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Ideas of Baron de Montesquieu, by Text

[French, 1689 - 1755, Wealthy freelance writer.]

1748 The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757)
Intro p.106 True goodness is political, and consists of love of and submission to the laws
     Full Idea: The good man is he whose goodness is not Christian, but rather political, in the sense I have given. Such a man loves the laws of his land and is moved to act by them.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], Intro)
     A reaction: I take this to have a lot in common with Aristotle, whose simple slogan for virtue I take to as 'be a good citizen'.
Preface p.108 Teaching is the best practice of the general virtue that leads us to love everyone
     Full Idea: It is when we instruct others that we can best practice that general virtue which teaches us to love everyone.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], Preface)
     A reaction: A very nice thought. One tricky issue is that some people dislike, and even resent, being taught. If we all just adored both teaching and learning, we would be in a sort of paradise, but it doesn't seem to happen.
01.01 p.109 Laws are the necessary relations that derive from the nature of things
     Full Idea: Laws, in the broadest meaning of the term, are the necessary relations that derive from the nature of things.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 01.01)
     A reaction: Montesquieu is about to discuss social laws, but this is the clearest statement I have ever met of the essentialist view of the laws of nature.
01.01 p.110 Prior to positive laws there is natural equity, of obedience, gratitude, dependence and merit
     Full Idea: The relations of equity precede the positive laws that establish them. It is right to conform to laws in a society; intelligent beings should be grateful for benefits; we remain dependent on those who create us; an injury merits the same in return.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 01.01)
     A reaction: [the examples are compressed] A nice statement of the idea of natural law. It doesn't follow that because an injury merits retaliation, that it should be implemented (just that no one can complain if it happens).
01.02 p.111 Sensation gives animals natural laws, but knowledge can make them break them
     Full Idea: Animals have natural laws because they are united by sensation, ...but they do not invariably follow thieir natural laws; these are better observed by vegetables, which have neither knowledge nor sensation.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 01.02)
     A reaction: With the example of vegetables the concept of natural law is drifting into the laws of nature, and evidently Montesquie makes no sharp distinction here.
01.02 p.112 Men do not desire to subjugate one another; domination is a complex and advanced idea
     Full Idea: It is unreasonable to impute to men, as Hobbes does, the desire to subjugate one another. The idea of sovereignty [l'empire] and domination is so complex and depends on so many other ideas, that it could not be the first to occur to men.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 01.02)
01.02 p.112 Primitive people would be too vulnerable and timid to attack anyone, so peace would reign
     Full Idea: A being concerned only with preservation would be very timid. In such a state every man would feel himself an inferior; he could scarcely imagine himself an equal. No one would seek to attack anyone else; peace would be the first law of nature.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 01.02)
     A reaction: Exactly the idea that Rousseau took up, and they both attack Hobbes for describing a more advanced stage of society, instead of focusing on the original state. A solitary individual would be crazy to launch attacks on other individuals.
01.02 p.112 People are drawn into society by needs, shared fears, pleasure, and knowledge
     Full Idea: To his sense of weakness, man would soon add his needs. Encouraged by indications that their fear was shared, men would soon come together. They would feel the pleasure (and sexual attraction) of their own species. Knowledge then draws them into society.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 01.02)
     A reaction: He doesn't make the point about 'knowledge' very clear.
01.03 p.113 The natural power of a father suggests rule by one person, but that authority can be spread
     Full Idea: Some have thought that because nature has established the power of the parent, the most natural government is that of a single person. But the example of paternal power proves nothing. The inheritance by a father's brothers would support rule by the many.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 01.03)
     A reaction: [last bit compressed] Locke pointed out that the mother has similar entitlement, and he and Rousseau agree in rejecting this idea.
02.02 p.115 The fundamental laws of a democracy decide who can vote
     Full Idea: The laws fundamental to a democracy are those that establish who is eligible to vote. (p.118 No less fundamental is the method of voting itself).
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 02.02)
     A reaction: Tricky groups now are teenagers, convicted criminals, people with damaged brains, and citizens who live abroad. Maybe people who evade paying tax should lose the right to vote.
