Monday, July 27, 2009

Gleanings from Montesquieu

The copy of Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man in which I had made my notes has been misplaced, so my intentions to post some highlights from that book will have to wait until it turns up. In the meanwhile, I have undertaken to read The spirit of laws by Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu. This writing was very influential for our founding fathers and is most often credited for instructing them on the separation of powers, which is critical to the structure of our government. The book itself is a comparative study between the nature and laws of the three (as he identified them) types of government: republics, monarchies and despotisms.

All of these are from the first book, which deals with the origin and nature of laws.

...even most of them (brutes, animals) are more attentive than we to self-preservation, and do not make so bad a use of their passions.
Such a being (man) might every instant forget his Creator; God has therefore reminded him of his duty by the laws of religion. Such a being is liable every moment to forget himself; philosophy has provided against this by the laws of morality. Formed to live in society, he might forget his fellow-creatures; legislators have, therefore, by political and civil laws, confined him to his duty.
As soon as man enters into a state of society he loses the sense of his weakness; equality ceases, and then commences the state of war.
The strength of individuals cannot be united without a conjunction of all their wills.

2 comments:

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

There once were some gleanings from Montesquieu,
That readers are likely to misconstrue,
The original French
Was lost by some wench
Who burned it all up on a barbeque.

The Angry Coder said...

There once was a man who wrote limmricks... okay, I got nothing. I'll work on it.