The Two Sides of Liberalism

One of the most nauseating perennial questions is “what is liberalism”?  Ask a dozen people and you’ll probably get a dozen different responses.  But as Aristotle said, “To say of something which is that it is not, or to say of something which is not that it is, is false. However, to say of something … Continue reading The Two Sides of Liberalism

Rousseau: The First Discourse on Inequality

Rousseau begins his Discourses on Inequality by stating he is examining the question of man – quid sit homo – that eternal question that is at the bedrock of philosophy.  Chronologically, Rousseau wrote the Discourses before the Social Contract, but the two works complement one another and should be read together.  Within the Discourses Rousseau’s … Continue reading Rousseau: The First Discourse on Inequality

The Great Divide: Political Philosophy, Ancient vs. Modern

The history of political philosophy is often divided between the classics (or ancients) in contradistinction to the moderns.  Political philosophy, from the time of Socrates and Plato, has always been regarded as the queen of the philosophical enterprises because it most pertains to the question of being human.  Hence, political philosophy is necessarily tied to … Continue reading The Great Divide: Political Philosophy, Ancient vs. Modern

Locke’s Law of Nature: Moral, Immoral, or Amoral?

One of the great debates of scholarship surrounding Locke is his “natural law” or law of nature theory.  There are those that argue he stands squarely within the Ciceronian-Augustinian-Thomistic tradition wherein the natural law is not only moral, but it will, at end, produce happiness for us.  There are others who claim otherwise – that … Continue reading Locke’s Law of Nature: Moral, Immoral, or Amoral?

Hobbes and Locke: On the Social Contract

It is customary to position Hobbes and Locke against each other.  In reality, most philosophers and political philosophers see themselves as two sides of the same coin, much like Plato and Aristotle (especially in the eyes of Plotinus and the Christian synthesizers of Plato and Aristotle).  So what does the social contract entail in Hobbes … Continue reading Hobbes and Locke: On the Social Contract

Rousseau: The Social Contract, I

Jean-Jacques Rousseau is a widely important philosopher of the mid to late 18th century.  Born in Geneva, but making his name in France, Rousseau is associated with having given the intellectual foundation for the French Revolution, is remembered as the Prophet of the Romantics with regard to analysis and criticism of emerging (sterile) bourgeois materialistic … Continue reading Rousseau: The Social Contract, I

Hobbes’s Leviathan, Part IV

Proceeding to reading Chapters 10-13 we hit the meat of Hobbes’s Leviathan.  We approach his famous commentary on the state of nature, wherein we are burdened by the “war of every man against everyman” or “war of all against all” (from the Latin edition: Bellum omnium contra omnes) and his bleak assessment that life in … Continue reading Hobbes’s Leviathan, Part IV