02.02 p.116 It is basic to a democracy that the people themselves must name their ministers
     Full Idea: A democratic people may be said to have ministers only when these have been named by the people itself. Thus it is a maxim fundamental to this type of government that the people must name its ministers.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 02.02)
     A reaction: In the UK we don't do this. We elect local representatives, usually of a preferred party, and then they chose the ministers, and even the leader. The people who run our country are a long way from direct democracy.
02.02 p.116 A democratic assembly must have a fixed number, to see whether everyone has spoken
     Full Idea: It is essential to fix the number of citizens who can participate in assemblies. Otherwise it would be uncertain whether all the people had spoken, or only a part of it. At Sparta the number was fixed at ten thousand.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 02.02)
     A reaction: This looks like an immediate injustice to the citizen who came 10,001 in the rankings. 10,000 is just a smallish football crowd, so we could manage it today. We could pick the 10,000 by sortition (by lot). Most people are fairly sensible!
02.02 p.116 In a democracy the people should manage themselves, and only delegate what they can't do
     Full Idea: In a democracy, the people, which holds the sovereign power, ought itself to do everything it can do well; that which it cannot do well must be done by its ministers.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 02.02)
     A reaction: This is just what you see when a group of residents manages their own building. Citizens in representative democracies become utterly lazy about running their society, so that they won't even pick up litter, or report communal problems.
02.02 p.118 Voting should be public, so the lower classes can be influenced by the example of notable people
     Full Idea: When the people votes it should do so in public. ...For it is necessary that the lower classes be enlightened by those of higher rank, that the precipitous qualities of the lower classes be held in check by the grave example of certain notables.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 02.02)
     A reaction: This sounds shocking to us, but the lower classes were largely illiterate. Nowadays we have television to tell us how the notables are going to vote, and the less notables seem to be increasingly unimpressed.
02.03 p.119 If the nobility is numerous, the senate is the artistocracy, and the nobles are a democracy
     Full Idea: When the nobility is numerous, there must be a senate to regulate those matters which the body of nobles is incapable of deciding. Thus aristocracy of a kind resides in the senate, democracy in the body of nobles, while the people is nothing.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 02.03)
     A reaction: This presumes that the body of nobles elects the senate.
02.03 p.121 Aristocracy is democratic if they resemble the people, but not if they resemble the monarch
     Full Idea: Aristocratic families ought to be, as much as possible, members of the people. The more an aristocracy resembles a democracy, the more perfect it is; the more it resembles a monarchy, the more imperfect.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 02.03)
     A reaction: Aristocrats far from the big cities seem remarkably like the rest of the people. As soon as they approach the monarch's court, they aspire to dignity and power, and begin to spurn the citizens.
02.04 p.122 The nobility are an indispensable part of a monarchy
     Full Idea: In a sense, nobility is one part of the essence of monarchy, whose fundamenta maxim is: 'without a monarchy, no nobility; without a nobility, no monarchy'. There are, of course, despots, but they are something else.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 02.04)
     A reaction: Hence the worst vice associated with a monarchy is patronage, even when the monarch is weak and 'constitutional'.
02.04 p.122 The clergy are essential to a monarchy, but dangerous in a republic
     Full Idea: The power of the clergy is as dangerous in a republic, as it is appropriate to a monarchy.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 02.04)
     A reaction: This makes me look at the UK in a new light, with the clergy hovering around when the monarch is crowned, and the bishops sitting by right in the House of Lords.
02.04 p.123 Monarchs must not just have links to the people; they need a body which maintains the laws
     Full Idea: In a monarchy, it is not enough to have intermediary ranks; there must also be a body that is a depositary of laws. They must announce the laws when they are made, and recall them to the public's attention when they are forgotten.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 02.04)
     A reaction: This is the crucial difference between a monarch and a despot, because the monarch must be subservient to the law.
02.05 p.124 Despots are always lazy and ignorant, so they always delegate their power to a vizier
     Full Idea: Anyone whom his senses inform continually that he is everything, and others nothing, is naturally lazy, voluptuous, and ignorant. Hence the establishment of a vizier, with power the same as his own, is a law fundamental to a despotic state.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 02.05)
03.07 p.130 Ambition is good in a monarchy, because the monarch can always restrain it
     Full Idea: In a republic ambition is pernicious, but in a monarchy it has a good effect; it gives life to that type of government. Its advantage lies in that it is not dangerous, because a monarchy can continue to restrain it.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 03.07)
     A reaction: That is sometimes offered as a defence of the very weak British monarchy.
