Untitled Document

Konok Péter


Arendt, Hannah (1906 - 1975) was a German political theorist. She has often been described as a  philosopher, although she always refused that label on the grounds that philosophy is concerned with "man in the singular." She described herself instead as a political theorist because her work centers on the fact that "men, not Man, live on the earth and inhabit the world." She studied philosophy with Martin Heidegger at the University of Marburg, and had a long, sporadic romantic relationship with him, something that has been criticised because of his Nazi sympathies. During one of their breakups, Arendt moved to Heidelberg to write a dissertation on the concept of love in the thought of Saint Augustine, under the direction of the existentialist philosopher-psychologist Karl Jaspers. Arendt’s work deals with the nature of power, and the subjects of politics, authority, and totalitarianism. Much of her work focuses on affirming a conception of freedom which is synonymous with collective political action among equals. Arguing against the libertarian assumption that "freedom begins where politics ends," Arendt theorizes freedom as public and associative, drawing on examples from the Greek polis, American townships, the Paris Commune, and the civil rights movements of the 1960’s (among others) to illustrate this conception of freedom. She also wrote The Origins of Totalitarianism, which traced the roots of communism and nazism and their link to anti-semitism. This book was controversial because it compared two subjects that some believe are irreconcilable.

Berlin, Sir Isaiah (1909 - 1997) was a political philosopher and historian of ideas, regarded as one    of the leading liberal thinkers of the 20th century. His 1958 inaugural lecture, "Two Concepts of Liberty", in which he famously distinguished between positive and negative liberty, has informed much of the debate since then on the relationship between liberty and equality. He defined negative liberty as the absence of constraints on, or interference with, agents’ possible action. I am more "negatively free" to the extent that fewer opportunities for possible action are foreclosed or interfered with. Positive liberty he associated with the idea of self-mastery, or the capacity to determine oneself, to be in control of one’s destiny. "Liberty for wolves is death to the lambs" - stated Berlin.

Cadhain, Mirtn (1906-1970) (also known as Martin Kane) Irish Gaelic short-story writer and novelist. Cadhain was born in Spiddal, Connemara, the Gaeltacht (Gaelic-speaking area) of Galway. His work reflects his staunch support of revolutionary republicanism, and is also stylistically highly inventive.

Castelar y Ripoll, Emilio (1832-1899) Statesman and author, one of the most powerful champions of Spanish republicanism in the latter half of the 19th century. He was president of the first Spanish Republic from September 1873 to January 1874. Castelar studied at the University of Madrid, where he became professor of history and was active in politics. He achieved fame as an orator and notoriety for his speeches against the monarchy; this latter activity lost him his chair in April 1865. After the abortive republican uprising of 1866, he was sentenced to death but escaped to France. After the successful revolution of 1868, he returned and entered the Cortes (parliament) as an energetic and effective defender of republican ideals. As a minister of state, he was responsible for the abolition of slavery in Puerto Rico.

Connolly, James (1870-1916) Irish socialist and revolutionary. Born in Edinburgh of immigrant Irish parents, Connolly combined a Marx-inspired socialism with a Fenian-inspired republicanism. He helped found the Irish Socialist Republican Party in Dublin in 1896, and organized a strike of transport workers in 1913 with the Irish Labour leader James Larkin. His Irish Citizen Army took part in the Easter Rising against British rule in 1916, for which he was executed by the British.

Cooper, Anthony Ashley, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury (1621- 1683) was a prominent English politician of the Interregnum and during the reign of King Charles II.

Ferrero, Guglielmo (1871 - 1942) Italian historian and philosopher. His main iterest was the problem of legitimacy.

Fitzgerald, Lord Edward (1763-98) Irish revolutionary; son of James Fitzgerald, 20th earl of Kildare and 1st duke of Leinster. After an early career in the army and the Irish House of Commons, Lord Edward, attracted by the French Revolution, went (1792) to Paris and was expelled from the British army for his avowed republicanism. Returning home, he joined the United Irishmen , whom he pledged to assist as commander in chief of their rebel army. In 1796 he went to Basel to negotiate French aid for the planned Irish uprising. On the eve of the rebellion of 1798 he was betrayed by an informer and arrested; he died of wounds sustained at his arrest.

Franklin, Benjamin (1706 - 1790) was one of the most prominent of the Founders and early political figures and statesmen of the United States. He became a national hero in America when he convinced Parliament to repeal the unpopular Stamp Act. A diplomatic genius, Franklin was almost universally admired among the French as American minister to Paris, and was a major figure in the development of positive Franco-American relations. From 1775 to 1776, Franklin was Postmaster General under the Continental Congress and from 1785 to his death in 1790 was President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania. Towards the end of his life, he became one of the most prominent early American abolitionists.

