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Interpretation

A JOURNAL
2002

loF

POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
Volume 29 Number 3

Spring
241

Quentin P. Taylor

Public Deliberation

and

Popular

Government in Aristotle's Politics


261

Susan D. Collins

The Problem

of

Law in

Aristotle's Politics: A Response


to Quentin Taylor

265

Jules Gleicher Laurie M. Johnson

On Plutarch's Life of Caesar


"Mathematici"

281

Bagby Understanding

v.

"Dogmatici":

the Realist Project

Through Hobbes
Book Reviews

299
311

Kalev Pehme

L'atheisme, by Alexandre Kojeve

Mark Lewis

and

Prophets, Lawyers, Philosophers


and

Harrison Sheppard

Civilians: Storm

over

the

Constitution, by Harry V. Jaffa


331

Harry

V. Jaffa

Response to Lewis

and

Sheppard

Interpretation
Editor-in-Chief
Executive Editor General Editors Hilail Gildin, Dept. Leonard
of

Philosophy, Queens College

Grey

Seth G. Benardete (d. 2001) Charles E. Butterworth Hilail Gildin Robert Horwitz (d. 1987)
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Consulting

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1992)

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1990)

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interpretation

Interpretation
A JOURNAL

XOF

POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
Number 3

Sprhifi 2002

Volume 29

Quentin P. Taylor

Public Deliberation

and

Popular

241

Government in Aristotle's Politics


Susan D. Collins
The Problem Law in Aristotle's Politics: 261

of

A Response to Quentin Taylor

Jules Gleicher

On Plutarch's Life of Caesar


"Mathematici"

265
281

Laurie M. Johnson

v.

"Dogmatici":

Bagby

Understanding
Hobbes

the

Realist Project Through

Book Reviews

Kalev Pehme

L'atheisme, by Alexandre Kojeve

299 311

Mark Lewis

and

Harrison Sheppard

Prophets, Lawyers, Philosophers and Civilians: Storm over the Constitution, by

Harry

V. Jaffa Sheppard 331

Harry

V. Jaffa

Response to Lewis

and

Copyright
No

2002
the

by

interpretation, Inc. All

rights reserved.

part of

contents

may be

reproduced

in any form

without written permission of

the publisher.

ISSN 0020-9635

Interpretation
Editor-in-Chief

Hilail Gildin. Dept.

of

Philosophy, Queens College

Executive Editor General Editors

Leonard

Grey

Charles E. Butterworth Seth G. Benardete (d. 2001) Hilail Gildin Robert Horwitz (d. 1987)

Howard B. White (d. 1974)

Consulting

Editors

Christopher Bruell

Joseph

Cropsey

Ernest L. Fortin

John Hallowell (d. 1992) Harry V. Jaffa Muhsin Mahdi David Lowenthal Harvey C. Mansfield Michael Oakeshott Arnaldo Momigliano (d. 1987)
(d.

1990)

Ellis Sandoz

Leo Strauss (d. 1973)

Kenneth W. Thompson International Editors


Editors

Terence E. Marshall Wayne Ambler

Heinrich Meier Fred Baumann

Maurice Auerbach

Amy

Bonnette

Patrick

Coby
Thomas S. Engeman
Will

Elizabeth C de Baca Eastman


Edward J. Erler

Maureen Feder-Marcus Ken Masugi

Pamela K. Jensen Susan Orr Susan Meld Shell

Morrisey
Martin D. Yaffe

Charles T. Rubin

Leslie G. Rubin

Bradford P. Wilson

Michael P. Zuckert Manuscript Editor Lucia B. Prochnow


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financial institution located (or the U.S. Postal Service).

U.S.A.

The Journal Welcomes Manuscripts


in

in

Political Philosophy

as

Well

as

Those

Theology, Literature,

and

Jurisprudence.

contributors
or manuals

should

based

on them.

(or

"author-date")

follow The Chicago Manual of Style, 13th or later editions Instead of endnotes, the journal uses the system of notation, described in these manuals, illustrated in cur

"reference-list"

rent numbers of

the

journal,

and

discussed in

a sheet available rooted

from the Assistant


should

to

the Editor (see below). Words from

literated to English. To

ensure

languages not impartial judgment,


code

in Latin

be

trans

contributors

should omit

mention

of their other publications and

put, on the title page only, their name,

any

affiliation number.

desired,
Please

address

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postal

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address,

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telephone
double

send

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clear

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space

the

entire text and reference

list.

Composed

and printed

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The Sheridan Press, Hanover, PA 17331 U.S.A.

Inquiries:

(Mrs.) Mary Contos, Assistant


interpretation, Queens

to the

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Public Deliberation

and

Popular Government in

Aristotle's Politics
Quentin P. Taylor
Rogers State

University

Aristotle is

not

known for his

appreciation

of

the common man. On the

contrary, it is generally held that the Greek philosopher was a confirmed elitist,
and

insofar

as

he

gave serious thought to the masses at of them.

all, it
are

was

but to

express

his low

opinion

For Aristotle, the


or

attaining true knowledge, genuine virtue, main political implication of this view is aristocracy
"illiberal"

simply incapable of the higher forms of friendship. The


in his in
marked preference

"many"

reflected
"bias,"

for

or

"the

rule of the

best."

This

conjunction with

his

other

doctrines, has led


"dogmatic,"

some readers to characterize


"hierarchical,"

Aristotle's

political
(Have-

thought as

"reactionary,"

"authoritarian"

and

lock,

pp.

339, 313, 297, 20). Havelock's


In fine, he
reads

chapters

on

Aristotle's Ethics

and

Politics

remain the most sustained attack on the

Greek
much

philosopher's moral and

political thought.

Aristotle in
and

the same spirit that Karl


as an

Popper
tarian"

read

Plato in The Open

Society

Its Enemies, namely,


p.

"authori

proponent of the

"closed

society"

(Popper,
appears

12). A

more

recent, if less
where

polemical,

critique

of

Aristotle

in Ellen

and

Neal Wood,
and

the

Stagirite is taken to task for his "aristocratic


outlook"

conservatis

"anti-democratic

(pp. 222, 209). For


some

a more

balanced

view see

Thomas

Lindsay

(1992b).

While there is

truth to this charge, it represents but a partial,


actual

indeed,

distorted

view of

Aristotle's
was

teaching. In

indicates that Aristotle

far

more

fact, fair reading of the Politics progressive than his critics suggest. See Fred
a

tradition"

Miller, Jr.,
and

who

identifies Aristotle

as

"an

ancestor of the natural-rights


justice"

"a forerunner

of modern theorists of

(1996,

pp.

17, 22). Miller's

meticulous analysis
a year after

has had

a remarkable

impact

on

the study of the Politics. Just

its

publication

the Review of Metaphysics dedicated an entire issue to


was an

its discussion. Yes, Aristotle illiberal dogmatism. Yet


single mind:

elitist,

and

elitism and

liberality

may,

did occasionally lapse into an and often do, coexist in a


and

John Stuart Mill, Alexis de Tocqueville,

Jacob Burkhardt

are

notable examples

(see Kahan). Some

contemporaries

have in

even

to

defend

elitism as a positive good

(see Henry). Conversely, liberalism,


authoritarian

had the temerity no less


politics,

than elitism, may reflect a dogmatic mind set, and issue


witness

the democratic extremes of the French Revolution. In the case of Aris

totle,

elitism

is generally tempered

with

liberality, dogmatism

with

dialectic.

interpretation,

Spring 2002,

Vol. 29, No. 3

242

Interpretation
notorious

Even his

defense

"natural"

of

slavery, the most authoritarian


read as a radical critique of

feature slavery

of

his thinking, is it actually


With

so qualified that

it

can

be

as

existed

(see Nichols, 1983,

and

Ambler).
the
case

such considerations

in mind, it

remains

that Aristotle's

political

thought should not be confused with contemporary democratic liberalism. He would women, laborers, mechanics, and those engaged in commerce full

deny

citizenship
"ideal"

and

the right to active


even

participation

state, but

in the

"better"

forms

of

not only in his He democracy. does, however,

in

public

life,

suggest that where the principle of rotation sans

in

office prevailed such

individuals,
the Politics

women,

might participate when not

plying their trades, a

stipulation crucial

to

understanding Aristotle's theory


replete with passages

of citizenship.

On the

other

hand,

is

that,

when viewed as a

whole, suggest a far

more positive

attitude

towards popular government and the

political capacities of

the average

citizen.
"good"

Indeed, if
or

one recalls

Aristotle's (1)
mixture of of

characterization of

two of the three

"uncorrupted"

forms
(a

government as

virtually unattainable,
and
"good"

"polity"

able assessment of maintains

oligarchy

is the "most

attainable"

the three
"perverted"

(2) favor democracy), which he forms, (3) criticisms of


of

oligarchy

and condemnation of

tyranny
forms

(the

forms

aristocracy

and

monarchy),

(4)

positive account of a regime

dominated

by

the middle class, and

(5)

appreciation

for the

"better"

that Aristotle
government.

is best

understood as a support

democracy, it is possible to conclude proponent (albeit a qualified one) of popular


of view

Additional

for this
rule of

may be drawn from Aristotle's


equity, citizenship, and justice. If

reflections on

this

conclusion

liberty, is fair, if the Politics


equality, the

law,

can

be

read as qualified

defense

of moderate as the

democracy, it is
progenitor of

perhaps not altogether

implausible to

identify

Aristotle

the liberal-cum-republican tradition


novel

in

political thought.

There is

nothing particularly
another a number of

in making this connection, which in one form or scholars have done. J. G. A. Pocock placed Aristotle at the
Tradition,"

fount

of

the "Atlantic Republican


and stretched

which

took root in Renaissance


seventeenth-

Florence

from Machiavelli

and

Guicciardini to the

century English republicans and the American Founders. The link is also made, if only implicitly, by writers who look to Aristotle in constructing arguments in

defense
and

liberalism, communitarianism, and social democracy (see Rasmussen Uyl, Salkever, Swanson, Yack, and Nussbaum). While wholly different in
of

approach

from these studies, Miller's

"neo-liberal"

interpretation
"applied"

of

Aristotle

on

rights and should

justice lends

support

to such efforts at
communitarian

Aristotelianism. It

be noted, however, that liberal, Aristotle have

social

republican readings of

not escaped serious

democratic, and criticism, (see Nadron,


relationship to modern It would also
qualifications.

1996;

and

Mulgan, 2000).
the claim that Aristotle

Establishing
democratic be
subject

bears

an ancestral
and

politics would require a

lengthy

detailed

analysis.

(as

suggested

above) to

a number of

important

simply

wish

to examine one aspect of his political thought which

Here I lends itself to

Public Deliberation
such an

and

Popular Government in Aristotle

243

interpretation. At
the many
political

the outset it was noted that

poor opinion of

in

terms of their capacities


of

Aristotle generally had a for wisdom, virtue, and

friendship. The
well

implications

this view would

hardly

seem

to bode

for democracy,
of the
of
best"

moderate or otherwise.

Moreover, Aristotle
"many"

considered the regime.

"rule light
are

or

aristocracy (while
not

not

readily attainable) the ideal

In

these views, would

the suggestion that the


good"

better judges than the "few


of the

ones

have

struck

ordinary citizens Aristotle as a political

heresy

first

order? of

Politics. The oddity

Yet this is precisely what he says in book 3 of the this doctrine has not escaped the notice of contemporary
principal with whom

scholars, but the argument itself has rarely received close scrutiny. The
exception whose

is

Lindsay

(1992a),

concur

"rhetorical"

approach, which rests on a


not

in many of his arguments, but reading, is different from my own.


of

Moreover, he does
chapter

link Aristotle's

"defense"

the many

in Politics book 3,
to the

13

with the related remarks

in book 3,

chapter

15, but looks


of

later

books to
with

support

his

contention

that "Aristotle's

'defense'

democracy
chapter

damns 13 but
that

faint

praise"

(p. 101).

Jeremy

Waldron

also examines

book 3,

fails to
tical"

address the real

difficulties in Aristotle's
terms, is

argument.

His

suggestion

Aristotle

views the process of popular


"mechanical"

deliberation in "synthetic
an

or even

dialec

as opposed to

interesting hypothesis,

but ignores

the important qualifications Aristotle places on the deliberative capacities of the


many.

In fine, Waldron is
of

more

interested in
argument

application

than analysis and carries

"summation"

his reading

the
of

in

several

directions, including
not

an

Aristotelian defense

action."

"affirmative

Exploring, if

totally

resolving,

this puzzle, and considering

its implications for Aristotle's focus


his
of what

status as a proponent

of popular government constitutes the

follows.
this point paradoxical
appear on

That Aristotle himself


evident
thing"

considered

finding

on

is

in the Politics, for he

concedes that

it "would

to be a strange

(bk

3,

chap.

1 1. On

occasion

I have

modified

Jowett

the basis of more this


riddle?

recent

translations). But what explanation


possible

does he

provide

to

resolve

How is it

"[t]hat inferior

persons

(tous phaulous) The

should

in

greater matters than

the good (ton


of

"answer"

epieikon)"!

have authority first appears in


state": the
concern

the context of a
many? with

discussion

"what is to be the

supreme power

in the

the wealthy? the good? the one best man? or the tyrant?

Our

is

the

first

of

these, "[fjhe

principle

that the

multitude

supreme rather
titude"

then the

few best (tous

oligous)."

aristous

(to plethos) ought to be In Aristotle the "mul

is

e.g., ho
"many."

something of a technical term, although he uses a variety of words, pleistoi, hoi polloi, to plethos, hoi fauloi, ho demos, to describe the
a

Here the

"many"

refers to the

the

polis and members of a popular

majority of citizens, both as members of body. For an analysis of the meaning and
observes

significance

of these

terms,

see

Jan Garrett. Aristotle first


nevertheless

that this

principle, "though
truth."

not

free from difficulty,


claim an element of

seems

to contain an

element of

The

that common notions are neither wholly true, nor


truth"

wholly

false, but "contain

is

a trademark of

Aristotle,

yet

it

244
does

Interpretation
not

fully

prepare

the reader for the

revelation which

is to follow. In devel
of whom each

oping
vidual

this thought he notes that the

"many

(tons pollous),

indi

ordinary person (on spoudaios aiwr). when they meet together may very likely be better than the few good, if regarded not individually but (p. 270). David Keyt calls this "the famous
an
collectively." 'summation'

is but

but the

relative

lack

of attention

it has

received

suggests

neglect

rather than

notoriety.

contribute

Here Aristotle inserts the analogy of a feast, which is better when many to its provision than only one. The connection? "For each individual

among the many has a share in virtue and prudence, and when they meet together, they become in a manner one man, who has many feet, hands, and senses, and who is a figure of their mind and Delba Winthrop hints at an ironic
disposition."

reading
with

of this

passage, for "Aristotle's


and

reference

to the many coming together


result will

many hands

feet

suggests

that he thinks the


notes that

be

monstrous"

(p.

1 59n.).

Similarly, Michael Davis


an

"Aristotle has

not

described

a man

here

so much as

Aristophanic monster, which,


all"

ruling principle, is not a whole at out. First, Aristotle is speaking of the


as part of a
collective
says

any hierarchical or (p. 54). These statements need to be sorted

lacking

"many"

in their deliberative capacity,


"many"

either

council, assembly,

or

sense, that

the many may

is, acting as be better judges


many
of

jury. Second, he is taking the in the a group. It is important to note that Aristotle
when

how

"ordinary"

can a combination of

operating in this capacity. This aside, judgments issue in decisions which The analogy
of the

are superior

to those

the

few

"good"

ones?

feast

appears

ill

suited to

Lindsay
made

maintains

shedding light on the matter: it is to confuse quantity with quality. that Aristotle ultimately rejects this argument and "denies the
transformation on which the defense of the multitude
p.

quantitative-qualitative

is

to depend

(1992a,
proof about

"[n]o satisfactory
sound

is

105). As for the analogy itself, Winthrop observes that given that they [the many] either have good taste or
(p. 159).

judgment

Moreover,
and

as

Mary

Nichols writes,
or

"[a]

potluck supper requires some overall

direction

planning"

the resulting

mixture of

foods (as in

Aristophanes'

Assembly

(1992,

pp.

66, 195n.). Yet in


increases,

the

next

of Women) may prove revolting passage, Aristotle suggests that the virtue
one of the

and prudence of

the many, while

less in the individual than in any

few,
truly

combines,
"good."

and surpasses the collective virtue and prudence of the

of

If Aristotle is simply pointing to the superiority of the many on the basis sheer numbers, there would be no confusion. But clearly this is not the case.
appears to
capable

What he
viduals

is

be saying is that the virtue and prudence of discrete indi of a kind of synergistic aggregation, something like a class
six-year-olds

room of

finger-painting

producing

Renoir.
the example
suspect.

This analogy may to illustrate the last quoted

appear as spurious as

Aristotle's, but
it
somewhat

he

uses

passage makes

less

He

asserts

that "the many (hoi polloi) are better

judges than

a single man

of music and

In this

assertion

Aristotle
of

directly

contradicts

Plato,

who, in the

Laws,

ardently denies the capacity

the many to evaluate works of art competently.

Public Deliberation

and

Popular Government in Aristotle


in the
arts

245
to the
sort

Moreover, Plato directly links


rise of extreme

the prevalence of popular opinion

democracy
he
was an

in Athens,
which

blaming the

poets

for giving birth to "a

'theatrocracy,'"

of vicious conviction that

"proved to be the
on

starting-point of everyone's

authority
attributes

everything,

and of a general

disregard for

the

law."

Andrew Lintott

Aristotle's departure from his teacher to "the Athenian


life"

spoken and unspoken assumptions of erative capacities of the

public

regarding the delib


influenced"

many,

which are alleged to

him (p. 1 17). This reading fails, however, to account contradicts himself on this very point. Later in the Politics, for example, he says "[i]t is difficult, if not impossible, for those who do not perform to be good judges
of

"have strongly for passages where Aristotle

the performances of

others"

(bk 7,

chap.

6). In the Ethics he writes, "pit is only


products
.
.

the experts

in

a given art who can

judge its is

what means and methods perfection

"

achieved

correctly (bk 10,

and understand chap.

by

9). I

see no

way to
chapter

reconcile these passages,

which points to the

11

was not written

by Aristotle,

but

represents an

possibility that book 3, interpolation of a more

the

democratic disciple (see Lord). Naturally, the truth of this claim will depend on identities of the many and the one, yet on face it would appear that more

frequently

just the

opposite

holds true. But Aristotle

attempts

to explain: "some
understand the
each of

understand one
whole."

part, and some another, and among them


not

they

Richard Mulgan notes, "it does


portion] that
as a

follow from this [i.e., that

the the

many
work

understand a

group they

understand and appreciate

whole.

Assuming
makes

that each of the individuals misunderstands at least a part of the


good sense to

it

equally

say that the group

misunderstands

the
of

More to the point, "[o]ne individual

cannot establish that the collective

judgment

the group is superior without specifying some way in which the good qualities of
each coalesce

into does

a collective
do"

judgment
p.

while

the bad qualities are

rejected.

This Aristotle fails to


explanation

(1977,
of

105). The

one, but the


applied to

move the argument

may be a poor forward, for it suggests (as


example

deliberation)

a process

consultation,

including

the exchange of

information. Mulgan has may be "understood to


that

anticipated this
mean

suggestion, observing that Aristotle

that the superior collective judgment emerges


and to

through a process of public

discussion,

be

foreshadowing the modern


discussion."

view

Aristotle

democracy "simply
any

is

a process of government

by

On the

other

hand,
which

says that the people sort of

'come together',

a vague

description

would cover
public

decision-making
possessed of

lectively)
matter. who

(p. 105). The implication for assembly or is obvious, and it may well be that the many are (col more information and insight than the few on a given

aggregation"

Accordingly,
a

the notion that the

deliberating

many become "one

man"

is

"figure

disposition,"

of their mind and general

should not

be

read as an adum

bration
good.

of

Rousseau's

will, that

is,

the reified expression of the common

(Moreover, Rousseau
with one

would prohibit members of the

rectly conferring how the discrete judgments

another.) Rather it
of the

serves as a metaphor

assembly from di to indicate in


a

many

are compounded and expressed

246

Interpretation
As Mulgan notes, "[t]he
still

unified manner.
sum
.

addition

is

a metaphorical, not a

literal,

(p. 104). Yet it is

fair to ask,
and

as

Lindsay does,
(1992a.

"how does
p.

physical

accretion

likewise improve 'character


may be deliberative judgment
explication

104).
come

The preceding
to exercise a

a plausible account of equal or superior

how the many

to the

Aristotle is
in

not

finished

with

the argument. At this point,

notable few, but however, it seems


"good"

appropriate to ask, will not the combine

individual judgments

of the

few

citizens
not provide a

a similar manner as those of the many? and what

Aristotle does

direct answer,
combination

of

he does say is puzzling. He does recognize "a similar qualities in good men (hoi spoitdaioi). who differ from any
pollon)"

individual individual

of

the many (ton

but the

combination

in

question

is in the

man

("in

whom

the scattered elements are combined"), not among there is a clear

individually
of the principle all

good men.

Still,

indication that Aristotle


of

was aware

difficulties

of the

argument, for he leaves the issue

"[w]hether this

bodies

[of the superiority of the many] can apply to every democracy, and to of in doubt. In fact, the entire basis of the argument is placed in
men"

serious

question, for if strictly applied it "would equally hold about

brutes";
The

and

are not some men

little better than beasts? On the


our

other

hand,

"there may be
true."

some

bodies

of men

about whom

statement

is

nevertheless

alleged

superiority
virtue and charitable

of the

many, then, would appear to turn on individual capacities for


and not on

prudence,

reading

of

any inherent principle Aristotle's claim for the


unit of

of collective wisdom.

This

"many"

is developed

by

Ernest

Barker

who

writes, "[e]ach

the

mass

has its

particle of virtue and moral

wisdom; and the


one

meeting

of

the mass

is

not

merely the union of many


characters and

bodies in
a single

place, but

also a confluence of

many has

intellects in

stream. no

Each intellect

acts as complement to
of a problem

its

defect.

Every

facet

some

ultimately there is intelligence directed at it, until

fellow,

until

finally

the whole problem is surveyed

by

a whole

intelligence,

which

judge securely, because it judges every faculty, on every variant of this interpretation is made by Patrick Coby, who
Aristotle "[t]he only
to
multitude represent a great warehouse of some organization and

point"

may well (p. 351). A


that

claims

for

are the audience who see

human virtue needing assembly in order to become politically useful; they everything in the play but who require a theater critic
observations"

bring

coherence

to their

(p. 909). The

problem with this

is that it

goes well
about

beyond

what

Aristotle actually says,


"many"

and overlooks what

reading he
the
not

does say

the virtue of the

on

other occasions.

Moreover,

political equivalent of

the theater critic does not appear

in the Politics. It is

implausible, however,
multitude would

that Aristotle assumed that the officials elected

by

the

supply this function. Thus it may be argued, as Nichols does, that "Aristotle's argument in favor of the many points to the need for states
.
.

manship, that
some

is, for

some reflection that can see a whole

that the parts can

form,
good"

judgment to
p.

guide the also

individual
suggested

contributions toward the common

(1992,

66). It may

be

that the

institutional

procedures

governing

Public Deliberation

and

Popular Government in Aristotle


serve

247

the political activities of the many would


erate,

to regulate, and therefore mod

its deliberations (see Stockton


not

and

Ober).
not

Aristotle does
simply
suggests

explicitly
of

make

this argument, at least

here. Rather, he
original

the

foregoing

analysis provides an answer well as

to the

regarding the supremacy


power should

the multitude, as

the related

question of

query "what

be

assigned to the mass of

freemen

and citizens

(tons

clcutherous

kai to

plenthston politon), who arc not rich and

have

merit."

no personal

Aris

totle's discussion of the

latter is

an

important

part of

his democratic theory, but

it is

also relevant to the matter at

superior

in their

collective

hand. The many, Aristotle continues, may prove (deliberative) capacity, but "[t]here is still a danger in

allowing them to
error, and their

share the great offices of state,

for their

folly

will

lead them into


the view virtue, to the the
not

dishonesty

into

crime."

This

would seem consistent with

that the many, taken

individually,

possess

but

a small portion of practical reference

and are therefore unqualified


"folly," "error,"

to hold high office. Yet Aristotle's


"crime"

"dishonesty,"

and
paradox of their alleged

of the

many simply

recapitulates

superiority

over the wise and virtuous

few. While have

alluding ally
point.

directly to these cited the inadequacy


William Newman into the
vein,

terms as applied to the many, scholars


and paradoxical nature of
notes

occasion

Aristotle's
that

argument on

this

that "Aristotle

forgets

bad

qualities will

be
a

thrown
similar

common stock no

less

than good ones


can one expect

(pp. 256-57). In

Lindsay

asks, "on what


come

basis

the multitude's virtues,


as

rather than

its defects, to
"[t]he
of the

fore?"

to the to

(1992a,
establish

p.

104). More generally,

Winthrop
and

writes.

arguments made

the sufficiency of the taste


good are

judgment

many, as distinguished
are said

from the few

obviously
we can

inadequate. The many


suppose can we ask

to

be

able

to judge the whole well,

for

that among them are individuals each of whom

knows

a part well.

Not

only

why the total


parts

result will

be the

sum of noble and correct rather

than base and ignorant than the sum of

judgments, but

we can ask whether a whole

is

not more

its

(p. 159n.). Is this


virtue out of

not the equivalent of

maintaining
yet

that order can arise out of chaos,

vice, truth out of error?

We have
provide a

seen

that Aristotle anticipates this objection, but


reply.

he has

to

satisfactory dilemma that arises from excluding the many from the higher offices of state. Undoubtedly it is dangerous to allow average citizens to occupy such offices, but
"there is
a

For the

moment

he is

concerned with

resolving the

danger

also

in

not

letting
will

them share,

for

a state

in

which

men necessarily be full of solution, Aristotle avers, is the one instituted by Solon and namely, to "assign to them some deliberative and judicial

enemies

are excluded

from

office

many poor The only "the

other

legislators,
such as

functions,"

power of

electing to offices, and of calling

magistrates

to

should

not,

however, be
resorts

eligible

for

offices

held

singly.

The many In defending this doc


none
meet

account.

trine, Aristotle
the many,

to his earlier argument but with a twist. Because each of


an

when

"left to himself, forms


to hold office

imperfect

judgment,"

is

suffi

ciently

qualified

individually; but "[w]hen they

together their

248

Interpretation
"
.

perceptions are quite good enough


.

The

addition comes

in the

next clause:

and combined with the

better

class

(tois beltiosi) they


as

are useful

to the
ver

state."

'rehabilitated.'

Lindsay
a

refers to this

formulation
and reads

"the second,

or

superiority,"

sion of collective

Aristotle's for the

qualifications

as

constituting
of

"radically diluted

form"

of

his

argument

many.

On the basis

this

modification,

Lindsay

contrasts modern
of

participatory democracy,

which rests on

the competence and

inclusion

the many, with Aristotle's

version of

democ

racy, which "depends as much on exclusion as


question even the

participation,"

limited

virtue granted

the

'certain'

multitude

thus, "call[ing] into by Aristotle

(1992a,
fense
of
was no

pp.

107, 109). Winthrop

opposes this view,

concluding that "[t]he de

participatory democracy originally intended by modern political theory less qualified than (p. 171). Is Aristotle now saying that the
Aristotle's"

judgment
of

of

the many is

valuable

only insofar "more

as

it

combines with

the

judgment

the "few good"? The analogy used to illustrate this point, that a
and pure

mixture of

impure food
pure

food is be

wholesome"

often

than a small amount of

alone, could
that the

hardly

more unfortunate.
. .

Peter Simpson argues,

contra

that a mixture is only necessary and just Lindsay, analogy "implies when the few best are not good enough to have control all by themselves for if

they
well.

were good

enough, there could be no need to mix in something impure as


polity"

Further,
in this

the example also shows that the sort of regime Aristotle has in

mind

chapter

is

not

democracy

proper

but the
and

mixed regime of
"democracy"

(p.

168).

Observing

the

distinction between
to understanding

"polity"

in the Politics
for

is certainly
the

relevant

Aristotle's thoughts
yet

on

the political role of


account

the many, a distinction


"summation"

Lindsay

overlooks,

it does not, in itself,


of

argument
use of

in book 3,
which

chapter

11. Part
as

the

difficulty

resides

in

Aristotle's
tion for

analogies,

may indicate,

Nichols notes,

an apprecia

"heterogeneity,"

but

are nonetheless plagued

by

"ambiguity"

(1992,

pp.

66, 67-68, 70). The issue of the many and the few appears to have become more, rather than less, opaque. In characteristic fashion, Aristotle recognizes the inadequacy of this reasoning
and

its

negative

implications for "the


or science
of

popular

form

government."

of

If governing
unskilled

is

a skill
sit

(techne)
"For

(episteme) like

medicine, how

can

the

many (ton

in judgment

the skilled

few? Is this

not also true

in the

case of

elections?

a right election can

ergon),"

eidoton

(doxa

alethes)"

at

only be made by those who have knowledge and the many do not possess knowledge, but "true opinion best. Earlier in book 3 Aristotle writes, "[fjhe virtue of the
not

subject

p.

is certainly 51). There is a

wisdom, but only true

opinion"

(chap. 4. See

also

Davis,

similar

difficulty

in Aristotle's

tendency

to equate political

aptitude with virtue.

As Barker notes, "[pjolitical capacity along


may be "some occupations
to choose,

seems

different from
Aristotle"

virtue, though

it is

more than once mentioned

with virtue and arts

by

(p.

348). And

while there

in

which private

persons share

in the

abilities

they certainly
of

cannot choose

better than

those who

know (ton

eidoton)."

