Sir Robert Filmer and English Political Thought

Sir Robert Filmer and English Political Thought

by James Daly


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Sir Robert Filmer and English Political Thought by James Daly

Sir Robert Filmer (1588-1653) was a defender of 'the Natural Power of Kings against the Unnatural Liberty of the People.' His doctrine of omnicompetent sovereignty had little influence on the thought and political debates of his time, for none of his writings was published until the last few years of his life; but it came under scrutiny later in the century, particularly during the exclusion crisis and in the political writings of John Locke. This book is the first comprehensive analysis of his thought, its context, and its place in English political thought as a whole.

Daly examines Filmer's publishing career, his relation to contemporary writers and critics, and the chief sources on which he drew. The book thus provides the background for a study of Filmer's theory of sovereignty, its voluntarist concept of law, its rejection of prescription, fundamental law, and non-monarchical forms of government, and its insistence that monarchy be not only absolute, but arbitrary as well. Analysing Filmer's interpretation of Adam's (and all kings') 'fatherly power,' here described as 'legal patriarchalism,' Daly shows it to be very different from most contemporary thought. In comparing Filmer's thought with that of other royalists and the positions taken by his critics, notably Edward Gee, James Tyrrell, Algernon Sidney, and of course Locke, he shows it to be strikingly original, almost revolutionary, and frequently distorted by those who dealt with it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442639690
Publisher: University of Toronto Press
Publication date: 01/01/2015
Series: Heritage
Pages: 228
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.52(d)

About the Author

James Daly was a member of the Department of History at McMaster University.

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