Montesquieu's Greatest Mark on Philosophy Essay

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Doubtless, if Montesquieu were forced to choose a favorite mathematical formula, he would pick the average function. For even among the great thinkers of the French Enlightenment, the baron de Montesquieu stands out as an especially impassioned advocate for moderation. Montesquieu, of course, left his greatest mark on the philosophy of the governance through his great work The Spirit of the Laws. Though certainly his earlier work The Persian Letters sowed the seeds of many of the ideas featured in his chef d’œuvre. In particular, Montesquieu spends some time in both works examining the universe of possible governments. But he advocates not, in fact, for republicanism or, perhaps less surprisingly, despotism. Rather, Montesquieu …show more content…
Further, Usbek notes a few paragraph later, “When Osman, the Turkish emperor, was deposed, none of the men who performed the deed had any intention of carrying it out; they were simply petitioners asking for some cause of complaint to be put right” (Persian Letters 159). Here, Montesquieu shows not only subject’s suffering at the despots cruel hand, but also stresses the intrinsic instability of a despotic government.
This case is made even more explicitly in The Spirit of the Laws. In Book III, for instance, Montesquieu ascribes a fundamental principle to each of the three types of government he outlines. But while Montesquieu names “virtue” as the principle of a republican government and “honor” as the principle of a monarchical government, the despotic system is given the fundamental principle of “fear” (Spirit of the Laws bk. III, ch. 9, par. 1), easily the least noble of the three.
By contrast, Montesquieu does not make his distaste for the republican system nearly as overt. In his discussion of the history of republics, the character Rhedi writes of the ancient Greek republics, “Love of freedom and hatred of kings preserved Greek independence for a long time, and extended republican government to distant parts” (Persian Letters 233), which suggests Montesquieu, through Rhedi, feels the system has some merit insofar as it allowed the Greeks to thrive.
Even in the context of acknowledging the good the republican system has done
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