Legislators pretend to be wise, but the legislative process is ill suited to producing wisdom.
Edmund Burke describes how the new rulers of France “despise experience as the wisdom of unlettered men.” From Reflections on the Revolution in France.
Burke writes in this excerpt from Reflections on the Revolution in France that good statecraft is the maintenance and refinement of inherited institutions
In this excerpt from “Reflections on the Revolution in France,” Burke prefers the traditional rights of Englishmen to the French revolutionaries’ “rights of man.”
Kant discusses his theory of the state, concluding, “Whatever a people cannot impose upon itself cannot be imposed upon it by the legislator either.”
Narrowly, we have property rights to things, but in the broader, more correct sense, all the rights we posses are property rights.
Wollstonecraft argues the case for women’s rights entirely in libertarian terms of equal and natural rights.
Condorcet was simultaneously one of the most significant Enlightenment thinkers, proto-libertarians, and philosophical historians of progress.
Our author covers barbarian hordes and pastoral-nomadism and we recall that the past is a place historians interpret into existence.
The invention of agriculture was certainly epochal and revolutionary, but writing dramatically sped up the course of progress.
Condorcet surveys the widely-distributed, decentralized, yet deeply interconnected ancient Greek ‘Republic of Letters.’
Condorcet believed secular sectarianism was the primary cause of ancient philosophy’s decline, but Christian dogmatism sure didn’t help.
Condorcet surveys the dismal feudal era, but highlights its greatest triumph—the libertarian moment when slavery disappeared across Europe.
While Renaissance artists and intellectuals rediscovered, revived, and revered, tinkering inventors drove progress into its next epochal period.
No mere whig historian, Condorcet recognized that alongside wonderful, liberty-maximizing inventions like printing came modern states and global slavery.
For our author, the print revolution ushered in both an unstoppable flood of progress and the massive, abosolute, bureaucratic central state.
Whether rationalists or empiricists, the first modern philosophers gave us all good reasons to doubt the dictates of either kings or priests.
Rounding out his history of the Early Modern period, Condorcet explains the linkages between philosophy and politics on both ends of the Atlantic.