Gordon Thomas (? - 1750) English writer and Commonwealthman. Along with John Trenchard, he published The Independent Whig, which was a weekly periodical. From 1720 to 1723, Trenchard and Gordon, wrote a series of 144 essays entitled Cato’s Letters, condemning corruption and lack of morality within the British political system and warning against tyranny. The essays were published as Essays on Liberty, Civil and Religious, at first in the London Journal and then in the British Journal. These essays became a cornerstone of the Commonwealthmen tradition.

Górnicki, Lukasz (1527 - 1603), Polish humanist, writer, secretary and chancellor of Sigismund August of Poland. He wrote "Polish nobleman", "Polish Crown", "Polish-Italian Discussion" and other political, historical and poetical works.

Hamilton, Alexander (1755 or 1757 - 1804) was an American politician, statesman, writer, lawyer, and soldier. One of the United States’ most prominent early constitutional lawyers, he was an influential delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention and the principal author of the Federalist Papers, which successfully defended the U.S. Constitution to skeptical New Yorkers. He also put the new United States of America onto a sound economic footing as its first and most influential Secretary of the Treasury, establishing the First Bank of the United States, public credit and the foundations for American capitalism, and stock and commodity exchanges. To defend his programs against the criticisms of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, Hamilton founded the first political party in the United States, the Federalist Party, which he dominated until his death in a duel with political rival Aaron Burr. He advocated the principles of a strong centralized federal government and loose interpretation of the Constitution that would become the hallmark of the early Republic.

Harrington, James (1611 - 1677) was an English political philosopher, best known for his controversial work, Oceana. The main points of his book that the determining element of power in a state is property, particularly property in land; and that the executive power ought not to be vested for any considerable time in the same men or class of men. Though republican in his ideas, Harrington won the king’s regard and esteem, and accompanied him to the Isle of Wight. He aroused the suspicion of the parliamentarians and was dismissed: it is said that he was punished for declining to swear to refuse assistance to the king should he attempt to escape.

Hayek, Friedrich August von (1899 - 1992) was an Austrian economist and political philosopher, noted for his defense of liberal democracy and free-market capitalism against socialist and collectivist thought in the mid-20th century. Widely regarded as one of the most influential members of the Austrian School of economics, he also made significant contributions in the fields of jurisprudence and cognitive science. He shared the 1974 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics with ideological rival Gunnar Myrdal. While known more as an economist than a philosopher, in the latter half of his career Hayek made a number of contributions to social and political philosophy, derived largely from his views on the limits of human knowledge, and the role played by his spontaneous order in social institutions. His arguments in favor of a society organized around a market order (in which the apparatus of state is employed solely to secure the peace necessary for a market of free individuals to function) were informed by a moral philosophy derived from epistemological concerns regarding the inherent limits of human knowledge.

Hobbes, Thomas (1588 - 1679) was an English philosopher, whose famous 1651 book Leviathan set the agenda for nearly all subsequent Western political philosophy. In Leviathan, Hobbes set out his doctrine of the foundation of societies and legitimate governments. In the natural condition of mankind, while some men may be stronger or more intelligent than others, none is so strong and smart as to be beyond a fear of violent death. When threatened with death, man in his natural state cannot help but defend himself in any way possible. Self-defense against violent death is Hobbes’s highest human necessity, and rights are borne of necessity. In the state of nature, then, each of us has a right to everything in the world.

Jefferson, Thomas (1743 - 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801-1809), author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential founders of the United States. A political philosopher who promoted classical liberalism, republicanism, and the separation of church and state, he was the author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1779, 1786), which was the basis of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. He was the eponym of Jeffersonian democracy and the founder and leader of the Democratic-Republican Party which dominated American politics for over a quarter-century and was the precursor to today’s Democratic Party.

Kemal Atatürk, Mustafa (1881- 1938), Turkish army officer and revolutionist statesman, was the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey. His "six great principles", or "six arrows" became the pillars of the modern Turkish Republic, and also the symbol of the Republican People’s Party which was also established by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk just before the declaration of the Turkish Republic in 29th October 1923. The "six arrows" were: Republicanism, Populism, Secularism, Reformism, Nationalism, and Statism.

Locke, John (1632 - 1704) was an influential English philosopher and social contract theorist. He developed an alternative to the Hobbesian state of nature and argued a government could only be legitimate if it received the consent of the governed and protected the natural rights of life, liberty, and estate. If such consent was not given, argued Locke, citizens had a right of rebellion. Locke’s ideas had an enormous influence on the development of political philosophy, and he is widely regarded as one of the most influential Enlightenment thinkers and contributors to liberal theory. His writings, along with those of the writings of many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, influenced the American revolutionaries as reflected in the American Declaration of Independence. Contradicting Thomas Hobbes, Locke believed that the original state of nature was happy and characterized by reason and tolerance. In that state all people were equal and independent, and none had a right to harm another’s "life, health, liberty, or possessions." The state was formed by social contract because in the state of nature each was his own judge, and there was no protection against those who lived outside the law of nature. The state should be guided by natural law. Rights of property are very important, because each person has a right to the product of his or her labour. The policy of governmental checks and balances, as delineated in the Constitution of the United States, was set down by Locke, as was the doctrine that revolution in some circumstances is not only a right but an obligation.

