Montesquieu's Greatest Mark On Philosophy Essay

1543 words - 6 pages

Doubtless, if Montesquieu were forced to choose a favorite mathematical formula, he would pick the average function. For even among the great thinkers of the French Enlightenment, the baron de Montesquieu stands out as an especially impassioned advocate for moderation. Montesquieu, of course, left his greatest mark on the philosophy of the governance through his great work The Spirit of the Laws. Though certainly his earlier work The Persian Letters sowed the seeds of many of the ideas featured in his chef d’œuvre. In particular, Montesquieu spends some time in both works examining the universe of possible governments. But he advocates not, in fact, for republicanism or, perhaps less surprisingly, despotism. Rather, Montesquieu supports the “moderate” position: a government less despotic than despotism, and yet less democratic than democracy or republicanism. He makes the case, in other words, for rule by an enlightened monarch.
Montesquieu himself divides the principal forms of government into three broad groupings in his seminal work The Spirit of the Laws. At one extreme he places the “republican” government, at the other the despotic. The “monarchical” he places somewhere in the center (Spirit of the Laws bk. II, ch. 1). The ordering alone belies Montesquieu’s stance; of course other evidence is more explicit.
To begin, Montesquieu does little to disguise his distaste for despotic governments. Even Usbek, Rhedi and Rica, Montesquieu’s invented Persian aristocrats in The Persian Letters—whose nobility flows from a despotic Asian government—find fault with the despotic system, as if to underline the system’s lack of merit. Usbek says of European states, “A week’s imprisonment, or a small fine, impress the mind of a European who has been brought up in a humane country as greatly as the loss an arm would intimidate an Asian” (Persian Letters 159). Further, Usbek notes a few paragraph later, “When Osman, the Turkish emperor, was deposed, none of the men who performed the deed had any intention of carrying it out; they were simply petitioners asking for some cause of complaint to be put right” (Persian Letters 159). Here, Montesquieu shows not only subject’s suffering at the despots cruel hand, but also stresses the intrinsic instability of a despotic government.
This case is made even more explicitly in The Spirit of the Laws. In Book III, for instance, Montesquieu ascribes a fundamental principle to each of the three types of government he outlines. But while Montesquieu names “virtue” as the principle of a republican government and “honor” as the principle of a monarchical government, the despotic system is given the fundamental principle of “fear” (Spirit of the Laws bk. III, ch. 9, par. 1), easily the least noble of the three.
By contrast, Montesquieu does not make his distaste for the republican system nearly as overt. In his discussion of the history of republics, the character Rhedi writes of the ancient Greek...

Find Another Essay On Montesquieu's Greatest Mark on Philosophy

From Enlightenment to Postmodernism Essay

6168 words - 25 pages From Enlightenment to Postmodernism.The emergence of feminist theory, psychoanalysis, and postmodern philosophy served as catalyst for the transition from the Enlightenment to Postmodernism. The eighteenth century philosophical, political and scientific thought in search for freedom, equality and stability relied upon the belief in reason and rationality as its fundamental values. It depended on the binary structures so criticized and rethought

Enlightenment Salon: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

766 words - 4 pages and wisdom and one of the greatest influential figures of German literature, science, music, and philosophy. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe has been called the Shakespeare of the German language (Lombardi, 2013). He was also later known for his scientific contributions. Many in the nineteenth century ignored Goethe’s scientific discoveries as the amateur efforts of a poet and novelist. He would later be recognized for advancing biology by discovering

Mark Salzmann 's book "Iron and Silk" About losing face

947 words - 4 pages arts expert. During he first encounter the reader can see that Pan is a strong and domineering instructor. The students follow every word he says. Mark can see their skill level is far beyond his. After doing a short routine, Mark is pulled aside by Pan. Pan tells Mark he can fix his wushu but if he fails it will be Pan who looses face. People will loose respect for the greatest martial arts expert who couldn't teach a foreigner.During one of the

Evolutionary liberalism in Britain

3131 words - 13 pages . This approach was determined by the new rationalist philosophy developed above all by René Descartes (but also by Thomas Hobbes in Britain) and gained its greatest influence in the eighteenth century through the philosophers of the French Enlightenment. Voltaire and J. J. Rousseau were the two most influential figures of the intellectual movement that culminated in the French Revolution and from which the Continental or constructivist type

Faith and Reason in the Enlightenment

1639 words - 7 pages . Direct attacks placed on the government or in reference to the Church were either banned or burned. Because of these restrictions place upon the philosophes, the men incorporated their strong beliefs and opinions into novels, plays, philosophies, encyclopedias, and dictionaries to spread their message. These works that the philosophes completed were filled with satire and double meanings en lieu of what they were unable to speak freely about

