Not by Reason Alone: Religion, History, and Identity in Early Modern Political Thought / Edition 2

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Masterfully interweaving political, religious, and historical themes, Not by Reason Alone creates a new interpretation of early modern political thought. Where most accounts assume that modern thought followed a decisive break with Christianity, Joshua Mitchell reveals that the line between the age of faith and that of reason is not quite so clear. Instead, he shows that the ideas of Luther, Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau draw on history, rather than reason alone, for a sense of political authority.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Mitchell (political science, Georgetown) believes that scholars like John Rawls ( A Theory of Justice , LJ 4/1/72) and Robert Nozick ( Anarchy, State, and Utopia , LJ 1/15/75) have neglected the use of religious texts by Hobbes and Locke, thus distorting our ideas about community and overstressing the role of individualism. Hobbes and Locke searched the Bible for ideas of equality, community, and social change, he argues; Hobbes reveled in the authority of the Old Testament, Locke in the adult liberty of the New, and to this extent they did not work ``from reason alone.'' Mitchell agrees that Locke begins with the reason God gave us and that Rousseau did without religious commitments. But he ignores the Cambridge Platonists, among others, and does not come to grips with the ways in which reason was embedded in religious understanding or accept the extent to which philosophers used scriptural interpretations to make their own ideas respectable. For academic and large public collections.-- Leslie Armour, Univ. of Ottawa
Mitchell (government, Georgetown U.) contends that the change from the Age of Faith to the Age of Reason was not as quick and clean as it looks from a distance. He shows how such "modern" thinkers as Luther, Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau drew as much on history as on reason to establish authority for their ideas. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226532226
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1996
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 259
  • Sales rank: 1,565,548
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Joshua Mitchell is professor of political theory in the Department of Government at Georgetown University. From 2005 to 2008, he taught at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Doha, Qatar. From 2008 to 2010, he was the acting chancellor of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. He is the author of several books, including The Fragility of Freedom: Tocqueville on Religion, Democracy, and the American Future, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Luther: The Dialectic of Supersession and the Politics of Righteousness 19
2 Hobbes: The Dialectic of Renewal and the Politics of Pride 46
3 Locke: The Dialectic of Clarification and the Politics of Reason 73
4 Rousseau: The History of Diremption and the Politics of Errancy 98
Conclusion 125
Notes 153
Bibliography 239
Index 247
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