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The Theological Basis of Liberal Modernity in Montesquieu's "Spirit of the Laws


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Thomas Pangle is Director of the Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas and Professor in the Department of Government, College of Liberal Arts.
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In a probing and careful reading, Pangle shows how Montesquieu believed that rationalism, through the influence of liberal institutions and the spread of commercial culture, would secularize human affairs. At the same time, Pangle uncovers Montesquieu’s views about the origins of humanity’s religious impulse and his confidence that political and economic security would make people less likely to sacrifice worldly well-being for otherworldly hopes. With the interest in the theological aspects of political theory and practice showing no signs of diminishing, this book is a timely and insightful contribution to one of the key achievements of Enlightenment thought.



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