Adventures of Caleb Williams

Fields, Osgood
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Publisher
Fields, Osgood
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Published on
Dec 31, 1869
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Pages
128
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Language
English
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This content is DRM free.
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One of the great polemics and the key founding anarchist text, Godwin's Enquiry is his major work of political philosophy.

Enquiry Concerning Political Justice established William Godwin as the chief exponent of British radicalism, in the tradition of the French Revolution. In it, he criticizes the 'brute engine' of government for systematizing oppression of individual liberty in the name of law and order, and calls for the abolition of all forms of rule and for the institution of an anarchist society based on the principles of simplicity, sincerity and equality. His book influenced everyone from Shelley and Coleridge (who revered him) to Thomas Malthus (who wrote his Essay on the Principle of Population in outraged response to him). The book's ideas would later echo through the writings of thinkers as diverse as Proudhon, Kropotkin, Marx and Thoreau, and it remains one of the great polemics of political literature.

William Godwin, the famous philosopher and novelist, was born in East Anglia in 1756. The son of a Presbyterian minister, he was educated to follow in his father's footsteps, but subsequently lost his faith in God. He then devoted himself to writing, expounding his enlightenment and anarchist ideals in novels and essays. In 1797 he married Mary Wollstonecraft, the famous feminist; their daughter would grow up to be Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. Godwin died in 1836.

Isaac Kramnick is the Richard J. Schwartz Professor of Government at Cornell where he has taught since 1972. He has written or edited some twenty books among which his Bolingbroke and His Circle: The Politics of Nostalgia in the Age of Walpole won the Conference of British Studies Prize for best book on British politics.

'To a rational being there can be but one rule of conduct, justice, and one mode of ascertaining that rule, the exercise of his understanding.' Godwin's Political Justice is the founding text of philosophical anarchism. Written in the immediate aftermath of the French Revolution, it exemplifies the political optimism felt by many writers and intellectuals. Godwin drew on enlightenment ideas and his background in religious dissent for the principles of justice, utility, and the sanctity of individual judgement that drove his powerful critique of all forms of secular and religious authority. He predicts the triumph of justice and equality over injustice, and of mind over matter, and the eventual vanquishing of human frailty and mortality. He also foresees the gradual elimination of practices governing property, punishment, law, and marriage and the displacement of politics by an expanded personal morality resulting from reasoned argument and candid discussion. Political Justice raises deep philosophical questions about the nature of our duty to others that remain central to modern debates on ethics and politics. This edition reprints the first-edition text of 1793, and examines Godwin's evolving philosophy in the context of his life and work. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
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