What is the nature of Constant’s distinction between ancient and modern liberty and how does this distinction inform the constitutional recommendations Constant makes in his Principles of Politics? How important do you think Constant’s arguments are?
John Stuart Mill and Political Economy
1. John Stuart Mill, ‘The Spirit of the Age’ (1831): ‘The first of the leading peculiarities of the present age is that it is an age of transition. Mankind have outgrown old institutions and old doctrines, and have yet acquired new ones’.
2. What were these signs of transition? The decline of religion; political instability; economic transformation; the rise of the masses.
3. Mill’s response to the dominance of pigs and fools draws heavily upon Tocqueville’s fear of the tyranny of the majority. Foresees the likely dominance of the ‘commercial class’ and ‘the unbalanced influence of the commercial spirit’.
4. Advocates proportional representation and plural voting.
5. On Liberty sets out his most important response: the definition of when it is appropriate for government to interfere in the life of the individual: the distinction between ‘Self-regarding’ and ‘other-regarding’ actions. Is this the ‘simple’ principle that Mill took it to be? Liberty produces a more flourishing society composed of flourishing individuals.
6. Big question: can or should the law be separated from morality?
7. Next big question: what is the legitimate role of the government intervention in the economy? Set out in The Principles of Political Economy. Overall picture is that ‘industrial progress’ produces ‘increase of capital, increase of population, and improvements in production’ but it ‘the great class at the base of the whole might increase in numbers only, and not in comfort or civilisation’. Also the tendency of profits to fall to a minimum.
8. We will soon reach ‘the stationary state’. This leads Mill to consider the ‘probable’ future of the ‘Labouring Classes’. Capitalism will gradually transform itself. The growth of partnership and cooperation.
9. But this leads to a discussion of the role of government. Similarity of his position to that set out in On Liberty. ‘the great majority of things are worse done by the intervention of government’: ‘Laissez-faire should be the general practice, every departure from it, unless required by some great good, is a certain evil’.
10. When should this principle be departed from? Mill makes a distinction between the ‘necessary’ and ‘optional’ functions of government. The first category proves to be very extensive, and thus Mill tips the balance towards State intervention.
11. Conclusion: in his later writings Mill moves towards a willingness to consider the benefits of socialism: ‘the terrible case which Socialists are able to make out against the present economic order of society demands a full consideration of all means by which the institution may have a chance of being made to work in a manner more beneficial to that large proportion of society which at present enjoys the least share of its direct benefits’.
12. Did this represent a break with the fundamental principles of nineteenth century liberalism as set out by the ‘Manchester school’? ‘Our rulers will best promote the improvement of the people by strictly confining themselves to their own legitimate duties…. Let the Government do this – the People will assuredly do the rest’ (T.B. Macaulay). The great triumph of ‘free trade’ liberalism was the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846.
Dante Alighieri played a critical role in the literature world through his poem Divine Comedy that was written in the 14th century. The poem contains Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. The Inferno is a description of the nine circles of torment that are found on the earth. It depicts the realms of the people that have gone against the spiritual values and who, instead, have chosen bestial appetite, violence, or fraud and malice. The nine circles of hell are limbo, lust, gluttony, greed and wrath. Others are heresy, violence, fraud, and treachery. The purpose of this paper is to examine the Dante’s Inferno in the perspective of its portrayal of God’s image and the justification of hell.
In this epic poem, God is portrayed as a super being guilty of multiple weaknesses including being egotistic, unjust, and hypocritical. Dante, in this poem, depicts God as being more human than divine by challenging God’s omnipotence. Additionally, the manner in which Dante describes Hell is in full contradiction to the morals of God as written in the Bible. When god arranges Hell to flatter Himself, He commits egotism, a sin that is common among human beings (Cheney, 2016). The weakness is depicted in Limbo and on the Gate of Hell where, for instance, God sends those who do not worship Him to Hell. This implies that failure to worship Him is a sin.
God is also depicted as lacking justice in His actions thus removing the godly image. The injustice is portrayed by the manner in which the sodomites and opportunists are treated. The opportunists are subjected to banner chasing in their lives after death followed by being stung by insects and maggots. They are known to having done neither good nor bad during their lifetimes and, therefore, justice could have demanded that they be granted a neutral punishment having lived a neutral life. The sodomites are also punished unfairly by God when Brunetto Lattini is condemned to hell despite being a good leader (Babor, T. F., McGovern, T., & Robaina, K. (2017). While he commited sodomy, God chooses to ignore all the other good deeds that Brunetto did.
Finally, God is also portrayed as being hypocritical in His actions, a sin that further diminishes His godliness and makes Him more human. A case in point is when God condemns the sin of egotism and goes ahead to commit it repeatedly. Proverbs 29:23 states that “arrogance will bring your downfall, but if you are humble, you will be respected.” When Slattery condemns Dante’s human state as being weak, doubtful, and limited, he is proving God’s hypocrisy because He is also human (Verdicchio, 2015). The actions of God in Hell as portrayed by Dante are inconsistent with the Biblical literature. Both Dante and God are prone to making mistakes, something common among human beings thus making God more human.
To wrap it up, Dante portrays God is more human since He commits the same sins that humans commit: egotism, hypocrisy, and injustice. Hell is justified as being a destination for victims of the mistakes committed by God. The Hell is presented as being a totally different place as compared to what is written about it in the Bible. As a result, reading through the text gives an image of God who is prone to the very mistakes common to humans thus ripping Him off His lofty status of divine and, instead, making Him a mere human. Whether or not Dante did it intentionally is subject to debate but one thing is clear in the poem: the misconstrued notion of God is revealed to future generations.
Babor, T. F., McGovern, T., & Robaina, K. (2017). Dante’s inferno: Seven deadly sins in scientific publishing and how to avoid them. Addiction Science: A Guide for the Perplexed, 267.
Cheney, L. D. G. (2016). Illustrations for Dante’s Inferno: A Comparative Study of Sandro Botticelli, Giovanni Stradano, and Federico Zuccaro. Cultural and Religious Studies, 4(8), 487.
Verdicchio, M. (2015). Irony and Desire in Dante’s” Inferno” 27. Italica, 285-297.