Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Aid and Comfort
It used to be said, both for [Montesquieu] and against him, that he was content merely to observe and describe -- the politically committed, whether in Montesquieu's day or ours, probably find so much detachment morally almost sinister, perhaps even dangerous -- but this is an illusion. Montesquieu's tone is moderate; his words were intended, as he once remarked, to afford the reader the pleasure of watching grave and dignified theologians not thrown roughly on the ground, but sliding gently into the abyss.
- Isaiah Berlin, "Montesquieu," in Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas