14 December 2021

BOOK: Mark SOMOS & Anne PETERS (eds.), The State of Nature: Histories of an Idea [History of European Political and Constitutional Thought; 6] (Leiden/Boston: Martinus Nijhoff/Brill, 2021), ISBN 978-90-04-39517-6,


(image source: Brill)

The phrase, “state of nature”, has been used over centuries to describe the uncultivated state of lands and animals, nudity, innocence, heaven and hell, interstate relations, and the locus of pre- and supra-political rights, such as the right to resistance, to property, to create and leave polities, and the freedom of religion, speech, and opinion, which may be reactivated or reprioritised when the polity and its laws fail. Combining intellectual history with current concerns, this volume brings together fourteen essays on the past, present and possible future applications of the legal fiction known as the state of nature.
Table of contents:

Introduction (Mark Somos & Anne Peters)

Chapter 1 Thucydides, Hobbes, and the Melian Dialogue (Benjamin Straumann)

Chapter 2 Missing Terms in English Geographical Thinking, 1550–1600 (Mary C. Fuller)

Chapter 3 Do Shephers Live in a State of Nature. From Peculium to Civilization (Francesca Iurlalo)

Chapter 4 After Vitoria. Natural Law and the Spanish Ideology of Empire (Daniel S. Allemann)

Chapter 5 Fleeing "Polyphemus's Den"

Chapter 6 Invisible People. The State of Nature in Grotius's Account of Global Legal Order (Emile Simpson)

Chapter 7 From the State of Nature to the State of Economy. Pufendorf on Commerce and Natural Law (David Singh Grewal)

Chapter 8 The State of Nature, the Family and the State (Simone Zurbuchen)

Chapter 9 Written in the Hearts of People ? Natural and International Law During the Age of Enlightenment (Edward J. Kolla)

Chapter 10 From Natural Equality to Frankpledge. The State of Nature, Ancient Constitutionalism, and the Rupture of the Social Contract in Eigtheenth-Century Antislavery Writings (Sarah Winter)

Chapter 11 From The State of Nature to the Natural State. Transforming the Foundations of Science and Civil Progress in Eighteenth-Century British Political Thought (Pamela Edwards)

Chapter 12 Their Own State(s) of Nature. The Enlightenment Social Imaginary and the Invention of Hungarian Ethnic Origins (László Kontler)

Chapter 13 The Place of the Environment in State of Nature Discourses. Reassessing Nature, Property and Sovereignty in the Anthropocene (Tom Sparks)

Chapter 14 The State of Nature, Prehistory, and Mythmaking (Karl Widerquist & Grant S. McCall)

Read further on the Brill site.

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