Current Issue Article Abstracts

Volume 81, Number 4, October 2020 


Aquinas, ius gentium, and the Decretists
Bart Wauters

For his conception of the ius gentium, Aquinas took as his starting point the canon law doctrines of Gratian, who himself had adopted ideas from Isidore of Seville. Aquinas’s conception of the ius gentium was different of Gratian’s and relied to a large extent on the civilian interpretation of Roman law texts. This article analyzes how the decretists, the first interpreters of Gratian, arrived at a conception of the ius gentium that was different from that of Gratian himself, and thus paved the way for Aquinas to read the Roman law conception into the ius gentium.


Revolutionizing the New Model Army: Ecclesiastical Independence, Social Justice, and Political Legitimacy
Polly Ha

There is no consensus on the precise role of ecclesiastical independents in shaping the revolutionary politics of the New Model Army. This essay explores how they crucially stretched the notion of non-dominating freedom across the social order and applied it more generally to the army’s social and political contexts. It then turns to how this understanding of freedom informed the army’s view of social justice, shaping the soldiers’ particular grievances and material demands. Finally, it considers how the concept of independence also enabled religious apologists for the army to advance new claims to self-authenticating institutional legitimacy.


The Theatre of Moral Sentiments: Neoclassical Dramaturgy and Adam Smith’s Impartial Spectator
Pannill Camp

The oft-cited theatricality of Adam Smith’s impartial spectator is contentious and rests on a generalized notion of theatre. This essay argues both that Smith, like his predecessors in sentimental moral philosophy, thought of spectatorship theatrically and that Smith’s spectatorship framework is rooted in French neoclassical dramaturgy. Smith’s formulation of sympathy in the Theory of Moral Sentiments bolsters this view, as does the correspondence between Smith’s definition of impartiality and the neoclassical formal isolation of spectators from the interests of protagonists. These facets of spectatorship are the basis of an impersonal mode that prevails in Smith’s social theory of morals.


Physiology of the Haunted Mind: Naturalistic Theories of Apparitions in Early Nineteenth-Century Scotland
Bill Jenkins

The late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries saw a resurgence of interest in the supernatural in Scotland as elsewhere in the United Kingdom. A number of intellectual figures responded by proposing naturalistic explanations for supernatural phenomena, drawing on the legacy of Scottish Enlightenment philosophy. These included the geologist and antiquarian Samuel Hibbert and the phrenologist George Combe. This paper explores the interrelations between these theories, their roots in the troubled cultural politics of Scotland in the early nineteenth century, and the reaction of different protagonists in the cultural conflicts of the period to their ideas.


Reforming Utilitarianism: Lyric Poetry in J. S. Mill’s “Thoughts on Poetry and Its Varieties” and Autobiography
Zoe Beenstock

Mill’s statement that “poetry is overheard” is often read as a definition of the lyric in miniature and is associated with social retreat. Yet Mill saw his encounter with the Wordsworthian lyric as a corrective to utilitarian social theory, and as a supplement to Adam Smith’s theory of sympathy. Mill suggests that the writings of James Mill and Jeremy Bentham overlook the bond connecting individuals to one another. He reconceives communal aspects of feeling by drawing on Wordsworth’s poetry as the fulfillment of Smith’s affective account of social relations, a development which anticipates affect theory.


Negotiating an “Economic Revolution”: History, Collectivism, and Liberalism in William Clarke’s Thought
Stéphane Guy

Like a number of contemporary progressive thinkers, William Clarke (1852–1901) was a socialist with liberal leanings. Believing in the benefits of collective ownership and democratic reform, he joined the Fabian Society in 1886 before resigning from it in 1897. This article seeks to account for Clarke’s intellectual development from socialism to liberalism by focusing on the implications of his political writings. It argues that this estrangement partly resulted from the incompatibility between the principle of historic necessity underlying his critique of private ownership and his ongoing commitment to democracy and pragmatic reform.


Gandhi’s Spinning Wheel: The Charkha and Its Regenerative Effects
Nikhil Menon

This essay interrogates the role of the charkha (spinning wheel) in Mohandas Gandhi’s thought. It argues that spinning deserves to be recognized as belonging in the realm of other high concepts and practices, such as non-violence, that have garnered much more academic attention. The article explores the centrality of the charkha to Gandhi’s ideology, emphasizing underappreciated facets such as its physical, moral, and spiritual effects. Finally, it argues that the versatility of the spinning wheel to Gandhi offers insights into how he conceived of and negotiated the relationship between means and ends in his philosophy.


Books Received