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  I've established this site primarily to stay in touch with other Montesquieu specialists and students of French political thought as I enter the Professor Emeritus phase of my career following a lengthy period of teaching, first as a Professor of European intellectual history, and, subsequently, as a Professor of Political Science at U.T. Chattanooga with a focus on public law and American political thought. It is my hope that the blog space may be used by those working on various aspects of Montesquieu's life and contributions to assist communication with and seek assistance from others working in the field. 


     
  Like such works as Plato’s Republic, Machiavelli’s Discourses, and Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government, Montesquieu’s The Spirit of Laws is an enduring classic of social and political theory deserving a fresh reading every generation. The modern reader, however, is likely to find a work that ran to over a thousand pages in its two-volume first edition overwhelming. Montesquieu himself remarked in one of his Pensées: “What good would it do me to have made reflections during the course of twenty years, if I had neglected to make the first one of all: that life is short?  I haven’t even time to abridge what I have done.”
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  This is the first volume of English-language essays dedicated to exploring the full extent of the contributions of Montesquieu to social, political, and economic science with special emphasis on the key themes and findings of his epic book The Spirit of Laws (1748).The American, Canadian, British, and French contributors are David W. Carrithers, C.P. Courtney, Paul A. Rahe, Michael A. Mosher, Sharon Krause, Rebecca E. Kingston, Catherine Larrère, and Iris Cox.
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  Crucial to an understanding of Montesquieu’s work is the contrast he drew between ancient and modern mentalities.  “The political men of Greece, he wrote in his classic work The Spirit of Laws (1748), “who lived under popular government recognized no other force to sustain it than virtue.  Those of today speak to us only of manufacturing, commerce, finance, wealth, and even luxury.”  Ancient philosophers had conceptualized model regimes where human beings would flourish in accordance with their natural purposes and potentialities shaped by good laws well obeyed.  Such moderns as Montesquieu, on the other hand, ceased to regard the state as a school for morality.  No longer concerned with improving mens’ souls, modern politics focused instead on the achievement of liberty, security and material prosperity.
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  The publisher has provided the following description of the overall goals of the project to which this Montesquieu makes a contribution: “This series brings together collections of important essays dealing with the work of major figures in the history of social and political thought. The aim is to make accessible the complete text with the original pagination of those essays which should be read by all scholars working in that field. In each case, the selection is made from the extensive available literature by an established expert who has a keen sense of the continuing relevance of the history of social and political thought for contemporary theory and practice. The selection is made on the basis of the quality and enduring significance of the essays in question.
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