Machiavelli, Niccolo (1469 - 1527) was a Florentine political philosopher, musician, poet, and romantic comedic playwright. Machiavelli was also a key figure in realist political theory, crucial to European statecraft during the Renaissance. The best known work of Machiavelli is his political treatise Il Principe (The Prince). It was written in an attempt to return to politics as an advisor to Lorenzo di Piero de’ Medici. The Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio (Discourses on Livy), Machiavelli’s second most famous work, focuses on the proper function of democratic states, as opposed to the autocratic regimes he discussed in The Prince. (Machiavelli references this in the second chapter of The Prince, which begins with the line: "Setting aside republics, about which I have spoken at length elsewhere, I shall concern myself only with princely states.") The Discorsi, as the work is most commonly known, espouses a much less harsh and cruel method of government than appears in the Prince. The Discorsi is really an analysis of a history written by the Roman Titus Livy. Machiavelli comments on passages from Livy’s history and analogizes them to situations in contemporaneous Italian politics. (As an example, he compares the way in which Roman generals used religion to manipulate their soldiers to the brief ascendency in Florentine politics of Savonorola.)

Madison, James (1751 - 1836) was the fourth (1809-1817) President of the United States. He was co-author, with John Jay and Alexander Hamilton, of the Federalist Papers, and is traditionally regarded as the Father of the United States Constitution.

Mazzini, Giuseppe (Genoa, June 22, 1805 - Pisa, March 10, 1872) was an Italian politician. Mazzini’s efforts helped bring about the modern Italian state in place of the several separate states, many dominated by foreign powers, that existed until the nineteenth century. He also helped define the modern European movement for popular Democracy in a Republican State. He never accepted monarchical united Italy and worked for a democratic republic. In 1870 he was arrested and sent into exile, even though he managed to return under a false name and live in Pisa until his death in 1872. The political movement he led was called the Republican party and was active in Italy until the 1990s.

Milton, John (1608 - 1674) was an English poet, best-known for his epic poem Paradise Lost. Milton spent years devoted almost entirely to prose work in the service of the Puritan and Parliamentary cause. He wrote propaganda for the English Republic in the early 1650s, including the Eikonoklastes, which attempts to justify the execution of Charles I.

Neville, Sir Henry (c. 1562 - 1615) was an English diplomat, courtier and distant relative of William Shakespeare. In 1610 he advised the King to give way to the demands of the House of Commons. In 1612, he urged the calling of a parliament and drew up a paper on the subject, in which he recommended what the King could not but regard as a complete surrender. He expressed the opinion that supplies would be easily voted if grievances were redressed. In the addled parliament of 1614, the paper of advice which Neville had drawn up in 1612 was discussed by the Commons (May 1614) and, with his view, the Commons could find no fault.

Paine, Thomas (1737-1809) English deist and radical, born in Thetford, is best remembered in England for his outspoken republicanism, chiefly expressed in Rights of Man (1791-2), a vindication of the French Revolution written in reply to Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France . Paine had already achieved fame in the American colonies, where his anti-monarchical pamphlet Common Sense is credited with boosting the independence cause.

Pettit, Philip Noel (b. 1945) is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics and University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. As a philosopher and political theorist he has written numerous influential books and articles, including The Commond Mind (1993), Republicanism (1997), Three Methods of Ethics (1997), A Theory of Freedom (2001), and Rules, Reasons and Norms (2002). He has written a number of works defining republicanism and how it differs from liberalism.

Pocock, John G.A. (b. 1924), British historian, noted for his studies of republicanism in the early modern period, for his contributions to the intellectual history of political thought in general, and his studies of historiography in relation to Edward Gibbon and his contemporiaries. As of 2004 he is Professor Emeritus of History at Johns Hopkins University. Along with Quentin Skinner, he is a member of the ’Cambridge school,’ which advocates that texts cannot be understood unless they are returned to the contexts in which they were written.

Popper, Sir Karl Raimund (1902 - 1994), was an Austrian and British philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics. He is counted among the most influential philosophers of science of the 20th century, and also wrote extensively on social and political philosophy. Popper is perhaps best known for repudiating the classical observationalist-inductivist account of scientific method by advancing empirical falsifiability as the criterion for distinguishing scientific theory from non-science; and for his vigorous defense of liberal democracy and the principles of social criticism which he took to make the flourishing of the "open society" possible.

