L’esprit d’une nation, et son objet
This text proposes a clarification of two central notions in Montesquieu’s lexicon: the «esprit général d’une nation» (general spirit of a nation) and the «objet d’une nation» (object of a nation). First, this text reconstructs the process of elaboration of the former, from Montesquieu’s early writings to De l’esprit des lois, and then deploys a series of hypotheses about the political meaning of the latter. Once articulated, these two notions allow us to pose in new terms the question concerning the place of politics in his œuvre, which is designated commonly as a precursor to the social sciences.
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