By Andrew Scott Bibby
This booklet contributes to the restoration of political philosophy via examining Montesquieu's monetary notion. attractive, eclectic, and creative, this clean exam clarifies the longstanding controversy over the aim and that means of Montesquieu's The Spirit of the legislation.
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Additional info for Montesquieu’s Political Economy
His project naively assumed a fundamental restructuring of the intermediate ranks. It required “abolishing” the political bodies that provided a necessary check on absolute power. ” This distinction, as we will see later, would become the cornerstone of his most important response to Law. 51 In the Persian Letters, Montesquieu’s approach is less systematic, but his criticisms are prescient, combining sociological analysis with bruising satire. “Fragments from an Ancient Greek Mythologist”52 tells the story of the birth of a child, on an island in the Orkneys.
Montesquieu’s connections in the Academy of Bordeaux also helped to inspire in him a curiosity with England, and a fascination with travel. Indeed, Montesquieu’s travel notebooks provide intriguing glimpses into his writings on commerce, developed later in The Spirit of the Laws. Montesquieu read Chardin and Tavernier, and he used these authors as MONTESQUIEU ÉCONOMISTE 25 sources for his material on despotism, his knowledge of foreign religions, cultures, geography and the history of ancient civilizations.
The system of government exemplified in the English constitution embodied both aspects of thinking on political economy. On the one hand, England showed that it could accommodate distinctions based on wealth, at least, that it could do so within limits, and far more successfully than could imperial Rome. Wealth and virtue might be in tension, but this did not spell ruin for the monarchy, nor would it require a draconian “virtuous” commerce. England also demonstrated that wealth was the basis of power and peace in modern times.