Slavery appears as a figurative construct during the English revolution of the mid-seventeenth century, and again in the American and French revolutions, when radicals represent their treatment as a form of political slavery. What, if anything, does figurative, political slavery have to do with transatlantic slavery? In Arbitrary Rule, Mary Nyquist explores connections between political and chattel slavery by excavating the tradition of Western political thought that justifies actively opposing tyranny. She argues that as powerful rhetorical and conceptual constructs, Greco-Roman political liberty and slavery reemerge at the time of early modern Eurocolonial expansion; they help to create racialized “free” national identities and their “unfree” counterparts in non-European nations represented as inhabiting an earlier, privative age.
Arbitrary Rule is the first book to tackle political slavery’s discursive complexity, engaging Eurocolonialism, political philosophy, and literary studies, areas of study too often kept apart. Nyquist proceeds through analyses not only of texts that are canonical in political thought—by Aristotle, Cicero, Hobbes, and Locke—but also of literary works by Euripides, Buchanan, Vondel, Montaigne, and Milton, together with a variety of colonialist and political writings, with special emphasis on tracts written during the English revolution. She illustrates how “antityranny discourse,” which originated in democratic Athens, was adopted by republican Rome, and revived in early modern Western Europe, provided members of a “free” community with a means of protesting a threatened reduction of privileges or of consolidating a collective, political identity. Its semantic complexity, however, also enabled it to legitimize racialized enslavement and imperial expansion.
Throughout, Nyquist demonstrates how principles relating to political slavery and tyranny are bound up with a Roman jurisprudential doctrine that sanctions the power of life and death held by the slaveholder over slaves and, by extension, the state, its representatives, or its laws over its citizenry.
What made the United States what it is began long before a shot was fired at a redcoat in Lexington, Massachusetts in 1775. It began quietly in homes and schoolrooms across the colonies in the reading lessons women gave to children. Just as the Protestant revolt originated in a practice of individual reading of the Bible, so the theories of reading developed by John Locke were the means by which a revolutionary attitude toward authority was disseminated throughout the British colonies in North America that would come to form in the United States. Gillian Brown takes us back to the basics to understand why Americans value the right to individual self-determination above all other values. It all begins with children.
Locke crucially linked consent with childhood, and it is his formulation of the child's natural right to consent that eighteenth-century Americans learned as they learned to read through Lockean-style pedagogies and textbooks. Tracing the Lockean legacy through the New England Primer and popular readers, fables, and fairy tales, Brown demonstrates how Locke's emphasis on the liberty--and difficulty--of individual judgment became a received notion in the American colonies.
After the revolution, American consent discourse features a different prototype of individuality; instead of wronged children, images of seduced or misguided women predominate postrevolutionary culture. The plights of these women display the difficulties of consent that Locke from the start realized. Individuals continually confront standards and prejudices at odds with their own experiences and judgments. Thus, the Lockean legacy to the United States is the reminder of the continual work to be done to endow every individual with consent and to make consent matter.
What emerged in America was a new and different attitude toward authority in which authority does not belong to the elders but to the upcoming generations and groups. To effect this dramatic a change in the values of humankind took a grassroots revolution. That's what this book is about.