On the basis

this reasoning, "neither the

Public Deliberation
election of

and

Popular Government in Aristotle


of

249

magistrates,

nor

the calling

them to account, should be entrusted to

the

many (to Such was the


mention

plethos)."

view of name.

not

by statesmanship as a strict science, insisted that the reviewing authority must be greater than the authority reviewed. Claiming in the Laws that "the office of Scrutineer is the single most crucial factor determining whether a state survives or Plato lamented how
who

Plato, Plato,

whom

Aristotle may have had in mind, but does

viewed

disintegrates,"

"desperately
authority

difficult [it

is]

to

find
...

someone of
"

high

moral standards

to exercise

over the authorities


with at

Aristotle

also considered the


greatest of

audit officials,

it

could

along be entrusted,

the power

of

election, "the

all,"

authority to but believed


many.

least

under

favorable circumstances, to the


analogous to other

For

Plato statesmanship is a The capacity to correctly


and

skill or

science,

skills, only higher.


of

perform a skill

is,

accordingly,
that

function

knowledge,
is

it is the
a

presence of
a

knowledge (phronesis)
a

determines

whether one

truly

doctor,
"the

musician,

pilot,

or a statesman.

Plato's

political

dialogues, but

nowhere more

This analogy is prevalent in all so than in the Statesman, which


corpus"

contains

(Rowe,
vital

p.

uncompromising statement of the idea in the Platonic 18). The difference between Plato and Aristotle on this issue,
most

and

its

importance in

their political

thought, has been


accordance

deftly
actual

summarized

by

Shel

don Wolin (pp. 57-63). Aristotle many


other cases, modifies

retains a portion of
with

this teaching, but as in so


experience.

it in

First he
argu

claims that the

(Platonic)
if the
may be
a

objections are
people

largely

answered

by

the earlier

ments, namely, "that

(to plethos)

are not

utterly degraded, have


special

although

individually they
(ton eidoton)
explicit what as

worse

judges than those


are as
good

who

knowledge
makes

body they

better."

or

Here Aristotle

ity)

of

he had only intimated before: the deliberative superiority (or equal the many assumes a relative soundness in their (moral-cognitive) consti

tution.

Second, he
the artists
of

rejects a strict application of

the techne argument to the

realm

of politics,

for "there

are some arts whose products are not or even

judged
not the

of

solely, or

best, by

themselves,"

by

other artists.

Will

homeowner

judge better

the house than the builder? the pilot better of the rudder than the

carpenter? and the guest

better

of

the

food

than the cook?

Aristotle's

examples

less than compelling, but they do comprehend (if only partially) the
are
more solid and

speak

to the ability of average citizens to


of politics.

"products"

He

would

have been

on

ground,

however, had he linked


notion that

this ability to the concepts

of right

interest,
"a

the original and perennial sources of political judgment.

Mulgan,
from

who

finds in Aristotle's
much

the art

of politics

is

not exempt

lay

control

better

argument"

than the
one

doctrine

of collective

superiority, hints

at a similar solution.

On the
to

hand, "it is difficult


are seen as

to argue that the population

as a whole
other and

is

likely

have

opinions superior to those of the expert

few. On the

hand, if political decisions

decisions

which affect of

the population
ought

if the individual is

assumed to

be the best judge


rather

how he

to be
much

affected, then the case

for democratic

than expert government

is

250

Interpretation
"products"

stronger

(1977,

p.

106). The

which

issue from the

science of politics rights

may fall within the ken of the many, but it is and interests that constitutes the foundations

the relation of these to their


of popular

judgment.
returns

Having "sufficiently
the original

answered"

the Platonic objections, Aristotle


many's election and
all,"

to

paradox as expressed

in the

scrutiny

of magis
thing"

trates. Since these functions are "the

greatest of

is it

not

"a

strange

that the multitude should have more authority in "greater

matters"

than the

few?

Yet

as

Aristotle observes, in
a popular

some

existing

states assign these

duties to the

people

as constituted

assembly,

which

is

supreme

in

such matters.

Typically
re

these states place a low property qualification for membership in the assembly,
while a

high

qualification

is

attached

to the

great offices of such

state,

thereby

solving authority over the most important general matters (which they are most qualified to judge), and the few are entrusted with the high executive offices (which they
are most qualified to claim to

the problem of the many and the

few. In

cases, the many exercise

have

judgment
numbers.

when

hold). However, the "reason the many (to plethos) may higher authority than the is not owing to their superior assembled, but to the superiority of their collective wealth and
few"

While

collective wealth and numbers

may have
the many

constituted

the foun the

dation for the


great

many's claim

to govern, it

was not

the only basis.


who

Isocrates,
on

rhetorician, appears to have the few self-proclaimed


observed

sided with

rely
the

opinion
orator

against of

experts. more

Similarly, Demosthenes,

finest

his time,

that he was

likely

to be

mistaken

than

his audience,
a popular

and emphasized the value of experience

in judgment. Athenagoras,
of

leader in Syracuse, defended the


sions of the

"intelligence"

the demos against the


who are

preten

rich, maintaining in

Thucydides,

that "it is the many


them."

best

at

Ober, in citing these listening was examples, avers that the "Athenian faith in group decision making grounded in the assumption that the collective wisdom of a large group was

to different arguments and judging between

inherently

greater than

the wisdom
of

of

Here the discussion

the many and

its many (p. 163). the few breaks off, and Aristotle

parts"

proceeds

to consider generally the other claims to political authority. His these claims

discussion

of

is

aperotic and

informed

by

the belief "that none of the principles on

which men claim


right"

to rule and to hold all other men

in

subjection to them are


on

(bk 3, chap. 13). While his remarks in this chapter center strictly issue of the right to rule, he does make a passing reference to the
considered collectively.

the

"many"

In

response

to the claim that virtue or wealth should be

the basis of authority, he notes that "the many (to plethos) might that

fairly

answer

few (to oligon) I do not This but reference sheds no additional light on the individually, say summation argument but does indicate that Aristotle has not abandoned it. It also

they

themselves are often

better

and richer than

the

collectively."

reinforces, if only obliquely, the notion that the


when mixed with

judgments

of the

many

are

best
in
ten

those of the

few. Support for this


of a question:

supposition appears earlier


virtuous

book 3.

chapter

13 in the form

"Suppose the

(hoi

Public Deliberation
areten

and

Popular Government in Aristotle


may

251
in

echontes) to be very few in


to their

number:

we consider their numbers

relation

duties,

and ask whether

they

are enough

to administer the state,

Again, Aristotle does not provide a direct many as will make up a answer, but it may be reasonably inferred that in such a case it will be necessary to include the many, who collectively "are often better and richer than the few
or so

state?"

(ton

oligon)."

This

would appear

Aristotle's final

word on

the matter,

but the issue

reappears

in his discussion best

of royal government, and cannot

particularly in

response to the ques

tion, "when the law have

determine
(bk

a point at

all, or not well, should the one

decide?"

man or should all attempted to

3,

chap.

mentators

integrate the discussion

15). Surprisingly, very few com which follows with Aris

totle's earlier remarks. The argument begins as a mere recapitulation, complete


with the

analogy

of the

why "a

multitude

feast, but Aristotle does provide some additional (ochlos) is a better judge of many things than any
few (ton
. .

reasons

individual."

First,

the many (to plethos) are more incorruptible than the

oligon

for

the same reason "a greater quantity of water


little."

Second,

while

is less easily corrupted than a "[t]he individual is liable to be overcome by anger or some

other

passion, and then

be

supposed that a great number of persons would all get


moment."

his judgment is necessarily perverted; into in the first


many

it is

hardly

to

a passion and go

wrong at the same On its face there is little to


superior numbers,

object to

claim.

it

stands to reason that the


"few"

are

By virtue less likely than


"good"

of their

the few

to be corrupted all at once. But if the

are also the

"wise"

and corruption? and

(as

Aristotle indicates),
more, if the many
not

are

they

not

largely

immunized from

Further

are prone

to

"folly,"

"error,"

"dishonesty,"

"crime,"

is it

likely

that their susceptibility to corruption

conclusion

they
to

never

Aristotle "assume[s] that they are act in violation of the law, but fill up the
not

is actually greater? To avoid this freemen (hoi eleutheroi), and that


gaps which

the law

is

obliged

leave."

But is this

to conflate the many with the few? It would appear so,

for Aristotle
(pollois)."

concedes that

"such
need

virtue

is scarcely

attainable

by

the multitude

Accordingly, "we

(agathoi andres) be
more

and good citizens

only (agathoi

suppose

that the majority are good men

politai)."

In

such a

case, "which

will

good?"

incorruptible,

the one good ruler or the many who are all

The

second argument,
contemplate

like the first,

appears reasonable on the surface,

but

fails to istotle

a phenomenon not

the group dynamic popularly known as "mob foreign to ancient Greek politics. On the other hand, if Ar

psych

assumes the presence of a check on


irrationality"

the rule of the many, the bane of

"collective

objected against

may be duly countered. As Miller notes, "[i]t might be Aristotle's summation argument that it fails to take into account

problems of collective

irrationality, but it

can

be

replied

that the mixed consti

tution provides

a check on

the rule of the many which prevents the sort of


"

irrational

excesses perpetrated under extreme arguments

democracy
recalled

(1995,

p.

262).
chapter

In considering these

it

should

be

that

in book 3,

15

252

Interpretation
not

Aristotle is
the few

per se.

primarily interested in the deliberative abilities of the many and The original query was: who is better qualified to determine a
process

matter which

the law fails to resolve, the many or the one? In the


repeats

of

answering,

however, Aristotle

his

assertion

in book 3,
the

chapter

1 1

regard

ing

the collective superiority of the multitude over the few. He then turns to the
of corruption as the
perceived need a

issue
is the

key

factor in

determining
of the reason

matter.

What is

curious

to elevate the quality


good
we man.

superiority to

single

The

many in order to for this becomes


one good as

establish their clear

in the
ruler,
"true"

concluding is good in an

passage.

Here

learn that Aristotle's


For the
multitude

man, the

royal

absolute sense.

monarch requires a similar goodness

in the many,

This is
parties

evident

from Aristotle's

response

among them [the many], whereas His answer, that "their


character question constitute an aristocracy,

correctly least a majority of them. to the objection that "there may be the one man is not divided against
or at

to judge

as

the

himself."

is

his,"

as good as

suggests

that the
applies

many in

for this is the term Aristotle


good.

to a regime in which the many citizens are

truly

The

suspicion

is

confirmed

in the final sentence,


are all of

where

them good

(agathon)"

aristocracy is defined as "the rule of many men, who And in keeping with his notion that two good
concludes that

heads
states

are

better than one, Aristotle


provided

"aristocracy

will

be better for

than royalty

only that a number of men equal in virtue can be


remarks, is it fair to say that Aristotle has

found."

In light

of the context of these


"summation"

abandoned the
ment

argument chapter

in book 3,

chapter

1 1 ? Or does the

argu

in book 3,

15 simply

represent a variation?

The

one observer who

has

attempted to
.

integrate defended

the two accounts claims that


while

in the former "[collective


909). This

judgment is
a

aristocratically,"

in the latter Aristotle "provides

democratic

argument

to defend

aristocracy"

(Coby,

p.

solution

would seem

to run counter to

Aristotle's clearly

stated claim that

possibility of merging the two on the condition that magistrates may in no way profit from office, thereby insuring the rule of the well off and relieving the poor from service, while guaranteeing the integrity of the
public coffers

aristocracy notes, Aristotle holds

are antipodal regimes and the most out the

difficult to fuse. Yet,

democracy and as Coby

(book 5,

chap.

8). This

clever construction
would appear

does

not

fully

resolve

the

the charge of

difficulties in Aristotle's doctrine, but it inconsistency.


examined

to exonerate him from

Having
doctrine dubious
points

of summation.

Aristotle's reasoning in detail, we may now summarize his As is often the case in Aristotle, what begins as a rather far
more coherent and plausible claim.
noted.

assertion emerges as a argument

The

weak

in his

have been
case

duly

Far

more

interesting
of

are

Aristotle's

additions, which render his


paradoxical

than

it

appears

for the deliberative superiority in its initial formulation. These


of politics as a soft

the many

less

"mitigating"

additions

include his
edge and

(1) understanding
not

science, which requires

knowl
of

skill, but is

wholly beyond the

comprehension

(at least in terms

Public Deliberation
its products)

and

Popular Government in Aristotle

253

of the average citizen;

(2)

assumption

that the many are not col

lectively

corrupt or
when

incontinent; (3)
blended

suggestion

that the collective judgment of the


wiser

many is best

with that of the

individually

few; (4)

exclusion

of members of the

many from the higher offices of state on the basis of their limited capacity, qua individuals, for virtue and prudence, and (5) claim that the
the many to rule

right of

is but

a partial

right, limited

of other claimants

to authority, and more generally,

by the right (or interests) by the demands of justice.


of collective

With these
takes
on a

qualifications

in mind, Aristotle's doctrine


cast and places

superiority

far

more

judicious

him in the

mainstream of modern

republican

theory.
of

A democratic reading

Aristotle's doctrine

of political

deliberation

speaks to of this

the second concern raised at the outset of this essay: the

implications

doctrine for his

status

as

a proponent of popular government.

In fine, is his
Aristotle's
scope.

teaching
remarks

consistent with modern conceptions of

democratic
detailed

rule or representative

democracy? A
on

complete answer would require a

analysis of

the

forms

of

government, a task well beyond the

present

Another way of pursuing this question is to compare Aristotle's view of popular deliberation with that of the moderns, particularly those who made an important
contribution to the

liberal

republican

tradition. A review of such thinkers as

Machiavelli, Locke, Montesquieu, Hume, Rousseau, Madison, and Burke would show that Aristotle was no less, and often more, trusting of the many than most of his more successors, (See Machiavelli, Discourses, bk 1, chaps 47, Second Treatise 58; Locke, of Government, sees. 140, 149; Montesquieu, Spirit
"liberal"

2, chaps. 6, 7; Madison, Federalist, nos. 10, 51, 55, 63; and Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, Pocock, 1987, pp. 36^-0.) Fortunately, Aristotle provides a concise discussion of public deliberation as it relates to these forms in book 4,
chapter

of the Laws, bk 1, chap. 6; Hume, "That Politics May Be Reduced to a and "Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth"; Rousseau, Social Contract, bk

Science,"

14. Here he defines the "deliberative

element"

as that part of the con

"has authority in matters of war and peace, in making and un making alliances; it passes laws, inflicts death, exile, confiscation, elects mag It is clear that Aristotle is now using istrates and audits their
stitution which
accounts."

"deliberation"

in

the

broader

sense

to include all who have authority to make

decisions affecting the in which these powers


to some? The first garchy,
popular and

commonweal. are

The decisive
all

issue, however, is
democracy,
"pure"

the manner

distributed:

to

all? all

to some? some to all, others the second oli

arrangement a

is

characteristic of

the third polity,

fusion

of

the two. In a
with no

democracy,

the

assembly determines
when a selected

all public

matters,

interference from
of
although

elected

magistrates, an arrangement found in the "worst

form

democracy."

Con

versely,

only

few determine these matters,


a

law, "the
does

government

is

oligarchy,"

a pure

similarly

perverted

according to regime. Aristotle

approve of moderate

democracy

and moderate others

oligarchy,

in

which some

deliberative

powers are given

to the many and

to the

few,

some elected

by

254

Interpretation

vote others

by

lot. And

while

there are various ways

of

assigning these powers,

in

each case the general

citizenry,

individually

and collectively,

directly

and

indirectly, will have a hand in decision-making. For Aristotle, the key is not so much the particular
citizens

arrangements

whereby

dispose

of public matters as

(except in
of

cases such as and

war,

which require
as

"special

knowledge")
of

the principles

balance

inclusion. Just

he

argued

that the judgment

the many is most useful

when combined with

that of the

"better
attendance of advise

he

now calls on

democracies to
the rich

adopt measures

for

insuring

the

both the
all

poor and

at public

assemblies; for

citizens

"will

better if they

deliberate together

the people

(gnorimon) and the notables with the people larly, where decision-making is entrusted to a
good plan that out of the
vital
. . .

(plethous)"

council

(demos) with the notables (bk 4, chap. 14). Simi or smaller body, "[i]t is a

[its members] be The

elected

by

vote or

by

lot in

equal numbers
even more

different

classes."

need

for balance

and

inclusion is
prone

to the stability of oligarchies, which are


order

inherently
be

to faction and

injustice. In
opted

to avert this

tendency, "either

certain persons should

be

co-

from the mass,

or a class of officers should

appointed

who are

termed probuli and guardians of the


selves

law;

and

the citizens should occupy them

exclusively

with matters on which these

this way, "the people (ho

demos)

will

have

have previously share in the deliberations


the
people"

deliberated."

In

of the
we

state, but will not be able to disturb the

constitution."

principles of

Here

find
but

corollary to Aristotle's belief that "the


and

should exercise and

"some

deliberative
as

judicial

functions,"

namely, electing to hold high office.

auditing magistrates,

individuals
for

are unqualified at

This brief look


ments

Aristotle's

views on

the distribution
a

of power and arrange perhaps

decision-making
a
"democracy"

precisely,

strongly republican) reading of his


and
attempt

supports

democratic (or
The been

more

political thought.

confusion surround

ing

the use of

"republic"

has

never

fully

resolved.

Madi
the

son's

famous

to distinguish the two in Federalist 10 and


marked preference

39

remains

locus classicus, but the United States


representation and

for using
was

"democracy,"

both in the

elsewhere, to define
usage.

governments

based

on the principle of with a similar

inverts Madison's direct

Aristotle

faced

dif

ficulty,
based
many

and

like Madison

redefined a

term

(politeia)
"polity"

to

distinguish

a government

on the and

many ("democracy") from one combining the the few ("polity"). And while a is more democratic than a
rule of the as

"republic,"

defined

by Madison,
methods.

principles considers

with

republican

both may be said to combine democratic The similarity is even closer when one

the use of

initiative,

referendum, and

ballot

measures at the state and

local level in American


on

may be found in his remarks (or and constitutional middle-class government) polity democracy made ear lier in book 4. The term as a distinct form of government, is first defined
politics.

Additional

support

"polity,"

as a regime common

in

which

"the

citizens

interest (koinon

(plethos) at large administer the state for the (bk 3, chap. 7). Polity, then, is at once a

Public Deliberation
descriptive
and normative term

and

Popular Government in Aristotle


vocabulary:

255

in Aristotle's

it is

not

merely

popular

government, but one that governs in the interest of the whole.

Later, polity is

described "as
term
democracy"

fusion (mi.xus)

democracy,"

is usually applied (bk 4, chap. 8). On the basis


polity
with moderate not a

oligarchy and to those forms of government


of this

of

adding that "the which incline towards


one

definition,
be

is tempted to
For Aris

equate

democracy, but this

would

a mistake.

totle polity

is

Even the in
class

moderate

variety of democracy, but a distinct type, a hybrid as it were. forms of democracy (and oligarchy) are governments rooted

interest,

whereas

institutional

governments

"unite the freedom


not

of the

rich."

poor and the

wealth of the

Again, polity is
"admixture"

a mere patchwork of and oligarchic


chap.

incongruent elements, but


principles which

a coherent

of
parts of an

democratic

fit together "like the


state, one

indenture"

(bk 4,

9).

Hence, in "a
applied

constitutional

element will

be taken from
public

each,"

and as

to the contentious issue

of qualifications

for

office, requires
or

taking

"from oligarchy the principle of electing to offices [as opposed to lot and from democracy the disregard of qualification [for holding
means a

rotation],

office]."

"true

union"

of
use of

the two principles is affected; a


"oligarchy"

union

By such marked by the

interchangeable
"the fusion is

"democracy"

and
("Polity"

to describe a state in which

complete."

Indeed,

so complete

is simply the generic name for "constitution.") fusion that the parts form an integrated and seamless
polity (te
politeia te memigmere

whole; for "[i]n a


should appear to

well-tempered

kalos)

there

be both

neither."

elements and yet

Since
poor,

most

Greek

states are

(on Aristotle's admission)

comprised of rich and

it

would seem obvious

that polity is the

form

of government

best

suited

to

most states. required

He does

not

explicitly say this, but the inference is justified, indeed,


constitutional government represents a mean, which

by

logic. Moreover,

for Aristotle is the


arises,

categorical

imperative both in

ethics and politics.

Confusion
and

however,
and

when

he distinguishes
as

middle-class rule

from

democracy
(bk 4,

oligarchy 11). Does this essentially


the

identifies it
mean that

"the best

constitution

for

states"

most

chap.

synonymous

polity and the "middle constitution (mese for Aristotle? But how can this be if polity is
can the middle-class regime
rich and poor?

politei

are
a

fusion

of

rich and poor?

And how

be best for

most states

when most states are

divided between

Unfortunately, Aristotle
no real

does

not

discuss the in his

relation

between the two constitutions, but there is Curtis Johnson finds Aristotle
polity,"

inconsistency
scurity in the
"coherence"

classification.

"guilty
a

of ob

extreme when

it

comes to

but

also

discovers

fundamental

when viewed against

his

overall constitutional with

theory (pp. 203, 189).

identify polity inconsistency and confusion, Johnson demonstrates that polity is a mixed regime (combining the rich and poor), whereas the middle constitution is a popular regime dominated by the middle class. (See also Yack,
In
contrast

to those who would

the middle constitution, or

simply

accuse

Aristotle

of

pp.

231-39.) The

solution

to the

apparent

confusion

is found in Aristotle's
the best state in the

definition

of political

science,

which aims

to

identify (1)

256

Interpretation
"absolute"

"abstract"

or

sense;

(2)

"that

which

is best

relative

to

';

and

(3)

that "which
relative

is best-suited to

states

in

general"

(bk 4,

chap.

1 ). Polity, then,
is best in

is best

to circumstances in

Greece,

whereas the mese politeia

general.

Both

are

go\ eminent

is

distinguished from oligarchy and democracy, but constitutional fusion, a fusion deemed unnecessary in a state dominated by the
arrangements will

middle class.

The institutional

be

quite similar

in both

states

(bk 5,
classes.

chap.

6):

the

key

difference lies in the

social

composition

of political

Aristotle
citizens

provides a number of reasons


best,"

why

a state

"composed

of middle-class

is necessarily

essentially the same


and

reasons given today:


as

equality,
well

moderation, stability,
views on

justice (bk 4,
and

chap.
not

11). This teaching,


consistent with
support

his

decision-making
endorsed a

polity, are

only

his

remarks on

the deliberative superiority

of

the many, but strongly

the view that

Aristotle familiar

theory

of government not so

different from

our own.

Anyone

with

the principles contained in the Declaration of Independence and the

government embodied a marked


of

in the Constitution

cannot read the

Politics

without

noting

kinship

between the

principles and prescriptions of

Aristotle

and those

the American Founders. The philosopher's unequivocal commitment to the

rule of

law

and not men

(bk

2,

chap.

2; bk 3,

chap.

1 1 ; bk 5.
chaps

chap.

7), his

repeated

equation of nition

justice

with

the common good (bk

3,

6, 7, 12, 13), his defi


equals"

of constitutional rule as

"a

government of

freeman

and

(bk 1

chaps

7, 12; bk 3, 3, chaps 1, 7) top

chap.

4),

and

his implicit doctrine


ideals. Insofar
as

of popular

the

list

of shared

sovereignty (bk Aristotle identifies


eudai-

monia as

the end of human

life, he is

also committed
a mixed

to "the

pursuit of

happi

Similarly, Aristotle advocates 6; bk 4, chaps. 8, 9) bottomed on the


ness.")

(bk 2, chap. 11), marked by a wide distribution of power and property (bk 2, chaps. 6, 7, 1 1; bk 4, chap. 1 1 ). and designed to balance various interests (bk 4, chaps. 8, 9, 11), a position
of government chap.
middle class

form

(bk 4,

embraced

by

the Framers. As for Aristotle's specific prescriptions, we have

ciples

already in

noted

his strong
of

preference

for

blending

democratic
and

and oligarchic prin

matters

elections, office-holding,

decision-making. Like the

Founders, he
often

was animated of

by

the

desire to

accommodate the
and order. state

legitimate, but
Aristotle
.
.

competing, claims

liberty,

property, equality,

even

anticipates the which should

American be

motto e pluribus uiuiin,

for "[t]he

is

plurality

united"

(bk 2.

chap.

5). Finally, his belief that


without the
support

no

constitution,
classes
of

however
citizens

well

constructed,
chap.

can

survive

of all

(bk 4,

9)

was also shared

by

the

Revolutionary

generation.

To take

but

one

example, Publius recognized that the "parchment


were

barriers"

created

by

the

Constitution

only as good as the people's willingness to support them. For instance, Hamilton observes that "whatever fine declarations may be inserted in any constitution respecting it [liberty of the press], must altogether depend on
opinion"

public

(Federalist 84),

whereas
"
.

Madison

acknowledged

that

ultimately

"all

governments rest on opinion

(Federalist 49).

Public Deliberation
There
can

and

Popular Government in Aristotle


parallels

257

are a number of

interesting

between Aristotle

and the

Ameri
re

Founders, but

these are the most striking.


attention
on

Indeed,

given

this fact it is

markable

how little

Aristotle's influence
upon

they have received. While often noted in passing, the American Founders, and the republican tradition
escaped

which

they drew, has largely


and

investigation. Miller (1997) has


Republicanism,"

written on
Adams'

"Aristotle

American Classical
and

critique of
pher's

Aristotle,
top

teaching

on popular at the
use

examining John his qualified acceptance of the philoso noting government. Miller also observes (1) that Madison
of a

placed the

Politics

(nonalphabetical) list

of

books he

recommended
with

for

congressional

in 1783, (2) that Adams included Aristotle along among the


and authors upon which the
"principles"

Sidney, Locke,
company Declaration

and others

of the

American Revolution rested,


with regard to the of

(3)

that Jefferson placed Aristotle in this same


sentiments"

"harmonizing
of the

which gave rise

to the

Independence. Far
investigation

more substantial
Founders'

is Paul Eidelberg,
science

who pro of

vides a sustained

political

in terms

Aristotelian
mittedly derstood

regime analysis.

Less interested in direct influence (which


than

was ad

marginal and

derivative)
applied

in

a shared approach

to political

inquiry,
un

Eidelberg

provides a

detailed

and persuasive argument

that "when properly

and

properly

to the American
of that

profoundly

enrich our
founders"

ship

of the

understanding (p. 5). More recently,

Constitution, [the Politics] can Constitution, hence the statesman


to
a collection of essays

contributors

honoring

Harvard

professor

Harvey Mansfield
government
and

refer to the notable similarities

between Aristotle's

mixed

the American regime (Blitz and

Kristol, 2000). What is lacking, however, is


tle's political

a systematic comparison of

Aristo
that

teaching
reveal

with that of

the American

Founders;

a comparison

would, I

believe,

the remarkable

degree to

which

Aristotle

anticipated the

principles and prescriptions of the

Founding
for

Fathers. Recent
enlist

efforts

by

commu

nitarians,
revived of

liberals,

and

social

democrats to
and

the Stagirite have certainly

interest in the Politics,


than

this we should

be thankful. In his

review never

Miller (1995), Saunders declares that "Aristotle's Politics is 'hot': it has


now"

attracted greater attention

(p. 216). Yet

we still

have

no account

that

adequately ferent scholars have different


a salient aspect of

captures the political thinker who agendas.


political

is

all of these and yet none.

Dif

The

"agenda"

here has been to

examine

Aristotle's

thought and consider

its implications for


balance
of

his
the

status as a proponent of popular government.

Viewed

against the

Politics,

the doctrine of "collective

supremacy"

is

neither an aberration nor

an anomaly.

Rather it is

fully

consistent with

his

leading

ideas

on the

structure,

composition,
genitor

and ends of

government, ideas

which mark

Aristotle
one

as the pro should


not

of the

liberal-democratic-republican tradition. Again,


and authoritarian

ignore the illiberal teachings


tics or confuse

tendencies contained

in the Poli

Aristotle

with of

Locke

or

Jefferson. This said, it

can

hardly

be

denied that

a plain

reading

the Politics supports a progressive reading of its

258

Interpretation
political

author s

interested in their
Politics But this is

civic

theory, and one directly relevant heritage. The ambiguities and

to Americans and

others

omissions which mark


"final"

the

will always permit a

what makes

variety of interpretations of his Aristotle so intriguing to the student of

teachings.
politics which

is

no strange

thing

at all.

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on

Nature

and

Politics: The Case

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Political

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by

W. D. Ross. Chicago:

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Vol.
.

9,

pp.

445-548.

Ethics, Translated by J. A. K. Thomson, New York: Penguin, 1953. Barker, Ernest. The Political Thought of Plato and Aristotle. London: Dover, 1906. Blitz, Mark,
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Educating
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the Prince: Essays

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Conflict in

The Problem

of

Law in Aristotle's Politics:

A Response to Quentin Taylor


Susan D. Collins

University

of Houston

In his
Politics."

article

"Public Deliberation
seeks

and

Popular Government in Aristotle's


"progenitor"

Quentin Taylor

to defend Aristotle as a

of the

liberal

tradition and, in this way, to respond to accusations that

Aristotle's thought is

dogmatic,
of

reactionary,

hierarchical,
15,
and

and authoritarian. and

Professor Taylor's defense


of the
of

Aristotle

"progressive"

relies on a

"democratic"

book 3.

chapters

1 1

and

book 4,

chapter a

reading 14. On the basis

Politics,

this reading,

Professor Taylor discovers in the Politics


consistent with
democracy."

"doctrine

deliberation"

of political
rule or representative
"inclusion"

many "modern

conceptions of

democratic

Among

the principles this

doctrine

comprises are

and
and

"balance": the inclusion

of all classes with a view to political

stability,

the

balancing of class interests with a view to justice. Indeed, with help from Aristotle's discussion of polity and the "middle
Taylor
suggests

some additional

constit

Mr.

that Aristotle and the American

Founders

share

many ideals,
and not men

including "[Aristotle's]
(bk 2,
chap.

unequivocal commitment to the rule of

law

2; bk 3,

chap.