Assess Catherine II's achievements as a reformer

1535 words - 6 pages on Montesquieu's enlightened ideas in 'L'esprit des Lois' supports the notion that people should not be owned. Despite this, she managed only a few feeble measures and was more concerned with political considerations such as mass migration through peasant desertion, civil unrest and threat of rebellion, from both peasants and serf owners. Given the choice, it was easier to bow to the wishes of serf owners with political power than serfs with

The Gospel of Mark Report

827 words - 3 pages resurrection (Mark 9:32). Section four, beginning with verse 9:33, covers the period when Jesus goes to Capernaum and preaches to His disciples about who is the greatest (Mark 9:36) and other subjects. Jesus then goes to Judea in section five, starting in Chapter 10. There, He teaches on many subjects, performs the miracle of restoring sight to a blind man that shows faith (Mark 10:52) and again predicts His death and resurrection to His disciples (Mark 10

Motivational Racism ("Kaffir Boy" Comparison to "By Any Other Name")

637 words - 3 pages he is black, Mark strives for success since he has nothing to lose. Through a comparison of different reactions to prejudices revealed in the stories, we learn that our choices should be determined by which options offer the greatest rewards and/or the fewest penalties.Premila and Santha both attend an Anglo-Indian school. When the girls first arrive they notice subtle racist gestures, such as the change in their names to make them British names

Aristotle: Philosophical Scientist or Scientific Philosopher - University of Alberta/Class 103 - Essay

3953 words - 16 pages Aristotle Philosophical Scientist or Scientific Philosopher December 4, 2013 Aristotle, perhaps one of the greatest thinkers of all time, has unarguably left his mark in history, but also left an important legacy. A legacy that is undeniable, he is the father of many strings of studies still taught throughout the world. He revolutionized science and created what is now modern philosophy. Some even go to such lengths to say Aristotle founded

The Culture and History of China

1859 words - 7 pages . The artist of this is unknown but it was most likely painted by one of Confucius’ disciples. This is the man who had one of the greatest impacts on Chinese literature, philosophy and religion. Appendix B This is a picture of the 4 books that Confucius wrote. In ancient times, these are the closest impressions of the way his books would have actually looked. The 4 books he wrote were The Great Learning, The Analects of Confucius, The

Mark Twain

936 words - 4 pages Mark Twain was one of the greatest writers ever, using his style he made two of the most influential books ever. He has been through a lot and has succeeded anybodies expectations. He has been from job to job and has always been around writing. To be an author was all he wanted to be and he did not let anything stop him. The way he wrote was different, nobody had every seen that style before. Samuel Langhorne Clemens or more commonly

Similar Essays

Lord Of The Flies Essay

1128 words - 5 pages the people enough power while not giving them too much. Montesquieu's view on the flaws of democracies and absolute monarchies led to his philosophy that an ideal government is one which has the consent of the governed and the people have a say in the government without controlling it (Montesquieu qtd. in "Modern History Sourcebook"). This is significant because it gives mankind an opportunity to view the world through a different lens. Consider

What Specific Contributions Did Montesquieu, Voltaire And Diderot Make To The Age Of Enlightenment? Contrast Their Political Ideas With That Of Thomas Hobbes

485 words - 2 pages In Montesquieu's first work, the Persian Letters, he criticized French institutions, especially the Catholic Church and the French monarchy. In this work he wrote about the attack on traditional religion, the advocacy of religious toleration, the denunciation of slavery and the use of reason to liberate humans from their own prejudices.In his most famous work, The Spirit of the Laws, he compared the types of government. Republics, which are

Why The Federalists Thought A Larger Union Would Be Better For Democracy

1557 words - 6 pages Union should also be added.Hamilton also acknowledges the arguments of the contenders of the Constitution. Their line of reasoning based on Montesquieu, they maintain that republics should be smaller in land area. Hamilton asserts that if Montesquieu's recommendations were adhered to, then the result would be either a return to monarchy, or dissolution into a magnitude of "little, jealous, clashing, tumultuous commonwealths...objects of

Aristotle's Legacy Essay

1356 words - 5 pages start off, Aristotle was a widely known philosopher in the Ancient Greek world born in Macedonia in the year 384 B.C. Not only did he take part in philosophy, but he also contributed poetics, political science, and biology. All of these subjects were taught at his school, the Peripatetic School of Philosophy at the Lyceum which became “one of the greatest centers for advanced study in the ancient world” (Sacks OL). An excellent example of his