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The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, Volume 2: The Age of Reformation

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A two-volume study of political thought from the late thirteenth to the end of the sixteenth century, the decisive period of transition from medieval to modern political theory. The work is intended to be both an introduction to the period for students, and a presentation and justification of a particular approach to the interpretation of historical texts. Quentin Skinner A two-volume study of political thought from the late thirteenth to the end of the sixteenth century, the decisive period of transition from medieval to modern political theory. The work is intended to be both an introduction to the period for students, and a presentation and justification of a particular approach to the interpretation of historical texts. Quentin Skinner gives an outline account of all the principal texts of the period, discussing in turn the chief political writings of Dante, Marsiglio, Bartolus, Machiavelli, Erasmus and more, Luther and Calvin, Bodin and the Calvinist revolutionaries. But he also examines a very large number of lesser writers in order to explain the general social and intellectual context in which these leading theorists worked. He thus presents the history not as a procession of 'classic texts' but are more readily intelligible. He traces by this means the gradual emergence of the vocabulary of modern political thought, and in particular the crucial concept of the State. We are given an insight into the actual processes of the formation of ideologies and into some of the linkages between political theory and practice. Professor Skinner has been awarded the Balzan Prize Life Time Achievement Award for Political Thought, History and Theory. Full details of this award can be found at http: //www.balzan.it/News_eng.aspx?ID=2474


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A two-volume study of political thought from the late thirteenth to the end of the sixteenth century, the decisive period of transition from medieval to modern political theory. The work is intended to be both an introduction to the period for students, and a presentation and justification of a particular approach to the interpretation of historical texts. Quentin Skinner A two-volume study of political thought from the late thirteenth to the end of the sixteenth century, the decisive period of transition from medieval to modern political theory. The work is intended to be both an introduction to the period for students, and a presentation and justification of a particular approach to the interpretation of historical texts. Quentin Skinner gives an outline account of all the principal texts of the period, discussing in turn the chief political writings of Dante, Marsiglio, Bartolus, Machiavelli, Erasmus and more, Luther and Calvin, Bodin and the Calvinist revolutionaries. But he also examines a very large number of lesser writers in order to explain the general social and intellectual context in which these leading theorists worked. He thus presents the history not as a procession of 'classic texts' but are more readily intelligible. He traces by this means the gradual emergence of the vocabulary of modern political thought, and in particular the crucial concept of the State. We are given an insight into the actual processes of the formation of ideologies and into some of the linkages between political theory and practice. Professor Skinner has been awarded the Balzan Prize Life Time Achievement Award for Political Thought, History and Theory. Full details of this award can be found at http: //www.balzan.it/News_eng.aspx?ID=2474

52 review for The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, Volume 2: The Age of Reformation

