Benedetto Croce (1866–1952), who is perhaps best known as the author in 1902 of Aesthetics, wrote History as the Story of Liberty in 1938, when the Western world had succumbed to the notion that history is a creature of blind force. A reviewer at the time noted the importance of Croce’s belief that “the central trend in the evolution of man is the unfolding of new potentialities, and that the task of the historian is to discover and emphasize this trend: the story of liberty.” As Croce himself writes, “Even in the darkest and crassest times liberty trembles in the lines of poets and affirms itself in the pages of thinkers and burns, solitary and magnificent, in some men who cannot be assimilated by the world around them.” The first edition in English of History as the Story of Liberty appeared in London in 1941. The new Liberty Fund edition includes modest improvements to the translation by Folke Leander and arranged by Claes Ryn.
Originally given as a series of lectures at the Sorbonne, François Guizot’s History of Civilization in Europe was published to great acclaim in 1828 and is now regarded as a classic in modern historical research. History was particularly influential on Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, and Alexis de Tocqueville. Tocqueville, in fact, requested that a copy of History be sent to him when he arrived in the United States.
David Hume’s enduring reputation as the first modern thinker to develop a systematically naturalistic philosophy tends to obscure the fact that he was more famous among his contemporaries as a historian. Covering almost 1,800 years, The History of England from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688 was the work that established Hume’s reputation in his own time.
First published in 1895, Sir Frederick Pollock and Frederic William Maitland’s legal classic The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I expanded the work of Sir Edward Coke and William Blackstone by exploring the origins of key aspects of English common law and society and with them the development of individual rights as these were gradually carved out from the authority of the Crown and the Church. Although it has been more than a century since its initial publication, Pollock and Maitland’s work is still considered an accessible and useful foundational reference for scholars of medieval English law.
David Ramsay’s History of the American Revolution appeared in 1789 during an enthusiastic celebration of nationhood. It is the first American national history written by an American revolutionary and printed in America.
The French political philosopher and historian François Guizot (1787–1874) was one of the French Doctrinaires, thinkers who sought to avoid the interpretations of the Revolution advanced by either extreme of Left or Right. He argued that in order to understand the nature of political institutions it is necessary to study first the society, its composition, mores, and the relation between various classes. At the very center of his theory lies the principle of the sovereignty of reason.
Mercy Otis Warren has been described as perhaps the most formidable female intellectual in eighteenth-century America. This work (in the first new edition since 1805) is an exciting and comprehensive study of the events of the American Revolution, from the Stamp Act Crisis of 1765 through the ratification of the Constitution in 1788–1789.
Of Michael Oakeshott and his interest in Thomas Hobbes, Professor Paul Franco has written, “The themes Oakeshott stresses in his interpretation of Hobbes are . . . skepticism about the role of reason in politics, allegiance to the morality of individuality as opposed to any sort of collectivism, and the principle of a noninstrumental, nonpurposive mode of political association, namely, civil association.” Of Hobbes’s Leviathan, Oakeshott has written, “Leviathan is the greatest, perhaps the sole, masterpiece of political philosophy written in the English language.” Hobbes on Civil Association consists of Oakeshott’s four principal essays on Hobbes and on the nature of civil association as civil association pertains to ordered liberty. The essays are “Introduction to Leviathan” (1946); “The Moral Life in the Writings of Thomas Hobbes” (1960); “Dr. Leo Strauss on Hobbes” (1937); and, “Leviathan: A Myth” (1947). The foreword remarks the place of these essays within Oakeshott’s entire corpus.
This DVD shows how the economic transformation of Hong Kong from a modest trading center to a modern industrial and free-trade economy (prior to China’s annexation) came about through a reliance on the market and economic liberty rather than on central planning through government direction.
In Human Action, Mises starts from the ideas set forth in his Theory and History that all actions and decisions are based on human needs, wants, and desires and continues deeper and further to explain how studying this human action is not only a legitimate science (praxeology) but how that science is based on the foundation of free-market economics.
Roscoe Pound, former dean of Harvard Law School, delivered a series of lectures at the University of Calcutta in 1948. In these lectures, he criticized virtually every modern mode of interpreting the law because he believed the administration of justice had lost its grounding and recourse to enduring ideals.