Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments / Edition 1by Constant
Pub. Date: 10/01/2003
Publisher: Liberty Fund, Incorporated
Principles of Politics, first published in 1815, is a “microcosm of [Constant’s] whole political philosophy and an expression of his political experience,” says Nicholas Capaldi in his Introduction. In Principles, Constant “explores many subjects: law, sovereignty, and representation; power and accountability;/i>/b>/i>/b>
Principles of Politics, first published in 1815, is a “microcosm of [Constant’s] whole political philosophy and an expression of his political experience,” says Nicholas Capaldi in his Introduction. In Principles, Constant “explores many subjects: law, sovereignty, and representation; power and accountability; government, property and taxation; wealth and poverty; war, peace, and the maintenance of public order; and above all freedom, of the individual, of the press, and of religion. . . . Constant saw freedom as an organic phenomenon: to attack it in any particular way was to attack it generally.”
Benjamin Constant (17671830) was born in Switzerland and became one of France’s leading writers, as well as a journalist, philosopher, and politician. His colorful life included a formative stay at the University of Edinburgh; service at the court of Brunswick, Germany; election to the French Tribunate; and initial opposition and subsequent support for Napoleon, even the drafting of a constitution for the Hundred Days.
Constant wrote many books, essays, and pamphlets. His deepest conviction was that reform is hugely superior to revolution, both morally and politically. While Constant’s fluid, dynamic style and lofty eloquence do not always make for easy reading, his text forms a coherent whole, and in his translation Dennis O’Keeffe has focused on retaining the “general elegance and subtle rhetoric” of the original.
Sir Isaiah Berlin called Constant “the most eloquent of all defenders of freedom and privacy” and believed to him we owe the notion of “negative liberty,” that is, what Biancamaria Fontana describes as “the protection of individual experience and choices from external interferences and constraints.” To Constant it was relatively unimportant whether liberty was ultimately grounded in religion or metaphysicswhat mattered were the practical guarantees of practical freedom“autonomy in all those aspects of life that could cause no harm to others or to society as a whole.”
This translation is based on Etienne Hofmann’s critical edition of Principes de politique (1980), complete with Constant’s additions to the original work.
Dennis O’Keeffe is Professor of Social Science at the University of Buckingham and Senior Research Fellow in Education at the Institute of Economic Affairs. He has published widely in the area of education and the social sciences. His books include The Wayward Elite (1990) and Political Correctness and Public Finance (1999). His previous translations include Alain Finkielkraut’s The Undoing of Thought (La Défaite de la Pensée) (1988).
Etienne Hofmann is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Social and Political Science at the University of Lausanne and also teaches in the Faculty of Arts where he directs L’Institut Benjamin Constant. He specializes in critical editions of texts and correspondence and is working on the edition of Constant’s complete works.
Nicholas Capaldi is the Legendre-Soule Distinguished Chair in Business Ethics at Loyola University, New Orleans, and was Professor at the University of Tulsa and Queens College, City University of New York. Among his books are Out of Order: Affirmative Action and the Crisis of Doctrinaire Liberalism; Affirmative Action: Social Justice or Unfair Preference?; and Immigration: Debating the Issues.
- Liberty Fund, Incorporated
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- New Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 9.20(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.40(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
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