  1. 5 out of 5

    mohab samir

    بعد أن أوضح الكاتب فى الجزء الأول مسيرة الفكر السياسى فى عصر النهضة الأوروبية وشرح لنا كيف تحررت الفلسفة السياسية من فكر القرون الوسطى ذور الطابع التومائى أو السكولاستيكى المسيحى والذى سيطرت عليه الكنيسة لقرون وتحولت هذه الفلسفة لإحياء الدراسات اليونانية والرومانية القديمة على يد الكتاب الإنسانيين . وأوضح لنا كيف تحولت هذه الدراسات الحديثة إلى تطوير وتعديل هذه الأفكار القديمة حتى إذا وصلنا لعصر الإصلاح الدينى وجدنا فلسفة حديثة تقترب من التبلور بإستمرار حتى نهاية القرن السادس عشر . فى بداية هذا ال بعد أن أوضح الكاتب فى الجزء الأول مسيرة الفكر السياسى فى عصر النهضة الأوروبية وشرح لنا كيف تحررت الفلسفة السياسية من فكر القرون الوسطى ذور الطابع التومائى أو السكولاستيكى المسيحى والذى سيطرت عليه الكنيسة لقرون وتحولت هذه الفلسفة لإحياء الدراسات اليونانية والرومانية القديمة على يد الكتاب الإنسانيين . وأوضح لنا كيف تحولت هذه الدراسات الحديثة إلى تطوير وتعديل هذه الأفكار القديمة حتى إذا وصلنا لعصر الإصلاح الدينى وجدنا فلسفة حديثة تقترب من التبلور بإستمرار حتى نهاية القرن السادس عشر . فى بداية هذا الفصل نرى كيفية التحول إلى دراسة السلطات الملكية بعد ان حررها الإنسانيون من سطوة الكنيسة فى مرحلة النهضة وكيف أسهم الإصلاح الدينى سواء اللوثرى او الكالفنى الو الزوينجلىّ فى ممارسة هذه الفلسفات الحديثة بشكل فعلى فكان ان تحررت العديد من المدن من سيطرة الكنيسة وتحرر أمراؤها من الخضوع للبابوية بعد أن إتبع شعوب هذه المدن الدعوات الإصلاحية الدينية الجديدة كاللوثرية فى ألمانيا والكالفنية فى سويسرا والفلاندرز وكالعادة هناك من المدن من نجح فى الأمر وكان هناك من فشلوا بعد عناء مرير كبعض مدن فرنسا الشمالية او الشرقية . أما من نجحوا فقد كونوا أحلاف صغيرة أو كبيرة تطورت إلى حد إتحادها فى دول جديدة كهولندا مثلا . ومنها من خضع بشكل أكبر للملك بشكل يعوض الفراغ الذى تركته الكنيسة خلفها مما أتاح للملك سطوة عظيمة على هذه المدن لم يصل اليها الملوك منذ عهد الإمبراطورية الرومانية. ثم نرى كيف إنتقل من هنا المفكرون السياسيون والمنظرون القانونيون لدراسة سلطات الملك فمنهم من نادى بالملكية المطلقة ومنهم من أراد الحد من هذه السلطة فوجدنا ظهور العديد من الأفكار الحديثة الداعمة لهذا الاتجاه كظهور نظرية القانون الطبيعى والذى أتاح النجاح فى النزاع الإستراتيجى الأول وهو إثبات حق الشعوب فى مقاومة الحكام إذا لم يسلك الحكام طريق خير الشعوب . ثم ظهرت بعد ذلك النظرية القانونية والدستورية التين نتجتا من نظرية العقد الإجتماعى لقيام الدول والممالك ومن هنا كانت بداية نشوء الأفكار الديموقراطية الحديثة التى نعيش فى ظلها أو نارها اليوم . كان هذا التطور يسير متوازيا فى جميع دول أوروبا وبشكل نزاعات سياسية جدلية بين المنظرين الكاثوليك من طرف والإصلاحيين اللوثريين او الكالفنيين من طرف أخر وهذا الشكل الجدلى هو الذى سهل من مهمة تتبع الأفكار الأولى للفكر السياسى الحديث ومعرفة القضايا الأولية التى كانت أعظم محل للنزاع والتى بمجرد حل عقدتها توالت الأفكار المنبثقة عنها فى النشوء والتسلسل والتطور . مما أعطى للكتاب طابع فكرى منهجى ممتع ولا نغفل الطابع الخاص للكاتب وهو الذى شجعنى من أولى تجاربى معه على الإستفاضة فى قراءة أعماله الرائعه .

  2. 4 out of 5

    Justin Evans

    No doubt subject to many justified attacks in academic circles, which no doubt focus on small problems and ignore the importance and coherence of the argument at a large scale: by the end of this period it was possible, more than ever, to think about 'politics' as something separate from religion and theology. Does that mean that everyone turned into a modern political scientist overnight? Thank god, no. Does it mean that the sequence Bodin to Locke is much, much different than the sequence Augu No doubt subject to many justified attacks in academic circles, which no doubt focus on small problems and ignore the importance and coherence of the argument at a large scale: by the end of this period it was possible, more than ever, to think about 'politics' as something separate from religion and theology. Does that mean that everyone turned into a modern political scientist overnight? Thank god, no. Does it mean that the sequence Bodin to Locke is much, much different than the sequence Augustine-Luther? Yes, yes it does.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    This is a fascinating book, and a major feat of scholarship. Skinner’s goal is to help understand how we arrive at a modern conception of the State as a sovereign, distinct entity. In this volume, that requires tracing the theories of government, and the right to resist government, that arose at the time of the Reformation. The Reformation was, no doubt, first and foremost a theological movement. But at a time when Roman Catholic theology argued that the Church possessed legal jurisdiction over This is a fascinating book, and a major feat of scholarship. Skinner’s goal is to help understand how we arrive at a modern conception of the State as a sovereign, distinct entity. In this volume, that requires tracing the theories of government, and the right to resist government, that arose at the time of the Reformation. The Reformation was, no doubt, first and foremost a theological movement. But at a time when Roman Catholic theology argued that the Church possessed legal jurisdiction over the kingdoms of men, a theological reformation must inevitably have social and political consequences. Skinner traces those consequences in fine detail.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    Pretty good. He is a little confused on some points of theology, and his use of Beza as a 'Lutheran' and then a 'Calvinist' is symptomatic of a wider misunderstanding. However, he is a smart guy. Full credit for both volumes. Pretty good. He is a little confused on some points of theology, and his use of Beza as a 'Lutheran' and then a 'Calvinist' is symptomatic of a wider misunderstanding. However, he is a smart guy. Full credit for both volumes.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Eren Buğlalılar

