Montesquieu and the Discovery of the Social

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-02-08
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

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Montesquieu has often been considered the first social theorist. Today, when a number of authors have pronounced 'the end of the social', it is time to reconsider its beginnings. What did it mean to 'discover the social'? What did it allow one to say that could not previously be said? What sorts of epistemological moves were required in order for this discovery to become possible? This book responds to these questions with a wide-ranging, original interpretation of The Spirit of the Laws. It demonstrates that Montesquieu provides several different senses and usages of the social, each of which builds on the others. The result is a 'divided concept' that challenges later, more simplistic understandings, and allows him to illuminate a number of the fractures central to our modernity. The last chapter brings the discussion forward, and asks what can be retrieved from Montesquieu in order to confront the present crisis of the social and its associated disciplines.

Author Biography

BRIAN SINGER is a Professor at Glendon College York University, Canada. He has previously published Society, Theory and the French Revolution, has translated works by Claude-Levi Strauss and Jean Baudrillard, amongst others

Table of Contents

The Question concerning Laws
The Nature of the Three Regimes: Political Bonds
The Spirit of the Three Regimes: Social Bonds
Particular General Spirits: Exceptions and Contrasts
Conclusion: Speaking of the Social

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