The Politics of esprit in De l’esprit des lois

Joshua Bandoch


The concept of esprit is central to Montesquieu’s political philosophy. This essay investigates Montesquieu’s usage of the term, focusing on his magnum opus, De l’esprit des lois. Montesquieu shows that a multitude of variables in a society, including the laws, commerce, and religion, interact with one another to form (and in turn are formed by) the esprit or character of a society. Since each society has a distinct esprit that changes over time, Montesquieu is a proponent of a framework I call the ‘politics of place’. 


Enlightenment; Montesquieu; Spirit of the laws; General spirit; Politics

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