Table of Contents:
I. The Lockean Legacy Introduction: The Informed Consent of the Governed 1. The Child's Consent, the Child's Task 2. The Liberal Lessons of the New England Primer 3. Fables and the Forming of Americans 4. Paine's Vindication of the Rights of Children
II. Consent and the Early American Novel Introduction: The Feminization of Consent 5. Coquetry and Its Consequences 6. The Quixotic Fallacy
Epilogue Notes Acknowledgments Index
According to Brown, Locke furnishes American culture with a key political and psychological innovation: the understanding of the provisional state of childhood as simultaneously a social institution and a paradigm of freedom. Locke's entitlement of childhood with rights and desires is a critical element in the formation of the liberal state. Brown convincingly demonstrates that the story of the consenting child (whose desires constantly play off constraints to those desires) is 'the original story of the American republic.' The Consent of the Governed offers a penetrating and often dazzling account of the 'liberal paradox of freedom and determinism' as it is engaged by early American literature and pedagogy. --Jay Fliegelman, author of Declaring Independence
When all the talk is of the manipulation of the governed, it is particularly useful to understand just how the information revolution was waged in the cause of informing consent. Gillian Brown's erudite and elegantly argued new book recovers the viability of that cause and proposes a historically sophisticated and nuanced vision of the liberal polity, in the eighteenth century and today. --Myra Jehlen, author of American Incarnation
Moving from the political and education philosophy of John Locke through the education of the newly discovered 'child' in eighteenth-century and early national America to the equally newly emergent American woman as described in novels, this superb book tells a fascinating story about the insertion of the consenting person into the American political psyche. This is a work that should be read by political theorists, cultural and literary historians, and cultural critics who are willing to have their conventional views challenged. --Gordon Schochet, author of The Authoritarian Family and Political Attitudes in 17th-Century England
Recent years have seen a renaissance of interest in the relationship between natural law and natural rights. During this time, the concept of natural rights has served as a conceptual lightning rod, either strengthening or severing the bond between traditional natural law and contemporary human rights. Does the concept of natural rights have the natural law as its foundation or are the two ideas, as Leo Strauss argued, profoundly incompatible?
With The Foundations of Natural Morality, S. Adam Seagrave addresses this controversy, offering an entirely new account of natural morality that compellingly unites the concepts of natural law and natural rights. Seagrave agrees with Strauss that the idea of natural rights is distinctly modern and does not derive from traditional natural law. Despite their historical distinctness, however, he argues that the two ideas are profoundly compatible and that the thought of John Locke and Thomas Aquinas provides the key to reconciling the two sides of this long-standing debate. In doing so, he lays out a coherent concept of natural morality that brings together thinkers from Plato and Aristotle to Hobbes and Locke, revealing the insights contained within these disparate accounts as well as their incompleteness when considered in isolation. Finally, he turns to an examination of contemporary issues, including health care, same-sex marriage, and the death penalty, showing how this new account of morality can open up a more fruitful debate.
John Locke's Liberalism
Ruth W. Grant University of Chicago Press, 1987 Library of Congress JC153.L87G73 1987 | Dewey Decimal 320.5120924
In this work, Ruth W. Grant presents a new approach to John Locke's familiar works. Taking the unusual step of relating Locke's Two Treatises to his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Grant establishes the unity and coherence of Locke's political arguments. She analyzes the Two Treatises as a systematic demonstration of liberal principles of right and power and grounds it in the epistemology set forth in the Essay.
Masterfully interweaving political, religious, and historical themes, Not by Reason Alone creates a new interpretation of early modern political thought. Where most accounts assume that modern thought followed a decisive break with Christianity, Joshua Mitchell reveals that the line between the age of faith and that of reason is not quite so clear. Instead, he shows that the ideas of Luther, Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau draw on history, rather than reason alone, for a sense of political authority.
This erudite and ambitious work crosses disciplinary boundaries to expose unsuspected connections between political theory, religion, and history. In doing so, it offers a view of modern political thought undistorted by conventional distinctions between the ancient and the modern, and between the religious and the political.
"Original. . . . A delight to read a political philosopher who takes the theologies of Hobbes and Locke seriously." —J. M. Porter, Canadian Journal of History
"Mitchell's argument both illuminates and fascinates. . . . An arresting, even stunning, contribution to our study of modern political thought."—William R. Stevenson, Jr., Christian Scholar's Review
In Notebooks, English Virtuosi, and Early Modern Science, Richard Yeo interprets a relatively unexplored set of primary archival sources: the notes and notebooks of some of the leading figures of the Scientific Revolution. Notebooks were important to several key members of the Royal Society of London, including Robert Boyle, John Evelyn, Robert Hooke, John Locke, and others, who drew on Renaissance humanist techniques of excerpting from texts to build storehouses of proverbs, maxims, quotations, and other material in personal notebooks, or commonplace books. Yeo shows that these men appreciated the value of their own notes both as powerful tools for personal recollection, and, following Francis Bacon, as a system of precise record keeping from which they could retrieve large quantities of detailed information for collaboration.
