By John Alan Baum (Auth.)
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Extra info for Montesquieu and Social Theory
These took many forms: fantastic, marvellous, satirical, extra-terrestrial, sub-terranean and allegorical. Defoe's Robinson CAusoe and Swift's Gulliver's TAavels, published in 1719 and 1726 respectively, are but two well known examples. Here the lands visited and the people described were entirely the product of the writer's imagination, and their capabilities purely hypothetical. The lands visited at the end of an extraordinary voyage or journey, on the other hand, were recently discovered, often remote and unexplored by Westerners, but nevertheless real.
Indeed, it could be done afterwards too, in order to further the work's relevance and popularity. The Moslem chronology used for dating the letters would make it relatively easy for Montesquieu to introduce a letter into any section of the novel, without the 21 Take, for example, Letter CXLVI, reading public being able to detect any c h a n g e . which refers, albeit obliquely, to the financial ruin which beset many people in the week of 21st-28th May 1720, when John Law's Compagnie des Indes collapsed in a panic of speculation.
Montesquieu sets about refuting Hobbes' idea of the state of nature by showing what an unhappy kind of existence it would lead to, each Troglodyte behaving with complete selfishness. 48 Montesquieu then proceeds (Books XIII and XIV) to point the Lockean a l t e r n a t i v e ^ that man's natural state is "a state of peace, goodwill, mutual assistance and 0 preservation"-* - with the reservation that a system of "Natural Law" exists in society to guide men towards this idea. Montesquieu thereby relates the individual to society by trying to show how man moves from the state of nature to the rule of law in civil society.
Montesquieu and Social Theory by John Alan Baum (Auth.)