The Spirit of the Laws by Montesquieu

The Spirit of the Laws

The Spirit of the Laws is, without question, one of the central texts in the history of 18th-century thought, yet there has been no complete scholarly English language edition since 1750. This lucid translation renders Montesquieu's problematic text newly accessible to a fresh generation of students, helping them to understand why Montesquieu was such an important figure in the early Enlightenment and why The Spirit of the Laws was such an influe...


Details The Spirit of the Laws

TitleThe Spirit of the Laws
ISBN9780521369749
Author
Release DateSep 21st, 1989
PublisherCambridge University Press
LanguageEnglish
GenrePhilosophy, Politics, Nonfiction, Classics, Law, History, Political Science, Cultural, France, European Literature, French Literature, Literature, 18th Century
Rating

Reviews The Spirit of the Laws

  • Roy Lotz
    2013-10-11
    I beg one favour of my readers, which I fear will not be granted me; this is, that they will not judge by a few hours reading of the labour of twenty years; that they will approve or condemn the book entire, and not a few particular phrases. Reviewing big, old tomes like this is difficult, partly because they cover so much ground, and partly because whatever there is to say about them has already been said. Yet I was often surprised by what I fou...
  • Briana
    2009-09-11
    This is almost as huge as Leviathan and possibly scarier...*EDIT*I love how Montesquieu makes DIRECT rebuttals. Locke, that dear old fellow, addresses Hobbes' arguments, but not Hobbes himself. Montesquieu says, "Hobbes says X argument. HE'S WRONG. I shall now show you WHY." To whoever wrote the immensely illuminating (and legible!) notes in my used copy: Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love you.*EDIT*I would've given this 4 stars, but I...
  • Matt
    2013-09-11
    I’m not sure what can compare in the West to The Spirit of Laws before its publication in 1748. Sure, there were the Greeks. Plato’s Republic and Laws were extensive dialogues on constructing political systems. But those were primary intellectual exercises. The debate was more about the ideal rather than the practical. Plato made some comparisons of Athenian and Spartan systems, but he was not surveying systems, he was attempting to take what...
  • Elaine
    2013-01-03
    Modern pundits and general yappers would do well to read more Montesquieu and less of whatever they are reading now -- if they are, in fact, reading anything at all.
  • Miriam
    2015-08-10
    Montequieu placed emphasis on reason as the guide for laws and society, but also respected tradition, historical precedent, and the "spirit of the people". Laws should be based on reason +customs and mores.3 forms of government correspond to size: despotic (large), monarchy (medium), republic (small). Despotism is sustained by fear (and thus is inherently corrupt and short-lived), monarchy by honor (class distinctions), and republics by civic vir...
  • Xander
    2017-08-23
    I'm at a loss for words trying to describe my experience reading this book. The scope of this book is immense, the topics are so varied and the lessons one could (should?) draw from it are so numerous, that trying to explain it all would require another book of 700 pages. Nevertheless, I will try to describe some important points (while leaving many equally important ones out).Montesquieu starts of this book by explaining the importance of princi...
  • Christopher (Donut)
    2017-06-26
    Goodreads has linked "Defense de l'esprit des lois" with Montesquieu's magnum opus.The "Defense" is merely a pamphlet, a reply to one or two critics of L'esprit des lois. I can't say I read it easily, but I read it all (61 pp.) which is more than I could do when I first got it for Kindle (in 2012).This passage, I think, is as true today as it was in the 18th C., especially if one bears in mind which 'theologians' (i.e., upholders of orthodoxy) of...
  • Bertrand
    2013-01-22
    As for Rousseau I have to admit I started this lecture with some prejudice: whereas I mistakenly imagined Rousseau to be this half autistic failed novelist wearing rose-tinted glasses, I imagined Montesquieu to be somewhat his rigorous, legalistic counter-part (probably owing to my complete ignorance in the field of legal theory) bent on ossifying every well-meaning, politically correct and moralizing precept the Enlightenment might have produced...
  • Robert Owen
    2015-08-23
    “The Spirit of the Laws”, Montesquieu’s widely read and, in its time, highly influential treatise on the nature of government was one of the vegetables that I resolved to consume in 2015. I made it through half of the book, which is pretty good given that at about a third of the way through I realized that “The Spirit of the Laws” is to my list of books on Enlightenment political philosophy what Brussel Sprouts are to my list of least f...
  • Lee Walker
    2013-07-24