Putnam, Robert David (b. 1941) is a political scientist and professor at Harvard University, well-known for his writings on civic engagement, civil society, and social capital, a concept of which he is probably the leading exponent. Putnam also developed the influential two-level game model that assumes international agreements will only be successfully brokered if they also result in domestic benefits.His most famous (and controversial) work, Bowling Alone, argues that the United States has undergone an unprecedented collapse in civic, social, associational, and political life (social capital) since the 1960s, with serious negative consequences. Though he measured this decline in data of many varieties, his most striking point was that virtually every traditional civic, social, and fraternal organization—typified by bowling leagues—had undergone a massive decline in membership.

Rawls, John (1921 - 2002) was an American philosopher, a professor of political philosophy at Harvard University and author of A Theory of Justice (1971), Political Liberalism, Justice as Fairness: A Restatement, and The Law of Peoples. He is considered by many scholars to be the most important political philosopher of the 20th century in the English-speaking world. Rawls’s later works are focused on the question of stability: could a society ordered by the two principles of justice endure? His answer to this question is contained in a collection of lectures titled Political Liberalism. In Political Liberalism, Rawls introduced the idea of an overlapping consensus-or agreement on justice as fairness between citizens who hold different religious and philosophical views (or conceptions of the good). Political Liberalism also introduced the idea of public reason-the common reason of all citizens.

Salmerón y Alonso, Nicolás (1838-1908) Spanish statesman and philosopher. A professor at Oviedo and Madrid universities and a convinced republican, he became, after the expulsion (1868) of Isabella II, a member of the revolutionary junta, of the constituent assembly (1869), and of the Cortes (1871). After Amadeus’s abdication, he was briefly minister of justice and then president of the short-lived first republic (1873). For some decades he was the grand old man of Spanish republicanism, and helped initiate its resurgence after the turn of the century.

Sandel, Michael (b. 1953) is a contemporary political philosopher. Sandel subscribes to the theory of communitarianism (although he is uncomforable with the label), and in this vein he is perhaps best known for his critique of John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice. His latest book, "Public Philosophy," is a collection of essays published over the years, examining the role of morality and justice in American political life. Particularly insightful is his commentary on the role of moral values and civic community on the American electoral process, a relevant and much-debated aspect of the 2004 election and current political discussion.

Shklar, Judith Nisse (1928 - 1992) was a famous political scientist, the John Cowles Professor of Government at Harvard University.She wrote many influential books and articles on political science including Legalism: Law, Morals, and Political Trials (1964).

Sunstein, Cass R. (b. 1954) is a prominent law professor at the University of Chicago. His 2001 book, Republic.com, argued that the Internet may weaken democracy because it allows citizens to isolate themselves within groups that share their own views and experiences, and thus cut themselves off from any information that might challenge their beliefs, a phenomenon often known by the term cyberbalkanization. One of his latest books, The Second Bill of Rights: FDR’s Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More than Ever (2004), discusses the little-known Second Bill of Rights proposed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In the Second Bill of Rights, Roosevelt proposed a right to an education, a right to a home, a right to health care, a right to protection against monopolies, and more; Sunstein argues that the Second Bill of Rights has had a large international impact and should be revived in the United States.

Sydney, Algernon (1623 - 1683), was an English politician, an opponent of King Charles II of England. During the English Civil War, he joined the army of Parliament, but became critical of Oliver Cromwell’s leadership. While writing Court Maxims (1665-6) he was negotiating with Dutch and French for support for a republican invasion of England. Following the Restoration of the monarchy, he went into exile, returning in 1677. In 1683, he was implicated in the Rye House Plot, and was found guilty of treason and executed.

Toland, John (1670 - 1722) He was the first person called a freethinker (by Bishop Berkeley) and went on to write over a hundred books in various domains but mostly dedicated to criticizing ecclesiastical institutions. A great deal of his intellectual activity was dedicated to writing political tracts in support of the Whig cause. Many scholars know him for his role as either the biographer or editor of notable republicans from the mid-17th century such as James Harrington, Algernon Sidney and John Milton. His works "Anglia Libera" and "State Anatomy" are prosaic expressions of an English republicanism which reconciles itself with constitutional monarchy.

Trenchard, John (1662-1723), English writer and Commonwealthman. As he inherited considerable wealth, Trenchard was able to devote the greater part of his life to writing on political subjects, his approach being that of a Whig and an opponent of the High Church party. His works include A Short History of Standing Armies in England 1698 and 1731 and The Natural History of Superstition 1709. Along with Thomas Gordon he published The Independent Whig, a weekly periodical. From 1720 to 1723, Trenchard, again with Thomas Gordon, wrote a series of 144 essays entitled Cato’s Letters, condemning corruption and lack of morality within the British political system and warning against tyranny.