Two Worlds of Liberalism [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 36 (3):710-711 (1983)
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Abstract

This book is an interesting and thoughtful study of the tradition of English liberalism. Eisenach attempts to show that the philosophical founders of liberalism, while establishing a new order based on individual liberty and enlightened self-interest, also sought to preserve some of the elements of pre-liberal societies, such as religious belief and moral opinion. Eisenach's thesis is unconventional because it implies that the liberal philosophers were aware of the inherent limitations of the new political order; they recognized that social cohesion and political obligation could not be sustained unless citizens retained a sense of higher obligation, to God and humanity. The writings of Hobbes, Locke, and Mill reflect this awareness by partaking of "two worlds": a world where men are "born in liberty," as expressed in teachings about the state of nature and natural liberty; and a world where men are "born in servitude," as expressed in teachings about sacred history and cultural traditions.

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