Nature and Artifice: The Life and Thought of Thomas by David Stack

By David Stack

Thomas Hodgskin was once essentially the most major thinkers of nineteenth-century radicalism. An energetic author for over fifty years and an affiliate of Bentham and James Mill among others, his lifestyles offers a paradigm for realizing the evolution of radicalism from Waterloo to the second one Reform Act. This examine rescues him from his marginalisation and mis-casting as an `early English socialist': faraway from being a socialist, lots of his perspectives appear to mark him out as a forerunner of recent correct or neo-liberal ideology. Drawing on more than a few new assets and reassessing Hodgskin's lifestyles and paintings, Dr Stack argues that the crux of Hodgskin's notion was once the primarily theological contrast he drew among nature and artifice. all through, he makes simple the centrality of providentialism to nineteenth-century radicalism.

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Additional info for Nature and Artifice: The Life and Thought of Thomas Hodgskin, 1787-1869 (Royal Historical Society Studies in History New Series)

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10 See H. V. S. Ogden, 'The state of nature and the decline of Lockian political theory in England, 17601780', American Historical Review xlvi (19401), 2144. Page 11 that the radical use of a natural/artificial distinction could have taken. Primitivism had enjoyed a mid eighteenth-century revival with the publication of Rousseau's A discourse on inequality (1755); and the artistic air of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries was filled with the faint aroma of an Arcadian Golden Age when man was innocent, but rarely did this take the form of an unexpurgated primitivism.

27TNG ii. 97. 28N&A, 41. 29 A. J. B. Hilton, The age of atonement: the influence of evangelicalism on social and economic thought, 17951865, Oxford 1988, 33. 30PLO, 9. Page 8 1 Nature and Artifice Thou art the judge beneath whose rod Man's brief and frail authority Is powerless as the wind That passeth idly by. Thine the tribunal which surpasseth The show of human justice As God surpasses man P. B. Shelley, Queen Mab (1813) The Meaning of Nature The unifying theme in Hodgskin's thought was the contrast of Nature and Artifice.

Whereas Burke was content to maintain that 'everything is right: at least as right as the nature of man admits', Thelwall, and later radicals, saw 'the whole frame of society as radically vicious, founded upon false principles, and supported by systematic oppression'. Burke had robbed Nature of all content by defining it as whatever happened to be in existence. 3 The argument was circular. A dispute on whether or not the existing arrangements of society were in conformity with Nature, or not, was to be settled by an appeal to Nature.

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