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Chapter 2

SOAN 2111 Zeitlin Chapter 2 (Montesquieu )

Sociology and Anthropology
Course Code
SOAN 2111
Linda Hunter

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Zeitlin Chapter 2
Giovanni Vico
- He perceived order and regularity in the natural world
- Believed that the social world was the work of men, but man should still be
comfortable in the natural world
oWe are all a result of nature and therefore we should get along with it
- Vico remained essentially medieval and theological in his outlook
oHe was not influenced by the Enlightenment
- Montesquieu made the first attempt in modern times at constructing a philosophy
of society and history
- He sought the laws of social and historical development
oFacts are studied not for their own sake but for the law that become
manifested though them
- His major works look at the political and sociological types
o“The ideal types”
See’s it as a intellectual tool
Makes sense out of an otherwise incomprehensible mass of facts
- All forms of government express a certain underlying social structure
oThere is a type of republican and a type of monarchy
oWhat are the principles underlying the types
- While Montesquieu’s ideal-types are static forms employment in the study of
social structure, he has no doubt of their usefulness for the study of process
- Social processes are the fate of peoples are not determined by accidents
oIn Montesquieu’s study of Roman civilization, he looks at the cultural and
physical aspects that lead to the fall of power and civilization
Physical conditions are less threatening (weather)
Sociocultural ranks higher on the list (government, law etc.)
- Montesquieu was interested in the facts
- Did not hesitate to point out virtues as well as faults in all forms of government
- His major concern was power and its relation to freedom
oPower should be distributed among the individual and groups of society so
as to ensure maximal freedom
- Montesquieu studied Roman society, not merely to describe them but also in order
to put forward a theory that might account for the rise, development, and decay of
Roman civilization
- Viewed social institutions as intimately connected
oHe was the first person to take this approach
oCalled the founder of the sub-discipline called sociology of knowledge
- He looked at people not as individuals but as a society
oOne person effects the other
oFocus on social rather than nonsocial
- Spirit for Montesquieu refers to the distinctive character of a system of laws
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