Download PDF by W. M. Spellman: A Short History of Western Political Thought

By W. M. Spellman

This short narrative survey of political notion over the last millennia explores key principles that experience formed Western political traditions.

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Human nature was flawed in a fundamental sense, its restoration no longer an act of volition but rather a magnanimous gift for which the recipients were completely undeserving. Cicero acknowledged that some have weaker minds and that most would not be able, unassisted, to see and obey the requirements of the natural law. But weakness for Cicero did not signal evil predisposition; for Augustine the matter was entirely otherwise, and the function of the State—and the Church—was to act in response to this unhappy reality.

16 For Germanic kings, the recruitment and retention of ambitious fighting men depended on the alienation of land. The insecurity that marked life after the collapse of Roman authority meant that men of violence were eager to commend themselves to those who were more dominant. A reciprocal relationship developed whereby legitimate political authority slowly emerged out of network of relationships centered on land, its acquisition through conquest, and its alienation by compact. The most successful of the new type of warrior-king was Charlemagne (r.

The most recognizable of the Roman Stoics was the Emperor Marcus Aurelius (r. 161–180), whose posthumously published Meditations truly encapsulated the devotion to duty, irrespective of adverse circumstances, that best defined Stoicism. ” The unimportance of a single human life, and the transitory nature of human accomplishment within the context of infinite time, are recurring themes of the work. “In a brief while now you will be ashes or bare bones; a name, or perhaps not even a name—though even a name is no more than empty sound and reiteration.

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