11; bk 5,
and

chap.

7), his
(bk 1,

repeated equation of justice with

the common good (bk


as

3,

chaps.

6, 7, 12, 13), his definition


equals'

of constitutional rule
chap.

'a

government of

freeman

chaps.

7, 12; bk 3,

4),
on

and

his implicit doctrine


own

of popular

sovereignty (bk
the

3,

chaps.

1,

7)."

Based

his
the

admittedly

partial

number of parallels
not

reading between Aristotle

of

Politics, Mr. Taylor is


and the

encouraged

by

American Founders to
of

conclude

only that

we can

find in Aristotle
but
also that

"progenitor
against the

the liberal-democraticof

tradition,"

republican

"viewed

balance

the

Politics,

the

doctrine

anom supremacy'

of

'collective

is

neither an aberration nor an

Without

denying

that Aristotle articulates many democratic principles or even

that within specific contexts, he proves willing to


would

defend these principles, I his


acknowledged

like to focus my

response

to Mr. Taylor

on a problem

agenda obscures:
culmination of

the problem of law. The discussion of this problem is the


and offers a new perspective on
of

Aristotle's investigation in book 3


seeks

what

Mr. Taylor

to defend: the

collective

superiority

the many. In
more

brief,
of

Aristotle's treatment ruling


and

of

justice in book 3
a

of

the Politics and,


analysis of the

broadly,

the regime,

leads to

searching

limits

of

law. This

interpretation,

Spring 2002,

Vol. 29, No. 3

262

Interpretation
that law is

analysis underlines

bound

by

the principle
grounded.

of

equality
quest

democratic,
un

oligarchic,

or aristocratic

on which

it is

In its

for justice

derstood
"class

as the common good, or

it is true, the law

must take account of

different

interests"

"the

advantage of

the city as a

(1283b40-42). but it
threatens its own principle

can never accommodate an of equality, even

interest that

fundamentally

"interest"

if this is

would constitute

the best vehicle

for

the

law's
or

remedy.

This
as

difficulty

as much a problem
"exclusive"

for democracy, however just


oligarchy

inclusive,
To

it is for

more

regimes such as
uses:

and aristocracy.

put this problem of


a

in terms Mr. Taylor

Even

should one

demonstrate the

"democratic"

superiority
eration

deliberation, showing, for example, that this delib


aggregation"

involves

"synergistic
one

of the

"virtue and
the

prudence of

dis

individuals,"

crete

is

book 3
and

culminates.

This

both the

regime and

by difficulty difficulty is that law is always a reflection of a regime, law, by their very nature, are grounded in a principle of
nonetheless confronted
with which

equality that has only a partial claim to justice and yet must be absolute in political authority. (Since I can offer a mere sketch of this difficulty, I refer the
reader

to the related
of

discussions

of

W. R. Newell, "Superlative Virtue: The


Politics,"

Problem

Monarchy

in Aristotle's

Western Political

Quarterly 40
versus

[March 1987]: 159-178; Thomas Lindsay, "The 'God-Like


Politics."

Man'

the

'Best Laws': Politics and Religion in Aristotle's Review of Politics 53 [Summer 1991]: 488-509; Robert C. Bartlett, "Aristotle's Science of the Best
Regime,"

American Political Science Review 88 [March 1994]: 143-154. All


to the Politics [Oxford Classical

Bekker

and chapter references are

Texts]

unless

otherwise noted.

Translations

are

my

own).

Showing
the Politics

more

fully

the relevance of this problem to Mr. Taylor's reading of the main points

requires a sketch of

leading

book 3. The opening

question of

book 3, "What is the

city?"

up to the conclusion of is pursued by first

identifying
one who

the city's essential part: the citizen.


participate

The citi/en, Aristotle argues, is

has the authority to


which

in

an office of

deliberation

or

decision

(1275M8-19), 36;
cf.

is to say one who shares in the honors of ruling (1278a341281a31). As we learn both here and in the Nicomachean Ethics, these
distributed in
"equality"

honors

are

accord with

the

consistent with the principle

of merit of each of the

different

regimes:

wealth; others, noble


of

birth;

virtue"

aristocrats,

"democrats say it is freedom; oligarchs, (NE 1 131a2629). It is in book 3

the Politics that Aristotle sorts through the various claims of merit, most
the claims of the two most common regimes,
"authoritative"

importantly
garchy.

democracy

and oli

He insists that the truly

ground upon which to settle the


which

dispute among the claimants is the true end of the city: living well, defines as a life of "noble (1280a25, 1280b39-1281a4).
standard, then, the principle
most authoritative claim of merit associated with

he

By

the true

aristocracy, virtue, is the


most
authorita-

to rule.

Yet,

while virtue

may have the

The Problem of Law in Aristotle's Politics


tive position in this
since

263

dispute, Aristotle
which must settle

emphasizes also

that

all claims are

partial,

every regime,

the question of

rule

in

accord with

its

own

principle of merit,

3,

chap.

necessarily excludes other just claims to rule (1280a7-25; bk 10 all; Mr. Taylor briefly notes this difficulty but seems untroubled by
as

it). Even if,


"judicious

Professor Taylor
of

might

object, the regime should represent a

mixing"

these principles, it would nonetheless be a reflection not of

the most authoritative claim, or of the best simply, but of this very mixing. It is
worth

noting,

however,

that

inasmuch

as

the democratic claim to rule turns into

a claim about the superior virtue of the multitude as a

collectivity,

as

it

seems to

do in both Aristotle's

account and

Mr. Taylor's (

1286a24-b7),
prove to

the proponent of

democracy
perior virtue.

concedes the aristocratic claim and must therefore concede the su

right

to rule of the

few

or

the one should

they

be

of

truly
in

superior

Aristotle first
principle of

solves the problem that


recourse to

every

regime

is

grounded

a specific chap.

13). But

as

equality by he proceeds to is

the

"just"

practice of ostracism

(bk 3,

conclude the

investigation
be

of

book 3, he

arrives at the

question of whether "it

more advantageous to

ruled

by

the best man or

by
the

the

best

laws"

(1286a7-9). Because law is

a reflection of the regime

indeed,

arrangement of equals

ruling

and

being

ruled

in turn is
only

"already

law"

( 1287a 16-

18;

see also

bk 3,

chap.

10)

it

also represents

a partial claim

to

justice. The

problem,

however, is

not

simply

that the

law

represents a specific principle of


short

equality, but also that law


respect.

itself, by its very

nature, falls

in

fundamental

For

by

5). To

seek

its very nature, law "seeks the which is equality (1287b4the mean is to seek justice in one sense, but to fail it in another.
asks whether one who

mean,"

Aristotle
be

governed

finally by

is

so preeminent as to

have

no equal can

law (bk 3,

now rejects the solution of this sort to

16-17). In answering this question, Aristotle of ostracism and observes that "it is left only for a person
chaps
and

be obeyed,

to

have

power not
can

by

turns but

simply"

(1288a28-

29). No

regime or

law,

one might

say,

do justice to

such a person.

Aristotle
of of

says next

to nothing here about

who such a person

his

superior virtue.
us

Nonetheless,
more

the

difficulty

may be or about the nature that Aristotle raises at the end

book 3 helps
another simply.

to see that the question of the superiority of one regime over

leads to the
This

fundamental

question of

the

limits

of

law

or politics

vantage point offers a range of sight

that a democratic reading of his

thought cannot provide, and

it is

one

from

which we are

better

able to evaluate

position that such a reading seeks to defend. That Aristotle is willing to think through each of the claims to rule, to give each its proper due, while also seeing the limits of all of them is testimony to his

the very

political

seriousness

and

his

open-mindedness.

It is

possible

also to

Aristotle's

seriousness about

the question of justice

is

the reason

say that he may rightly

be

seen

as

friend

of

the liberal tradition and as congenial to many of the

264

Interpretation
held

principles reason

by

the American Founders. His

open-mindedness.

however,

is

the

he

cannot

finally

be

said to

be the proponent, let

alone

the progenitor, ol
s

any

regime.

In

fact, I have

argued, a democratic reading

of

Aristotle

Politics.
as reac

reading defends his tionary, narrows rather than broadens the


whether that

thoughts as progressive or attacks


scope of

it

his

thought.

If 1

am correct

in

this argument, for which I have offered only a preliminary defense, then Aris totle's democratic defenders and his democratic
accusers

may

yet

be

persuaded

to

read

him from

new, if at

first perplexing

or strange,

perspective.

On Plutarch's Life of Caesar


Jules Gleicher
Rockford College

The

subject of

quintessentially
public office or

political

Plutarch's Life of Caesar is the career and character of a man, one whose every act is directed toward obtaining
political

exercising

authority, in a corrupt
note of what are of

political community.

(By

contrast, Suetonius routinely takes

usually scandalous, details in the lives


therefore

arguably more personal, his twelve Caesars [1928].) The text is


students of politics who

especially instructive intricacies

as a case

study for those

lack

either

the talent or the taste buds to pore over mounds of quantitative data
of social science

or to navigate the

terminology.

The Life of Caesar divides thematically into five unequal parts: The first fourteen sections deal with Caesar's early career. The next thirteen describe the

Gallic Wars. Sections 28 through 56 for


sole

are

dominated

by

his rivalry

with

Pompey
as
ruler

rule.

A brief

account

of

his

projects

and

accomplishments

occupies sections

57

through

60. And the last ten


The

are about the events

leading

up

to, through,
what

and after

his

assassination.

following

remarks concentrate some

disproportionately

on the earlier part of the text.

The opening

passages establish with narrative

and psychological
eighteen years of explanation

economy the political, moral, follows. that material for the Concerning the first setting account. The simplest Plutarchian Caesar's life we have no
as

for this is,


this
p.

the editors of the Loeb


the

edition

suggest, that the "open


of

ing

paragraphs of
lost"

Life, describing
nl).

birth

and

boyhood

Caesar, have
author

been

(1971,

442

On

the other

hand,

we recall

that the

begins

the parallel Life of Alexander

by

admonishing the reader,

in

case

I do

not

tell of all the famous actions of these men, nor even speak exhaus case,

tively
plain.

at all

in

each particular not

but in

epitome

for the
.

most
. .

part, not to com


as

For it is

Histories that I

am

writing,

but Lives.

Accordingly, just
the
expression of

painters get the

likenesses in their

portraits

from the face

and

the

This article was previously presented at the 1999 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association. I am grateful for the helpful suggestions I received on this topic from my students Bonnie Anderson, Marilu Bechard, and Nilay Sarai.

interpretation,

Spring 2002,

Vol.

29, No. 3

266

Interpretation
itself, but
make

eyes, wherein the character shows


parts of the
soul

very little

account of

the

other

body,
and
p.

so

must

be

permitted to

devote
the

myself rather

to the

signs of

the

in men,

by

means of these to

portray

life

of each.

(Plutarch, Alex

ander,

1.1-3,

225).

It is

perhaps

noteworthy that most The Deified Julius. The effect

he is

about the same age as

is missing from Sueto of this gap is that Caesar's story begins when Alexander was when he succeeded to the Macedonian
of the same material

throne. Another consequence is that


mythical accounts of

Caesar's

biography

is

not

graced, or encum

bered, by II-III.4, pp. 225-29; XXVII.5-7, p. 305; but cf. Plutarch, Pompcy, LXVIII.2, p. 293.) A later anecdote, in which Caesar, then thirty-nine years old, laments that "while Alexander, at my age, was already king of so many peoples, I have as yet
achieved no

his divine lineage. (Cf. Plutarch. Alexander.

brilliant least
cf.

success,"

suggests that conscious comparison with

Alex

ander was at

an occasional p.

feature

of

Caesar's
p.

self-assessment

(Caesar,
first had

XI.6,

p.

469;

Pompey, II.2,

119; XLVI.l,

233). In fact, Alexander died

at the age of thirty-three.

Of course, he had the

advantage of not

having

to struggle to become a king.

Caesar's story the year 82 B.C.,


elected chief

also

begins

at a crucial point

in the life

of

the Roman

Republic,
that

when

Lucius Cornelius Sulla "became


p.

master of regular

is, dictator for life (1.1,

443). In
whose

contrast

to the consuls, the

magistrates,

authority

coexisted with

that of

annually the Senate and

the various assemblies, the dictator was an occasional officer, summoned into

being

to deal

with some

word, as the name

implies,

pressing emergency, such as a war or a rebellion, whose was law. Previously, dictatorships were limited in
crisis that provoked
position

duration to the immediate


the actual event,
resigned without

them,

or at most

to six months. In

Sulla held this


p.

(Sulla, XXXIV. 3,

435). But the

for less than three years, then abruptly willingness of the Romans to grant

temporal limit this office of

character effective

they had hitherto

jealously
the

extraordinary power, whose temporary guarded, may well be regarded as the Republic (Plutarch, Sulla, XXXIII, text,
use
pp.

beginning
to

of

the

end of

431-33). Plutarch does not, in the


reference

present

the word

diktator

with

Sulla, but instead


as the

treats

Caesar's

being

proclaimed

dictator for

innovation (Caesar, LI.l, p. 563; see also Cicero, III.3, p. 86; but cf. Sulla, XXXIII. 1, p. 430; Pompey, IX. 1, p. 134). His later appoint ment as dictator for life seems almost anticlimactic (Caesar, LVII.l, p. 575).
constitutional, or at least a factional, danger in the young Caesar and contemplating his execution (Caesar, 1.3^4, p. 443). Caesar therefore went into hiding, first on the outskirts of Rome, then, after
reports as

year, in 47 B.C.,

Plutarch

Sulla

seeing

bribing
our

one of

Sulla's captains, into


of official

whose

hands he had fallen,


the court
of

to set

him free,
of

first

glimpse

corruption,

at

King Nicomedes
extraneous to

Bithynia, in Asia Minor. (Plutarch does


purpose?

not mention
of a

because

his
be-

the rumor, reported

by Suetonius,

homosexual relationship

On Plutarch 's Life


tween

of

Caesar

267

Nicomedes

and

Caesar. Does he

implicitly

discountenance
time,"

such talk

by

where Suetonius characterizing Caesar's stay there as only for "a short emphasizes its length? [Caesar, 1.8, p. 445; cf. Suetonius, II, p. 5; XLIX, pp. 65-69].) Then, on his way back to Rome, he was captured by pirates. (On the
problem of remained

he,
his

as a

piracy at this time, see Pompey, XXIV-XXV1II, pp. 173-87.) He in their custody for 38 days, while his followers raised a ransom, which mark of his importance, had voluntarily increased to 50 talents from the
captors

20 that his

watchers,

originally demanded. but his royal


and

During this

time, "as if the

men were not

body-guard,"

he joined in their

gymnastic

exercises,

spoke

condescendingly to them,

threatened them, seemingly in

jest,

with

execution

(Caesar, II. 3, p, 445). Once released, however, he quickly


and, when the
regional on

manned a

fleet,

captured the pirates, seized their wealth,

governor,

who was

apparently

holding

out

for

bribe, dragged his heels dispatch,


here
and an

punishing them,

had them taken The


shed

out of prison and crucified.

qualities of

maneuver, self-assurance,

blood that

would characterize

his

career are

apparent

easy willingness to from the start. So its

too are the


pockets of

late Roman Republic's pervasive,


within which even a

almost casual, corruption and and

lawlessness,
his

determined

take the law into

own

hands. Less

evident

is

whether

wealthy his boldness

youth could while still

a captive was a calculated

robbers

how

valuable

he

ploy to assure his safekeeping, by was if left unharmed, or a kind


assumption that

impressing upon
of reckless

the

bravado

exhibited on the

fatalistic
living. It

he

was

destined for

great things and

therefore could not be

harmed,

or on the alternative assumption that the cautious

life is

not worth

would appear

from Plutarch's
toward

account of

the regional

pirates'

notorious conduct was

insolence, especially
quite

Romans,
pp.

that young Caesar's


perhaps

in fact

risky (Pompey,

XXIV. 2-8,

173-77). Or

this
and

episode was a

ruthlessness needed

first test, in which he himself discovered for success in this rough milieu.
right
equipment: a public

that

he had the

daring

But he

also needed the


money.

reputation, a political power

base, and lots of Rhodes, gaining


orator.

He therefore
of

next studied rhetoric under

Apollonius

of

the

degree

proficiency that he deemed appropriate


on

for

one

whose success would

be built primarily
another

military

achievement rather than as an at

Apollonius'

(Cicero

was

of

students

about the

same

time

[Cicero, IV. 5,

p.

91].) Following
officials,

the death of

Sulla, Caesar,

now about

twenty-

three years old,

returned

to Rome and began courting

popular

favor

by bringing
to antiquity,
and public

prosecutions of corrupt and through

a political career path not peculiar

displays

of conspicuous consumption, p.

lavish hospitality, 453). Over the

entertainment years career

(Caesar, IV. 1-5,


in
various

449; V.8-9,
He

p.

next

fifteen

he

served

of

the offices that

were rungs on

the conventional

ladder for Roman


popular

politicians.

also revived public recognition of

Gaius

Marius,
public

leader

of the

preceding generation, whom Sulla had declared a


of

appropriating for himself leadership Marian faction (Caesar, V.2-3, p. 451; VI. 1-5, pp. 453-55).
enemy,

in

effect

the moribund

268

Interpretation
of

At the time
motion a

the

Catilinarian Conspiracy, in 63 B.C., Caesar

opposed

in the Senate summarily to execute two of the conspirators, staking kind of due process position. (For an extended description of this episode,
pp.

out
see

Plutarch, Cicero, X-XXIII,


snapshot of

10541

.)

Plutarch's Roman

account provides a

how

volatile and

how

deadly

politics

revealing had become:

sul asked each senator

[A]fter they had been overwhelmingly convicted in the senate, and Cicero the con to give his opinion on the manner of their punishment, the down to Caesar, delivered
without urged

rest,
and

that

they be
high

put

to

death, but
He

Caesar

rose

in his
put

place

long
or

and studied speech against this.


men of rank and

pleaded

that to

to
opin

death

legal trial

brilliant lineage

was not,

in his

ion,
until

traditional
and

just,

except under extremest


such cities of

bound

kept in custody, in

necessity; but that if they should be Italy as Cicero himself might elect,
a successful end, the senate could
vote upon

the war against

Catiline had been brought to

afterwards, in
of

a time of peace and at their

leisure,

the case of each

one

them.

This
such

opinion seemed so not

humane,

and

the speech

in

support of

it

was made with

power, that
also of

many

only those who rose to speak after Caesar sided with him, but those who had preceded him took back the opinions which they had
to

expressed and went over

his,

until

the question
and

came round

to

Cato

and

Catulus.

These warmly against Caesar


ecutioner,
and

opposed

Caesar's proposal, he
said.

Cato

even

helped to handed
a

raise suspicion

by

what of

As

a result, the men were

over

to the ex

many

the young

men who at

that time

formed
as

body-guard for
was

Cicero
senate.
while

ran

together with

drawn

swords and

threatened Caesar
round

he

leaving
his

the

But Curio,

as we are
when of

told, threw his toga


the young men

Caesar

and got

him away, be

Cicero himself,
either

looked to him for

a sign, shook

head,

through

fear

the people,

or

because he thought the


pp.

murder would

wholly contrary to law

and justice.

(Caesar. VII.7-VIII.3,

459-61)
like putty

The image
a

of

the great

republic's sovereign

body being

manipulated

by

few

able

orators, or tossed back and

forth like

corks on

contrary

rhetorical

waves, or of
cloak

Caesar

being

sneaked out under the protection of another senator's

to avoid instant assault would


view of

be merely

comic were the stakes not so

high.

Nor is Plutarch's

the populus more

favorable. A few days

after this

incident, he
aroused

reports, Caesar
speech.

defended himself in the Senate


A mob,

against the suspicions

by Cato's

rounded the
a revolution

Senate house

and

fearing harm to their current favorite, sur loudly demanded Caesar's release. Cato, to avert
a

by

the lower classes, persuaded the senators to vote the people

monthly

grain

allowance, which added

7,500,000 drachmas

to the state's yearly


part of

expenditures.
power was pp.

By

means

of this and

mass

bribe, "the
The

greatest
time"

Caesar's

broken down
are no

dissipated in

the nick of

(Caesar, VIII. 5-7,

The up for sale. And even defenders of the Republic, like Cato (Marcus Porcius Cato, Caesar's approximate contemporary and great-grandson of the
aristocrats are craven. plebs are more

461-63). There

heroes in

this vignette.

famous

censor and

implacable enemy

of

Carthage

of

the same name) and

On Plutarch's Life

of

Caesar

269

Cicero,
p.

cannot avoid

getting their hands


wife

dirty

(see

also

Plutarch, Cicero, XX.7,


in
a near-liaison
with

133).

The

next

year,

Caesar's

Pompeia
patrician,

was

caught

Publius Clodius,
reports

a rakish

young

during

a religious

festival. Plutarch

that

Caesar divorced Pompeia


dius'

at

once, but when


said

he

was summoned

to

testify

at

[Clo

trial

for

sacrilege!,

he

he knew nothing

about the matters with which

Clodius
asked,

was charged.

His statement appeared strange, and the prosecutor therefore


thou

"Why, then, didst

thought my

wife ought not

divorce thy even to be under

wife?"

"Because,"

suspicion."

said Caesar, "I (Caesar, X.8-9, p. 467)

Perhaps the

most

interesting
Clodius

feature

of

this mildly scandalous story,


years

which

has

bequeathed to Caesar
was

us a common

metaphor, is the fact that three


tribune and was
p.

later,

when

consul,

was elected

Caesar's

close

ally in his
XXVIII-

struggle against otic all along? pp.

Cicero (Caesar, XIV. 16-17, (For a fuller account of

477). Was their


activities,
see

relation symbi

Clodius'

Cicero,

XXXV, 151-73; Pompey, XLVI.3-5, pp. 233-35; XLVIII-XLIX, pp. 23947.) Pompeia, let us note, was Caesar's third wife, and all of his marriages gained
for him
either wealth or political connections.

mentions
who

is

Caesar"

s second

marriage, to

The very first matter that Plutarch "Cornelia, the daughter of the Cinna
and

had

once

held the
or
dowry"

Rome,"

sole power at

the fact that


put

Sulla "could not,


and therefore

either

by

promises

threats, induce Caesar to


p.

her away,

confiscated

443). His first wife, Cossutia, was the (Caesar, 1.1, daughter of a wealthy Roman knight (Plutarch, 1971, p. 453 n2). Pompeia was a distant relative of Pompey. And Lucius Calpurnius Piso, the father of his fourth
wife,

her

Calpurnia,

was

an

important politician, who,


of

as

a provincial

governor,
p.

"plundered his
editor's note).

province

Macedonia
made

shamelessly"

(Plutarch, 1971,
"just
sex."

621,

The divorce thus

him

eligible

for

yet another such alliance.

Among

the politically ambitious, sex,


received

it seems, is

never

In 61 B.C., he
wealth and power mulated

during

his first military command, the gateway to the late Republic, over Spain. But Caesar had

major accu

large debts from the lavish

living

that ingratiated

him

with

the Roman

mob, and his creditors momentarily


therefore "had recourse to [Marcus
who

prevented

him from

leaving

Rome. He

Licinius] Crassus,
fire for his
p.

the richest of the

Romans,
against

had

need

of

Caesar's

vigour and

political campaign and

[Gnaeus]
Caesar

Pompey"

(Caesar, XI. 1,
partner

469). Crassus

Pompey
for

were

arguably

the two single most influential Romans at this time, and Crassus was
on as a

taking
(cf.
and

junior
p.

in his rivalry

with

Pompey

preeminence

Cicero, VIII.6,
free. As

103). Crassus

paid off or gave assurance

for Caesar's debts, have


opportunities

Caesar left for Spain. For Crassus, the


a sometime general

arrangement might well would

seemed risk

himself; he

have known the

for
not

enrichment

that command over a province provided.

And he apparently did

270

Interpretation
would

doubt that the desperate Caesar


the reader at this point share

be

content

to play a

subordinate role.

Lest

Crassus'

misconception about the scope of anecdote:

Caesar's

ambition, Plutarch offers the

following

We
which

are

told

that,

as

he

was

crossing the Alps

and

passing

by

barbarian

village

mirth and

had very few inhabitants and was a sorry sight, his companions asked with laughter, "Can it be that here too there are ambitious strifes for office, for primacy, in
and mutual

struggles
said

jealousies

of powerful

Whereupon Caesar
Rome."

to them

all seriousness, "I would rather


p.

be first here than

second at

(Caesar, XI.3^1,

469)
years old.

Caesar

was

38

or

39

His Life is just

past

its

chronological midpoint.

This
there

was not
as

Caesar's first
quaestor

sojourn

in Spain. Six

years

earlier, he had served

briefly
back

(financial magistrate),

a position which no
moved

doubt

al

lowed him to he
was

see at close

hand just how money

in the

provinces.

Now

military and judicial office, charged with the peace and disputes. In this capacity he quickly "subdu[ed] keeping settling the tribes which before were not obedient to Rome, established] concord
as praetor, a combined
.

between the cities,


tors."

and of

heal[ed]

the

dissensions between debtors

and credi

After

stay

probably only
as an

a year

(certainly
and a

no more than

two), he left

Spain, "[i]n high


pp.

administrator,

wealthy

man

(Caesar, XII,

469-71).
Plutarch does
not

explain

how

provincial

administration

could

make

one

wealthy but
or resistant

provides a

tribes no

tantalizing hint. While outright pillaging of the rebellious doubt played a part, he directs the reader's attention espe
the

cially to Caesar's

adjudication of

debtor-creditor disputes: "For he his debtor's income,


first

ordained and

that the creditor should

annually take two thirds of


p.

that
was

the owner of the property should use the rest, and so on until the
cancelled"

debt

(Caesar, XII. 3,
creditors,

471). If this
back his

settlement seems at

glance

unduly

generous to the
were of

we might

bear in

mind what the available alternatives

for

an arbiter who could

rulings with at

the debts at one extreme and

debt slavery
to

military force: cancellation the other. A resolution that

allowed the
and

debtors to

remain

free,

keep a substantial

fraction

of

their produce,

eventually to become wholly restored, thus giving them some incentive to be productive in the interim, may indeed be generous by comparison. Conversely,

have ended up in the short run with less than meets the easily imagine the grateful creditors, with only minimal prompting, siphoning half (or more) of their two-thirds of the first year's profits back to the praetor, who would in turn keep his troops happy by letting half (or less) of his
the creditors might well
eye.

One

can

On Plutarch 's Life


reward trickle

of

Caesar

271
his

down to them. In

effect,

Caesar had

employed the creditors as

personal tax collectors.

The highest rung on the conventional political ladder was the office of consul, for which Caesar stood upon his return from Spain. Cato, who emerges from this
account as a

kind

of prophet of

republicanism, tried to block his nomination


p.

by

legal maneuvering his former


patron

(Cf.

Pompey, XLVIII.4,
the office
and

241; LX.5,

p.

275). But Caesar

won popular approval and

Crassus

by playing the role of Pompey. Plutarch denotes


man

peacemaker

between

this act of apparent


exercise of consular overthrow the
a

kindness,

which placed

Pompey's troops behind Caesar's


the path to
without

authority, as fateful for the republic, for each

sought to

aristocracy

as

step
now

on

his

own

autocratic

rule,

step

which

they
least

could

both

pursue

having

to worry about opposition

from

the other.

Conversely, fear
p.

of an aristocratic restoration

strategy once war erupted 289). Caesar seems, with respect to his ambition, to have been the LXVII.1-2, most outstanding specimen of a small breed. But for the fact that Crassus died

Pompey 's

may have affected at between him and Caesar (Pompey,

first,
than

and

Pompey
and

proved

subsequent emperors might

less able, or perhaps just less lucky, on the battlefield, have styled themselves Crasses and Pomps rather
"caesous"

Kaisers

a moral

Tsars, and reproach. So, with Crassus

might

have

entered common parlance as

and

Pompey flanking

him

on either side,

Caesar

appealed

subsidies and

exile, and

assembly for the enactment of land distributions for the plebs, neutralized Cato, drove Cicero into ultimately subdued the Senate by intimidating most of its contrary
popular

from the Senate to the

minded members

from attending its

sessions

(Caesar, XIII-XIV,
of

pp.

471-77). Cae

Plutarch
sar's order

calls special attention to one of

feature

this

temporary

alliance,

betrothal

by

his daughter Julia to Pompey, which was followed in short the awarding of Pompey's daughter to Julia's disappointed former Caesar's
own marriage

fiance,

and

to Calpurnia to secure the support


of

of

her

father Piso. In
means of

addition

to the

trafficking

"powers

and armies and provinces

by

women,"

which

Cato,

characteristically, condemned, these

marriage p.

alliances also

involved the
have

confusion of generations
given

(Caesar, XIV. 8,
so

475).

Pompey
be the
reports

could as well

his daughter to Caesar,


of

that each man would

other's

father-in-law,
Julia died

or one a

his

sons

to Caesar's sister. Suetonius


order to retain the

that,

when

few

years

later, Caesar, in
in

relation with

Pompey, did

propose an arrangement

which

he

would

marry

Pompey's daughter, presumably after divorcing Calpurnia, and Pompey would marry Caesar's sister's granddaughter! He also notes that Pompey was available
to marry Julia because he had divorced his
with
wife

Mucia

on account of

her adultery

Caesar (Suetonius, XXVII. 1,


pp.

p.

37; L.l,

p.

69;

see also

Plutarch, Pompey,

XLII.6-7,
may
make

225-27). This toying


the

with

the natural order is of a piece with the the natural claim that age

subversion of

Senate,

whose not

very

name suggests

to rule. This

is

to

deny

either the obvious appeal of such May-

December unions, especially for

middle-aged

men, or that

philosophic arguments

272

Interpretation in
their defense (see

are available

Aristotle. Politics. 1334b30-1335b35). Still.


morally
and p.

