Notes on Benjamin Constant article.docx

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Department
Political Science
Course
POL101Y1
Professor
Jeffrey Kopstein
Semester
Fall

Description
Notes on: The Liberty of the Ancients Compared with that of the Moderns Benjamin Constant -Thinks there are two types of Liberty Define Libertythe state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political view - I think in this article we are looking at liberty as only in the context as the state being free within society - The investigation of this to Constant is important because: -It brought up many issues within the French revolution - There wouldn’t be freedom and peace today without the representative government it brought, yet it is unknown to the ancient society Define a representative government: It is a governing style that has fewer people involved, usually defined by geographic boundaries, represented by one person, it lets all the ideas and opinions be voted on without the burden of polling every single person Define monastic aristocracy: Religious classes of power. Define magistrates : a civil officer; administers law. - Sparta was not a representative government; rather it was controlled by five magistrates, the king had limited power and their intentions were as much religious as they were political. - the magistrates took part in administration in the executive powers, which instead of them being there to control tyranny, became tyrant themselves. Who are the Gauls? A region which used to have france in it which were celtic peoples, gaulish language, they had france during the iron age, but were taken over by rome in 1 or 2 B.C. - The Gaul’s had a very theocratic (where priests rule in power) and warlike, the priests held unlimited power, and the military class-the nobility- had very oppressive and arrogant privileges, the people had no safe guard or rights. - The tribunes in Rome were of resemblance of a representative government, they were elected by the plebeians (means the commoners) who were being oppressed by the oligarchy (small institutions of people who controlled country) when they over threw the king. - the difference was that the people practiced they laws directly, they still meet to judge nobles and vote laws. So there is a difference. - Argues rep. gov. is a modern discovery and the peoples of antiquity (ancient; past) could not appreciate it because of their social organization. What does liberty mean to a English man, French man, America: - the right to be only subject to the law, not to be subject to inhuman treatment based on a individual - the right to express opinion, profession, personal property - the right to come and go - the right to socialize - the right to have influence on the government Now compared to the ancients(which were done collectively but directly in public square) : - Discuss and make decisions about war - Forming alliances - Voting laws - Pronounce judgments - Examine acts and accounts of stewardship of the magistrates - Call magistrates to appear in front of assembly - Accuse magistrates and condemn or acquit them The ancients didn’t see this as a subjection of the individual to the group but as a collective freedom. Jouissance in this article is meant to express benefits and anything that brings satisfaction to the individual. - No room was allowed for individual opinion, choice of work or choice of religion, which is one of the most sacred right now. - To all matters that seem important to the moderns, the authority of the ancients would obstruct the wills of the individuals Define moeur: customs, habits, way of life. - In the ancients the individual is always the ultimate in public affairs but a slave in his private relations. - as a citizen he has all the decision in war, but feels the impacts and movments of it directly - as a part of the whole he can pass judgement on his superiours, but the whole may turn against him and do the same to him. - In the moderns the individual is free only only in his private life, his freedom is restricted and always full of obsticles. Who is Condorcet? A French philosopher, mathematician and political scientist. Advocated a liberal economy. - Condorcet stated that the ancients had no notion of individual freedoms, they were just machines working for the law. - All ancient states were small, none of them were anywhere equal to the size of a modern state - small size made them aggressive, they were always fighting, and through fear of this aggression a peaceful neighbor had to be ready to fight in fear of conquering. - War was the price of their independence, security, and existence, thus always being its occupation. - Manuel labor and even business sometimes was for slaves - Modern world are people of all same basic nature, nothing to fear from barbaric hordes. - They find war a burden and have a uniform tendency for peace. - Commerce – the concept of trading – is what we’ve learned from war, it is a mild way of getting people to agree with our interests. - Constant believes we have reached a time where commerce is replacing war. - Commerce in the ancients was very complicated and rare, nothing like commerce today, where it is the goal and way of life - In the ancients war constituted as a way of obtaining slaves, and a nations goods, and land, in the moderns a war would cost more then it is worth. - The bigger the country is the smaller part a individual has on th
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