The virtuosi of the seventeenth century were also able to reach beyond Bacon and the humanists, drawing inspiration from the ancient Hippocratic medical tradition and its emphasis on the gradual accumulation of information over time. By reflecting on the interaction of memory, notebooks, and other records, Yeo argues, the English virtuosi shaped an ethos of long-term empirical scientific inquiry.
Scholars have long debated the meaning of the pursuit of happiness, yet have tended to define it narrowly, focusing on a single intellectual tradition, and on the use of the term within a single text, the Declaration of Independence. In this insightful volume, Carli Conklin considers the pursuit of happiness across a variety of intellectual traditions, and explores its usage in two key legal texts of the Founding Era, the Declaration and William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England.
For Blackstone, the pursuit of happiness was a science of jurisprudence, by which his students could know, and then rightly apply, the first principles of the Common Law. For the founders, the pursuit of happiness was the individual right to pursue a life lived in harmony with the law of nature and a public duty to govern in accordance with that law. Both applications suggest we consider anew how the phrase, and its underlying legal philosophies, were understood in the founding era. With this work, Conklin makes important contributions to the fields of early American intellectual and legal history.
In Regimens of the Mind, Sorana Corneanu proposes a new approach to the epistemological and methodological doctrines of the leading experimental philosophers of seventeenth-century England, an approach that considers their often overlooked moral, psychological, and theological elements. Corneanu focuses on the views about the pursuit of knowledge in the writings of Robert Boyle and John Locke, as well as in those of several of their influences, including Francis Bacon and the early Royal Society virtuosi. She argues that their experimental programs of inquiry fulfill the role of regimens for curing, ordering, and educating the mind toward an ethical purpose, an idea she tracks back to the ancient tradition of cultura animi. Corneanu traces this idea through its early modern revival and illustrates how it organizes the experimental philosophers’ reflections on the discipline of judgment, the study of nature, and the study of Scripture.
It is through this lens, the author suggests, that the core features of the early modern English experimental philosophy—including its defense of experience, its epistemic modesty, its communal nature, and its pursuit of “objectivity”—are best understood.
The Spirit of Modern Republicanism sets forth a radical reinterpretation of the foundations on which the American regime was constructed. Thomas L. Pangle argues that the Founders had a dramatically new vision of civic virtue, religious faith, and intellectual life, rooted in an unprecedented commitment to private and economic liberties. It is in the thought of John Locke that Pangle finds the fullest elaboration of the principles supporting the Founders' moral vision.
"A work of extraordinary ambition, written with great intensity. . . . [Pangle offers] a trenchant analysis of Locke's writings, designed to demonstrate their remarkable originality and to clarify by doing so as much as the objective predicament as the conscious intentions of the Founding Fathers themselves."—John Dunn, Times Higher Education Supplement
"A forcefully argued study of the Founding Fathers' debt to Locke. . . . What distinguishes Pangle's study from the dozens of books which have challenged or elaborated upon the republican revision is the sharpness with which he exposes the errors of the revisionists while at the same time leaving something of substantive value for the reader to consider."—Joyce Appleby, Canadian Journal of History
"Breathtaking in its daring and novelty. . . . Pangle's book is tense and tenacious, a stunning meditation on America's political culture."—John Patrick Diggins, Transactions of the C. S. Peirce Society
In The Unvarnished Doctrine, Steven M. Dworetz addresses two critical issues in contemporary thinking on the American Revolution—the ideological character of this event, and, more specifically, the relevance of "America’s Philosopher, the Great Mr. Locke," in this experience. Recent interpretations of the American revolution, particularly those of Bailyn and Pocock, have incorporated an understanding of Locke as the moral apologist of unlimited accumulation and the original ideological crusader for the "spirit of capitalism," a view based largely on the work of theorists Leo Strauss and C. B. Macpherson. Drawing on an examination of sermons and tracts of the New England clergy, Dworetz argues that the colonists themselves did not hold this conception of Locke. Moreover, these ministers found an affinity with the principles of Locke’s theistic liberalism and derived a moral justification for revolution from those principles. The connection between Locke and colonial clergy, Dworetz maintains, constitutes a significant, radicalizing force in American revolutionary thought.