Plutarch

seems

to regard them
p.

as

political!)

dubious (Pompey,
p.

XLIV.2-L XLI.
pp.

p.

229: XLVIII.5.

241; LIII.1-2,
aunt

253: LV.1-3. in the

261; Cicero.
Cornelia,
ancient

187-89). Generational
years

confusion was anticipated

public eulogies wife

Caesar

gave

earlier,

first for his

Julia, then for his them; but it

although, as Plutarch notes, "|l]n the case of elderly women,

it

was

Roman

usage

to

pronounce

funeral

orations over p.

was not

in the

case of

young
assigns

(Caesar, V.4,
to him on the
night

451). Is it

also echoed

customary in the dream

that Plutarch

before he

crossed

the

Rubicon, "that

he
p.

was

having

incestuous intercourse

with

his

own

(Caesar, XXXII. 9,
commander

523)?

With Pompey's backing, Caesar


province of

was

made

military

over

the
got

Gaul

on

both

sides of

the Alps

for

a period of

five years; he later

this command extended for

another

Plutarch is

explicit

that the

five (Caesar, XIV. 10, p. 475: XXI. 6, p. 495). Gallic campaign marked for Caesar "a new begin
all rivals as a man of unique

ning"

that distinguished

him from
pp.

military

accom

plishment

(Caesar. XV.

477-79).

By implication,
politicians.

his

career of

up to this
appreciate

point

was,

if noteworthy,

still not altogether

distinctive from that

any

of a number

of actual or possible ambitious

Roman

We

can

thus

why top,

Crassus
could

and

Pompey,

men who

reasonably That Caesar would consulship is


rather than

regard

him

as

had already risen to one step short merely a useful instrument in their

of the

own plans.

want or

take a military command after


men

having

attained

the

top"

also an

indicator that for these highest


wars
office.

"the

now meant autocrat

the

conventional

Plutarch describes the Gallic


points.

in

some

detail, but

we need

only

note a

few He

The hallmarks
mixed

of

Caesar's military

style were great

daring

and speed.

had the

fortune

of

authority, which, again and again,


able

encountering he successfully suppressed,

repeated sizable rebellions against

Roman

often at unfavor

odds,

by

of successive and sive

The glory moving in quickly and exploiting the victories, his ability to rally the troops through battlefield rhetoric,
element of surprise.

his

willingness

to share

in their labors
physical

and

deprivations,

made more

impres
men

by

his

own somewhat an

fragile

constitution, endeared

him to his

and

inspired in them

intense

personal

loyalty (Caesar, XVI-XVII,

pp. 479-

85).

Notwithstanding
him his due

his

deep

criticism of

gives

on the score of courage,

Caesar's ambition, Plutarch amply self-mastery, and tactical skill. He also

chronicles

the human cost of this accomplishment:

800

cities

taken, 300

nations

subdued, 1 million people


p.

killed

and an equal number captured a

(Caesar, XV. 5,
of

479). By way of comparison, Roman lives in the civil wars as

later

passage

describes the loss


p.

170,000

calamitous
years

(Caesar, LV.5-6,

571).
while

By
so

56 B.C.,

not yet three

full
in

into the Gallic campaign,

he

was

stationed at

his

winter quarters could

northern

Italy, Caesar's
200

prestige and wealth

had

increased that he

in

effect

hold

court to

senators at

Luca, parceling
(Caesar,

out offices and

acting

as power

broker between Crassus

and

Pompey

On Plutarch 's Life


XXI. 3-6. Caesar's
p.

of

Caesar

273

495).

By

mutual agreement,

these two received the consulates, and

command

in Gaul

was prolonged or

for five

years.

Perhaps the two


get

con

tinued to underestimate

Caesar,

hoped that he

would

eventually
string

himself

killed in
clothed

one or another

daring

attack.

Instead, his
so

unbroken

of victories returned
adver

him

with the reputation of

invincibility,
his

that when he

finally

to confront
sary's

Pompey

the mere word of


and

approach sufficed to throw

his

numerically superior XXXIII, pp. 523-25).

better

equipped

forces into

disarray (Caesar,
and

Midway
child campaign
troubled,"

through the Gallic wars,


same

Caesar's daughter Julia


was

her

newborn

died. Around the

time, Crassus
of

killed in battle
and
of

while on were

military

in Parthia. The friends for

Pompey
dissolved"

Caesar

"greatly

state

may Two

"they felt that the relationship which alone kept the distempered (Caesar, XXIII. 6, p. 501). We harmony and concord was now take this as an index of how brittle the Caesar-Pompey alliance had become.
in
years

later,

the

war, "now that there


p.

was a coalition at

Gallic leader Vergentorix (sic) was rousing all of Gaul to Rome against (Caesar, XXVI. 1,
Caesar"

505 ).

By

the time Gaul was


put the other

decided to

down, a design XXVIII. (Caesar, 1-3, p. 511; see

completely subdued, Caesar and Pompey had each which Caesar had formed "from the
also

Cicero, XX.6,

p.

131).

Ill

As Caesar

approached

Rome, in 49 B.C.,
into
antagonistic

political corruption and split

the city factions:

was

hopelessly

sunk

in

[Candidates for

office set

up

counting-tables

in

public and

multitudes, while the people went

down into the forum

under

shamelessly bribed the pay, contending in


swords, and

behalf
slings.

of their paymaster, not with votes,

but

with

bows

and arrows,

Often, too, they

would

defile the

rostra with

blood

and corpses

before they
steersman,
worse

separated,

leaving

the city to anarchy like a ship


were content

drifting

about without a

so that men of

understanding

if

matters

issued in nothing

for

them than monarchy.

(Caesar, XXVIII. 4-5,

pp.

511-13)
sole

While Cato "persuaded the


with a more

senate to appoint not

[Pompey]

consul, solacing him


dictatorship,"

legal monarchy that he


about a reconciliation

tried to
reduce
p.

bring

force his way to the between the two generals

Cicero

by

their respective
and

519). Caesar's

troop levels (Caesar, XXVIII.7, p. Pompey s partisans bargained, ostensibly

getting them to 513; XXXI. 1-2,


to

find terms

of

mutual accommodation,

disarm Caesar,
XXXI. 1, 2,
p.

or at

least to

but probably in bad faith. Pompey was determined to reduce his numbers to decisive inferiority (Caesar,
offered that sight

lay

519). Caesar, apparently more conciliatory, down their arms, but had kept most of his forces out of

they both behind the Alps,

274

Interpretation
forward
at

to be summoned
p.

the right moment (Caesar, XXX. 1

p.

5 17; XXXII. 1

521). When Pompey's


and

supporter

Lentulus heaped disgrace

on two ot

Caesar's
them to

backers, Antony

Curio, driving

them from the Senate and

inducing
the

flee the city, Caesar gathered the men he had on hand and River, that is, he brought provincial troops into the area
where

crossed

Rubicon

proximate

to

Rome,
war

they by standing law, (Caesar, XXXI.2-XXXII.8, pp. 519-23).


were

forbidden

and

so

launched the

civil

The ensuing
except against

campaigns stretched over

four

years and encompassed

places

throughout the Mediterranean world,

ironically
outside

for

"civil"

war, all of

them,
first

for

some

initial

skirmishing,

of

Italy. Caesar
against

proceeded

Pompey's lieutenants in Spain; then, in 48 B.C.,

Pompey himself
his
rare

in Dyrrhachium
and

(present-day Albania),
where

where

he

suffered one of

defeats,
pursued

Thessaly,

where

he defeated Pompey's forces


the latter was murdered
with

at

Pharsalus. He

Pompey into Egypt,


who produced

by

agents of

King Ptolemy,
event, their
pp.

hoped thereby to ingratiate themselves


the opposite effect
pp.

Caesar. In the

actual

treachery Caesar, XLVIII.2^1,


between

(Pompey, LXXVII-LXXX,
got embroiled

317-25;
conflict

555-57). Caesar then


sister

in the

Ptolemy

and

his

Cleopatra. The distraction

of

Roman

attention

by

the civil war occasioned a major revolt


which

by

tributary kingdoms in Asia Minor,


conducted and

Caesar

suppressed

in 47 B.C. Finally, he
associates
of

tions

against

Pompey's former

Cato

mopping up opera Scipio in Libya and against

Pompey's

sons

in Spain. Much
his

this campaigning was carried out under hard

soldiers'

conditions that strained

endurance, and several

of

the battles were

fought

at unfavorable odds.

Along

the way, Plutarch notes certain episodes that bear on Caesar's charac
once mentions

ter. He more than


opponents
p.

his displays

(Caesar, XXXIV.5-9,

pp.

clemency toward vanquished 527-29; XLVI.4, pp. 553-55; XLVIII.3-4,


of

557). There may have been as much calculation as generosity in this policy, which he exercised especially in the early phases of the civil war, when the outcome was uncertain and he arguably needed all the support he could get. This
not

quality had

been

prominent

during

the Gallic wars,

where

his

enemies were sons.

merely Barbarians,
celebrated a p.

nor was

it

later,

when

he defeated Scipio

and

Pompey's

In the latter case, Plutarch

reports that the

Romans

were vexed when

Caesar

triumph for this victory over


p.

his fellow

citizens

(Caesar, LIII.7,
his involve

569; LIV,

569; LVI.7-9,

pp.

573-75).
war

Similarly
in

ambiguous was

in Egypt: "[S]ome say that [the to Caesar's passion for Cleopatra.


ment
.
.

Egypt]

was not

necessary, but due

But

others

my's] party for


at

it,

and

especially the

eunuch

Potheinus,

blame the king's [i.e., Ptole who had most influence


Caesar,"

court,

and was now

secretly plotting

against

behaved

insultingly

toward

him,

and, perhaps most

importantly,
depth
and

procrastinated
pp.

much needed subsidies

(Caesar, XLVIII.5-9,
some

in providing him with 557-59). Even those incidents,


are presented as

that

is,

that might give

him

susceptible

to a one-dimensional

complexity interpretation.

plausibly

On Plutarch 's Life


The
after about

of

Caesar

275

civil war also exposed some cracks veteran troops

in his facade. When he first


albeit

set out

Pompey, his

began to grumble,

only momentarily,
pp. 533-

being

overworked with constant warfare


at

(Caesar, XXXVII3-9,
unusual,

35). After the defeat


tary, bout

Dyrrhachium, he

succumbed to an

also momen

of self-doubt and

Caesar himself

come

despair (Caesar, XXXIX.8-11, pp. 539-41). Had to believe the myth of invincibility that he carried into

Rome from his Gallic


sons at

success?

By

the time of

Munda, his

earlier elan

had become
to his

his final battle, against Pompey's a kind of grim determination. The


strenuous effort.
.

contest was won

"[ w]ith

difficulty and after much


said
life"

As he

was

going away after the battle he victory, but now first for his
old; he had just less than

friends

that
p.

he had

often striven was

for

(Caesar, LVI.3-4,
left to live.

573). Caesar

55

years

a year

IV

The
career.

end of the civil

war marked except were

another major what proved to


upon

turning

point

in Caesar's

Plutarch judges that,


many honors that

for

be his fatal

willingness to

accept the
ers and conduct we

heaped

him, both by

obsequious

follow

by during

opponents who were

fashioning
was

an excuse to strike

him down, his


p.

his last
other

year of

life

blameless (Caesar, LVII.2^1,


months

575). As

learn from

sources, in the two-and-a-half

preceding his death,

the

Senate, decreed
[t]hat he
should

be

sole censor

for life; that "Pater


monarchy; that

Patriae"
. . .

and

his image be

stamped on
public named

his

coins

a symbol of month of

his

birthday
which

be

celebrated

by
re

sacrifices; that the

Quintilis [July], in

he

was

born, be

"Julius",
in the

and that when garb the

he

appeared

in the Senate he

should sit on a gilded

kings had formerly worn. [The censorship was a presti honorific office, usually held by former consuls, chosen every five largely years for a term of eighteen months, whose duties consisted of maintaining the lists of citizens and senators and on of matters public morals.] Further, it pronouncing
chair and

gious

but

was elected that

his decrees,

past and

future,

were

binding,

and

that magistrates on

assuming
sanct,
and

office should take an oath not to violate

by

oath the senators

person was sacro them; bound themselves to protect his life. "And finally
and ordered a

that

his

they

addressed

him

outright as

Jupiter Julius

temple to

be

conse
pp.

crated to

him

and

to his

Clemency, electing Antony


clearly
p.

priest."

as their

(Fuller,

300-301 ; Fuller does


also

not

identify

the source of the quoted sentence.

See

Suetonius, LXXVI.l,

99.)
Plutarch
credits

Did the blamelessness


character or

with which

him betoken

a change

in his

feated foes
sonal

and

only in his circumstances? Concerning his generosity toward de others, for instance, Plutarch notes the same ambiguity of per
and calculation that

disposition

he had

shown

in granting clemency

during

276

Interpretation
(Caesar, LVII.4-6.
a
p.

the wars

575: LVIII.l,

p.

577). Was Caesar in

this respect

acting in
power

way that

was

deliberately

contrary to Sulla's

exercise of autocratic

thirty-five years earlier (cf.

Sulla, XXXI-XXX1I,

pp.

425-31)? More
of

generally, he explains
competitive

Caesar's

peacetime accomplishments

in terms

the same

spirit,

even

in the

absence of actual competitors:

Caesar's many

successes,

however, did

not

divert his

natural spirit of enterprise

and ambition to the enjoyment of what

he had

laboriously
used of

achieved,
plans

but

served as

fuel

and

incentive for future

achievements, and
as

begat in him
what

for

greater

deeds

and a passion

for fresh glory,

though

he had

he felt
other

was

therefore nothing else than emulation


and a sort of

he already had. What up himself, as if he had been an


and what

man,

rivalry between
p.

what

he had done

he

purposed

to

do. (Caesar, LVIII.4-5,

577)

Considering
reform of

the

detail into

which

Plutarch

enters on

Caesar's

battles, he

says

remarkably little
scarcely begun
glory;

about

his final

year of

dictatorial

governance.

Except for his

the calendar, all the other matters mentioned were either mere plans or
projects, and all would

have been
a grand

conspicuous monuments

to his

conquest of

the

Parthians; making
as

tour of his

imperium;

and

big

public works

projects, such

digging

canals,

draining

swamps, and
another

rivers

(Caesar, LV11I.6-10,
dream
about

pp.

577-79). Are the last

rerouting meaning of his

pre-Rubicon a

big

committing incest with his mother, i.e.. by plowing, in way, his Mother Earth (Caesar, XXXII. 9, p. 523 and n2)? Among the many

filling vacancies in the Senate that were occasioned by the civil war, enlarging the body from 600 to 900, and bringing in new members from the provinces; increasing the number of
measures that
not mention are

Plutarch does

Caesar's

praetors, aediles. quaestors,


medical

and

priests;

practitioners;
court

ordering
and

that

granting citizenship to teachers daily proceedings of the Senate and


a

and

the
and

people's

be

recorded

published; establishing

public

library,

collecting and classifying Greek and Latin texts for it; imposing a tariff on foreign manufactures and enacting sumptuary laws; and partially canceling debts, lowering interest rates, and placing more money into general circulation (Suetonius. XLI-XLIV,
other pp.

57-63;
could

see

also

hand, he did

not establish

cabinet or

advisory

council

wholly have functioned


his
reforms

new offices.

Yavetz, chaps. 2-4). On the Arguably, something like a


as

buffer to deflect the


or offended

anger and resentment of those whom

inconvenienced
Caesar due

(Storch,

p.

51).
of

Concerning reform ing the best solution


synchronism

the calendar,

Plutarch

gives

credit

for find lack


of
pp. 579-

to a real problem that


months and
so

had baffled

others, the

between lunar

the

solar year

(Caesar, LIX,
months civil

81). He

also notes that

in

doing

Caesar took

control over the calendar

from the

previously would arbitrarily insert intercalary time. It is not difficult to imagine such actions
priests, who

from time to
matters, e.

affecting

On Plutarch 's Life


prolonging terms
of office or

of

Caesar

277

timing

hence forth be the merely ceremonial one of the sacrificial feasts and announcing festivals at their appointed times. The calary reform thus did to the priesthood what his earlier activities had done to the Senate, demoting them from decision
would

of religious ceremonies.

extending debt repayment schedules, The function in this regard


priests'

as well as the

making bodies to ratifying and implementing entities. Plutarch's fulsome account of the events surrounding Caesar's assassination is replete with dreams and portents (Caesar, LXIII, pp. 589-93; LXVI.1-3,
pp.

that several people

595-97). However seriously Plutarch may have taken these things, he reports knew of or strongly suspected the existence of a conspiracy, Caesar himself (Caesar, LXIV.6, pp. 591, 593). On the
which the as p. other

including
p.

589; LXIII.7, 11,

595; LXV, p. 595; LXII.9-10, hand, Caesar had chosen a

dangerous profession, in
that required the same

fatalism
custody.

possibility of murder was ever present, and may have guided his conduct as a youth when

he

was

in the

Officially,
(or

the assassination was attributable to

Caesar's "passion for

the royal

perhaps more

aptly, just

"kingship"

[basileias]),
him"

which produced p.

"the

most open and

deadly
of

hatred toward
had

(Caesar, LX.l,

581). But less

other

causes, such as personal grudges or ambition, were also at work

openly.

At

largely quibbling over a title, since the Romans had already acquiesced in his being dictator for life, and may even have been willing to proclaim him in the provinces outside of Italy king
(Caesar, LVII,1,
p.

any rate, the

issue

kingship

by

then become

575; LXIV.3,
of

p.

593). Nor did he

seem

intent to

establish a

dynasty,

one

hallmark
would

Marcus Brutus

legitimate kingship, but rather to have assumed that be his successor (Caesar, LXII.6, p. 587). Unlike Sueto
hint
at the rumor that

nius, Plutarch does


although

not

Brutus

was

Caesar's

natural son,

he discusses
p.

Brutus'

lineage

and p.

Caesar's feelings toward him (Caesar,

LXII.1-5,
mention a

587;

cf.

Suetonius, L.2,

69; LXXXII.2,

p.

111). Nor does he

bill that Caesar had supposedly ordered drawn up "making it lawful for Caesar to marry what wives he wished, and as many as he wished, 'for the
children'

"

purpose of

begetting
noteworthy figures

(Suetonius, LII.3,

pp.

71-73). He

shows no such

reticence

in commenting, both

favorably
of

and

critically,

on the sexual activities of

Pompey, II. 2-5, pp. 119-21; XXXVI.2-6, pp. 211-13; XLVIII.4-5, p. 241; LIII.1-4, pp. 253-55; Crassus, I, p. 315; V, pp. 325-27; Sulla, II.3 4, p. 329; XXXV.3-XXXVI.1, pp. 437-39). Still, Plutarch makes clear both that Caesar wanted this title and that the Romans
some other

the period (cf.

were reluctant

to

grant

it. Thus, he

was

twice vexed

when public charades that not proceed


as

gave the mob an script

opportunity to acclaim him


p.
pp.

king

did

(Caesar, LX.3, 583; LXI.5-10, Christian, Caesar, whose name would come to signify something more than king, lived within the horizon of received categories (cf. Strauss, pp. 96-98).
Upon his assassination, the people, though
Brutus'

585-87). Just

according to Jesus was not a


a

perhaps

initially

saddened

by

his

death,

seemed satisfied with

justification:

278

Interpretation
On the
next

day

Brutus

came

down

and

held

discourse,

and

the people lis

tened to what was said without either expressing resentment at


or

what

had been done

appearing to

approve of

while

they

pitied

however, by it; they Caesar, they respected Brutus. The senate,


showed,

their

deep

silence, that
to make a
and not to

too,

trying

general

amnesty

and

reconciliation,

voted

to give

Caesar divine honours


he had
adopted when

disturb
while

even the most

insignificant
partisans

measure which

in

power;

to

Brutus

and

his

it distributed

provinces and gave suitable and settled

honours.
possible

so that

everybody thought that


(Caesar,

matters were

decided

in the best

manner.

LXVII.7-9,
will

pp.

601-3)
public, the
amount of

Only

after

Caesar's

was made and

his

legacy

to

every

Roman

citizen

disclosed,
on

his

wounded

corpse

displayed, did
on

the people

become

exercised p.

his behalf

and

seek

revenge

his killers (Caesar,


to Caesar

LXVIII.1-2,
on the one

603). However important the


or to

question of regimes was

hand

Brutus

and the other conspirators on the other, the

Roman

people,

long

the object of base

bribery

and

manipulation,

were

in the

end moved

only by money and sentimentality. By contrast, Suetonius reports the reading of Caesar's will as a private event that took place in Antony's house and treats the
mob's

incitement
a matter of

thing,
other

as virtually an accident, or, what may amount to the same divine intervention (LXXXIII-LXXXIV, pp. 1 13-15). At the makes

extreme,

Shakespeare
art, the

Antony's funeral oration,

of the poet's own actual

pivotal event

stunning exercise (Julius Caesar, Ill.ii). As for Caesar's

achievement, Plutarch concludes that "of the power and dominion which
sought all

he had
no
of

his life

at so great risks, and and a

barely

last,"

achieved at
awakened

he "reaped
on

fruit but the his fellow Teachers

name of

it only,

glory

which

had

envy

the part

citizens"

(Caesar, LXIX.l,
simplify,

p.

605).

of politics,

and, we suspect, of other

disciplines in
order

as well, are occa


make

sionally

exhorted to

"simplify,

simplify,"

to

their lessons

clear and accessible.

plots the points of

Plutarch's Life of Caesar takes this counsel to heart, as it its subject's career along the line of a single trajectory. While
Plutarch's Caesar (in contrast, for example, to his or Cicero) is not a study in complexity, but rather functions
of a single
repre

still a vital character, sentations of

Pompey

a man
moral

all of whose significant actions were

fundamental

choice,
a

and whose encounter with

the right circumstances turned that choice into

destiny. When Shakespeare's Caesar


what

declares,
I
am

"I

rather

tell thee what is to be


echoes

fear d / Than

fear,

for

Caesar,"

always

he aptly

his

Plu-

tarchian model (Julius

Caesar, I.ii. 208-9).

REFERENCES

Fuller, Major-General J. F. C. Julius Caesar: Man, Soldier, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1965.
Plutarch's Lives. Vol.

and

Tyrant. New

Brunswick,

Library. Reprint

3, Crassus. Translated by Bernadotte Perrin. 1916. Loeb Classical Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1951

On Plutarch 's Life


Plutarch's Lives, Vol. 4. Sulla. Translated

of

Caesar

279

by

Bernadotte Perrin. 1916. Loeb Classical

Plutarch's Lives, Vol. 5. Pompey. Translated

University Press, 1950. by Bernadotte Perrin. 1917. Loeb Classical Library. Reprint Cambridge. MA: Harvard University Press, 1968. Plutarch's Lives. Vol. 7, Caesar, Alexander, Cicero. Translated by Bernadotte Perrin. 1919. Loeb Classical Library. Reprint Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,
1971.

Library. Reprint Cambridge, MA: Harvard

Storch, Rudolph H. "Relative Deprivation


Ancient

and the

Ides

of

March: Motive for

Murder."

The

History

Bulletin. 9 (1995): 1.
on

Strauss. Leo. "Restatement

Xenophon's

Hiero."

In What Is Political Philosophy?

and

Other Studies. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. 1975. Suetonius. The Deified Julius. In The Lives of the Caesars, Vol. 1. Translated Rolfe. New York: G. P Putnam's Sons, 1928. Yavetz. Zvvi. Julius Caesar
1983.
and

by

J. C.

his Public Image. Ithaca, NY: Cornell

University Press,

"Mathematici"

v.

"Dogmatici":

Understanding

the

Realist Project Through Hobbes


Laurie M. Johnson Bagby
Kansas State University

INTRODUCTION

Hobbes's

political

thought is consistently aligned

with the realist and

tradition in

international

relations.

His

view of

human

nature

is somber,

his

state of

nature provides rich


states.

imagery

for

realists'

the
are

Realists

such as

Iain McLean

quences that

flow from the


of

state of nature

anarchy among sovereign attracted to the logical conse very scenario and are impressed with the
realists are

view of

timeless quality
correct to on

Hobbes's

observations

(McLean). While

generally
most

find in Hobbes

a source of

inspiration, they
how it

tend to concentrate

his

observations of

the state

of nature and

applies to relations

among

nations.

Yet there

are other aspects of

Hobbes's thought that


of

are often not taken


of realist

into

account and that could provide a

richer understanding
of

the project

theory in international relations. This article deals with three aspects


what might

Hobbes's thought that

shed

light

on

have been his theory of international relations, had he chosen to treat that theory fully. All three aspects of Hobbes's thought coalesce around the question What causes human conflict?
First there is Hobbes's
state of relations use of the state of nature

imagery

also

to describe the

among nations. Hobbes applies his reasoning concerning the law of nature to the "law of There are reasons for returning to this familiar territory. Many realists or critics of realism who use Hobbes's state of
nations."

nature

analogy do

so

in

fairly

limited

way.

Beitz, for instance, does


modify
or alter

not give

much credence to and which eration

Hobbes's

statements which would

the analogy,

or coop do indicate the possibility of some "international among states due to the differences Hobbes does acknowledge between and states

individuals

(pp. 27-34). Hence it is

worth while

to reexamine the more

commonly known references to international relations in Hobbes. Next, I examine another line of reasoning, less familiar in international
For Hobbes, human
that situation
conflict stems

rela

tions scholarship: Hobbes's observations concerning the imprecision of language


and understanding.

from the

situation

human

beings logical

are

in, but

is

caused

partly

by

their physical and psycho

attributes.

The differences in

people's perceptions, caused

by

physical

interpretation,

Spring 2002,

Vol. 29, No. 3

282

Interpretation
are great enough

differences,
level
which

to cause communication
can

problems on

the

domestic
scientific

Hobbes thinks
Here is
where

methodology.

only be surmounted with rigorous Hobbes distinguishes between the


"dogmatici,"

"mathematici,"

the many who use the scientific method, and


mulate

the

ideologies

and

inflame the

opinions of others needlessly.

many who for Hobbes believed

it

was possible

for the

mathematici

to

bring

peace

to the domestic
seemed

level, but

the

differences
contract at

caused

by

linguistic

and cultural

diversity

to make a social

the international

level impossible. But this


that the
road

observation

simply
as

strengthens

Hobbes's

conviction

to as much international peace

is

possible

is

through the pursuit of

domestic

peace and

stability, through

a proper

understanding

of the social contract at the

domestic level.

Finally,

there is Hobbes's historical treatment of the emergence of well-armed

and civilized

nations, and the conflict

caused within

by

the advent of

intellectualism, theology,

and consequent vanity.

(and among) those nations Hobbes posits

that the original

foundation

of government was
was

that the original foundation of government


advance of civilization and ers and people alike

the brute

indeed the desire for security and force of kings. With the
sophistication,

its inevitable

political
real

however, lead
party
or

have forgotten the


each other

purpose

of government and are

behaving irrationally, killing


sectarianism

for

"trifles"

such as political

due to the

prevalence of

the dogmatici. Hobbes understands that the

"good

days"

old

in

which

brute force (backed

by

unquestioned religious author

ity)
a

could

be

used

to create

lasting

social order are gone.

People

must

be taught

doctrine

and

internalize

a rationale

for their

political

loyalty

that agrees with

their

consciously theory,

understood self-interest.

For this reason, he


nature and

promotes

his

sci

entific

grounded

in the reality

of

human

history,

as a political

"doctrine"

that should be taught in universities and churches as an antidote to the


caused so much conflict

doctrines that
adopted
and

in his times. This

doctrine, if successfully

by

society,
as

will

bring
in

domestic tranquility

and as much external peace

stability

is

possible

an anarchical world.

THE STATE OF NATURE AND THE LAW OF NATIONS

Chapter 13
on

of

Leviathan is
conflict.

famously
to

taken as

Hobbes's definitive
of

statement

international

Although its primary thrust is,

course, domestic

conflict, it

makes specific reference

international

relations.

Here Hobbes does


of

not refer to the

"state

nature"

of

but

rather

to the "natural condition

mankind."

He begins in
nature

with the proposition that men are


a

basically

equal, due to the fact that


and all can

the weakest can devise


of

way to kill the strongest,

become

prudent

in time. Out

this very equality comes competition, Hobbes says. If one

man acquires

him. In
other

many things, others will try to overpower because some want too much, all must words, try to subdue each in order to survive. Morgenthau echoes this idea when he suggests that an
other

too much power or too

"Mathematici"

"Dogmatici"

v.

283

unlimited

desire for

power
of

described

by

Hobbes in

chapter

1 1

of

Leviathan is

held only

by

handful

international leaders,
pp.

men

like Alexander the Great,


summarizes the

Napoleon,

and

Hitler (Morgenthau, 1960, follows:

233-35). Hobbes

causes of conflict as

So

that

in the

nature of

man,

we

find three

principal causes of quarrel.

First;

competition; secondly,

diffidence; thirdly,
vol.

glory. second

The

first,

maketh men

invade for gain; the 3.


p.

for safety;

and the

third, for

reputation.

(Leviathan,

112)

Hobbes

goes on

to explain that

by

war, he

does

not

just

mean outright vio which

lence, but
has

also the time

in

which men are

inclined toward violence,


the

in his

assessment

is

all the time.

Then he

provides us with

imagery

of

anarchy that

resounded

through the centuries:

In

such condition, there

is

no place

for Industry; because


the earth;

the

fruit thereof is

un

certain: and
modities

that

consequently may be imported

no culture of

no navigation or use of

the com
of

by

sea; no commodious
as require much

building;
no

no

instruments
of

moving, and removing such things


of

force;
no

knowledge

the

face

the earth; no account of

time;
(P.

no arts; no of violent

letters;
death;

society; and

which

is

worst

of all, continual

fear,

and

danger

and the

life

of man, solitary,

poor, nasty, brutish and

short.

