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A Political Treatise

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Vanaf de site constitution.org komt de Elwes vertaling van het Politiek Traktaat. De tekst is volledig overgenomen.

Chapter I. Introduction

PHILOSOPHERS conceive of the passions which harass us as vices into which men fall by their own fault, and, therefore, generally deride, bewail, or blame them, or execrate them, if they wish to seem unusually pious.

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Chapter II. Of natural right.

IN our Theologico-Political Treatise we have treated of natural and civil right, and in our Ethics have explained the nature of wrong-doing, merit, justice, injustice, and lastly, of human liberty.

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Chapter III. Of the right of supreme authorities.

UNDER every dominion the state is said to be Civil; but the entire body subject to a dominion is called a Commonwealth, and the general business of the dominion, subject to the direction of him that holds it, has the name of Affairs of State.

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Chapter IV. Of the functions of supreme authorities.

THAT the right of the supreme authorities is limited by their power, we showed in the last chapter, and saw that the most important part of that right is, that they are, as it were, the mind of the dominion, whereby all ought to be guided; and accordingly, that such authorities alone have the right of deciding what is good, evil, equitable, or iniquitous, that is, what must be done or left undone by the subjects severally or collectively.

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Chapter V. Of the best state of a dominion.

IN  Chap. II. Sec. 2, we showed, that man is then most independent, when he is most led by reason, and, in consequence (Chap. III. Sec. 7), that that commonwealth is most powerful and most independent, which is founded and guided by reason.

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Chapter VI. Of monarchy

INASMUCH as men are led, as we have said, more by passion than reason, it follows, that a multitude comes together, and wishes to be guided, as it were, by one mind, not at the suggestion of reason, but of some common passion — that is (Chap. III. Sec. 9), common hope, or fear, or the desire of avenging some common hurt.

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Chapter VII. Of monarchy (continuation).

AFTER explaining the foundations of a monarchical dominion, I have taken in hand to prove here in order the fitness of such foundations. And to this end the first point to be noted is, that it is in no way repugnant to experience, for laws to be so firmly fixed, that not the king himself can abolish them.

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Chapter VIII. Of Aristocracy

SO far of monarchy. But now we will say, on what plan an aristocracy is to be framed, so that it may be lasting. We have defined an aristocratic dominion as that, which is held not by one man, but by certain persons chosen out of the multitude, whom we shall henceforth call patricians.

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Chapter IX. Of Aristocracy. Continuation.

HITHERTO we have considered an aristocracy, so far as it takes its name from one city, which is the head of the whole dominion.

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Chapter X. Of Aristocracy. Conclusion.

HAVING explained and made proof of the foundations of both kinds of aristocracy, it remains to inquire whether by reason of any fault they are liable to be dissolved or changed into another form.

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Chapter XI - Of Democracy

I PASS, at length, to the third and perfectly absolute dominion, which we call democracy.

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