The Structure of Political Thought : A Study in the History of Political Ideas book cover
1st Edition

The Structure of Political Thought
A Study in the History of Political Ideas

ISBN 9781412864305
Published December 30, 2016 by Routledge
258 Pages

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Book Description

Originally published in 1963, this classic book is a rethinking of the history of Western political philosophy. Charles N. R. McCoy contrasts classical-medieval principles against the "hypotheses" at the root of modern liberalism and modern conservativism.

In Part I, "The Classical Christian Tradition from Plato to Aquinas," the author lays the foundation for a philosophical "structure" capable of producing "constitutional liberty." Part II, "The Modern Theory of Politics from Machiavelli to Marx," attempts to show, beginning with Machiavelli, the reversal and destruction of the pre-modern "structure" postulated in Part I.

McCoy stresses the great contributions of Aristotle to political thought found in his more familiar Ethics and Politics, but also includes key insights drawn from Metaphysics and Physics. These contributions are developed and perfected, McCoy argues, by Augustine and Aquinas. Two other important features include McCoy's epistemological insights into Plato's work that will be new to many readers and the author's juxtaposition of traditional natural law with "the modernized theory of natural law." The modern account of autonomous natural law, in McCoy's view, helps explain the totalitarian direction of key aspects of modern political thought. This classic volume on the origins of modern philosophical thought remains a standard in the field.

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Transaction Edition
Thomas M. Neumayr and Richard J. Dougherty



Part One. The Classical-Christian Tradition

1 Plato: Logic and Political Reality
The Sophists
Socrates and Plato
The Doctrine that Virtue Is Knowledge
The State—"The Individual Writ Large"
Property and the Family

2 Aristotle: Political Science and the Real World
Art and Prudence
Ethics—Fundamental Principles of Self-government
The Political Life and the Contemplative Life
The Primacy of the Common Good
Economics and Politics
Political Science: Architectonic and Principal Science
The Political Community—Forms of Government
Rule According to Law and the Forms of Government
The Mixed Forms of Government and the Polity

3 The Political Philosophy of Later Greece and Rome
The Philosophies of Conduct
Natural Law, Law of Nations, and Civil Law

4 Christianity and Political Philosophy: The Relation of Church and State
Greek Political Philosophy and Christian Theology
The Theory of Church and State
St. Augustine: "The City of God"
St. Thomas Aquinas: Church and State
Egidius Colonna—John of Paris—Marsilius of Padua

5 Christianity and Political Philosophy: The Theory of Constitutional Government
The Political Community: The Law of the Constitution
The Best Form of Government
Consent and Possibility: Intrinsic Limits on Positive Law
The Divine Positive Law and Constitutional Liberty

Part Two. The Modern Theory of Politics

6 Machiavelli and the New Politics: The Primacy of Art
Machiavelli and the Renaissance
Art and the New Physics
The Political Thought of Machiavelli
The Protestant Reformation and Political Philosophy

7 The Modernized Theory of Natural Law and the Enlightenment
Jean Bodin (1530–1596)
The Modernized Theory of Natural Law—Hugo Grotius (1583–1645)
Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679)
John Locke (1632–1704)
Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778)

8 The Outcome of Autonomous Natural Law: Classical Liberalism and Conservatism
David Hume—The Attack on Causality
Adam Smith—"The Theory of Moral Sentiments"
Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832)
John Stuart Mill (1806–1873)
Edmund Burke (1729–1797) and Modern Conservatism
The Dilemma of Liberalism

9 The Marxist Revolutionary Idea: The Enlightenment in Germany
The German Philosophical Revolution
Ludwig Feuerbach and the Humanist Critique of Philosophy

10 The Marxist Revolutionary Idea: Philosophy Passes into Practice



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