    Çok zamanımı aldın Quentin, umarım değmiştir. Hasılı, siyasal düşüncenin temelleri de devrim ve karşı devrim arasındaki mücadeleyle atılmış. Hele kitap 3. bölümde 16. yüzyıl silahlı mücadele teorilerine giriyor ki, o bölüm apayrı bir hazine.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Khitkhite Buri

    Skinner genuinely thinks that everyone is implicated, if not suffering from the anxiety influence. I miss the epiphany, and the theology.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Morgan

    Brilliant as ever, though I found the political ideas of the Reformation somewhat less interesting than those of the Renaissance.

  8. 4 out of 5

    John David

    How did the modern concept of the State develop, concomitant with its peculiar accoutrements of sovereignty and power? One of the aims of Skinner’s hook is to answer this question in the fullest, broadest, and most meticulous way possible. Ever since Augustine’s De Civitate Dei, the Christian was urged not to pay any attention to this earthly world, but rather to focus on the everlasting blessings of the City of God. Understandably, this is hardly an exhortation for active engagement in the polit How did the modern concept of the State develop, concomitant with its peculiar accoutrements of sovereignty and power? One of the aims of Skinner’s hook is to answer this question in the fullest, broadest, and most meticulous way possible. Ever since Augustine’s De Civitate Dei, the Christian was urged not to pay any attention to this earthly world, but rather to focus on the everlasting blessings of the City of God. Understandably, this is hardly an exhortation for active engagement in the political sphere. It was not until William of Moerbeke’s 1250s translation of Aristotle’s “Politics” nearly a millennium later that the formal study of the communicatio politica saw a formal recrudescence. Brunetto Latini, Dante’s much-vaunted teacher and William’s contemporary, wrote one of the first important political treatises of the post-Roman era, the “Books of Treasure.” Latini’s intellectual heirs, however, were the humanists of the sixteenth century, with whom Skinner’s book is almost wholly concerned. Another prerequisite for the development of the modern State is its asserted independence from any external or coequal powers, which was done when Bartolus and his students broke away from Justinian legist traditions to claim that the State was an “independent association not recognizing any superior.” But perhaps the most important formulation is the notion of sovereignty, which was completely foreign to medieval legal assumptions which emphasized feudal organization and the Church’s ability to assert itself as an equal power to that of the State. Marsiglio of Padua’s “Defensor Pacis,” which construed all power, even that of the Church, as secular, was one of the first death knells rung against this now-foreign complicity. Especially interesting is Skinner’s careful historical analysis of the world “State” from the condition in which a ruler finds himself (status principis) or the general “state of the nation” (status regni) to the wholly modern idea of the State as a sort of abstract, rarefied power apart from both ruler and ruled, constituting ultimate political authority within a geographically defined region. For those readers whose groundings in Lutheran and Calvinist theology might not be the strongest, Professor Skinner provides a lush history of these ideas, as a knowledge of them is completely inseparable from broader cultural and political trends. A bit of warning, however: as the material might suggest, this is not a breezy apercu – or even just a moderately difficult one. Unless the reader is wholly interested in the subject, I would not recommend this book as something to read through systematically. However, even considering its age (it was originally published in 1975), the humbly named “The Foundations of Modern Political Thought” belies the massiveness of its achievement. It is nothing less than the best intellectual synthesis of sixteenth century theology, Reformation ideology, and political theory ever written.

