Francis Bacon’s Conquest of Nature

Sir Francis is the father of modern philosophy.  He has been described as the “greatest philosopher” by John Dewey, and considered one of the three greatest men by Thomas Jefferson (alongside Newton and Locke).  Bacon’s Novum Organum (or Instrument of the New Science, or just New Science) was a momentous change in the history of … Continue reading Francis Bacon’s Conquest of Nature

Leo Strauss: The Three Waves of Modernity

Leo Strauss (1899-1973) was one of the most important historians of political philosophy in the 20th century.  A Jewish emigre to America in the 1930s, Strauss made his name as an exegete of the classics (Plato, Aristotle, and Thucydides especially; Al-Farabi, Avicenna, and Maimonides among Arab-Islamic and Jewish medieval philosophers, and Sts. Augustine and Thomas … Continue reading Leo Strauss: The Three Waves of Modernity

Rousseau: On the Social Contract

One of the key aspects of Rousseau’s social contract theory is that, unlike with Hobbes and Locke, he really doesn’t explain why men embrace the social contract.  This is, again, because Rousseau takes the idealistic picture of humanity in the state of nature.  Man is born naturally good.  He is pure.  He is a moral … Continue reading Rousseau: On the Social Contract

Rousseau’s General Will

The topic of the general will is always a topic of Rousseauian studies.  It is central to his political theory.  It is the bedrock which unites the first two books of the Social Contract, conflating the social contract to be the general will itself.  So what is Rousseau’s general will? The general will is the … Continue reading Rousseau’s General Will

Rousseau: The Social Contract, II

The first two books of the Social Contract are the most important and enduring within Rousseau’s tract, though the fourth book is also important for understanding the establishment of civil religion and the French Revolution’s anti-Catholic militancy.  Nevertheless, the second book of the Social Contract continues to examine the relationship of sovereignty and general will … Continue reading Rousseau: The Social Contract, II