113)

Hobbes tells
of the

us that even though we

primeval

state, there

are

may instances

not
of

be

able

to have direct knowledge

condition of mankind within our experience. what

something close to the natural One such instance is, of course, Hobbes adds, however, that
relation

Hobbes

was most concerned about: civil war.

the state of nature

is

also the constant state of

kings in

to each other (p.

115). This

statement

has been

used

to apply Hobbes's laws of nature to the laws to equate the two. He writes in The

of nations, and

indeed he

sometimes seems

Elements of Law that "As for the law of nations, it is the same with the law of Hobbes continues: "For that which is the law of nature between man and
nature."

man, before the

constitution of

the commonwealth, is the

law

of nations
p.

between

after"

sovereign and sovereign

(De Corpore Politico, Hobbes's

vol.

4,

228).

We have to take into


causes of

account

observations about

the most frequent

international

war when

trying

to ascertain what differences there might


of nations.

be between the law


of

of nature and the

law

Hobbes tells

us that the state

kings in

relation

to each other

differs in

a crucial

respect, and that difference

moves

him to

downplay

diffidence

as a cause of war

among

nations.

Kings

can

keep
able

their

people

in the
the

state of nature.

relatively safe, The body

whereas

individuals

remain much more vulner


some

politic

is numerous;
much

may die in battle,


misfor-

but

not

body

as a whole

(at least there is

less

chance of such

284
tune).

Interpretation

Thus,
and

there is less anxiety in the state of nature among kings. If there is less

anxiety in the

fear,

there will

be less

compulsion

for kings to Hobbes

enter

into

a social will

contract with one another state of nature

in the

manner vol.

in
p.

which

expects

individuals

(Leviathan,

3,

1 15). John Vincent

points out

that "the

state of

war,

by

upholding the

industry

of the citizens of a
nature

state,

might even add prevents

to their and its strength, whereas the state of the establishment of any kind of
industry"

among individuals (Vincent, p. 4).


of nature with the
sometimes uses

Hobbes's further

supposed equation of the

law

law

of nations

is
of

called

into

question

by

the

fact that he
states.

the term "right

nations"

to describe

relations

among

We know that the


of nature of nature

right of nature

takes priority over the


whatever

law

of nature.

The right

amounts a rule

to

doing
state

it takes to

preserve

oneself, while a

law

is

discovered
In the

by reason that forbids


of

whatever

is destructive to

a man's preservation.

nature, everyone has a right to everything;


of nature

hence,

there

is

no security.

So the

first law
vol.

is to

seek peace,
of

but foremost to defend


the

ourselves

(Leviathan,
because

3,
is

p.

117). The possibility


creature,
mutual protection.

heeding
until

first law is

of nature exists

man

a rational

capable of

seeing the

advantage of made cannot

contract

for

But

that contract

entering into a by fearful human be


enforced.

beings,
law

no other covenants can

of nature

is known

by all

because they but is extremely tenuous in

be

binding

The

practice.

After the

social

contract

is made, the

other

laws

of nature,

known

by

rational creatures even

in

their natural condition,

become the basis for


of

good civil cannot

law.

What

about the

law

nations,

law that

be

made

into

civil

law

because it

can never

law among

sovereign nations

strictly be enforced? Hobbes further in De Cive:

clarifies

the status of

Again,
nations,
alike.

the natural
of

law may be divided into

that of men, which alone

hath

ob

tained the title

of but vulgarly it is termed the right of nations. The precepts of both are But because cities once instituted do put on the personal proprieties of man,
which

the law of nature; and that of cities, which

may be

called that

that to

law,

speaking

of the

duty

of single men we call natural,

being

applied

whole cities and

nations, is

called

the

right

of nations. And the


spoken

same elements of

natural

law

and right, which

have hitherto been

of,

being

transferred to
and right

whole cities and nations.

nations,

may be taken for the

elements of the

laws

of

(P.

275)

This distinction is

made more clear

the law of nature and the

law

of

in Leviathan, where Hobbes again equates nations, but goes on to explain that every

sovereign with no chance of

the same

right to have

protect

his

forming a social contract with other sovereigns has body politic as the individual in the state of nature
same

has

a right to preserve
no civil

his individual body. "And the


government,
what

law,

that dictateth to to avoid in

men that

they

ought to

do,

and what

regard of one

another, dictateth the same to commonwealths, that

is,

to the

"Mathematici"

"Dogmatici"

v.

285

consciences of sovereign princes, and sovereign assemblies; there


of natural

being
3,
p.

no court

justice, but in
find that
are

the conscience

only

(Leviathan,

vol.

342).
that

So

we

the natural condition of mankind and the

laws

of nature

follow from it

fairly

different from the


respond

condition of

kings in

relation

to one

another and the ways


contract

they

to one another. There is no possibility of a


not experience

among nations, that the individual does in the


natural condition. preservation of

since

they do

the

level

of

state of nature.

Kings

will always remain

motivating fear in the

They
p.

retain

the right

of

nature, to

do

whatever

the state,

including

the infliction
men

of evil against enemies

is necessary for in war


know

(Leviathan,
all

vol.

3.

305). We know that

in the

natural condition can

the laws of nature, but cannot reasonably act upon them. The same would be

true of the situation of

kings, but

to a lesser extent, since the very

security

which

keeps them from making


unenforceable agreements

a social contract with one another also makes

strictly

among them more 21


of

likely

and more steady.

Hobbes's

reference

to

"contracts] between

sovereigns"

concerning
point

ambassa

dorial

immunity

in

chapter

Leviathan illustrates the

that agreements

among

sovereign states short of world government are possible, and are more state of nature.
unless

steady than would be agreements among individuals in the person in a foreign land is subject to the laws of that land
privilege

A
a

"he have

by the
He

amity

of the sovereigns, or

by

licence"

a special

(p. 209). Hobbes


of

also mentions the alliances. nations

possibility of covenants with foreigners in times writes in Behemoth, "It is indeed commonly seen that

war, or

neighbour

envy one another's honour, and that the less potent bears the greater but that hinders them not from agreeing in those things which their common ambition leads them (Behemoth, vol. 6, p. 203). As we have seen,
malice;
to"

Hobbes

calls such agreements a matter of the


"
.

"consciences

of sovereign princes conscience of

and sovereign assemblies sovereigns

(Leviathan,

vol.

3,

p.

342). The

is the only court of justice available in the international state of nature. Hence, the laws of nature, known to all in the state of nature, are matters of conscience among sovereigns. But they are capable of some application, at the
pleasure of

the common ambitions or friendships of those

sovereigns.

Hobbes adds that even in the state of nature there are "natural
that might apply also to kings in relation to each other. These might further
encourage cooperation and steadiness of conviction

in international

relations:

And
eases;
with

hereby

it

comes

to pass, that intemperance is naturally

punished with

dis

rashness, with mischances;

injustice,

with

the

violence of

enemies; pride,
princes, with rebel

ruin; cowardice, with oppression; negligent


and rebellion, with slaughter.

government of

lion;

(Leviathan,

vol.

3,

pp.

356-57)
that might come from

Hobbes specifically identifies the


obstructing
commerce

natural punishments

the Peloponnesian

War,

among by the Athenian blockade


nations

pointing to the event which touched off


of

trade

from Megara: "For

would

286
the

Interpretation
condescended to suffer the

Athenians have

Megareans,
begun"

their neighbours, to

traffic in their ports and markets, that war had not


vol.

(De Corpore Politico,

4,

pp.

101-2).
we see some

Already
tions.

He

acknowledges

complexity in Hobbes's thinking on international rela the different situation of states in international relations
state of nature.

compared to the

individual in the

He
than

realizes

this makes unen

forceable

covenants more
are

likely

and more
capable

steady
of

in the

state of nature.
conscience

He

thinks that kings


ungoverned

thus more

exercising their

than

individuals. While kings may not answer to world government for their misjudgments because of rashness and pride, they must keep in mind those
natural punishments

that are due them. It

would stand

to reason that

are

further

removed

from fear be
all

of violent

death than the

because they individual in the state of

nature, that

they

should

the more expected to foresee and heed the threat

of those natural punishments.

What

role

do the
of

state of

nature, the law of nature, and the law of


political

nations

play
we

in the entirety
must turn

Hobbes's

thought? To

help

answer that
with

question,

to a second dimension in Hobbes's thought

implications for

international theory.

THE ORIGINS OF CONFLICT IN PHYSICAL DIFFERENCES

Hobbes's theory concerning human difference and the problem disputes the Aristotelian notion that outward objects send forth in
own

of perspective
"species"

their

intelligibility. Of course, Hobbes from

must consent to the

idea that

tions of things proceed


argues that

some action of an

outward object.

concep But Hobbes

our

human sensing must be understood as an internal activity, a separate phenomenon from the outward object. In other words, in the case of vision, what
we see

is

"apparition"

an

that the outward object produces in the


we see and

thing itself. There is a difference between what all we can know about it is what our senses tell
which

the

brain, not the thing itself, and


quick of

us.

As Hobbes is
same

to

point

out, we sometimes see things that are not there.

The

is true
we

hearing,

is nothing if

not a product of our own eardrums.

Things

think are in

the world are really


world can

distorted

"apparitions"

in

our minds.
"motion"

What is truly in the


that produces these

only be described by Hobbes apparitions in us (Human Nature, Vol. 4, Hobbes does


not scientific method would perceptions which end
precisely.

as the
pp.

3-8).

say that we see wholly different things, in which case no be possible, but that there are subtle differences in our
consequences
of

up having This human condition,

for

our

ability to

communicate

course, has
various

political consequences. of

While

Hobbes's may
not

mechanistic explanation

for

kinds

thought and experience

be completely satisfactory, it is evident that he believes that human beings cannot easily know the world as it truly is. It also follows from the above

"Mathematici"

"Dogmatici"

v.

287

observations that
with precision.

human beings
each man each

will

have
a

difficulty

communicating to

each other

As

lives in
use

highly likely

that

will

slightly different perceptual world, it is words in a way tainted with his individual

personality (Human Nature,


would encourage
parties.

vol.

4,

p.

25). One

can

imagine how this


political

affect and

individuals to

coalesce around

different

ideologies

treatment of "the
a restless
of vol.

Chapter 11 in Leviathan is remarkably effective if not systematic in its Difference of among men. While human beings share
Manners"

desire for
and

power after power,

they
in

pursue

it in the

name of a

"diversity
and

passions"

inevitable differences in knowledge


of their

and opinion

(Leviathan,
the same

3,

p.

85). Because
different

diversity

physical

attributes, experience,

passions, men use words


things

in

an

inconstant manner,

and

by

names.

The

crux of the problem and a

may hint

even call of

its

solution

is

found in the

following

lines:

We
how
men

must start with the


.

first

grounds of

knowledge

and sense

because

of

the "de

ceptions of the sense subject

they

are

how unconstantly names have been settled, and to equivocation, and how diversified by passion, (scarce two
and also

agreeing
what

what

is

to

be

called good and what evil; what and

liberality,

what prodi

gality;

valour, what
. . .

temerity)

how
vol.

subject men are to paralogism or

fal

lacy
In

in reasoning

(Human Nature,

4,

p.

26)
does
to

order

to establish

truly

scientific

reasoning, Hobbes
senses.

not

need

divorce
science

totally from the evidence of the is defined as evidence of truth from some
reason vol.

Indeed, he

claims that

beginning
be
able

or principle of sense

(Human Nature,
world with

4,

p.

28). While

we

may

not

to know the outward

perfectly, using

scientific of our

reasoning

we can

say things that more accord


whether or not

reality, and the test

theories and

hypotheses is
The

they

work.

Hence,

we can overcome

the problem of perspectivism, but only through


our methods.

much concentration and

rigor in
not

problem

is easy

to

diagnose,

difficult to solve,
men, could be

and

it is

something that common men, or even most learned

expected

to do on their own. Hobbes distinguishes between the

mathematici, those who start their reasoning from humble principles, and

dog

matici, those who hold maxims learned from authority or custom, and that the blame for
confusion must

he

allows

be

on

the

latter,

who

wish

to

have their
vol.

opinions accepted as truth without a proper

demonstration (Human Nature,

4,

pp.

73-74).
solution of the scientific method seems

Hobbes's
at the
what

difficult

enough

to achieve

domestic level, but if it is difficult but hope is there that the differences
linguistic divides
problem

possible

to achieve in that context,

and perceptions overcome

inherent in international Hobbes


of

cultural and

can

be

by

a similar science?

hints

at

this

in his biblical
that man

account of the origins of the names

"diversity

tongues."

He

speculates after

invented

for things,

without

the assis

tance of

God,

the initial

but

minimal

instruction in the

garden of

Eden. Man

288

Interpretation
names, for instance. But
all that
previous

gave the animals


rebellion
all

at the

tower

of

Babel, because

of man's

from God,
was of

language

was confounded, and

from there
the

language

human invention

and grew more and more copious all

time. The mother of all inventions is need, and so languages grew to the extent
of

human need,

which varied

from

place to place.

(Leviathan,

vol.

3.

p.

19).

Hobbes

adds to these observations

in Elements of Philosophy:

diverse

For considering that new nations use different


or make

names are

daily

made, and old

ones

laid aside; that


to
observe si

names, and

how impossible it is
a name and a

either

militude,

any

comparison

betwixt

thing, how
natures?

can

any

man p.

imagine that the

names of things were

imposed from their

(Vol.

1,

16)

Hobbes depicts

world

in

which

the names of things cannot adequately


which

signify their true substance, a world in

international

communication would

be especially problematic. While there is plenty of evidence in his act of phi losophizing itself that Hobbes thought it was possible through strict use of the
scientific method

to
no

overcome

the problems of inconstant language that Hobbes thought his

in his

own

country, there

is

similar evidence

teaching

could

easily infuse the


could

world with agreement and peace advice

follow his

in

order

to obtain

among kings. Another nation domestic felicity; Hobbes didn't think


states

he

was

writing for England


and

alone.

In

fact, he

that

he

writes
upon

in Latin in
the

order

to reach as many people as possible. In

Considerations

Reputation,

Loyalty, Manners,

"Being

at

Religion of Thomas Hobbes, Hobbes says about himself: Paris, he wrote and published his book De Cive, in Latin, to the end

that all nations which should hear what you and your

Con-Covenanters

were

doing

in England,

might

detest you,

which

more magnified than

this

is beyond

the

I believe they do; for I know no book (vol. 4, p. 415). Obviously, Hobbes

thought his books would be enlightening to those in other lands. But that nations
could come

into

agreement with other nations and create some type of structure

binding
above,
of

cooperative or

legalistic

is

possibility that is,

as we

have
now

seen

dismissed for

reasons of the sovereign strength of

nations, and

because

linguistic

and cultural

barriers. This distinction between international

possible

domestic felic

ity

and a constant state of

insecurity

is

made clear

in the

following

passage:

L. You

are not

to expect such a peace

between

two nations;

because there is

no

injustice. Mutual fear may keep them quiet for a time; but upon visible advantage every they will invade one another; and the most visible advantage is then, when the one nation is obedient to their king,
common power

in this

world to punish their

and the other not.


mon people shall and adhesion

But be

peace at

made to see the

home may then be expected durable, when the com benefit they shall receive by their obedience harm they
must suffer

to their own sovereign, and the

by taking

part

with

them,

who

by

promises of
vol.

reformation,

or change of

government, deceive

them. (A

Dialogue,

6,

pp.

7-8).

"Mathematici"

"Dogmatici"

v.

289
the

Hobbes is simply arguing that international breakdown of domestic order. The corollary
mestic peace and

conflict of

is

made more

likely by

this observation

is that, if do

security

are assured, a nation

is

at

less

risk of

invasion. The

more secure sovereign states


quiet."

there arc. the more

we can expect

fear to

"keep them

This is how Hobbes's theory

can contribute

he

might put

it,

the always

temporary

cessation

international peace, or as of hostilities among kings. In the


to

same

work, Hobbes defends the "King's


as

of

his
a

being

If

king

is

not so

right to levy money for the maintenance necessity for the security of the nation (vol. 6, p. 18). armed, Hobbes reasons, his lack of power may be a temptation
a

to his neighbors. If

he is

well armed, and

his

nation secure and

prosperous, the

temporary

cessation of

hostilities is
less
conflict.

likely

to last

longer. A

world of such

strong

states might see much

Hence,
can

the

international

spread of

Hobbes's doctrine less

of absolute

only

make

the world a safer place. There is evidence that


might produce states

sovereignty Hobbes hoped the

spread of

his doctrine

vulnerable to sedition and

hence

less tempting to would-be conquerors, an international situation which might still be a state of war, but at least it would be a state of war less likely to turn into open
conflict.

But there is
of

no evidence

that

Hobbes hoped for the "perpetual

peace"

dreamed

by

philosophers such as

Kant.

We have
of the

seen

in this

section

that Hobbes did not limit himself to a

discussion
con

internal

mechanisms of the

human

body

and

brain

when

explaining

flict among human beings, but went impact of peculiarly human defects on
between the him
with

on to make observations our

ability to reason, hence


even at the

concerning the his distinction

mathematici and the of

dogmatici. It is the
Now

mathematici who provide

hope

peace, not only

domestically, but

international level

by

producing
and

a sort of

balance

of power.

we must

turn to Hobbes's treat


mathematici and

ment of

history

to understand
much

fully

this distinction

between

dogmatici his
world.

how

Hobbes

attributes to

dogmatici the

conflicts that plague

DOCTRINAL WARS

Kraynak'

History and Modernity


more

in the Thought of Thomas Hobbes


of

examines

remarkably are Hobbes's

well the

historical dimension historical writings,

Hobbes's theory. Often


Behemoth
and

overlooked

such as

A Dialogue be

tween a Philosopher and a

Kraynak

makes more use

(Kraynak,
as
some

Student of the Common Laws of England, of which p. 10). When seen in the light of these less

less familiar passages in his more widely has known treatises, Hobbes's theory strongly historical elements. He traces the advancement of the English people from the "most primitive condition [where]
celebrated

works, as

well

the only form


force'

of

authority
and

was

that of fathers or conquerors who ruled to the era of Roman

by

"natural

over

families

tribes,"

domination,

when

England

290

Interpretation
written

developed

laws
to
a

and customs,

but

where

it

was still

divided into "many

kingdoms,"

petty "established

third period in which William the Conqueror


and

finally

a great

(Kraynak,

pp.

monarchy 13-14).

brought England to the

stage of civil

Hobbes thinks that arts, letters,

science, and

society itself

are

only

possible at

the third stage, civil society. In reality, this


reached

condition of civilization
achievement

has been
But

by

successful

conquest

and

subsequent

of peace.

sounding something like

Rousseau,

whose environmentalism
reflections on

is

often

thought to

be the

opposite of

Hobbes's timeless

human nature, Hobbes turns

his scathing attention to the ideological corruption produced by that very civili zation. For even though civilization produced advances in science and technol
ogy, it also produced leisure for the philosophers, orators,
with rule pursuit of

the speculative
replaced

sciences.

Priests,
force

lawyers,
Wars for

and

intellectuals

rule

by

natural

by

opinion.

territory
need

and wealth were replaced


cause of

by

wars over

doctrine. No longer
competed
knowledge"

motivated

by

(the first

quarrel), civilized man


and

things'

for "unnecessary (Kraynak,


p.

like

"titles,"

"symbols,"

"claims to
out, Hobbes

16). Most importantly,

as

Kraynak

points

thinks that man's attitude and behavior toward his


entrance not

fellow

man changed upon

into this high

civilization.

The

ultimate goal

for human beings became,

safety, but establishing the primacy of their developed to a level unknown to barbaric men.

opinions.

Cruelty

and

hatred

Kraynak
even

underscores these points with a


and

historical

periodization

that

he finds

in De Cive
age,"

Leviathan. He

sees

Hobbes

dividing history

into the "pro

phetic

represented

by

the ancient kingdoms of the near east and charac the kings were themselves prophets; the "philo
and

terized
sophic

by

relative

peace,

where

age,"

represented

by

Greece

Rome,

where

there was more factional


and

turmoil;
rope, erful,

and the

"doctrinal

age,"

represented

by

feudal

contemporary Eu

where

philosophy,

once

the prerogative of the intellectuals and the pow

is now widely diffused among all kinds of people. According to Kraynak, Hobbes believed that "the advent and popularization of philosophy has been the
civilization"

ruin of

(Kraynak,

p.

18).

periods of time

Perhaps the best way to understand Hobbes's comments about these different is to simply say that Hobbes showed that, as civilization ad

vances,
related

becoming
to
man's

more prosperous and

leisurely,

so

do the

causes of quarrel

vanity increase. In this way it is possible, by comparison, to see why Hobbes would have referred to the earliest times as the "golden In this golden age, kings established through force and ruled unques with the security
age."

tioned authority of power


earliest

backed

by

religion.

times religious authority


opinions.

was

unquestioned.

Unlike Hobbes's times, in the No one formed different,


last long.
and

independent
Hobbes

But this

golden age

did
age

not of

characterizes the philosophic

Greece

Rome

as

full

of

sedition caused

by

the ambition of orators who used the common people to


vol..

do

their

bidding (Behemoth,

6,

p.

252)

In the

introductory

remarks

to his

"Mathematici"

"Dogmatici"

v.
Thucydides'

291

translation of
ancient
people.

History of
as

the

Peloponnesian War, Hobbes depicts


and cursed with a gullible
sycophant"

Athens

full

of

hubris-plagued demagogues
calls

For instance, Hobbes

Cleon

"most
the

violant

who was

"thereby

a most acceptable speaker amongst not

people"

(p. 15).

any means relieve the ancient philosophers of their responsibility for the factions and strife of their times, but he also seems to distinguish their approach to philosophizing from that of the intellectuals of his
own time.
pose so

Hobbes does

by

Plato, Aristotle,
of

and other ancient philosophers were obscure on pur

that the common people would remain

ignorant
admired

of

their teachings. At the


of

time of

his translation

Thucydides, Hobbes
write, (though in

this trait

the ancients,

"for

a wise man should so

words understood

by

all

men), that

wise men

only

should

to write and teach the opinion of

be able to commend (p. 25). This ability and desire obscurely had sadly disappeared in Hobbes's day. In his day, the common people had to be fully taken into account when
theory.
places much of

him"

devising

any

political

Of course, Hobbes
own time at the

the blame for the


even more so at

doctrinal

chaos of

his

doors

of

academia, but

the feet of the preachers,

especially those of the Reformation. In Behemoth, he accuses the churchmen such as Presbyterians and Independents of leading the people to dislike the
established

Church
urged

of on

England

and

favor

a more

democratic

church government.

They
as

were

Aristotle

and

by those, inspired by the writings of philosophers like Cicero, who desired popular government in the civil state as much
men made

the ministers desired it in the church. These democratic

the people

"in

love

with

democracy by
against
was

their

discourses

and communication with

harangues in the Parliament, and by their people in the country, continually extolling

liberty
6,
p.

and

inveighing
tyranny
of

tyranny,

leaving

the people to collect of them


state"

selves that this

the present government of the

(Behemoth,
ambition and

vol.

192). All

this seditious behavior was caused

by
of

envy, in

Hobbes's
the

opinion.

The

ministers envied the

bishops

the official church, and thought

democratic

men envied

the privy council, "whom


was no

they

less

wise

than

themselves"

(p. 192). Their design

less than to

change

the government

from

a monarchy to a democracy. Given this historical explanation


with

of the causes of

quarrel, it is difficult to
who

agree

wholeheartedly "what man left behind

the view of Frederick


when
...

Dolan, for instance,


paradise was

tells us that

dismissed from
as

God's

'natural'

world

in which,
and

nothing other than Hobbes tells us, man's life was in fact
we

short"

solitary, poor, nasty,

brutish,
we

(p. 192). In fact, if

look

at

Hobbes's

historical treatment,
was

find that in the first age, the least

prophetic

age, the paradise


ruled with

indeed

a paradise, at

by

Hobbes's

measurements.

Kings

the

authority

of gods, their

laws

and

their doctrines were not questioned, and so more prevailed, according to Hobbes's
nations.

civil peace prevailed.

Because

more civil peace

logic,
must

more peace must

have

prevailed

among

Man's fall from certainly

paradise

have taken

place

during

the philosophic age, and

fully by

the

292

Interpretation
age.

doctrinal

All

of

this

would seem

to

suggest

that Hobbes's

theory is

not as

blind to

social and cultural evolution as points out that

it first

appears.

W. A. Lund

Hobbes

acknowledged

that the

political past was

not so much contractual as patriarchal and

familial.

Society

originated

in

acqui

sition,

not

in

agreement.

But these

actual origins of government are not

incon
argu

sistent with ments


serve

Hobbes's logical different

construction of the state of nature.

The two

purposes. not

Hobbes

constructs what

his theory
p.

of natural

right

"precisely
firm

because he does

believe that
. .

happened in the

past ought

to

shape or control current enough

discussions

(Lund, 1988,

226). These

were not

foundations for

sound and

lasting

government

in Hobbes's times, in

which government's

authority Lund distinguishes between the descriptive


thought.

was much more vulnerable to challenge. and prescriptive strains

Hence

in Hobbes's

Both his
appear

"sedition''

abstract explanations of sine qua

and

his
of

account of
"sedition"

English

particulars

to assume that the "causa


nature and

lies in

universal

truths

about

human

its

penchant

for

"discontent."

However,
of

since those were

timeless and

largely ineradicable,

he

goes on to emphasize other

factors for

which

had

to be combined with them to

make

up

the

full "concourse

causes"

civil war,

elimination."

and which were open to correction and

(Lund, 1992,

p.

67)

We
need

must remember

that at

its very

origins, political power

is based

on

the

for safety Hobbes's state


The
problem
force,"

and

security

as well as a

desire for

power over others.

In this way,
reality.

of nature-social contract

theory has its


of
of

roots

in historical

is that the

natural

memory has been forgotten because

original

government,
the

when

kings "ruled

by

tion. Hobbes's solution has to take


warped

into

account

corrupting effects of civiliza human nature as it has been dogmatici.

by

advanced

civilization, especially
observations relate

by

civilization's

As far

as

how these have

to

international

relations, we can see


an era of

that such relations


complexity.

also gone
of men

from

an era of relative

simplicity to

In his discussion

individuals in the
are moved to

natural not

condition, Hobbes

explains that even moderate

fight

because

of endless

desire, but because


motivations

of a need

for

security.

This

same need was no

doubt the

original motivator of

kings

and subjects.

Nevertheless,
"ease
some

the other less rational

Hobbes

attributes new

to

kings for going


in

to war are now more numerous


pleasure,"

in his times: "fame from


tion,"

conquest,"

and sensual

"admira
mind"

or

being

"flattered for

excellence

art,

or other

ability

of the

(Leviathan,
envy

vol.

3,
6,

one another's
vol.

86). "It is indeed commonly seen that neighbour nations honour, and that the less potent bears the greater malice
p.
.

(Behemoth,
create a

p.

203). Under these conditions, Hobbes

cannot

dress his theory to

other political philosophers or to political

simply ad leaders. He must


of

theory

that can

be

absorbed

by

the people, new

foundation

legitimate

"Mathematici"

"Dogmatici"

v.

293

government,
new

now

that brute force

and religious

theory

which can

be

understood

by

everyone

authority are not enough. This includes the state of nature and

the social contract.

CONCLUSION

Since it is Hobbes
saw

obvious that

Hobbes

valued civilization and wished to maintain

it,

theologians

his primary task as finding a way to save it from the intellectuals, and other ideologues it naturally breeds. Hobbes's new science for
all establish the rational

would once and

basis for
of

government upon a

footing
people

so

firm

and so

plain, the original motivation


and avoid

survival, that the common


those who

easily grasp it them. He wished to


could

being

fooled

by

in

the past

deceived

create a

doctrine that

would

bring

to an end the era of

doctrinal
his

politics and return nations closer

to the original condition of mankind


use

(Kraynak,
new

p.

63). As Lund
order

puts

it, Hobbes's "self-appointed task then is to


reason and

philosophy in

to ground politics on

teaching

rather

than

opinion, persuasion and the particular examples of

history,
and

and to replace

the

interminable
son'

conflicts of the pp.

'dogmatici'

with the recognized

'rules

infallibility

of rea

"

(1992.

54-55). He

that the original

solution of

the use of

force to

create

domestic
on

order would no

longer

work as well as a proper common

understanding based
paramount. as

education, a

new

ideology

if

you will,

but based

upon

man's real situation as

discovered

by

scientific reason

in

which survival

is indeed

For the

average

person, Hobbes's

rules of reason would

be

passed on

beliefs,

or good

opinions, through the schools and pulpits, using his contract,


and

of the state of nature, the social

laws

of nature

teaching (Lund, 1992, pp.

59-60). To human

ground

his teaching in

a common sense of proof of

reality, Hobbes simply


assumptions about

asked people to
nature.

look inside themselves for

his basic

Johnston
reason, but

argues

that Hobbes understood the need to discover truths through

also the need

for these truths to be transformed into


his
readers

powerful political

rhetoric that would persuade element

(p. 51). Strauss


of

notices this rhetorical

in Hobbes's thought in his discussion


and science. of

the seeming disjunction

be
to

tween

history

assert the

flaws
is

reading

By the history
"The

writing
or

of

Leviathan, Hobbes had


other

come

deriving
between
than'

sound what

conclusions.

and what should


clear

acquiring Hobbes learns to distinguish sharply be, the more the ideal character of the 'Levia
more
him"

forms

of experience

for

becomes

(Strauss, 1984, theory


mainly

p.

in his mind, the less significance has history for 97). But this distinction between history and theory indicates,

not a wholesale rejection of


grounded

history,

in

scientific

fact,

certainly not a rejection of the idea of but the desire to vigorously promote his
and

conclusions.