  9. 4 out of 5

    W. Littlejohn

    Still the classic work in the field, for all its flaws (and there are certainly many). Skinner clearly feels more at home in the political thought than the theology (which, given that they are usually inseparable in this period, is something of a problem), and it shows in his much surer and more compelling handling of the material near the end (the Huguenot resistance theorists) than that near the beginning (Luther and his followers). Of course, the narrative framework he erects for the material Still the classic work in the field, for all its flaws (and there are certainly many). Skinner clearly feels more at home in the political thought than the theology (which, given that they are usually inseparable in this period, is something of a problem), and it shows in his much surer and more compelling handling of the material near the end (the Huguenot resistance theorists) than that near the beginning (Luther and his followers). Of course, the narrative framework he erects for the material--a development in which, by the end of the period, political theory is gaining independence from theology, allowing (laudably in his mind) for the development of the distinctively modern concept of political science and of the State, is itself deeply suspect, so one cannot quite trust his treatment of the Huguenot resistance theorists either. However, for all that, the book deserves its status as a classic. It is thorough, complex, and subtle, in a period where much of the historical writing (especially before Skinner) reinforced crude stereotypes or served blunt polemical purposes, and in which the political scene is extraordinarily complex and difficult to coherently organize. Skinner does an excellent job of getting the reader inside the minds of the writers he is looking at, bringing them and their unique concerns and agendas to life, so that they no longer merely represent "ism"s. An invaluable resource, though one to be taken, at almost every point, with a grain of salt.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Wright

    As before, I am still impressed by Skinner's ability to understand and communicate abstract and complex ideas, and to trace their history. His explanation of Reformation-era theology (Protestant or Catholic) and his analysis of its effect on what we would now call 'political' thought is both clear and judicious, although the ground he covers is rather more well-trodden than in his first volume. The legacy of the Reformation in politics has been, I feel, somewhat neglected by modern intellectual As before, I am still impressed by Skinner's ability to understand and communicate abstract and complex ideas, and to trace their history. His explanation of Reformation-era theology (Protestant or Catholic) and his analysis of its effect on what we would now call 'political' thought is both clear and judicious, although the ground he covers is rather more well-trodden than in his first volume. The legacy of the Reformation in politics has been, I feel, somewhat neglected by modern intellectual historians, either because they read back on to the period their own preconceptions about the division between church and state or because they somewhat sniffily - and incorrectly - assume that religious involvement in civil affairs is always one of an authoritarian nature. In any case, Skinner's investigation turns out quite substantial results, which can no longer be ignored.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Corey Rowe

    same as vol. 1. buy it and keep it for ref. skinner is senor smarty pants.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Read 5 books reviews from academic journals. Skimmed a number of relevant sections.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tim

  14. 4 out of 5

    Vasilis Giannoulis

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sahar Abdel-Hameed

  16. 4 out of 5

    Guitta

  17. 5 out of 5

    Hayat

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lucas Nonato

  19. 4 out of 5

    8314

  20. 4 out of 5

    Loren

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shaunna

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amin Riahi

  23. 5 out of 5

    Henk-Jan

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Megerian

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nate Jak

  26. 5 out of 5

    Adrian Fanaca

  27. 5 out of 5

    Saettare

  28. 4 out of 5

    Carlosusass

  29. 4 out of 5

    Iulia

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

  31. 5 out of 5

    Kang

  32. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  33. 4 out of 5

    Ericka

  34. 4 out of 5

    David Hoff

  35. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  36. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Smith

  37. 4 out of 5

    Wrb

  38. 5 out of 5

    Edward Hsieh

  39. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel Purghel

  40. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Buckley

  41. 4 out of 5

    Erhardt Graeff

  42. 4 out of 5

    Gertjan

  43. 4 out of 5

    Kurosh

  44. 5 out of 5

    James

  45. 4 out of 5

    Eric

  46. 4 out of 5

    Aman Agarwal

  47. 4 out of 5

    Kaeden

  48. 5 out of 5

    Karl Georg

  49. 4 out of 5

    Avid

  50. 4 out of 5

    Ernesto

  51. 4 out of 5

    Bernie Whelan

  52. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Clifford

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