Francis Hutcheson’s first book, An Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue, was published in 1725, when its author was only thirty-one, and went through four editions during his lifetime. This seminal text of the Scottish Enlightenment is now available for the first time in a variorum edition based on the 1726 edition.
Christian Thomasius’s natural jurisprudence is essential to understanding the origins of the Enlightenment in Germany, where his importance was comparable to that of John Locke’s in England.
Samuel Pufendorf was a pivotal figure in the early German Enlightenment. His version of voluntarist natural law theory had a major influence both on the European continent and elsewhere in the English-speaking world, particularly Scotland and America. Pufendorf’s An Introduction to the History of the Principal Kingdoms and States of Europe (1682) became one of his most famous and widely reprinted works. It went through multiple editions during the eighteenth century, but its impact has largely been forgotten.
The great eighteenth-century theorist of international law Emer de Vattel (1714–1767) was a key figure in sustaining the practical and theoretical influence of natural jurisprudence through the Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras. Coming toward the end of the period when the discourse of natural law was dominant in European political theory, Vattel’s contribution is cited as a major source of contemporary wisdom on questions of international law in the American Revolution and even by opponents of revolution, such as Cardinal Consalvi, at the Congress of Vienna of 1815.
Christian Wolff’s The Law of Nations is a cornerstone of eighteenth-century thought. A treatise on the philosophy of human action, on the foundations of political communities, and on international law, it influenced philosophers throughout the eighteenth-century Enlightenment world. According to Knud Haakonssen, general editor of the Natural Law and Enlightenment series, “before Kant’s critical philosophy, Wolff was without comparison the most influential German thinker for several decades as well as a major European figure.”
Until the publication of this Liberty Fund edition, all but one of the works contained in Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind were available only in Latin. This milestone English translation will provide a general audience with insight into Hutcheson’s thought.
This 1742 translation is a collaborative work by Francis Hutcheson and a colleague at Glasgow University, the classicist James Moor. Although Hutcheson was secretive about the extent of his work on the book, he was clearly the leading spirit of the project.
George Turnbull’s eighteenth-century translation of A Methodical System of Universal Law was his major effort to convey continental natural law to Britain, thus making Heineccius’s natural jurisprudence more accessible to English-speaking audiences. Turnbull includes extensive comments on Heineccius’s text and also presents his own philosophical work, A Discourse upon the Nature and Origin of Moral and Civil Laws.
Gershom Carmichael (1672–1729) was the first professor of moral philosophy at the University of Glasgow, preceding Hutcheson, Smith, and Reid. He defended a strong theory of rights and drew attention to Grotius, Pufendorf, and Locke.
Originally published in 1742, Observations upon Liberal Education is a significant contribution to the Scottish Enlightenment and the moral-sense school of Scottish philosophy.
Samuel Pufendorf’s Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion (published in Latin in 1687) is a major work on the separation of politics and religion. Written in response to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by the French king Louis XIV, Pufendorf contests the right of the sovereign to control the religion of his subjects, because state and religion pursue wholly different ends. He concludes that, when rulers transgress their bounds, subjects have a right to defend their religion, even by the force of arms.
Robert Bellarmine was one of the most original and influential political theorists of his time. His writings present coherent definitions of the nature and aim of temporal authority and its relationship to spiritual authority.