For

purposes of

inculcating

Hobbes's doctrine, the study

of

history,
be very

the chronicle of

the vainglory of civilized mankind, might not

294

Interpretation
Incorrect conclusions,
points such as admiration of vainglorious ancients, might
readers'

useful.

be drawn. As Strauss

out, Hobbes's intention is to turn his

heads

from vanity to fear (p. 149). For this task, the freewheeling study history be very detrimental, given most people's notoriously flawed reasoning powers.
of

might

Hobbes's doctrine stressing fear


of affairs

and reason

is

not the

description

of the state

in his times. It is the


conflict that

prescription

ideological
and

have

plagued

society for
states.

for the vainglory and consequent so long. Apparently, vainglory Hobbes


amends

ideology
with

also plague relations

among

his doctrine to No

deal

the same flaws of human nature, but

under

different

circumstances.

social contract

is

possible

security

can and should prevail

among sovereigns, but in the relations among


This
relative peace and

more

international

peace and

nations as opposed

to the

natural condition of mankind.

security
will

are

to be brought

about through the spread of


politics and

Hobbes's theory,

which

transform domestic

more secure a nation

consequently transform international relations. The stronger and is, the less tempting it is to invade. Hobbes writes that "no
nor

king

can

be rich,

glorious, nor secure; whose

subjects

are either

poor,

or

contemptible, or too weak through want, or

dissention,
to
war

to

maintain a war against

their enemies their true

(Leviathan,
the

vol.

3,

p.

174). The
will go

more governments understand

interests,

less

likely

kings

in

order

to glorify them

selves or wreak revenge upon


ambitious generals or other

their neighbors for an


will

insult,

and the

less

likely

that

lesser leaders

be indulged.

Are these not similar to the thoughts of contemporary realists, who write because they know leaders too often do not conform to their vision of rational action? They put forward ideas such as the balance of power, or the effects of the international
should structure of under

anarchy, as elements of persuasion,

as

standards we

heed

the less than perfect conditions of international anarchy.

They

advocate a

strong defense as a means to deter conflict: "peace through One can see in this line in Hobbes's thought a source of inspiration for
E. H. Carr
or

strength."

realists

such as

Hans Morgenthau,

with

their critique of

ideological

politics.

For them,

as well as

human realities,
not over

which can

for Hobbes, it is ideological zealotry, truly out of touch with lead to the most dangerous doctrinal warfare, warfare

security (which in the realist's view is the only legitimate reason for war) but over ideas. Hence they prescribe a rational, sober foreign policy that
avoids

ideological (emotional) formulations. Hobbes's diagnosis has

largely

to

do

with

highly
be

civilized,

and

therefore
an

highly

contentious,

men who are

to kill over what should be a trifle or


same men

insult. Hobbes's
situation

prescription

willing is that these

made aware of

how tenuous their

their

make a

bodily leap

existence and the threads of civil society.

really is, how fragile are Hobbes wishes them to


and and

to the sober realization of justifiable the original social contract is the


as another

in their minds, away from the delusions of doctrinal differences, fear. His depiction of the state of nature

"reality
grounded

they

need.

It

might

be seen, then,

doctrine, but

doctrine

in reality

and productive of what

"Mathematici"

"Dogmatici"

v.

295

human beings really want and need. It is this doctrine, supported by scientific method and by human introspection, that should be taught in schools and pulpits. Inasmuch
as

tion of current
charge of not

contemporary realists in international relations confuse descrip international reality and prescription, they are vulnerable to the being realistic enough, not taking into account the impact of so
within

"irrationalities"

main
ethnic

the system such as religion,


organizations and

ideology,
regimes,

national and or

identity,

the role of

international
Realists

the

impact

of

international law

and ethics.

sometimes

fight

against

these charges

by

arguing that these irrationalities really have little impact in the final analysis, or
that underlying all other activity and rhetoric
repudiation

is

power politics.

(For

a classic
v

of nonrealist viewpoints see


chapter

Hans Morgenthau's Scientific Man


Politics."

Power Politics, especially treatment of "reductionist

3. "The Repudiation

of

Also

see the

theories"

in Kenneth Waltz's

Theory
on

of International

Politics.) But
continually

while

they

attempt to

defend themselves

this

basis, they

are

vulnerable

to the next example of behavior that seems to contradict

their theories of rational action.

See for

example and

William C. Wohlforth,

(1994-

95)
See

and
also

Richard Ned Lebow, John Mueller,

William C. Wohlforth (1995).


and

Paul W. Schroeder (1994)

and

Colin Elman, Miriam Fendius Elman, function

Paul Schroeder (1995).


Realists themselves
are not always clear on the prescriptive
of their

theory, or its separability from description. But in effect, like Hobbes, they are obtain certain attempting to develop standards of behavior that will hopefully
goods:

safety, peace, prosperity,

relative

freedom. The benefit doctrine


will

perfectly conscious and known is that realist certain kinds of dispute, mentioned above. The drawbacks
edgement would

of making this aim be less vulnerable to of such an acknowl

be twofold. First, in their

realists would

be

perceived as

less

scientific

and more normative

orientation.

This

perception might

be unfair,

since

their observations, like


and

Hobbes's,

would

indeed be

grounded

experience, but
means what

given the current climate

in

political science

in reason, history, in which "sci

ence"

realists would
recent return

is clearly quantifiable, this remains an obstacle. Second, invite a different kind of disputation, more so than they have in the
of ethics and philosophy.

past, on the level to


a

To do this,

perhaps

they

could

study

of some of the classics of

international thought,

since earlier

realist works seem

to

grapple more with

the normative dimension.


nature

Morgenthau,

for instance, deals


reflects

with

Hobbes

and

the state of
ethical

the depth of his thought on the


world views.

analogy in a way that implications of realism and

competing

Morgenthau

confirms

that international relations are

like

a state of nature,
since

but, in his
and

estimation, not as crude as the one

Hobbes describes,

ethics, mores,

laws do limit
pp.

and regulate somewhat the struggle


v

for

power

(Morgenthau, 1960,
accuses

233-35). In Scientific Man

Power Politics

Morgenthau
amoral

Hobbes

of scientism
argues

by nature.

Morgenthau

for claiming that political society is that it is impossible to separate the political
p.

act

from its

ethical

implications ( 1974,

176). This sensitivity to the

normative

296

Interpretation
of realist thought

dimension A study

is

still needed of

in contemporary lead
us

realist scholarship.

of the

different dimensions

Hobbes's thought,
to
a

and

their

various

purposes within

his

overall

doctrine,

can also

better understanding

of

the project and purposes of realist scholarship.

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Dolan, Frederick M. "Hobbes

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Richard Schlatter. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rut

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Lund, W. A.

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Book Reviews

Alexandre Kojeve, L'atheisme, traduction [from the


etablissement

Russian]

par

Nina Ivanoff,
par

du texte

presentation

et

revision

de la traduction 214 pp., $35.00

Laurent

Bibard (Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1998), lvix


Kalev Pehme

paper.

It is

Sunday

and

there is

no

god.

The twenty-nine-year-old Alexandre


writes

Kojevnikoff
sonal

(Kojeve'

s pre-French

name)

L'atheisme (Atheism) (the is

on a per

Saturdav

evening.

Only

la lutte

pour

la

reconnaissance work

struggle

for
le

recognition) is missing and,

as

such, the nearly mature

outside of

Systetne du

savoir

(the

system of

knowledge),

the discursive exposition of ab


struggle of the master and
vie

solute wisdom slave over

that culminates

from the dialectical homogenous

the centuries. It is

Hegel's dimanche de la

(the

"night of the world"). As the universal


globe

state

is

Sunday of life or being spread over the


he
never

by

the reanimalized Americans and their techno-capitalism, the French

translation of Kojevnikoff s Russian prose


wanted

is published,

even though

it to

see the

light

of public

day. But in the

postmodern world we

have

pornographic of

imagination,

and we want

everything revealed, even about the lives

the philosophers, even to the most trivial letters of the correspondence between
and

Kojeve

Leo Strauss. This incomplete


eyes,
and

and

failed Kojevnikoff
We

effort now

is

afforded to our

it is

most welcome, nevertheless.


"
. .

are told

in the

introduction that in L'atheisme: (Alexandre Kojevnikoff

Alexandre Kojevnikoff y

Kojeve"

cherche

searches there

for Kojeve). In
de la

other

words,

his

work

is

that of the young philosopher, not the sage we

find, for example, in the intro

duction to Essai d'une histoire Reasoned


enables

raisonnee

philosophie pai'enne

(Essay

on a

History of Pagan Philosophy). It is a preface to a larger work that us, in a small part, to see the historical or perhaps existential develop
was

ment of a thinker.

That Kojeve
read.

young in 1931 does not mean that L'atheisme is a youthful The text is dense, dark, and difficult as the subject matter demands, with

copious

footnotes that

are often

long

and

that cannot be given here


of salient points.

in this

short space and thus what

very intriguing. It requires an analysis follows are a number indicate that Kojeve's

The French text

seems to

literary

style

is

in
of

place

in Russian,
words

including
special

his

penchant

for

special and

coinages, the translation


the use of
mathematical

foreign

into

ones of

his own,

symbols.

It is

even more remarkable,

because in the two

years after

he finished

interpretation,

Spring 2002,

Vol. 29, No. 3

300
this

Interpretation

book, Kojeve
whose

will

begin the discussion


will

of

the Systcmc de

savoir

in his

seminars

notes

be

collected

by
a

the

Kojevean

novelist

Raymond
to

Queneau
the

and published as the

Introduction

la lecture de Hegel (Introduction

Reading of Hegel). It contains the definitive teaching, sagessc, on that is missing in this book. And it must be said that not only is there is
Kojeve'

atheism no god,

but le rien,

nothing,
soi

Conscience de
suicide).

s wisdom, the fully realized very core of (consciousness of self la liberie, freedom, in the context of

is

at the

Traditionally, it is impossible
senses.

to say "god
ground

exists"

except all

in the loosest
"outside"

of

God is the
other

metaphysical

for

that exists, the

(en
we
a

dehors)

(autre)

upon which man and universe

depend. No develops

matter

how

approach god and no matter what

relationship

man

with god as

in

religion, god ultimately has to be completely


and

apart

from everything that is


it is the
one

man

nature,

all that

is imperfect le

and mortal.

This

view established
and

apophatically

is

what

Kojeve

calls

theisme pur

(pure theism)
that

that he negates.

With that negation, delusion

we are

forced to
and

conclude that

correct, then there is nothing,


a

any
as

effort

to establish a thing-in-itself

if the young Kojevnikoff is is


the major influence in this

or a great mistake of the

past,

Heidegger,
ask

book,

asserted.

As Kojeve is

historicist,

one

is tempted to

how it is that young

his late twenties, simply


a

albeit a thoughtful and exceptional

man who

young man in does not

accept received

opinion, decides there is no god, no fundamental basis for


metaphysics.

thousands of years of

(theological)

Is this

youthful work

theoretical,
of

debate,

or a clarification of various alternatives presented

by

different thinkers.

coupled with personal opinion?

In the

context of the radical

temporality

being,

Kojevnikoff

offers

this statement:

Et l'indubitable fait de la
est aussi

mort n'est pas seulement present


1'

(an sich) [at itself], il


est

donne (fiir sich) [for itself]:

homme dans le
dans le

monde

donne

lui-meme

non seulement comme vivant


sait qu'il est mortel

monde. mais egalement comme


connu

y
syl-

mourant; l'homme

(quoique, dans l'exemple bien


de Kant
que

du

logisme,
phasis

on prefere parler

de Socrate

ou

de

soi-meme).

(P. 122,

em

added)
of

(And the indubitable fact


sich):

death is
given to

not

"man in the
as

world"

is

only present [an sich], it is also given (fur himself not only as living in the world, but
mortal
or

equally

dying

in it;

man

knows he is
of

syllogism, one prefers to speak

Socrates

[although in the very Kant than oneself].)

well

known

The

parenthetical admission

is that the is
not

emotional and

intellectual

condition

for

the understanding of atheism


separable

merely psychological, but ontological, in

philosopher makes

from the very character of man qua man's own being. The young here is not writing some abstract dissertation, but it appears that he the claim to have experienced the very angoisse (anguish), terreur (ter-

Book Reviews
ror), and the tranquil lite
man and edge of

301

(tranquility)

that arises

his

physical universe and

environment, there

from realizing that outside of is nothing at all. Knowl


philosopher's of god

his

own

mortality, his own nothingness, and the young


of

being
is
not

are

one, and the gravity

this age-old problem

is

settled
a

in the very

temporal the

being

of this

young

man.

And it

must

isolated

existential

hero,

the man

be, for if there is who lives to deny.

god, then man

L'atheisme, then, is
mental experience of

the argument that arises to demonstrate that the


and that all theistic conceptions are

funda
more

it is final

nothing

than error or
atheist

illusion, especially in

the

face

of the

theists who would say that the


analysis of

is

aveuglc,

blind. The road,

voie,

Kojevnikoff takes is the

death, la

mort, which, like life, simply is donne, to man. This fatality is not a passage to something else; it is the portal to nothing itself. Human death is no different from the breaking of a plate, even if suicidal (perhaps an answer to the unmentioned

"given,"

Kirilov).

Prenons

un exemple simple:

je brise

une assiette.

Nous

avons

ici

sans aucun

doute

quelque chose

d'analogue
assiette).

au meurtre

(bien

qu'evidemment on ne parle pas


meurtre

du
qu'un

meurtre

d'une

L'evenement du

consiste

ici dans le fait

individu

concret cesse
1'

d'exister. II

ne s'agit pas

d'une

simple modification

de la

forme (spatiale) de
n'a rien

assiette, car le fait de


meurtre .

plier une assiette

(disons metallique)

de

commun avec son

II

ne s'agit pas non plus car

de la destruc
ne

tion de
se

quoi que ce soit en rien elle ne

d'existant reellement,

la
en

matiere

de l'assiette brisee y
une

distingue
. . .

de

celle

de l'assiette entiere;

tous cas, meme s'il

dif

ference

joue

presentement aucun role.

(P.

144)
a

(Let's take

a simple example:

I break

a plate.

Without
one

doubt

we

have something
the
murder of a ceases

here

analogous

to

murder

[although obviously
consists

doesn't

speak of

plate].

The

"murder"

event of not consist

here

of the

fact

that a concrete

thing
of

to exist.

It does

in

a simple modification of the

[spatial] form

the

plate, because

bending

the

plate

[assuming
the broken
even

it's metal] has nothing in


of

common with

its

"murder."

It is

also not about the


material of

destruction

existent,

because the
whole;

the
at

plate as a

in any event,

anything whatever that is really is in no way different than that of it plays no role if there is a difference
plate
...

present.)

That the
nor

plate

is destroyed has

no effect on

the generality, the genus, of all plates,

wreaths;

plate is broken. anything more or less than that the But it is a bloodless and bodiless death. There are no bereaved relatives; no funeral weapons of war; no avenging Dons with knowing smiles carrying with doctors even not the to earth; long faces no errant asteroids

does it

mean

hurtling
news.

carrying determinate ly bad


of

Death

seen as pure negation

is

an abstraction

death

of the concrete
and

reality

as

it is

"lived,"

the

particularized

destruction

of

the

body

its

social associations

(the

slave

inevitably
in any

comes

to clean up the

broken

porcelain).

It may be that

man

has

no soul

of

the traditional senses,


and

but the young Kojevnikoff

also removes

the

body, biological

social, diseased

302

Interpretation

or aging,

from life
The terror

and

death. Man is

not a

natural

being. Instead,

although

Kojevnikoff scoffs at solipsism, the entity negated


spooked:

is the dematerialized Cartesian


does
not pace with

of nothingness

is

not visceral; the angst

insomnia in the
take the

night.

Suffering

traditional view
whose

that to dread that which

is purely intellectual. One is tempted, then, to has no object is the province of


mature answer,

the young
subtle:

physicality is healthy. The


eternal

however, is

more

If there is

being, then

esoteric contemplative

might escape pain

(e.g., Strauss, 1991,

pp.

151-52; De la

tyrannic, pp.

intellectual activity 241-42).

Instead,
is

sagesse affords us

whatsoever about

qualms only tranquility. As such, Kojevnikoff has no that there discussing atheism openly. For as the intuition that

a god and that this

intuition is

shared

by

normal people

is

erroneous,
as

to be

an

atheist or

to speak of

it does

not make

him

blind "moral

the theist

believes (p. 197). Esoteric


Kojeve'

restraint such as we

find in does

some

philosophers, most
moral significance

notably when it

friend Leo Strauss, it in this book.

appears,

not

have

comes to the discussion. But then there

is

an

indifference to traditional

moral considerations

Atheism is the emotionally wracking


combined with

discovery

of man's radical

temporality, intel
of the

the

certitude

that

any

thing-in-itself that

is

perfected with

ligence

or

any

other attributes

of being, is merely the

projected

imagination

theist. (Perhaps that pre-mature certitude


images
case

is

what

rhetorically

removes almost all

fetichisme, Kojevnikoff s

word

from this book,


Conscience de

and even more so

the

with the young Heidegger as well, the least imaginative of writers in the
"whole"

production of

images.) While

there
man

is

soi, there

is

no

or cosmos

here. For there is

who of

is in the world, but


provides not

separate

from it.
for

Outside,
all

there is nothing.
and even

beings

necessity for nonbeings, but their interrelational


the hope of

Pure theism

only

a ground

order as well.

Le

neurit

(nothingness)
man

removes even

such a cosmic structure and although

insures that

is

separate

from the

world

(monde),

he is in it. In this book,


is
"in"

however,
To

the world is curiously abstract.

retreat

into many
given

more contradictions:

Although

man

the world,

he

is

not a part of the and

world, the not man, in that he has the to him. The world is alien to
with remarkable

freedom

that his mind,

life,
and

death

him,

although not completely,

it

provides

him

interests.
monde ne s'epuise pas

Cette interaction de l'homme


sique:

avec

le

dans le

cette

derniere

est

donnee
(par

seulement sa communaute avec

dans l'interaction phy le monde phy

sique et

travailleur manuel

exemple un

sauvage)

eprouve une peur mystique

devant le

verbe et

la lettre, lorsqu'il l'interaction

n'a pas conscience au sens

de

son

interaction
Le

avec eux.

II faut done

comprendre

le

plus

large de

terme.

monde

m'est proche non seulement parce qu'il existe pour moi

(die Welt des Veiiumdenen


parce que

[sic]

de Heidegger),
etc. enfin

mais aussi parce qu'il est

beau, interessant,
connaitre.

je le

l'aime,
monde

tout simple parce qu'il se

fait

Ainsi,

non seulement

des

oiseaux et

des

pierres m'est-il

familier,
(P.

mais egalement celui

des

cen-

taures, des logarithmes, du

cercle carre, etc.

94)

Book Reviews
(This interaction
tion:
of man with the world

303

does

not exhaust

itself in

physical

interac

in the latter

man

only his community

with the physical world

is

given and

manual

letter,

when

labor (for example, the savage) suffers a mystical fear before speech and he does not have consciousness of his interaction with them. It is thus

necessary to understand the interaction in the broadest sense of the term. The world is close to me not only because it exists for me [Heidegger's Welt des Vorhan-

denen, the world at hand], but also because it is beautiful, interesting, because I love it, etc. finally simply because it is knowable. So, not only is the world of
birds
and rocks

familiar

to me,

but equally that

of centaurs,

logarithms,

squared

circles, etc.)

The

world

mental ones.

It

is knowable generally in all its aspects, including its imaginary or even inspires a love and caring. While the world can make some
of the world

fear,
is

the

familiarity
That
alien

is benign in

comparison to

the total stranger that

a god.

inspires

anguish.

De

ce point

de

vue,

le theiste
sphere

est celui a qui est

donne

un quelque chose

angoissant,

d'etranger,
n'est

ou

hors de

d'action,

tandis

que

l'athee

est celui a qui rien

de

tel

donne. (P.

95)
is
the one who

(From this
alien,

point of view, the theist

is

given

or outside of

the sphere of action, while the atheist

something agonizing, is the one to whom noth

ing

of the sort

is given.)

While for the atheist, the

world

is

a given

in

which

he lives in

relative

homo

geneity, for the theist there is something that is excluded from interaction with the world over which he cannot rule, whether it be physical or nonphysical. The
origin of even

the gods and the divine


and

is here,

as

he develops

"fetishes,"

idols,

perhaps

Platonic ideas,

inevitably

progresses

theologies to explain the essence of


world that are not

his way to the most sophisticated the apparently strange forces that move the
and common
even well

in the is

province of man's powers.

This century

explanation

rather prosaic various

before the
times. The
neant.

twentieth

and can goes

be found in

forms

in

ancient

difference,
It is
worth

however,
repeating:

back to the

problem of

nothingness, the abyss, le

il y a Pour l'athee, il n'y a rien en dehors du monde, ou, si Ton veut, Le monde entier dans son ensemble s'oppose en tant que quelque chose
et

le

rien.

a ce rien,

dans

cette opposition

il
la

est

fini de bout
et,

en

bout

et

homogene dans

cette

finitude.
qualita-

Tous
tives

sont egaux

face

mort

opposees au

neant, toutes

les differences
tout se

(existentielles) des

quelque choses

de

ce monde

disparaissent;

fond

en

un unique quelque chose qui

de

quelque

facon

existe et qui se

diffefencie du

neant.

(P.

95)
of the world, or,
opposes

(For the atheist, there is nothing outside nothing. The whole world in its entirety

if

one wants, there


against

"is"

itself

as

something

this

304

Interpretation
opposition

nothing, and in this this

it is finite from
of

start

to

finish

and

homogenous

with

finitude. All
into

are equal

in the face

death and,

opposed to nothingness, all

the

[existential]
melts

qualitative

differences

of somethings of

the world

disappear; everything
differentiates

unique something, which

in its

own

way

exists and which

itself from nothingness.)

Everything
"is"

opposes

nothing, and it is only the individual who understands that

there
and

only nothing that makes all the difference in the world. Nothing is final nothing can deny it or fill it up, not even infinity, as nothing does not sustain What the theist believes is
a god

anything.

is

nothing, and

death is its
whether

prophet.

Initially, Kojevnikoff begins his


be
atheistic

work with

the question of

there can

religion, commonly associated there

with

Buddhism,

a religion without a

god.

Obviously, if
if there is

is

no god, then all religions that are centered on a god

are atheistic as
even

well,
no

albeit

inadvertently. Kojevnikoff, does have

of course, points out and

that

"religiosity"

god,

man

the emotional and

intellectual
embedded

along with it. There is a more intriguing question in Buddhism, however, the so-called atheistic religion. Because this
properties that go
who studied

book is incomplete, Kojevnikoff, in his youth,


speculation that can

the Indian and Buddhist


a

religions

never gives us an analysis of

Buddhism. There is

bit

of

legitimate
Death

be done here, however. in Buddhism, life itself has


world an eternal character.

While there is

no god

is

not

final,

and

the

fleeting

is illusory. More

critically,

life is nothing but

pain

and

suffering, from

which

all

men want relief.

caused

by

the ever-accumulating karmic debt that going relentlessly from

In part, this suffering is one life


to emptying

to the other as a
out

deadbeat

never pays.

Hence, Buddhism is directed


itself in Enlightenment
extinction.

life

of this

debt,

as well as

finalizing life

the great void, nothing,


used

i.e.. Nirvana,

by embracing Like Heidegger, Buddha rarely


dreamy images,
and
of

images,

as there once was a time when all things were


or awakened

he is illuminated

the world, particularly the by suffering suffering caused by the fear of death (that life goes on and on is the cure to this fear). In turn, there is a constant monotony of repetition where temporal mental the
objects possess our

lives,

a possession a world

needing to be mostly
of

emptied

by

renunciation and

detachment

by

inversion into
reduced

thinking

without restraint.

The

illumination is eventually forms this

to a very simple set of


of

laws

and elements or
or more

dharma that

empties religious

life

its
a

misery.

Kojevnikoff defines meeting


of

law in

very

strange

East

and

aptly trans West:

L'etre
n'est

pur

se

transforme en effet en rien puisqu'il ne tant que

se

distingue

pas

de lui. II

l'etre

qu'en

different du

non-etre. comme entre eux.

l'etre donne,

comme

Dharma: l'etre
("Pure"

+ non-etre +

la difference

(P.
as

227,

93)
not

being
from it. It is

transforms itself in effect into nothing

it does

distinguish itself
as

not

being
+ the

as

different from

nonbeing, as given

being,

Dharma: be

ing

non-being

difference between them.)

Book Reviews
The trail
of uncertainties

305
is

that remains

from

a continuous

destruction

of what

by

apparently determines the character of morality and thus order. For the theist, death is something real, while for the atheist, strictly speaking, there is no death as it is nothing more than the termi nation of his temporality, not a doorway or border between life and death. Man
each other

what

is

not

substituting for

is

given

death

as

his

nothing.

The theist

sees

that his

death

affirms the

other,

including
of

whatever moral

laws he

predicates upon the god, as well as a

beginning

something else. Whatever is given


(le donne du

to man,

however, is

what

is

given

(donne). The
at the

given of the
of what

given

donne)

exists

independently

and

it is

foundation

The only difference there is between life and death is the difference in the way death is given to man, if there is a difference to speak of (pp. 133-34). This is the dharma that is defined above, albeit it does not seem
man.

is different from

very much like the way a Buddhist would look at it. It is immediately unclear how the dilemma and the
views of

conflict

between the two

death

can

be

reconciled with the recognition that the given of the given

is dharma. Kojevnikoff s answer, however, is very much like that of the Bud dhists themselves while not being Buddhist. While the Buddhist might take a
theist'

s laity contrary view of the Buddhists are remarkably tolerant of

and

their general view of the world, the

other religions and gods.

Kojevnikoff, thus,
atheist

implies
well as

kind

of

First Amendment tolerance that does better for the


compassion):

(as

lacking
vit

in Buddhist

Le theiste
peut vivre

dans le

monde

theiste, l'athee

vit

dans

un monde

athee,

et chacun
principale-

dans

son propre monde

(bien

stir non exclusivement, mais


religiosus

ment)

comme savant,

homme actif, homo


savant

[the

religious man], etc.

Par

exemple

le theisme du

(pour le savant)

ne coincide pas avec

le theisme de

Yhomo

religiosus;

le Dieu de la

science n'est pas

la

meme chose que

le Dieu de la differentes
tou-

religion; mais il s'agit tout de attitudes, l'atheisme n'est


pas

meme

de Dieu. De la
laquelle

meme

facon,

en ses

toujours le meme,

mais

il

s'agit

tout

de

meme

jours d'atheisme. C'est la d'atheisme


ment en general.

raison pour

on a pu parler

ici de theisme
d'atheisme

et
evide-

Mais alors, les

concepts

de theisme
general et

et

sont

des

abstractions:

ils

sont seulement

le fond

le tonus des

conceptions

theistes et athees, la generalisation des cadres


contenu vivant et

formels,

ceux-ci se remplissant
parfois

du

differentes

attitudes theistes et athees.

Si

Je debat du theisme
par exemple

de l'atheisme (qu'il

soit oral ou
et

ecrit) se tient

sur un plan

abstrait,

du finitisme ontologiques, il y a en hommes vivants, dont chacun, quoi qu'il en soit, est etabli dans son
comme

debat de l'infinitisme

arriere-plan
propre

des

monde;

et

il

n'a

de

valeur que s'il a comme

fondement les hommes

vivants.

(P.

205)

(The theist lives in


one can

a theistic world; the atheist


own proper world

lives in

an atheistic

world; and each


as

live in his
man of

[of course,

not exclusively,

but mainly]
of

scientist,

tist (for the

action, homo scientist) does not

religiosus, etc.
coincide with

For example, the theism homo but

the scien

the theism of the


all

religiosus: the

God

of science

is

not

the same as the

God

of religion;

the same

it is

about

306

Interpretation
same way,

God. In the
all

in its different attitudes, This is the

atheism

is

not always

the

same,

but
and

the same

it is

about atheism.

reason

that one can

speak of

theism

atheism

in

general.

But then the


only the

concepts of

theism and
and the

atheism are

obviously

ab

stractions;

they

are

general

foundation

dynamism

of

the theist and

atheistic conceptions, with

the generalizations of the

formal

schemes, which

fill themselves
sometimes

the

living

content of

different theist

and atheist attitudes.

If

the

debate for

of

theism and

atheism

(whether oral or written)

is held

on an abstract
and

plane,

example as

in the debate between

ontological on the

infinitism

finitism,

there are tablished

in the background in his


own

living

men,

each of whom, whatever

world; and

it is only

of value

if it has

living

he may be, is es men as founda

tion.)

One

always wonders whether

democratic death implies

necessity for
of a

demo

cratic

tolerance of all things or the social implementation

way

of

life that

recognizes

that all men live with the anguish and fear of it. The theist and the other, as

atheist need each ance

they

cannot exist without each other anyway.

Toler

would avoid

the problem of

having

someone

indict

an

atheist

for First

Degree Meaninglessness in that death is disagreement


past,
over

comes

to everyone after all, even if there


references

its finality. At the very least, Kojevnikoffs

to the

including

the Brahmans of

India, imply

that

man's anguish

regarding death

is both the

product of

the past as well as man's progress to its understanding and

social realization.

Although this book is very abstract because man here is more abstract than nothing, Kojevnikoff insists that in the end to understand the theist and the
atheist,
we

have to

understand men as

they

are

in these

states.

Perhaps, then,
does

this

understanding live with each


seem

provides a other

basis for

some

kind

of ease with which everyone can not

homogenously,

a rather sanguine assumption that

very

well worked out as this analysis of actual atheists and theists

is missing

from this book.

