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review 2020-05-15 01:05
Behemoth, or The Long Parliament
Behemoth, or The Long Parliament - Stephen Holmes,Ferdinand Tönnies,Thomas Hobbes

For supporters of Charles I and his son, the middle of the 17th Century was a hard time and in the aftermath of the Restoration was a time to show they were right.  Behemoth is Thomas Hobbes’ history of the lead up to the English Civil War and the resulting Interregnum.

 

Covering roughly two decades of political, military, cultural, and religious upheaval within the frame of a dialogue, Thomas Hobbes uses the political framework written in Leviathan to analyze the breakdown of political order and how it was restored.  The first and second section of the book concerns how Charles I strong political position was undermined by seven factions acting independently of one another and how the King’s attempts to combat one faction were used by other factions to represent tyranny against their own party eventually leading to a rupture and war between King and Parliament.  The third section covered the civil war itself with neither side getting an advantage until the rise of Oliver Cromwell turned the tide for Parliament that eventually lead to the capture of the King and after political machinations from both sides, Charles is put on trial then executed.  The last section highlights how Parliament had no idea how to replace the King and went from one solution to another all the while Cromwell continued to accumulate power until taking over the place of Charles in all but the title of King.  However, after Cromwell’s death and weakness of his son’s leadership, General Monck uses his army to takeover the political situation and invite Charles II to take the throne.

 

While Hobbes uses the ideas in Leviathan to frame this history, it is essentially a Royalist view of the history of the 1640s and 1650s.  Throughout the book the prime factor that Hobbes saw as being the instigator of Parliament’s position against the King wasn’t taxes, but religion more specifically Presbyterian minister preaching from the pulpit against the King so they could achieve leadership of the nation like John Calvin had done in Geneva.  Though Hobbes did mention several other factors, his obsession on the religious aspect overawed everything else in this history which at times became too much.

 

Behemoth is ultimately a royalist history of events in the mid-17th Century.  Thomas Hobbes shows the breakdown of political order when the sovereign’s position is challenged and usurped by those that have no right to it and the chaos that follows, but through his partisan lens.

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url 2020-04-03 16:58
Political Science: Theory and Practice - Mazhar-ul-Haq
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review 2019-10-20 03:09
St. Thomas Aquinas On Law, Morality, and Politics
On Law, Morality, and Politics - William P. Baumgarth,Richard J. Regan,Thomas Aquinas

Combining the Neo-Platonist influenced theological and political thoughts of St. Augustine with Aristotelian influenced reasoning, St. Thomas Aquinas drastically changed medieval theology and political thought which would farreaching consequences ever since.  On Law, Morality, and Politics is a selection of excerpts from Aquinas’ Summa Theologica and two from On Kingship that provide the reader a glimpse at his thinking.

 

Of the roughly 280 pages in this collection, almost four-fifths of dedicated to the exploration of law and justice in various facets.  The minute differences between types of law (divine, natural, and human) that Aquinas discusses in full then the various types of justice is a mind-numbing exercise of reading that almost makes one throw away the book.  The final fifth of the book of selections features a little morality but mostly on politics from leadership to church-state relations of various types.  With exception of the two selections from On Kingship, Aquinas’ style of listing objections to the points he is about to make then stating his opinion and finally replying to the previous objections is rather self-aggrandizing.  Yet save for a short introduction, there was no commentary to help the layman reader to understand what Aquinas was saying—though in the last fifth of the book it was easier because Aquinas’ thoughts were straightforward compared to the law and justice sections—and making it hard to keep reading.

 

On Law, Morality, and Politics by St. Thomas Aquinas is a collection of excerpts, with two exceptions, from his most famous work yet only the last fifth of the book is clear cut and straightforward.  The lack of commentary to help the read understand what Aquinas is trying to make clear and why it is important makes understanding the thinking of the man hard.

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review 2019-03-15 23:28
The Political Writings of St. Augustine
The Political Writings of St. Augustine - Henry Paolucci,Dino Bigongiari,Augustine of Hippo

The most important voice in political thought throughout the Middle Ages, influencing even St. Aquinas, was that of St. Augustine.  Through excerpts of sermons, letters, and selections from City of God, the 4th-century theologians’ view of the world of man is shown both in its maturity and development.

 

Covering almost 360 pages, the vast majority of it being the words of St. Augustine, this book’s quality comes down to the introduction by Henry Paolucci and the appendix containing a lecture by Dino Bigongiari.  Instead of helping set the stage for understanding the works the reader was about to encounter Paolucci’s introduction really didn’t do anything to give context just information about the man and his works overall.  However the lecture of Bigongiari opens the reader’s eyes to understanding what they had just read, but that’s only if they made it to the very end of the book after potentially giving up trying to figure out why some of these selections were included.  In fact the reader learns more in the last 15 pages of the book about St. Augustine’s political thoughts than the previous 340+ by the theologians own hand.  It would have been better to have Bigongiari’s lecture as the introduction so as it give the reader insights about how to understand the author’s thinking.

 

The Political Writings of St. Augustine is a nice selection of the theologian’s writings about political subjects, however because of the way the book is structured the reader will not understand the man until the very end if they even get that far.  I can only recommend the lecture by Dino Bigongiari presented at the end of the book, the rest is unfortunately worthless.

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review 2018-02-26 01:28
Politics
Politics (Library of Essential Reading) - Joseph Carrig,Amit Hagar,Aristotle,Benjamin Jowett

As Plato’s writings have been a cornerstone of Western thought, so have those of his pupil Aristotle through his own lectures and treatise sometimes agreed and disagreed with his teacher while shaping the views of millions over the millennia.  Politics is one of the most important political treatise that has impacted society as it is studied alongside Plato’s own Republic not because they agree, but how they agree through different methods and disagree in conclusions.

 

Unlike the approach of Plato, Aristotle focused on the examples that the Greek political world knew of to determine the best approach for government of a polis.  Classifying the types of government into six forms, three “ideal” and three “perverted”, Aristotle described them as showing their pros and cons in an effort to establish the “best”.  Then his analysis turned to various functions of government from laws, offices, and how to pass or fill either.  Yet, underlying everything is Aristotle’s insistence that human nature determines everything concerned with governance.

 

Politics, while thought-provoking and significant in its analysis and conclusions, is unfortunately not without its flaws.  The biggest is Aristotle’s argument of natural rulers and natural slaves that is so opposite to the way many think today.  The next biggest is that fact that the overall work seems like it is not coherently organized or even complete as many aspects that Aristotle says he will cover never appear and he writes about the bringing about his conclusive best government before actually proving what it is, though given his argument that the best government for a polis depends on how its population is constructed.

 

Aristotle’s Politics is at the same both thought-provoking and maddening especially given the soundness of his analysis and the disorganized state of the overall treatise.  Yet it is one of the most important treatise of political thought of the Western world and is significant in political and historical terms as it has been influential for millennia.

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