Aristocracy, Antiquity, and History: An Essay on Classicism in Political Thought

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Transaction Publishers, Jan 1, 1997 - History - 348 pages

This brilliant critique of the literature on modernity challenges conventional approaches in two fundamental ways: First, the lineage of the modern turns out to be less ancient and glorious than is usually suggested. Modernity is an upstart rather than a scion of an old and celebrated line. The roots of modernity are held to be less secure than previously thought. This leads the author to suggest that the demise of the old is a matter of rhetoric rather than reality. The old was driven underground rather than extinguished. The inherited traditions are deeply embedded in our souls. We turn to modernity as a half-baked worldview to overcome our estrangement from the past.

Kinneging examines this sweeping view in the concrete circumstances of the imagined fall of the aristocracy and rise of the enterprising bourgeoisie. But aristocracy, this study reveals a strong and thriving noblesse, not only in places like Russia and Prussia, but also in advanced capitalist states like France and England. Aristocracy, Antiquity, and History shows conclusively that the actual demise of this exploration into the sources of Western thought takes seriously the strength of an aristocratic vision that lives on in a variety of conservative and liberal doctrines.

In Aristocracy, Antiquity and History the readers is reacquainted with the democratic potential as in the work of Montesquieu, and the way in which classicism, romanticism, and modernism, far from a sequential set of events, are entwined in the ethic of honor and in the moral order of modern life. In trying to understand modernity, advanced societies cannot help but draw attention to the old by way of contrast. The presence of antiquity, however suppressed or shrugged off, does not disappear, but stays with us in the very act of rebellion against the ancients. This fine work in the history of ideas will serve to redefine and redirect researches in social and political theory for years to come.

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Contents

POLITICS HISTORY AND TELEOLOGY
3
ANATOMY OF THE ARISTOCRACY
37
THE RISE OF CLASSICISM
69
THE MEANING OF ANTIQUITY
91
ROMAN TRAD1T1ONS
108
THE MAN OF HONOR
139
THE SOCIETY OF UNEQUALS
168
THE POLITICS OF NOB1L1TAS
205
THE THESE N0B1L1A1RE
235
MONTESQU1EUS LINEAGE
279
CLASSICISM ROMANTICISM AND MODERNITY
303
PRIMARY SOURCES
325
SECONDARY SOURCES
331
INDEX
345
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Page 117 - Ar.d as to rebellion in particular against monarchy ; one of the most frequent causes of it is the reading of the books of policy and histories of the ancient Greeks and Romans ; from which young men, and all others that are unprovided of the antidote of solid reason, receiving a strong...
Page 117 - From the reading, I say, of such books, men have undertaken to kill their kings, because the Greek and Latin writers, in their books, and discourses of policy, make it lawful, and laudable, for any man so to do; provided, before he do it, he call him tyrant.
Page 91 - In these western parts of the world we are made to receive our opinions concerning the institution and rights of commonwealths from Aristotle, Cicero...
Page 156 - The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.
Page 91 - LIBERTY is to be supposed: for it is commonly held, that no man is FREE in any other government. And as Aristotle; so Cicero, and other writers have grounded their civil doctrine, on the opinions of the Romans, who were taught to hate monarchy, at first, by them that having deposed their sovereign, shared amongst them the sovereignty of Rome; and afterwards by their successors.
Page 91 - And by reading of these Greek, and Latin authors, men from their childhood have gotten a habit, under a false show of liberty, of favouring tumults, and of licentious controlling the actions of their sovereigns...
Page 91 - But it is an easy thing for men to be deceived by the specious name of liberty; and, for want of judgment to distinguish, mistake that for their private inheritance and birthright, which is the right of the public only.
Page 189 - When owing to floods, famines, failure of crops or other such causes there occurs such a destruction of the human race as tradition tells us has more than once happened, and as we must believe will often happen again...
Page 212 - Some imputed these things to petty avarice, but others approved of him, as if he had only the more strictly denied himself for the rectifying and amending of others. Yet certainly, in my judgment, it marks an overrigid temper, for a man to take the work out of his servants as out of brute beasts, turning them off and selling them in their old age, and thinking there ought to be no further commerce between man and man, than whilst there arises some profit by it.
Page 91 - In democracy, LIBERTY is to be supposed: for it is commonly held that no man is FREE in any other government.

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