Yet,
atheist,

we

have it

an

indication in the

of

the strongest case of the man who lives as an

and

comes

question of theism and atheism to philosophy.

There
non-

is

always that

nagging

and persistent question

in the back

of

the mind of

philosophers whether

philosophy is
or

atheistic.

For there is is

an overall

impression
means

that atheism is the

beginning

the end of all wisdom, while theism is the


realize that there no god.

by

which man goes

beyond himself to

There is

neither

one without

the other, as one must overcome the other. Most of the

that the negation of god and the


than on actual proof.

other can never be a something; is nothing and so on. This is not to say that the argument is trivial, but that there is a built-in frustration in the argument when theist and atheist stand

God is

the other,

nonbeing but the

of god rest more on

time, it seems logical constructs

hence the

other

opposed

in the logical

formality
we

of philosophical a good

debate. philosophy is,


and and

Kojevnikoff assumes that


not

have

idea

of what

does

define it. Inherent in the

notion of the

for wisdom, however, is that everything

can

nothing be questioned,

and of negation

in the

quest

that nothing is

Book Reviews
sacrosanct enough to avoid questioning.
theist'

307

This

philosophical principle

is

at odds

with

the

intuition, including his

notion that the atheist

is simply blind to
the
or of

what all normal men world.

see, that there is a god.


cannot accept
a

an other outside of man and

In the end, the theist

any questioning

his intuition

anything

following

from it. Even if

theist has retreated

from

the purest theism

to a qualified

form, he

cannot accept

that god is open to negation (pp.


positive;
either

any doute [doubt], for to do so would mean 194-95). The theist must see god as purely

hence,

this perfection requires


absurd

intransigence to any form


or

of negation as

logically

(blind)

or

morally

the view of the nonbeliever or the

itself does
the

not preclude

that man

wrong simply hidden from deficient. Nevertheless, the divine mentally can with the freedom of his mind truly question

legally

or

divine,

whether

it

exists or not.

(See
pp.

also

Leo Strauss's

of the

Guide for the

Perplexed,"

1980,
is

58-59,
in

a work also cited

"Literary Character by the French


where what

editors.) The theist


almost one

resists

the reality of
what

Kojevnikoffs dharma

is is

indistinguishable from

not

a progressive cycle of negation of

intuition

by

the next.
god cannot

Hence,
the theist.

the

belief that

be

negated

is

"illusion"

an

constructed

by

Aux

yeux

de l'athee, tout theisme


une projection au-dela

est un anthropomorphisme au sens

large du mot,
et

c'est a

dire

du

monde

des donnees terrestres (modifiees


1'

combinees

d'une

maniere ou

d'une autre) de le neant, S'il


ce

homme dans le lui


est

monde .

Pour

l'athee, Ten dehors du


donne
chez
a

monde est

et ce neant

donne
cette

dans le
athee

lui de

sa

finitude

absolue.

admet

le

presence

de

intuition

le theiste,

alors

le theisme de
de
cette

dernier

n'est a ses yeux rien

d'autre

qu'une

interpretation
(In the

erronee

intuition. (P.

199)
in the broad
sense of

eyes of the atheist, all theism


projection

is

anthropomorphism
world of

the

word, that is to say a


and combined
side of

beyond the

terrestrial givens (modified


world."

in

one

way

or

another) of "man in the

For the atheist,

out

these things of the world


given of

is nothingness, finitude. If he
end

and this nothingness

is

"given"

to

him in the

his

absolute

admits

the presence of this atheistic

intuition in the theist, then in the


erroneous

in his

eyes theism

is nothing

other

than an

interpretation

of

this

intuition.)

The theist
"other"

misunderstands

his

own

intuition, because he
He fails to

misunderstands

the

(autre)
and

and

his

other worldliness.

see that what

is final is the he
sees

nothing,

that there is nothing outside of man and the world, because

his

anguish relieved

by

death

leading
and

to something beyond the one life


outside of

he has.

Yet, everything is in the world,


anthropomorphic projection

anything

it is nothing

except the

that there

no outside.
outside of

Just

as a theist views
so

is something outside of something that has the world in which he is as something other
a world outside of outside

himself,

does he imagine that there is


a

him

and

the

world.

The intuition that there is

something

turns out to be the

308

Interpretation
of the nothing,

intuition

something

with which

the atheist has no trouble as that

is his fundamental

understanding.

It turns
normally

out that the

division between

atheist and

theist is not

what we would

expect.

En realite, il n'y

a pas

de

theisme ni atheisme, mais seulement une science, une

religion, une philosophie theiste ou athee. etc.

11 n'y

done

pas non plus en realite

de

savant

seulement, de

philosophic seulement, mais seulement


ceci a

l'homme

concret

dans le
doivent

monde qui est

tout

la Ibis

(avec une predominate possible

d'une

orientation sur
etre

les

autres).

En
et

consequence,

la description
plenitude

et

I'analvse de l'atheisme
concret

la description
monde

l'analyse de la lui-meme

du donne

de 1

homme dans le

athee a

comme tel.

(P. 196)
religion, a

(In reality, there is


theist
and atheist

neither theism nor

atheism,

but

a science alone, a

philosophy, etc.

merely
same

philosopher

Nor is there in reality any merely scientist alone. alone, but only concrete man in the world who is all this at the
of one orientation over

time [with a possible predominance

the others]. As a
and

consequence, the the to


analysis of

description fullness

and analysis of atheism must

be the description
"man in the

world"

the

of

the

concrete given of

the

atheistic

himself

as

such.)

It thus

appears

that the

science

is truly

a phenomenologtcal account of man

in the

world, which is as such, of course, man without science,


a

god.

That

alone

is the

genuine

final

science

that
of

is

atheistic,

explaining both
replaced

atheism and

theism. The

imagery
du

and

imagination
not

the theist is

by

the final

scientific realization

of nothing.
savoir.

We do

find this

science outlined

in this book, but in the Svsteme

needs

This book is too subjective; it is amazing how much the young atheist to evoke Napoleon shouting orders to Marshal Ney on the battlefield of
we

Jena.

Already
definitive
wisdom,

sense.

find that philosophy is something less than science in the most The theist and the atheist both have philosophy, a love of
atheist will

but only the


on words

have

a genuine science a science

and, presumably,

an

authentic existence as well.

And yet, it is

based

on nothing.

It is

not a

mere

play

to say so. Kojevnikoff

himself is

quick to point out that when

we speak of of the and

nothing as if it were something it is neither paradoxical nor a failure language. It is how nothingness presents itself to lis. makes itself known,
with us.

While this science may be entirely truthful as to the condition of necessarily good in any final sense as what is good or as the good has traditionally been understood metaphysically is negated along with what is god. While this science may a bring man tranquility, there is a noticeable absence of le bonheur, happiness, in the discussion.
man, it is not

is

The
is
at

science
rate.

involved

nevertheless

is the future

or a

futurity,
must

as much as

death

any

the mature

As this book only Kojeve, the Kojeve


what we

anticipates the
of

future, it

be

assumed that

transformed

fight for recognition, find in L'atheisme into the final science


the

the true
of

dharma,

the Svsteme du

Book Reviews
savoir.

309

Needless
the

to say, that also means that the constant repetition underlying


emptied out on this

the

dharma has been L'atheisme is

ticipating
where

godless universal

postmodernity in which we live, an homogenous state that is fast becoming the world

required

reading in

Sunday

school.

REFERENCES

Kojeve Alexandre. E.wai d'une histoire


cratiques.

raisonnee

de la

philosophie pai'enne

I, les

preso-

Paris: Editions

Gallimard, 1968.

Strauss, Leo. De La Tyrannic Translated from English by Helene Kern. Preceded by Xenophon's Hiero and followed by Alexandre Kojeve, Tyrannic et Sagesse. Paris:
Editions Gallimard, 1954.
.

On Tyranny, Revised Edited

and

Expanded Edition,
and

including

the

Strauss-Kojeve Cor

respondence.

by

Victor Gourevitch

Michael S. Roth. New York: The Free

Press. 1991.
.

Persecution

and the

Art of Writing. Chicago: The

University

of

Chicago Press,

1980.

Prophets, Lawyers, Philosophers,


Harry
V. Jaffa, Storm Over
the

and

Civilians

Constitution (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books

1999), 166 pages, $65.00


Mark Lewis
and

cloth,

$22.95

paper.

Harrison Sheppard

I. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY

Storm Over

the

Constitution, by Professor Harry V. Jaffa, lucidly


intent"

presents a

remarkably heated debate between two conservative schools of thought on the as a guiding principle of United States constitutional meaning of "original interpretation. It addresses the conflict between legal positivists on the one hand
and proponents of natural

right

and natural

law

on

the other, relating to the


with

foundations
his

of the

American Constitution. Professor Jaffa began the debate


argues that the natural are

vigorous criticism of the positivist views of

Judge Robert H. Bork. Jaffa,

following Lincoln,
Declaration
of

law

and natural

right

principles of the

Independence

implicitly

incorporated into the United States


Founders'

Constitution
to be carried
and

and must guide


out

its interpretation if the

original

intent is
in

faithfully. The contrary excoriating writings Charles J. Cooper, supporting Judge Bork's position,
afterword.

of

Lino A. Graglia
a

are presented

lengthy
intent

They

criticize and

Jaffa's

challenge

to Bork and insist

(along

with

Chief Justice Rehnquist


precludes

Justice

Scalia)

that proper application of original

interpreting
argue

the Constitution as the embodiment of any authori

tative moral teachings or principles,

including

those stated in the Declaration of

instead that only a democratic majority has the right They to determine what binds (or liberates) its citizens. The debate is introduced with
a

Independence.

helpful, brief preface by Larry P.

Arnn

and a

lengthier introduction

by

Edward

J. Erler, placing the debate in its philosophical context. The educated intelligence and depth with which Jaffa asserts and defends his basic position make it highly
persuasive. position

Jaffa's

antagonists score

telling

points

in the

vigorous

joust, but

their

is

internally

inconsistent

and seems

flawed in its foundations. Jaffa's


whole, to be truer to the political
was

position,
spirit

while not without


which

flaws,

seems,

on the

in

the United States Constitution

conceived,

debated,

and

adopted.

The

case each side presents stimulates

the

reader

to reconcile the underlying

principles ciliation

supporting

each position.

Accordingly,

we suggest a

basis for

recon
per-

may be found through

closer examination of

the Enlightenment

interpretation,

Spring 2002,

Vol.

29, No. 3

312

Interpretation
intent"

spectives of

thus

more precisely, and framers. ascertaining their "original helping judges resolve inconsistencies in the Constitution while insulating it

the

from improper judicial There is


which can eration of

activism.

an abundance of typographical errors

in Storm Over

the

Constitution,

be distracting,

and

the absence of any index impedes diligent consid

its

contents.

II. THE ISSUES

The debate
ment
ism"

presented

in Storm Over the Constitution follows


and

an

initial

agree activ

between the debaters. Both Jaffa


(the
view

his

antagonists reject moral values

"judicial

that a

judge's

"refined"

personal

may properly be

used

to modify and
and practical

update

the

Constitution to

accord with modern understand

ings

necessities).

They

also

agree

that any questions requiring

constitutional

interpretation be

resolved

by

recourse to the

"original

intent"

of

its

framers

As Professor Jaffa writes, referring to Judge Bork, however:


and ratifiers.

published writings

by

Where Judge Bork


original

and

1 differ is in

our answer and ratified

to the question: What


the

was

the

intent

of those who

framed

Constitution? (P. 39).

In exploring this issue, much of Storm Over the Constitution is devoted to Chief Justice Roger Taney's opinion in the Dred Scott case (Dred Scott v.

Sanford, 19 How. 393, 1857). Both Jaffa


Scott decision
resulted

and the

Borkians

agree

that the Dred

in

an

improper

extension of the rights of slave

holders into

federal territories, but they hold opposite views on the significance of Taney's reasoning in construing the original intent of the Constitution's framers and
ratifiers.

In light

of this

case, Jaffa profitably explores the problematic moral,

political, and legal ramifications of a positivist view of original


regards the

intent

as

it

issue

of slavery.

III. THE PROPHET

Woe For

unto you also ye

lawyers! burdens
grievous to

ye

load

men with

be borne

and ye yourselves touch not the


with one of your

burdens

fingers.

(11 Luke 46)

The heart

of

Jaffa's

position

porting arguments) in the

fairly summarized following four statements:

is

(without

detailing

his sup

Book Reviews
A
genuine

-313

jurisprudence

of

"original

intent"

with respect to the

Constitution

would

have to

recognize the principles of the

Declaration

of

Independence

as the prin

ciples of the

Constitution. (P. 3)
in the Declaration Fathers. It
of

The

statement of principles
of

Independence is
It
in

a compressed

summary
vv ould

"the laws of nature and of nature's

God."

represents

the

convictions

of those we still call the

Founding

consists

an articulation goes

and,

contend,

a perfection

of a natural

law tradition that

back

at

least to

Aristotle,
well.

and that embodies the ethical core of the

Judeo-Christian

tradition as

(P.

51)
represented natural right, more than

...

the

American Revolution

any

regime

that

had

preceded

it,

ancient or modern.
was

(P.

65)

The Constitution
law had
as

framed

and ratified

by

those who

believed

that all positive


pos

its purpose, to

give effect to the natural rights that

human beings

sessed under the natural

law. Because Judge Bork denies this, his jurisprudence has

little in

common with the original

intent

of those who

framed

and those who rati

fied the Constitution. (P.

46)
Jaffa
not

In asserting these
of constitutional

propositions.

interpretation, but

also

only follows Jefferson's understanding hearkens to the guidance provided by

Blackstone,
of

whose precepts original

ascertaining

surely influenced the Founding Fathers. On the role intent in constitutional interpretation, Jefferson urged

that:

On every question of construction, let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead
of

trying

what

conform

to the probable one

meaning may be in

squeezed out of which

the text,

or

invented

against
p.

it.

it

was passed.

(Jefferson, 1986,

322)
em

Speaking
ments:

more

broadly
the

of

legislative interpretation, Blackstone likewise


original

legislators'

phasized reliance upon

intent in

interpreting

their enact

The fairest

and most rational method to

interpret the

will of

the

legislator, is by
signs

exploring his intentions at natural and probable. And

the time when the law was made,

by

the most
subject-

these signs are either words, the context, the

matter, the effects and consequence, or the spirit and reason of the
are

law.

Words
not so
. .

generally

to

be

understood

in their

usual and most

known signification;

much

regarding the propriety of grammar as their general and popular use.

But,

lastly, the most universal and effectual way of discovering the true meaning of a law, when the words are dubious, is by considering the reason and spirit of it; or
the cause
which moved

the legislator to enact it.

(Commentaries, Section the

Second,
In the

emphases

in original)

words of

Alexander Hamilton, the Constitution is "a bundle


with contradictions and

of com

It is filled

terms that

require

interpretation.

314
Jaffa

Interpretation
agrees with
where

Lincoln that, it is

where the

Constitution is

clear,

it is

sufficient unto

itself. But

ambiguous, or even self-contradictory,


Founders'

it

requires

interpre

tation consistent with the


urges the recourse

original

intent. Jaffa,
original

necessity

of

ascertaining the

Founders'

following Blackstone, guiding principles by


of

to their writings

and expressed thoughts at the

time.

Jaffa's

central argument

is that

without an

understanding

the

natural

law

principles summarized

in the Declaration framers


and

of

Independence,

we cannot understand

the original intent of the


cipled means

ratifiers, and we have no adequate prin

to resolve inconsistencies in the Constitution.

Using

various state constitutions,

The Federalist, party


Founders'

platforms.

Supreme

Court majority and dissenting opinions, and other ing period, Jaffa argues persuasively that (1) the
was

seminal writings of

the

found

constitutional vision

deeply
of

grounded, above all, in the natural right tradition articulated in the


of

Declaration
ratifiers

Independence;

and

(2)

the original

intent

of

the

framers

and

the Constitution was to enumerate and protect those natural


a system of national government.
moral relativism and of

rights

while

creating

In light

of

this, Jaffa

suggests

that the

Borkians'

their refusal to appreciate the vital po

litical importance
immoral betrayals
and ratifiers.

the morality of the

framers

and ratifiers, are


of

betrayals,

and

at

that,

of

the

original

intentions

the

Constitution's framers

Like Lincoln, Jaffa is persuaded,


political

as are

we, that

refusal

to appreciate the vital those entrusted with

importance
of

of

the

Founders'

moral principles

by

interpretation
unfaithful to

the

Constitution is

Founders'

a subversion of the

intent

which

is is

historical fact. Given Jaffa's position, his


particular expression

moral righteousness

understandable, even if its


even

is politically imprudent,

perhaps

uncharitable,

and contributes

to his

being

misunderstood

by

his

antagonists

as more prophet

than philosopher.

IV. THE LAWYERS

"When I

word,"

use a

Humpty Dumpty
"It
means

said

in

a rather scornful

tone,
less."

just

what
is,"

choose

it to

mean

neither more not

"The

question

said

Alice,
many different
things."

"whether you can make words mean so

"The

is,"

question

said
master

Humpty Dumpty,
all."

"which

is to be

that's
the

(Lewis

Carroll, Through
to

Looking Glass,

chap.

6)
Borkians'

In

response

Jaffa's

moral

righteousness, the

accuse

Jaffa (accu his

rately, in our opinion) of using natural law concepts as vehicles for


religious

importing

beliefs into

principles of constitutional

interpretation

and charge

him

Book Reviews
with

-315

without

seeming to be "incapable labeling his opponents

of

arguing issues in
their views

moral and political

theory
141).
Na

immoral"

and

(Jaffa, 1999,
of

p.

Philosophically, they dispute


the Declaration of
God."

the substantial political


reference

significance

Jaffa finds in
and of

Independence's

to "the

laws

Nature

ture's
Borkians'

The
plete

own position can

be simply
or

stated:

The Constitution is law

com

in itself. It does

not require that the principles of natural


of

or natural right

from the Declaration

Independence

any

other

document be

read

into it. This

position, which we term "internal

Constitution's
activism.

By

evidently aims to insulate the from liberal interpretation, that is. judicial integrity contaminating thus insisting on internal sufficiency as the basis for proper con

sufficiency,"

struction of original

intent,

the Borkians (at

best)

seek to create an
partisan

impenetrable

shield against constitutional

distortions promoting
of constitutional

(and especially lib

eral) interests.

The Borkian
remain yields

conception

interpretation

requires
.

judges to
hurts"

law."

faultlessly
p.

true to the "letter of the

Hence,

"

a good originalist

to the intended meaning of a constitutional

provision even when

it

(Jaffa, 1999,

139)

or violates

his

moral sensibilities.

The Borkians

maintain

that the United States Constitution


principle other than

is

not

endowed

with

that the majority shall rule.


state

They

are strict

any binding moral legal positivists.

The

words of

Chief Justice Rehnquist

their

position succinctly:

a society adopts a constitution and incorporates in that constitution safeguards for individual liberty, these safeguards do take on a generalized moral Tightness or assume a general social acceptance neither because of any intrinsic goodness.

If

...

They

because of any unique origins in someone's idea of natural justice but instead simply because they have been incorporated in a constitution by the people. It is the fact of their enactment [i.e., ratification] that gives them whatever moral have upon us as a society, however, and not any independent virtue claims
worth nor

they they may have in any

particular citizen's own scale of values.

(Jaffa, 1999,

p.

22)

Borkians'

It is, therefore,

an explicit tenet of the

position

that there

is

no

intrinsic morality
natural rights

or goodness

to the freedoms that are


references

protected

by

the Consti
or

tution of the United States. to

Hence, any "life, liberty, and the pursuit


citizen's own

to "natural
are

law"

to

our

happiness,"

of

only the preju

values."

dices
dicial
the

of one

"particular

scale of

constitutional

interpretation based

on such values
argue

is properly
Jaffa "bad

Under this view, any understood as ju


claims

activism.

The Borkians thus

that,

although

original

principles

of original

intent, he is, in fact,


intent.
argue

to be using because he

rejects the

principle of

internal sufficiency
original

and goes

beyond the four

corners of

the Constitution to find

In this context, the Borkians


tion indicates a
mystical

that Jaffa's
moral

repeated reference

to Revela

Judeo-Christian

bias that is wholly inappropriate

316*

Interpretation
interpretation. Professor Graglia, arguing in the
as

to

constitutional

lawyer,

rejects

Jaffa's

moral righteousness

following

terms:

discussion is beyond my ken, law is my field of professional ex pertise. The only useful contribution I can hope to make in a discussion on natural law created by a government law or law is to point out that it is not While
theological
"real" "legal"

and

properly

enforceable

by

government officials

that

is

being

discussed

| by

Jaffa]. (Jaffa.

1999,

p.

135).

V. THE PHILOSOPHERS

For it is impossible for


the same

anyone

to believe

thing

to

be

and not to
says.

be

as some think

Heraclitus

For
and at

what a man says,

he does
that

not

necessarily believe;
attributes should

if it is impossible

contrary

belong
time

the same time to the

same

subject,
same

obviously it is impossible for the same man at the to believe the same thing to be and not to be.

(Aristotle, Metaphysics, bk IV,

chap.

3)

A. The Irony of the Borkian Position


Borkians'

The

central

difficulty

with

the

position

is that it

offers

no set of

principles

by

which

to resolve the inconsistencies or "bundles of


and

compr

in

the

Constitution. Given these inconsistencies


and construction
recourse

gaps, the

need

for judicial is

interpretation

to

resolve particular cases and controversies


principles

inevitable. Without

by

judges to those

that in fact animated

the constitutional Founders and ratifiers,


other

they

are compelled

to look for

some

principle(s) to

of values extrinsic of

This necessarily opens the door to importation to the intent of the Founders. This is the ironic consequence decide
cases.

the Borkian position:

By divorcing

an

understanding

of original

intent from

historical

and contextual considerations of natural

law,

natural right, and reason,


activism.

the Borkians create a clear need for some sort of

judicial

As the
of

following demonstrates,
evitable

the Dred Scott case

illustrates exactly this kind


was the one

in

judicial

activism.

Jaffa African
stitution returned

points out that the question at


"property"

issue in Dred Scott


or

legal

status of

slaves: were

they

"persons"? On the
escaped

hand,

the Con

(1)

provided that slaves who

had

into free

states were to

be

to their owners

slave trade

for

in slaveholding states and (2) permitted the international specified time. On the other hand, it referred to the slaves as

Book Reviews
"persons"

-317

for

purposes of rule).

determining

population

for

representation
negroes

in Congress
as

(the three-fifths

The Constitution thus treated

inconsistently:

property in some respects, and as persons in others. Taney, Calhoun, and the South chose to rely on the articles that treated negroes as property, while Lincoln
and the

North focused

on

the articles that treated them as


recourse

persons.

There
of

was no

way to resolve this


stitution

inconsistency by

to express provisions

the Con

itself. In this situation, the doctrine of internal sufficiency posed a dilemma for the Justices deciding Dred Scott. They had to decide the case
without unambiguous guidance

from the Constitution. Unless there interpretation


external

exist

discern

ible
as

principles of constitutional

to the Constitution (such


of

the natural

right

principles as stated

in the Declaration
effect

Independence)
or

to

which

the justices could refer, either

decision, in

supporting

rejecting

the institution of slavery, would be an expression of personal prejudice.

Taney,

using the doctrine


to

of

internal sufficiency, had

no such external standards, chose

to understand the Negro as property rather than person, and returned Dred Scott

his

owner.
points

positivists of

doctrine of internal sufficiency deprives for basis any antislavery sentiments before adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment. If a different majority had obtained and an amend
out, the positivist
constitutional ment

As Jaffa

had passed,

the Borkians would,


right."

demanding by their

that slavery be legal in all the states and territories,


own

logic, have

to say that such


were

law

was

"morally
that

Similarly, if

a constitutional

amendment

somehow

adopted

claimed public otherwise


would

ownership of all property, repealed the first Ten Amendments, or altered the foundations of the United States Constitution, the Borkians
compelled to support

be

their morality. We suggest

both the constitutionality of that any position that leads to such but
preamble

such changes and conclusions

is

not

only

fundamentally flawed,
in the
. . .

also repudiates the objectives of our constitu

tional system stated

to the

Constitution,

namely, to "establish

Justice

and secure the view

Blessings

Liberty."

of

The Borkian
of

is

also

in

clear conflict with the views of the third

President

the United States and chief author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas who, in

Jefferson,
All, too,
is in

his first inaugural address, declared:

will

bear in

mind

this

sacred principle,

that though the will of the majority

all cases to prevail, that will to

be

rightful must

be

reasonable; that the minor


violate would

ity

possess

their

equal

rights,

which equal p.

law

must

protect, and to

be

oppression.

(Quoted in

Jaffa, 1999,

116)

In fact,

by

reducing

all moral

arguments,

including

natural

law,

to

personal

biases,

the

positivists

deny

the

relevance of

the

principles and original

intentions
and

that were explicitly


ratification of the original

stated

by

the Founders to be the basis for the


points

framing

Constitution. As Jaffa
of

out, "in asking

what were

the
of

intentions

the

Founding Fathers,

we are

asking

what principles

318

Interpretation
them"

Borkians'

moral and political

philosophy

guided

(1999,

p.

xxxiv).

The
them

understanding of from an historical


ratifiers of the

internally sufficient original intent actually inquiry into the actual original intentions of
so

precludes

the framers and

Constitution. In

doing, they
way,

not

only

cripple our

ability to
the

interpret the Constitution in revolutionary


nature of the

a principled

they

write out of existence puts

American

experiment.

As Jaffa

it:

The American Revolution is


standard of

rooted

in the

convictions

that there

is

non-arbitrary

just

and unjust, right and wrong, rooted

in

man's nature as a rational

being. (P.

65)

The
voted

authors of this review add their personal


most

disbelief that,

even

if

majority

for it,

Borkians

would

in fact

support as constitutional and moral such

measures as restoration of or the abolition of private

the institution of slavery, repeal of the Bill of

Rights,

property,

even

though

such support would

be

required

by

their position. "For what a man says,

he does

believe."

not

necessarily
no support

Indeed,
consider

as one such

Borkian (Cooper)

puts p.

it, "There is

among decent

people"

for

ideas (Jaffa, 1999,

147),

and

the Borkians undoubtedly

themselves to be decent people. Most significantly,

however, the very


their own

concept of

decency is
have

broad

moral concept to which

the

Borkians, by
basic

reasoning, virtue, or

no rightful

recourse.

References to intrinsic decency,

justice,

any

similar moral conceptions contradict their

positivist stance. and under and

Their instinct to employ such standards is, standable. Without rational moral concepts
among Fathers
other classical would

however, both laudable


such as

justice,

virtue,

liberty,
or

ideas,

polity

of rights as conceived or champion.

by

our

Founding

be impossible to formulate basis for American

Whether consciously

unconsciously, the Borkian positivists understand the necessity of an intrinsic

morality
that

as the

governmental

institutions. It is for this

reason

they refer, both


and
so.

implicitly
support

and

explicitly, to

moral concepts, such as ratio

nality

decency,

to

their position,

despite the logical Jefferson


put

inconsistency
that the
more or

of

doing

They

thus appear to recognize, as


of

it,

political

philosophy expressed in the Declaration than an "expression of the American


subject,"

Independence is nothing conveying "the


day"

less

mind,"

common sense of the


p.

and
ments most

"the

harmonizing

sentiments of the

(1984,

1501),

senti

"decent"

As

a matter of

Americans evidently still share. historical fact, the speeches, pamphlets,


and adoption of the

and other writings

preceding the

framing

was the perceived morality of

the political

Constitution clearly disclose that it principles embodied in the proposed


its
acceptance and would

Constitution that
ratification.

was emphasized

by

its

advocates to promote

The

moral relativism characteristic of

the

Borkians

probably

have horrified the

Founders; it certainly does

not reflect the expressed original

intent

of those

involved in

the creation and adoption of the

Constitution.

Book Reviews
The
challenges points

-319

to the positivist position,

however,

go even

deeper than this.


suf

As Jaffa

out, because the Borkians


support adequate

maintain that the

Constitution is
themselves in

ficient in itself to difficulties


mises.

interpretation, they find


with

great

when

attempting

to

deal

its intrinsic

contradictions and compro

Nowhere is

this challenge more evident than

in their difficulties

with the

reservation of rights to

the people in the Ninth

Amendment,

which reads as

follows:

The
or

enumeration

in the Constitution

of certain rights shall not

be

construed to

deny

disparage

others retained

by

the people.

This

statement

ates"

certain

manifestly presupposes, first, that the Constitution "enumer rights that the Federal Government is forbidden to infringe upon or
not positively confer those rights upon the people; and, second, rights not enumerated in the Constitution that the people have and

prohibit; it does
that there exist
retain.

James Wilson, in arguing

credited
as

by

some with as much

responsibility for

author

ship

of the

Constitution

James

Madison,
of

acknowledged the
not against

proposition ment):

against a

Bill

Rights (but

absurdity of this the Ninth Amend

Who

will

be bold

enough to undertake to enumerate all the rights of the

people?

And

when

the attempt to enumerate them

is made, it
not

must

be

remembered.

that if the enumeration


presumed to omission omission quoted

is

not

complete, everything
omitted.

be purposefully

So it

must

be

with a

expressly bill of rights,

mentioned will and an

be

in stating the powers granted to the in recapitulating the rights reserved


on the

government

is

not so

dangerous

as an

by

the people. (James


p.

Wilson,

as

in The Debate

Constitution,

vol.

