06 March 2010

The State Of Higher Education

This is a follow up to Friday's post:

"Back in 2008, when my agent was attempting to market the manuscript of what recently appeared in two companion volumes under the titles Montesquieu and the Logic of Liberty: War, Religion, Commerce, Climate, Terrain, Technology, Uneasiness of Mind, the Spirit of Political Vigilance, and the Foundations of the Modern Republic and Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Tocqueville, and the Modern Prospect, he ran into an unexpected snag. None of the editors at the trade presses he approached had ever even heard of Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu."

It was Montesquieu who was the thinker most often cited by the Founding Fathers from 1760-1805, beating out even Blackstone and Locke. No doubt Montiesquieu has fallen out of favor due, at least in part, to his philosophical views, to wit:

"God is related to the universe as Creator and Preserver; the laws by which He created all things are those by which He preserves them." ~ Spirit of Laws

But his importance in influencing the Founding Fathers, as well as their familiarity with his work, makes this story all the more amazing, in a very sad sense.

Professor Paul A. Rahe's
observation in this piece bolsters what I pointed out in Friday's post:

"If undergraduates at our colleges and universities are seldom now introduced to Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws, it is a profound loss and an indication that they have been denied the intellectual tools requisite for understanding our country, its Constitution, and the parlous times in which we live."

Again, this forces us to ask the question: Is the loss intentional?

More here.


MSimons said...

To be blunt Mr. Williams YES! it has been on purpose. I know of this French man only because in my college days I read much of the founding fathers in my American Revolution Class. I graduated college in 1991.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

I would agree. Montesquieu has been crowded out by non-traditional subjects.