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Against Throne and Altar
Machiavelli and Political Theory Under the English Republic

$99.00 (P)

  • Date Published: April 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521883900

$ 99.00 (P)

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About the Authors
  • Modern republicanism - distinguished from its classical counterpart by its commercial character and jealous distrust of those in power, by its use of representative institutions, and by its employment of a separation of powers and a system of checks and balances - owes an immense debt to the republican experiment conducted in England between 1649, when Charles I was executed, and 1660, when Charles II was crowned. Though abortive, this experiment left a legacy in the political science articulated both by its champions, John Milton, Marchamont Nehdham, and James Harrington, and by its sometime opponent and ultimate supporter Thomas Hobbes. This volume examines these four thinkers, situates them with regard to the novel species of republicanism first championed more than a century before by Niccolo Machiavelli, and examines the debt that he and they owed the Epicurean tradition in philosophy and the political science crafted by the Arab philosophers Alfarabi, Avicenna, and Averroes.

    • This was the first book to argue that Machiavelli was profoundly indebted to Epicurean Lucretius for foundations of his argument and to contend that for his political science he was no less deeply indebted to Alfarabi, Avicenna, Averroes, and Maimonides
    • This was the first book to argue that John Milton was a classical republican and that Machiavelli was not, and it is the first book to link Milton with Averroism
    • No other book treats the thinking of Marchamont Nedham at such length and with such seriousness
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    Reviews & endorsements

    “This is a truly revelatory new interpretation of the thinkers who laid the foundations of Anglo-American republicanism. Deeply learned and vivaciously written, the work brims with provocative and penetrating insights, highlighting a capaciously synoptic historical vision. A masterwork of a master historian of thought.”
    Thomas Pangle, University of Texas, Austin

    “A fascinating intellectual history filled with intrigue relating to religious apostasy and political innovation informed by Paul Rahe’s vast erudition. An impressive and important achievement.”
    Vickie Sullivan, Tufts University

    “This is a superb study of political theory in the English Commonwealth period. It illuminates connections between and among thinkers and ideas hitherto largely unexplored. Moreover, the analysis of Machiavelli, Milton, Nedham and a number of less familiar figures sheds new light on longstanding questions by presenting an account of a body of English Civil War era political thought that is more skeptical, more rigorous, more philosophically worldly, and frankly more interesting than we have come to expect. This book will change the way we look at the intellectual roots of modern republicanism in the Anglo-American tradition.”
    Lee Ward, Campion College at the University of Regina

    "...erudite and fascinating account of English politics under the republic..." -Zbigniew Janowski, First Things

    "Rahe's book surveys an enormous swath of intellectual history and political thought, far more than the title would suggest, and relates much of it in novel, complex, and challenging ways...[It is] a seminal contribution."
    The Review of Politics, Simon Stacey

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2008
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521883900
    • length: 436 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 156 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.79kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Prologue: Machiavelli in the English Revolution
    Part I. Machiavelli's New Republicanism:
    1. Machiavelli's populist turn
    2. The ravages of an ambitious idleness
    Part II. Revolutionary Aristotelianism:
    3. The classical republicanism of John Milton
    4. The liberation of captive mind
    Part III. Machiavellian Republicanism Anglicized:
    5. Marchamont Nedham and the regicide republic
    6. Servant of the rump
    7. The good old cause
    Part IV. Thomas Hobbes and The New Republicanism:
    8. Thomas Hobbes' republican youth
    9. The making of a modern monarchist
    10. The very model of a modern moralist
    11. The Hobbesian Republicanism of James Harrington

  • Author

    Paul A. Rahe, Hillsdale College, Michigan
    Paul A. Rahe holds a B.A. from Yale University, an M.A. in Litterae Humaniores from University of Oxford, and a Ph.D. in Ancient History from Yale University. He is the author, most recently, of Soft Despotism, Democracy's Drift: Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Tocqueville on the Modern Prospect (2009) and Montesquieu and the Logic of Liberty: War, Religion, Commerce, Climate, Terrain, Technology, Uneasiness of Mind, the Spirit of Political Vigilance, and the Foundations of the Modern Republic (2009). He has co-edited Montesquieu's Political Science: Essays on the Spirit of Laws and edited Machiavelli's Liberal Republican Legacy, and he has published a host of articles in journals and chapters in edited books. Professor Rahe is the Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Chair in the Western Heritage and Professor of History and Political Science at Hillsdale College.

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