1,

808)

The Ninth Amendment is


nation's

most

reasonably understood,

and at the time of our

founding

was

inalienable

rights as argued

clearly understood, to refer directly to the tradition of in hundreds of documents throughout the period and

eloquently summarized in the Declaration of Independence. If, however, the Borkians are correct and all of the rights possessed by United States citizens are positively
non
conferred

by

the

Constitution,

then the Ninth Amendment becomes a

sequitur, something impossible to


not

comprehend and

hence disposable. It is,

therefore,

surprising that Judge Bork

is

quoted as
'inkblot'"

the Ninth Amendment "are


preference

a meaningless

arguing that the words of (Jaffa 1999, p. 47). This is


a virtual crafted

for

interpreting
world

a constitutional amendment as nonsense

libel

of

the drafters of a document that may

be the

most

deliberatively

constitution

in

history. Is this

not

itself a

kind of flagrant judicial activism,


Constitution?

in

effect

writing the

Ninth Amendment

out of the

320

Interpretation

B. The Error of Jaffa's Position

Jaffa does

not so much engage, or even purport

to engage,

in

rational

discourse,

as

in

religious and moral exhortation. p.

(Lino A. Graglia. in Jaffa. 1999,

134)

There

are

two central difficulties with Jaffa's position as articulated in Storm


repeated attempt

Over the Constitution. The first is his

to reconcile and

integrate
In
law"

the principles of natural law with religious Judeo-Christian moral principles.

the process of

defining

original

intent, Jaffa repeatedly

uses

"natural

and

"Judeo-Christian
text of the

ethic"

in

the same sentence to describe the philosophical con

he

not

Founders, commonly implying that they are one and the same. In fact. only implies but suggests it directly, as in his discussion of the Reverend

Samuel Chase:

the

dictates

of reason are

the

dictates

of

God

as much as

those revealed

in the

oracles."

"sacred

(P.

66,

emphasis supplied)

Although Jaffa
a

at one point

(see

pp.

55-67)
law, he

offers a reasonable
seems more

foundation for
on

purely

rational equal an

justification

of natural

intent

proving that

reason reason

is

to

or the same as revelation

than

demonstrating
might

the sufficiency of

for

understanding

of natural

law. This

be

useful

in persuading

the religious minded to consider the natural

law tradition, but it

creates tremen

dous difficulties in persuading the nonreligious minded. In reference to human will and the human mind's ability to abstract, Jaffa asks, "What difference does
it
make whether we call are

it

'God'

or

'agent

intellect?'"

(p. 62). We

(along

with

the

Borkians)
In the

forced to

answer

"all the difference in the "spirit


of

world."

all-important attempt to resurrect the

the

law,"

the original

of the Constitution, from the positivism of the lawyers, Jaffa unnecessarily provocatively opens the door to religious debate. By conflating Christian dogma and Enlightenment conceptions of natural law, he mistakenly, and, in our

intent
and

view, unnecessarily, imports tation of a civil constitution. to any religious tradition

doctrines

of revealed religion

into

secular

interpre

As
a

we suggest

below,
or

natural

law

needs no reference attempt

for

foundation

legitimacy. In fact, any

to

do

actually To be clear, Jaffa does


"natural
law."

so

compromises

its legitimacy.

not

deny

or repudiate
suggests

the rational, nonmystical basis


natural

of

In fact, he correctly
minds of

that

law

notions were

"in

the

and

in the

the

Constitution's framers

and ratifiers:

It is

not

therefore mysticism,

but the

voice of reason

itself that

says

the law

of na

ture and of nature's


rule of

God is

on the side of equal rights,

self-government,

and the

law. (P.

65)

Book Reviews

321

Rather, Jaffa's
and the
with all

is that, in trying to reconcile Judeo-Christian tradition, he contaminates the


problem

natural
natural

law tradition
law tradition
secular

the problems of religion. In the process, his position

defiles the
political

natural and

law-natural
universality.

right

conception,

and compromises

both its

utility

its

When Jaffa
all

suggests

that God is the source of natural rights,

he

immediately

alienates

those whose objections to religious

dogma in
basis for

form their philosophy from considering the natural law. Most


versally
position

legitimacy

of the rational

importantly
attribute

for the

purposes of

this review, the Borkians almost

uni

this error to Jaffa's position.


a confusion

Many

of

the arguments against his


with

stem

directly from

of natural

law

Judeo-Christian

ethics, which Jaffa


natural

invites. The Borkians

appear to

identify

natural right and

law

claims
and

lightenment
Part

exclusively with a religious tradition and overlook their En Deist foundation and roots (see, for example, Professor Graproblem

glia's statement quoted above). of

Jaffa's

is that, in

discussing
law

the philosophical context of the

Founders, he fails to
which

acknowledge or explicate the


notions of natural of the were

Deist

conception of nature on

Enlightenment
and
God"

largely founded.
"the Laws
of
of

Without Nature

clari

fication

understanding
as

Deist

conception of

and of

Nature's

referred to

in the Declaration
significance.

Independence,
and a

we cannot

rightly
of

understand their

intended
a

We therefore turn to

consideration conception

the

differences between law.

specifically Judeo-Christian

Deist

of natural

C. Deism: A Nonreligious Foundation for Natural Law

During
of

the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the European understanding


was

the world

undergoing

radical changes.

Isaac Newton had


of

provided what

remarkably complete explanation hensible forces of nature; knowledge was being tied
science; the literature

appeared to

be

the previously

incompre

increasingly

to experimental

of comparative religion and religious tolerance was on the

rise; the Divine Right of Kings and the divine order of social ranking were being discredited; and a rational critique of the truth of the Bible and Christianity was

becoming
expressed

commonplace.

In light

of

these trends, a new understanding of the

natural order of the world was

being formulated. This understanding was widely humanists in the philosophy and theology of Enlightenment among
terms, Deism
or

Deism. In
able
simple

as most

widely
created
can

understood

holds

(1)

that an unknow

God, Creator,

First Cause

the

universe and

then absented itself

from earthly involvement; (2) that we from the rational study of creation,

deduce the

natural

laws

of existence of

or

nature,

including

precepts

human

322

Interpretation
and

morality

just civilization,

which are
truth"

intrinsic to the

nature of

human beings;
know ledge

(3)

that any asserted "revealed

that does not conform to


example, to
of

rational

is thereby A

demonstrably
list
of

invalid. This leads, for

such arguments as a

Deist denial

of the resurrection and special

divinity

Jesus.
not

expressly or implicitly includes Thomas Paine, Ethan Allen, and Benjamin Franklin,
common

declared American Deists


all

only

Deist, but
"One

also

notoriously George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James

Madison. The
as

of

Deism among the Founders has been characterized for the early nineteenth century champions embarrassing the Christian faith [because] not one of the first six Presidents of the United
prevalence of

of the

problems

States
a

Christian"

was an orthodox of

(Adler,

p.

420). This

assertion

is founded
"Creator"

on

variety

contemporary Nature

and

near

contemporary

sources

(see for example,


and

Remsburg,
"the Laws

pp. of

119-22). We
and of

must

interpret the
God"

references

to the
of

Nature's

in the Declaration

Independence in

this Deist context if we are to interpret them with historical accuracy and to the
Founders'

integrity

original

intent.

natural

Unfortunately, by slighting the Deist context of Enlightenment conceptions of law, while suggesting that the references in the Declaration of Indepen
"Creator"

dence to the
tian

and

"Nature's
the

God"

refer, in effect, to the God of Chris


right with re

Revelation, Jaffa
In
so
"natural"

confuses

rationalist concept of natural

vealed religion. what

doing, he

conflates

his

personal religious sensibilities about

is

with

the Deist conception of "natural


Founders'

He thus distorts the

conception of natural right that guided

the

thinking

and compromises

its utility lustration Jaffa's

as an
of this

objective,
that

rational guide

to constitutional interpretation. An il

relates

to contemporary constitutional interpretation may be

suggestion that
would

homosexuality

is

"unnatural,"

and

hence that the

natural

law tradition

take such behavior outside of constitutional protection. Ho


remains

mosexuality may be unnatural to Judeo-Christian sensibilities, but it be demonstrated whether it is in conflict with natural right. In
our

to

view, the most essential ideas in Jaffa's work


conception of natural constitutional

in

the

Deist

law

and

can easily be grounded be may profitably used to address

challenges

in

interpretation
Jaffa's

while

avoiding the difficulties that

follow from
Another
most

a religious construction. major challenge to


work

in Storm Over the Constitution is,


refers

essentially,

a sin of omission.
of

While Jaffa

to natural law

principles

and cites the

Declaration
use

Independence, he does
if some

not

define

natural

law

suf

ficiently

for

as

standard

to apply to constitutional
notion of natural

interpretation. The
was

Borkians rightly
Founders'

argue that even

law

involved in the in the Dec

original

intent,

the concept of natural law as summarized


so

laration

of

Independence is many issues.

judicial

activism and can

poorly defined that it opens the door wide to be used (as it has been used) to support contradictory

positions on

Book Reviews
Although he
to the
at refers

323

constantly

to the principles of natural

law, Jaffa

never under

takes to list these principles,

or even
.

define

few

phrases quoted.

from

the

describe them, except by reference Declaration of Independence. To a lawyer,


or p.

least,

this

is

highly

unsatisfactory.

To

constitute effective

judicially

enforceable

(Jaffa, 1999, law,

133).
meaning limit the discretion of

statements must provide


must

ful

guidance to those to whom

they

apply, and

they

those who

apply them. Nothing could be clearer, it seems to me, than that the from the Declaration do not do this; they may be useful as exhorta tions or aspirations, they the core of religious may embody tradition, but they are not useful as rules of law. (P. 131)
quoted phrases

Now that
of

we

have

restored

the

Enlightenment
define the be
used

and

Deist

philosophical context of natural

the

Founding Fathers,

we

can

principles

law

more

specifically into

a set of standards to

in

constitutional

interpretation.

VI. THE CIVILIAN: AN ATTEMPTED RECONCILIATION

,4.

,4

Return to Fundamentals

Storm Over the Constitution brings to


tween the positivist
activism

our attention a powerful struggle

be

lawyers

who want to protect the

Constitution from judicial


and

by rigorously

maintaining the letter of the law.

law,

Jaffa,

who wishes

to

preserve the spirit of the

We have

seen that a

cannot resolve

purely positivist position on constitutional interpretation inconsistencies within the Constitution itself nor adequately re

flect the know in

original

intent
effect

of the

framers

and ratifiers.

To

adapt

Lewis E. Lehrman's

formulation (in

such cases

following Chief Justice John Marshall), "judges cannot what the positive law of the Constitution is unless they know
(Foreword to

what natural

law
also

is"

Jaffa, 1994,

p.

7).

We have

seen

that the concept of natural

law,

while essential

to

an

understanding of original intent, may be abused New Age, Christian, Socialist, or partisans of any

by

judicial activists,

whether

other

dogmatic

or

fashionable in their

doctrine, if
actual

natural

law

concepts are not

clearly defined

or understood

Enlightenment

and

Deist

context.

It becomes critical, therefore, if any civil reconciliation of the debate in Storm Over the Constitution is possible, to define the Enlightenment view of natural

right sufficiently that it can be used to guide constitutional interpretation. We attempt to do so here. We believe that a Deist formulation of natural right is (1)
sufficiently
and the
well

defined to
and

meet originalist objectives supported


meaningful guidance

by

both Jaffa

Borkians,
not claim

(2) "provide[s]

apply,

and

limit[s]

the discretion of those who apply


that our approach

We do

is

they (Jaffa, 1999, p. 131 ). definitive formulation. It is, rather, a


them"

to those to whom

324

Interpretation

working hypothesis as to how more exact inquiry into, and consideration of, the political meaning intended by the Founders in their references to natural law and
natural right

may provide Over the Constitution. We begin this


intent"

basis for

civil resolution of the

issues

raised

in Storm

analysis

by

restating Jaffa's
significance,
republic

original thesis

that if the
original

phrase

"original
of

is to have any

inquiry

into the

intentions

the Founders in

forming

this

must,

inescapably, begin
of

with exami

America"

nation of gress

the first document issued

by

"the United States

in Con
out,

assembled: of

the Declaration of Independence. As Jaffa has


and

pointed

writing

Jefferson

Madison:

These two Board


of

ex-presidents and

Visitors [of the


was president

Founding Fathers concluded University of Virginia], of which


that,
of

and recommended

to the

both

were members and

Jefferson tions,
of

the "best

to the
the

principles of

the

Constitu
of

Virginia,

and of

the United
act of

States,
Union

first

was

"the Declaration

Inde
cit

pendence as

the fundamental

States."

of

these

(Jaffa, 1994,

p.

22.

ing

Writings of James Madison, Hunt, ed.,


p.

vol.

9,

p.

221,

and

The Complete

Jefferson,

1112)
declaration is its
historical

The

seminal proclamation of that

world

proposition:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that


endowed

all men are created

equal, that

they

are

by

their

Creator

with certain unalienable of

Rights,

that

among

these are

Life, Liberty,
ments are

and the

Pursuit

Happiness. That, to
....

secure

these rights.

Govern

instituted among

men

(emphasis added)

As Jaffa suggests, these


marize

words

from the Declaration

of

Independence

sum

the essential political propositions of the natural right tradition

informing
con state

the

Revolutionary

science.

(and post-Revolutionary) American moral and political Similar lists of inalienable rights are to be found in numerous

constitutions and

bills

of rights of

the same period, and

demonstrate wide, indeed,

formulation (see, for example, Jaffa, 1994, p. 31), especially as specifically enumerated in the first ten amendments. As Jefferson described his intent in drafting these words:
general, acceptance of this

This

was

the object of the

Declaration
never

of

Independence. Not to find


not

out new prin


which

ciples,

or new

arguments,
said

before thought of,


place

merely

to

say things

had

never

been

before; but to
firm

before

mankind the common sense

of the
our

subject,
selves

in terms

so plain and

as to command their

assent, and to

justify

in the independent
of principle or

stand we are compelled to take.


nor yet copied

Neither aiming

at origi

nality

sentiment,
to

from any for

particular and previous

writing,

it

was

intended

be

an expression

of the American

mind, and to give to

that expression the proper tone and spirit called

by

the occasion. All

its

author-

Book Reviews

325
con

ity

rests then on the

harmonizing

sentiments of the

day,

whether expressed

in

versation, in

letters,

printed essays, or

in the elementary books

of public right, as

Aristotle, Cicero. Locke, Sidney, &c. (Jefferson, 1984,


Or
as

emphasis

added)

John Adams
what
pp.

pendence] but
quoted

put it, "there is not an idea in [the Declaration had been hackneyed in Congress for two years

of

Inde

before"

(as

by Boaz,

43-44).

At the heart
sense of the

of the

Declaration
is

of

Independence's summary

of

"the

common

subject"

an assertion of

the natural capacities of a

human

being

free from coercion, described perhaps most definitively by the secular spiritual father of the Founders, John Locke, in his Second Treatise of Civil Government:
To

understand political power aright, and

derive it from its original,

we must con

sider what state all men are order their actions and

naturally in, and that is a state of perfect freedom to dispose of their possessions and persons as they see fit.
law
.

Within
will of

the

bounds

of the
. .

of nature, without

asking leave

or

depending

upon

the

any

other man

(Sec.

4)

a law of nature to govern it, which obliges everyone; law, teaches all mankind who will but consult it, that, being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, (Sec. 6, emphasis added) liberty or possessions
. .

The

state of nature

has

and reason, which

is that

If,

that

is,

our civil government of

constant

fear

a constant

fear

being of being
such

subjected to the physical

is sufficiently established to free us from the force of others, we are freed from life
referred to

murdered, which,
right

"state

of

This is the Under

to

in Thomas Hobbes's view, in the Declaration


then also

was

the

of

Inde

pendence.
our own

circumstances,

we are

free to free

make and act on

decisions,
as we see

our right to

liberty,
all

and, therefore,
who are not

to pursue our own

happiness essentially

fit. Because

"men"

"men"

equal owners of such native

capacities,

all

mentally incompetent are have equal rights to

enjoy such liberty. Hence, when people voluntarily form political communities, they institute governments specifically designed to protect these liberties for each

individual in

the community and,

in broader terms, "to


and

Justice."

establish are

These rights to life, liberty,


natural,
evident

and the pursuit of

happiness

self-evident,
are
self-

inalienable, fundamental,
because they
are

individual human rights.


and

They

immediately
coercion.

universally

experienced

tional individual's consciousness and evidenced in all human


ever a person

in every ra behaviors when

is free from

The

central

feature

of

human beings is their

thought, according to the ability goods they cherish. They are natural because they describe attributes and ca pacities intrinsic to the very consciousness of mentally competent human beings.
to choose their course of action
a process of

by

They

are

inalienable

because,
will

even

if

one attempts to contract them away, the

nature of a

human

being

be to

act to achieve what

he determines to be

most

326

Interpretation
We
cannot contract are

valuable.

These rights

also

away our essential nature, even if we want to. fundamental because our ability to realize our human
above

capacities most

fully depends,

all,

upon our not

being

prevented

from

exercising
these

such

wealth, and

freedoms. Without these rights, all happiness are in constant jeopardy. The
happiness

"higher"

forms

of

health,

respect and protection of

rights

creates

the context in which the ordering of our


are made possible.

lives,

the acquisition
are

of property, and the pursuit of


rights

They

individual
makes

because it is the individual human

being

that lives or
ends

dies, thinks,
of each

choices, acts on those choices, and

determines the

he

or she will pursue.

How

government can

best

secure the

liberty

and

happiness

individual

was the

focus

of

Enlightenment

political thought.

As Jaffa

suggests more generally:

There is

no

lawful

power

in the majority to do anything that


press,
what

would

jeopardize the
And
of

lawful
this is

rights of the minority, whether of speech,


neither more nor p.

religion, or property.

less that

is

meant

by

the natural

law foundation

the

Constitution. (1999,

67)
the

Most important to the truly revolutionary Enlightenment

view

of all

Founders,
vidual

"rights"

these are

because

an

inherent equality

exists

among

indi

in their capacity to choose their own course of mentally competent action. This fundamental equality means that no one, neither king, nor bishop,
nor

"men"

legislator,

can

justly

be

given the power

to deprive other human beings


or public

of

their

freedom to

exercise this

protect

the exercise of similar


and established,
not

capacity in their personal rights by others. The


the divine right of

life,

except to

government
nor

was

to be

kings, by leader, but by the collective will of the individual citizens who ordain it. Again, "to secure these rights [of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], Governments are instituted among men deriving their just
ordained strength of a conqueror or powers

the superior

from the

governed."

consent of the

It is the focus

on this

intrinsic
of

concept

of

justice

as understood

through natural law that


speaks most

forms the focus


to the
framers'

Enlighten

ment political
original

theory

and

directly

ratifie

and

intent.
natural

In applying these

law

principles of original

intention to determine

the

constitutionality

of

any

particular piece of

legislation, it is important
character.

to recognize

that these rights are

essentially

negative

in

They

negate a threat to our

life, liberty,

and

ability to pursue

happiness. The
the United

purpose of government

is to

secure us against

interference
put

by

government or other persons

acting to violate
not

these rights. Or to

it

another way,

States Constitution does

confer positive rights

to

individuals

or groups

but

safeguards them against trans

gression of their natural rights.

In sum, it is
that

protection of these natural rights of

individuals from
tradition. As the

external coercion

forms

the

heart
in its

of the natural

law

political

Constitution's

preamble states

beginning

and conlusion:

Book Reviews
"We the
people of the

327

United States, in do

order

to secure the this

blessings

of

liberty
When
the

to ourselves and our posterity,

ordain and establish

Constitution."

The United States Constitution


we examine

created a government of

limited

powers.

the

Constitution,
of

we

find that every

article and clause concerns

authorization and regulation of governmental power.

It does

not regulate the citizens.

behavior
cally, it

of

its citizens, but

the government in relation to

its

Specifi

provides the government the power to protect the rights of

its

citizens and

limits the ability of government to violate those rights. This is the understanding of natural law stated in various forms in hundreds
of

documents,

speeches, and pamphlets at the time of our nation's

founding. This in the Consti

is

the moral and political

philosophy
so

that the

framers

embodied

tution and used to promote its ratification. We suggest that these principles of
natural

rights

and natural

law.

understood,
of of

help properly guide reconciliation ing to the essential original intent

are sufficiently defined and inconsistencies in the Constitution

clear

to

accord

the

Founders.

B.

Civility

distracting feature
As

of

Storm Over the Constitution is the hominem. It

almost vitriolic tone writings

of the arguments. come more

one aggressive response and ad

incites another, the

be

condescending

seems that rather than

attempting

to understand and honor the contributions each author offers to the

discussion,
down,
and

the participants were more eager to demonstrate the mistakes and ignorance of the other party. In the process, the quality of communication breaks

the arguments become

more

dogmatic

and

focused

around positions.

Experienc society is

ing

such an uncivilized

discourse

about

the

foundations

of a civilized

ironic to say the least. We suggest that such heralds


a

breakdown in discussion
and

on such a

fundamental issue

fracture in the solidity


scientist,
republics.

security

of our

society that the

first

modern

political

enduring

Machiavelli, predicted was the potentially tragic fate of long In book 3, chapter 1 of his Discourses on the First Books of
wrote:

Livy (1521),
.
.

Machiavelli

And those

are

the

best

constituted

[political] bodies,

and

have

the

longest

exis

tence, is

which possess

the

intrinsic

means of

frequently
is to

renewing themselves.

And it

a truth clearer than


and

light that,
means of

without such

renovation, these

bodies

cannot con
origi

tinue to exist;
nal principles.

the

renewing

them

bring

them

back to their

Storm Over

the

Constitution, in

effect, depicts a crisis in our republic of

in his description of the degeneration exactly the kind Machiavelli wrote about of (and means of restoration) longstanding republican regimes. The debate in Storm Over
the

Constitution indicates dissolution

of

the principles on which our

328

Interpretation
founded. As
we

republic was

have

argued, we

believe that

a proper understand

ing

of

the Enlightenment

principles of natural

law

and negative

individual

rights.

divorced from religion, may furnish a means for renewing our republic and a potential common ground between Professor Jaffa and the Borkian positivists. Their
affairs acceptance of

does

men,

nor

not rely upon the workings of Div ine Providence in the does it exclude it. Renewal of recourse to those original
provide

principles

would, moreover,
republic.

healthy

renewal

to the
of

vitality

of our
as a

long-enduring
prudent

Acceptance

of the

Declaration

Independence

summary

of the natural right principles upon which our

Constitution
an
of

was

founded

would reaffirm and give

designed both to "establish Ourselves


and

Justice"

meaning to our Constitution as and "secure the Blessings

instrument

Liberty

to

Our

Posterity."

As Jaffa poignantly asks,


principles, which guided the

"Why
framers

should

the understanding of these

general

and ratifiers of our constitutions, not guide

judges in construing those

same

(1999,

p.

67)

VII. CONCLUSION

Storm Over the Constitution is

a significant

book. The debate it


of our valid

records

is

immediate, important,
republic and

and

has

crucial

implications for the future


sides

American
concerns,

the security of our civil liberties. Both

have

which must

country is to continue a second two hundred years. One might say, in fact, that since its central subject is the very nature of our civil government as regulated by our Constitution, the debate calls for noth
be integrated if
our

ing
the

less than the


parties.

most civil and serious conversation possible continued

among the

con
and

tending

After all, the

security

of our rights

to

life, liberty,

pursuit of

happiness

are at stake.

We have

suggested that reconciliation

between Jaffa

and

the Borkian posi

tivists on the question of original


possible. natural

intent

and constitutional

interpretation may be
principles of well-defined

We

can

law

and

the

bridge the gap between Jaffa's desire to use the insistence on a nonreligious and
Borkians'

standard of judgment ral

through a nonreligious Enlightenment clarification of natu

law, specifically

a consideration of negative

individual

rights.

The

potential

value of such an effort can

hardly

be doubted: It

could provide

nothing less than


our
republic-

refreshment and reinvigoration

of the

principles that

have

made

endure
precise

for

as

long

as

it has. It

would provide our of original

justices

with a

sufficiently

and principled

terpretation where

understanding its text is inadequate to decide

intent to
cases

guide

its judicial in
of ambiguity,

because

inconsistency,
principles

or omission.

of government

Without searching and serious consideration of the the Founders and ratifiers actually intended tor our

Book Reviews
constitutional system,
as

329
the
a

they

understood on

it, any judicial


intent
seems

construction

of

Constitution ostensibly founded


hollow
misuse of the phrase.

original

to

us

to

become

REFERENCES

Adler, Mortimer. "Religion

and

Religious Groups in

America."

Vol. 2.

chap.

22 in Great

Issues in American Life. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1968.

Boaz, David. Libertarianism. New York: Free Press, 1997.


The Debate
on the

Constitution.

Library

of

America. New York:

Literary

Classics

of the

United States. 1993.

Jaffa, Harry V.,


Intent

with

Bruce Ledewitz, Robert L. Stone,

and

George Anastaplo. Original

Framers of the Constitution A Disputed Question. Washington: Regnery Publishing. 1994. Jefferson, Thomas. Letter to Henry Lee, May 4. 1825. In Thomas Jefferson, Writings.
and the

Library
.

of

America. New York:

Literary

Classics

of the

United

States, 1984.

Letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823. In The Complete Jefferson. Edited

by

Saul K. Padover. Irvington, NY: Irvington Publishers, 1986.

Remsburg, John E. Six Historic Americans. New York: Truth Seeker, 1906.

Response to Lewis
Harry V. Jaffa

and

Sheppard

am

grateful

to Mark Lewis and Harrison Sheppard for their thoughtful


might

critique of

Storm Over the Constitution. It

have been

even more

thoughtful

had they read it as the record of debates occasioned by its predecessor, Original Intent and the Framers of the Constitution. I heartily concur with the negative
things

they say

about the

"original

intent"

jurisprudence

of the

dominant

elite

among conservative jurists, as represented by Judge Robert Bork, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and Justice Antonin Scalia. Let me, however, dispose
of their one objection to

say consists of an improper attempt into the morality of the Constitution. I have, they say, imported "doctrines of revealed religion into the secular interpretation of a civil This is not
true. What I maintained was that according to the Founders
intent"

my position, which they to integrate Judeo-Christian moral principles

constitut

whose

"original

forms the foundation


of the

of
of

American

constitutionalism were

the wholly rational

doctrines

Declaration

Independence
as

in

perfect

harmony
I

or agree
quoted at

ment with

biblical revelation, legislature

they

understood that revelation.

length from

the sermon preached


of the

by

the Reverend Samuel


of

governor and

Commonwealth

Chase, before the Massachusetts, on the occa

sion of the

inauguration

of the new state constitution part of

(largely

the work of John

Adams)
We

on

October 25, 1780. Here is

that

passage:

need

not,

indeed,

a special revelation no man

from heaven

to teach us that men are

born

equal and

free;

that

has

a natural claim to
. . .

dominion

over

his

neigh

bors,

nor one nation

any

such claim upon another

There follows
said to

a virtual recital of the

doctrines

of the

Declaration. These

are then

be

the plain
men

dictates

of reason and common sense with which

the

common parent of

has informed the human bosom. It is however


maxims of

a satisfaction to observe such


upon

everlasting
men

equity

confirmed and

impressed

the

consciences of

by

the

instructions,

precepts,

and examples given us

in the

sacred oracles

....

We

see that unassisted


political

human

reason

is

said to

be

a sufficient ground

for

wisdom

concerning God no less than "the


apart

right. The dictates


sacred

of right reason are said

to be the voice of

oracles."

I believe that this

moral-political

horizon,

from

all other

worldly

doctrines, is substantially

the viewpoint that Lewis

interpretation,

Spring 2002,

Vol.

29, No. 3

332
and

Interpretation
Sheppard
attribute

to the Deists. What the Reverend Mr.

they

attribute and

to Deism is
agreement

in fact
the

common original myself!

ground with

Chase,
and

is in

with

intent I have

propounded.

Lewis

Sheppard have

corrected me with

Our

generous authors

have

"reconciliation"

proposed a

between the Borkians


to

and myself.

This is
s

absurd.

The heart
on

and soul of
of a

Borkianism is

be found in
a

Rehnquist"

Justice
passage of which

essay
quoted

"The Notion

Living
and

Constitution,"

key
It

is

by

Lewis

and

Sheppard,
not

in

which

it is

asserted

liberty"

that "safeguards for individual


cannot

do

have

"any
or

intrinsic

be

pointed out

too often that if


neither

safeguards

for individual

liberty

do

not

have any intrinsic worth,


is
of original

does individual liberty,


their

individual life. This


constitutionalism

nihilism pure and simple and

is utterly incompatible
and

with

any

intent. Bork, Rehnquist, Scalia,

the ultimate source of all constitutional principles.

majority rule Justice Scalia is candid that

school, make

minority rights, if there are any, are simply the gift of the majority. But uncon ditional majority rule leads to the plebiscite, which has been the instrument of

legitimacy
from the We

for tyrants, from Napoleon to Hitler freedom


of

and

Stalin.

Majority
be

rule apart

natural rights of

speech, press, association, and the


question

free

exercise of religion note

is

meaningless.

On this

there

can

no compromise.
asserted

that in the aforesaid

passage
.

from Justice Rehnquist, it is

that

"safeguards for individual


goodness
.

liberty

take on a generalized moral Tightness or

people."

simply because they have been incorporated in a constitution by the It happens, however, that in the original constitution there were safe
.

guards

for slavery along


of

with

the safeguards

for liberty.

They

were

incorporated
premises the
Tightness or

into

the same constitution

by

the same people.


on

By Rehnquist's
identical
moral

safeguards

goodness.

slavery and of liberty take It was because Abraham Lincoln

the

and

his party declared the

safeguards

for slavery to be, at best, necessary evils, that eleven slave states seceded from the Union in 1860-61, formed the Confederacy, and brought on the Civil War.
The idea
at
of a constitutional moral position of

bottom the

neutrality as between slavery and freedom is John C. Calhoun and Jefferson Davis. For our Borkians
what

nothing was settled at Appomatox. This is pard have overlooked.

Mark Lewis

and

Harrison

Shep

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