter surveys the legal history of the term the "protection of the laws," from the writings of the early natural rights thinkers, the American Founders, and Blackstone to Andrew Jackson and antebellum state-level court cases. It argues that the concept of the "protection of the laws," including the "equal protection of the laws," was narrower than modern-day courts maintain: it was about the remedial and protective services supplied by the government and the laws aiming to protect individuals in the exercise of their rights against private interference and private violence.
In the first chapter of Recognizing Resentment, I historically situate the debate about the passions and their role in sociability to which Joseph Butler responded at the outset of the eighteenth century. I correct the mischaracterization of the seventeenth cenutry as the age reason reigned supreme, highlighting instead how a host of philosophers in the rationalist tradition began to pay particular attention to the importance of passion in moral and political motivation and obligation. For rationalists and psychological egoists like Thomas Hobbes, Baruch Spinoza, and John Locke, passions were influential but socially destabiizing and “vicious.” The same was true of the philosophy of the father of the natural law tradition, Hugo Grotius. However, Grotius's disciple, Samuel von Pufendorf, and the heir to the egoist tradition in the eighteenth century, Bernard Mandeville, began to view the passions in a new light. However vicious they might be, Pufendorf and Mandeville believed passions positively contibuted to our ability to live together in large, diverse societies.
In modern times, the familial–political analogy broke down with the emergence and ascendance of liberalism. The collapse of that traditional analogy, it is contended, dissociated the two realms and required new argumentations, definitions, and justifications for the relationships and structure inside each. With the collapse of the analogy, it is argued, the traditional political meaning of the family changed and its standing as a social institution became eroded. Consequently, the political meaning of the family and its relation to justifications for the state and its authority became a fundamental challenge for modern liberal societies. The focus in this chapter is the endeavors of John Locke to define anew parental authority and political authority as unparallel phenomena
How did European thinking about interactions with peoples of the Indies move from Christian-infidel relations to an identifiably modern form of international relations? This chapter explores the preceding question by looking at the emergence of Protestant empires during the seventeenth-century and the ascendant neo-Stoic Christian legal humanism structuring new ideas of world order and providential commerce. It considers the growing ideological displacement of the legal category of the infidel, and the associated crime of idolatry, in the political context of the Indies, East but especially West. This chapter also addresses normative ideas about the savage that developed in the infidel’s wake. Although there were important differences between the Iberian empires and the new English and Dutch empires, there were also continuities. This chapter considers those similarities between Spanish religious thinkers and representative international thinkers on natural law and the law of nations such as Alberico Gentili, Hugo Grotius, Samuel Purchas, New England Puritans, and John Locke. What does the colonization of North America look like in light of Valladolid’s legacy from a century earlier?
This concluding chapter locates our present geological moment politically and economically, arguing that the major ecological degradation which has been made visible at the level of geological time is a result of the Lockean designation of ‘unused’ land as waste to be made productive. And crucially, this designation of land as waste goes hand in hand with the extraction from deep time: it involves bracketing out the long-term history of the landscape and its ecological future for the work of extracting economic value in the now. To expand our time horizons is, in fact, to recognise the contemporary relationship with deep time as wastage.
The Molyneux problem is a question about the nature of sensory perception that was first posed by William Molyneux, the founder of the Dublin Philosophical Society, in correspondence with the English philosopher John Locke in 1688. The problem asks whether a blind man who has learned to distinguish between different shapes by his sense of touch alone would be able, upon having his vision restored, to make the same distinctions using only his sense of sight. Molyneux’s question has been called the most important problem in the history of Irish philosophy, and the reason for its significance is the wide variety of epistemological, theological, linguistic, and aesthetic considerations to which it gave rise. This chapter identifies and documents the major stages in the early development of Molyneux’s problem in eighteenth-century Ireland, England, and France. Along the way, the chapter draws on contemporary religious analogies, surgical evidence, and fictional experiments in order to bring a new perspective to current debates about the meaning of ‘Enlightenment’ in eighteenth-century Irish intellectual culture.
What do Dickinson’s habitual composition strategies indicate about her poetics? I argue that Dickinson and her peers wrote the way they did, generating variants and saving their writings in hand-bound booklets, because of the education they received in composition and rhetoric. This chapter draws on archival evidence to argue that many of Dickinson’s contemporaries composed in similar ways because of ideas about the importance of diction in the New Rhetoric. Dickinson’s training in varieties of skeptical, realist, and nominalist semiotic theory derived from Locke contribute to her persistent doubt and fragile faith in language. In a reading of several of Dickinson’s poems reflecting upon the composition process, I demonstrate both the presence of these rhetorical theories and their consequences in repeatedly staged crises of reference and articulation. This chapter lays the groundwork for subsequent chapters by depicting Dickinson’s poetics as evolving out of conflicts in a particular philosophical milieu.
The fifth section of this volume deals with the discussion of justification in the modern period, and deals mainly with Protestant approaches to the issue. Chapter 27 opens this discussion by considering the emergence of new attitudes to justification in England, in response to growing interest in the cultural virtue of ‘reasonableness’, the concept of ‘natural religion’ and the wider issue of religious toleration. Although there is now growing support for the notion that ‘Deism’ is partly socially constructed for polemical purposes, it remains a useful tool for discussing more rationalist approaches to the Christian faith which emerged in the eighteenth century. This chapter thus considers the Deist critique of the foundations of justification, such as the notion of original sin, focussing on writers such as John Toland and Matthew Tindal. The chapter then turns to consider the debates about justification which took place during the German Enlightenment, particularly the approaches associated with Johann Gottlieb Töllner and Gotthilf Samuel Steinbart. Finally, the chapter considers the philosopher Immanuel Kant’s views on radical evil and justification, which some scholars consider to mark a re-appreciation of the continuing significance of justification in secular moral discourse.