    Someone said this was almost as long and scary as Hobbes's Leviathan? Hardly. This book is a breeze to read if you have a good translation. Every chapter is between .5-2 pages at the most. It's all in bite-sized idea chunks. I have flown through 130 pages in just over a day. For a normal academic work I'd probably be on page 20 or 25 by now.My problem is that, to the modern reader, much of what Montesqiueu says is nonsensical. His ideas are also ...
  • Buciu Petre
    2016-05-19
    Magisterial ! If you want to build a civilization from scratches, this book should serve as guide. It is overly complex and its erudition obvious. Of course some of the opinions exposed here have not passed the test of time, especially his analysis concerning the impact of the climate on societies and customs. This and some other ideas scientifically in character may be outdated now but the vast scope of the work, its erudition, its empirical and...
  • Duy
    2017-06-23
    Trông người lại nghĩ đến ta.
  • Jimbo
    2016-01-19
    This monumental work is full of insight into how law comes into being and how and where it is useful in preserving order in society....It is rich in provocative thought ....These gems below I isolated from a single session with the text:“(R)eform by law what is established by law, and change by custom what is settled by custom; for it is very bad policy to change by law what ought to be changed by custom.”Nations are in general very tenacious...
  • Joe
    2015-02-19
    Have you ever been curious as to why we have certain laws and why they have the effects they have. That is what is covered in this book. It opens by talking about why he thinks humans established laws and civilization, then it discusses what he labels as the three main forms of government: Republics, Monarchies, and Tyrannies. While there are many different themes throughout the book, I think one of the main ones is that for a government to be su...
  • Sergei Moska
    2011-09-02
    I feel like I need to justify giving an all-time classic text only two stars. The two stars doesn't reflect its importance or the depth of its thought. It reflects the fact that in spite of the very interesting and important arguments that Montesquieu makes - many of which being subtle and amenable to really interesting open-ended discussion - much of the book is a tough, tedious slog about mercantilism, and the history of the development of fief...
  • Mahmoud Haggui
    2013-04-25
    الكتاب ينتقد الفلسفة المادية الجدلية كالفلسفة الماركسية الارثوذكسية، حين كان الطفل فى رحم الام كان يحيى حياة كاملة بجهاز تنفسى كامل لكن لم يستخدمه مرة واحدة و لو استخدمه داخل الرحم لهلك. الرسالة ان رحم الام بوابة للعيش فى عالم اوسع. الشاهد: نحن نعي...
  • Nick Bond
    2015-05-12
    While the sections on the separation of powers in a civil government are deservedly revered, I found the majority of this volume to be a bit awkward. Montesquieu seemed to have a strong propensity for finding patterns where there (probably) were none and his justification for these conclusions often relied more on dubious examples rather than an actual explanation. He had some interesting ideas, but you'd probably be better off reading selected e...
  • Yann
    2014-11-18
    tome 1:De L'esprit Des Lois, Tome 1tome 2:De L'esprit Des Lois, Tome 2
  • Bap
    2008-02-21
    Ok, so I read this 35 years ago when I was in a master's program at LSE. It is long and long winded. Anti-cleric as I remember and there are moments that are memorable, though which ones I can't remember, , anti royalist, a plea for the enlightenment. This is like eating spinach, good for you but not something that you would run to if not assigned.
  • Johannes
    2007-10-10
    Back in the day when historians/political philosophers didn't shy away from embracing projects of enormous breadth and scope... This man also had the most phenomenal knowledge of the classical world. If you are at all interested in American democracy, it's founded in large part on his thought.
  • Adam Gossman
    2011-06-06
    One of the best books I have ever read and ever shall hope to read at least three more times in my lifetime... if only all books were only a slight fraction of the merit of this (and all of M's works I have read) book then I daresay I would never stop reading.
  • José Porto
    2013-03-19
    Formidable. Le debemos la separación de los poderes públicos, la escénica del estado moderno.
  • Tschäff Reisberg
    2013-04-14
    Must read for any political junkie.
  • Onur Çukur
    2017-07-18
    He should have ended this work after first 15 chapter
  • Joel Muinde
    2012-12-30
    So sublime and concise.
  • Amy
    2012-01-12
    A thick, but well researched book. Its impact on history alone grants it the 5 star rating. This particular edition was quite readable.
  • Richard Anderson
    2013-02-27
    A classic, but honestly the latter portions could be excised, or at least excerpted. Get a modern translation, despite the price.
  • Nicholas
    2016-02-25
    Wow.