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BOOK REVIEWS 345 establish a structural correlation in the relationship of "mere" ideas. Analysis is precisely what this study lacks. Such as it is, Jacob's presentation of Newton's Natural Philosophy ignores that component of Newtonian concepts by which they are recognized as comprising scientific theory. Presumably, because she considers it historically enlightening to do so, Jacob posits "absolute" space and time, for example, as fulgerations of theology, exclusively. In fact, in Jacob's usage, "Newtonianism" becomes synonymous with what she identifies as the latitudinarian perception of Newton's metaphysics--provided, of course, one permits ontological commitments to diffuse into the socio-political saeculum. The author's remarks on God's providential role and the architectonics of matter and events ought, I think, to be read against papers like Howard Stein's on "Newtonian Space-Time." It is easy enough to forget that Newton's metaphysical presuppositions are hard to explicate with confidence and, even so, constitute a rather feeble performance measured against his scientifc achievement. Such is a precious legacy to be swamped in the name of historical verisimilitude! The Newtonians and the English Revolution succeeds best in clarifying the latitudinarian connection within ecclesiastical politics. This contribution, although by no means contemptible , exhausts the book's value. In my view, Jacob's historiographical observations together with her reading of "Newtonianism" as intrinsically a social gospel (if this is her intention) has the effect of illustrating the more untoward aspects of so-called contextual research. H. R. BERNSTEIN Yale University Montesquieu's Idea of Justice. By Sheila Mary Mason. International Archives of the History of Ideas, no. 79. (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1975. Pp. xv + 319. Gldrs. 90) For some time, students and scholars of Montesquieu have wondered to what extent his observation that "there is a strange inconsistency in the mind of man" should be taken as a self-reflective description of his own work. The Spirit of the Laws seems particularly disturbing with respect to the issue of consistency. Is it, as some have asserted, "an essay in comparative sociological jurisprudence" which "in substance undermined the doctrine of natural law to which Montesquieu still paid lip-service"? Or, should Montesquieu's defense of a transcendental standard of justice be viewed as an affirmation of an "idealist metaphysics" he inherited from traditional sources and to which he subscribed? In addressing herself to these questions, Professor Mason maintains that "Montesquieu's idea of justice holds the key to establishing the unity of his thought." She does not, however, arrive at this conclusion through a comparative juxtaposition of two opposing definitions of justice; rather, she approaches the problem indirectly, by seeking to place Montesquieu's conception of justice "in its general philosophical context" (p. 115). In thus shifting the focus away from law and social institutions towards epistemological presuppositions, Mason argues that the unity of Montesquieu's thought should be viewed as the outcome of a "fruitful interpenetration of the philosophical currents of his time." Based upon her analysis of the developments taking place within philosophy during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, she characterizes Montesquieu's treatment of justice as a synthesis of the assumptions of the new "scientific" empiricism and the moral aspirations of classical idealism. Because the book is divided into two parts, each of which raises different issues with respect to the merits of the methodology and arguments advanced by Mason, I will consider them separately here. Part one of Montesquieu's Idea of Justice presents a survey of the philosophical , ethical, and aesthetic debate in the second half of the seventeenth century, focusing upon the key terms, rapport and convenance, which Montesquieu employs in his definition of 346 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY justice. The latter, seen against this background, which "it may be taken to reflect," constitutes the specific subject treated in Part Two. Working from dictionary meanings, Mason tries to establish the structure of the philosophical debate of the late seventeenth century as "the tradition in which Montesquieu's mind was formed" (p. 109). In fact, structure is much too definite a term to be applied to the hodgepodge of ideas cited in Part One. Rather, what we are offered is a "vast pool of philosophical...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 345-347
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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