03.08 p.131 Despotism and honour are incompatible, because honour scorns his power, and lives by rules
     Full Idea: How could a despot permit honour? Honour depends upon scorning life; the despot has power only because he can deprive men of life. How could honour tolerate the despot? Honour has fixed rules, ...but the despot has no rule.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 03.08)
     A reaction: The old German aristocracy seem to have been utterly alienated and isolated by the Nazi regime.
04.02 p.134 In monarchies, men's actions are judged by their grand appearance, not their virtues
     Full Idea: In monarchies, men's actions are judged, not by whether they are good, but whether they appear attractive [belles]; not by whether they are just, but whether they appear grand; not by whether they are reasonable, but by whether they appear extraordinary.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 04.02)
     A reaction: A person that comes to mind is the Duke of Buckingham under James I and Charles I. Or the Earl of Essex under Elizabeth I.
04.03 p.137 In monarchies education ennobles people, and in despotisms it debases them
     Full Idea: Just as the purpose of education in monarchies is to ennoble men's hearts, so its purpose in despotic states is to debase them. In despotic states education must be servile.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 04.03)
     A reaction: This is an early insight into the way that all social institutions, such as education, are largely pawns of a larger political system.
04.05 p.139 If a government is to be preserved, it must first be loved
     Full Idea: Government is like everything else in this world: if it is to be preserved, it must first be loved.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 04.05)
     A reaction: Nice one! Right now there seems to be a declining love for representative democracy, even though almost everyone endorses it.
05.04 p.141 No one even thinks of equality in monarchies and despotism; they all want superiority
     Full Idea: In monarchies and despotic states, no one aspires to equality. Not even the idea occurs; everyone aspires to superiority. People of the very lowest rank only wish to rise in order to become masters of others.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 05.04)
05.05 p.142 Democracies may sometimes need to restrict equality
     Full Idea: In some cases, equality among citizens may be denied by democracy for the utility of democracy.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 05.05)
     A reaction: He cites people who make sacrifices for the public, and lower orders who are getting above themselves! The desire for equality quickly comes into conflict with other values.
05.05 p.142 Some equality can be achieved by social categories, combined with taxes and poor relief
     Full Idea: Equality is so difficult that exactitude is not possible. It is enough to place citizens by a census within categories that reduce or fix differences. Then laws compensate for inequalities by taxes on the rich and relief given to the poor.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 05.05)
     A reaction: [compressed] Placing citizens within categories (e.g. 'nobility') has long gone out of fashion. He doesn't say whether you tax the capital or the income of the rich.
05.08 p.146 Great inequality between aristocrats and the rest is bad - and also among aristocrats themselves
     Full Idea: In aristocratic state there are two main sources of disorders: excessive inequality between those who govern and those who are governed, and the same degree of inequality among the different members of the ruling group [corps].
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 05.08)
     A reaction: This sounds like a very historically accurate observation, since aristocrats are always at one another's throats. But maybe junior aristocrats just need to be kept more firmly in their place.
05.09 p.148 In a monarchy, the nobility must be hereditary, to bind them together
     Full Idea: In a monarchy, the laws must make the nobility hereditary, not to serve as the boundary between the power of the ruler and the weakness of the people, but as the tie that binds them together....
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 05.09)
     A reaction: This seems rather disingenuous. If the nobility are bound together in some tight manner, this immediately serves as a sharp boundary between them and the rest of the people. Monarchs are bound to want the strict boundary.
05.10 p.149 Monarchies can act more quickly, because one person is in charge
     Full Idea: Monarchical government has the great advantage that, since public business is guided by a single person, the executive power can operate more speedily.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 05.10)
     A reaction: Liberal democracies are particularly hopeless at quick action, because so many views have to be heard.
05.14 p.153 Religion has the most influence in despotic states, and reinforces veneration for the ruler
     Full Idea: In these [despotic] states, religion has more influence than anywhere else; it is fear added to fear. The peoples of the Mohammedan empires in part derive from their religion their extraordinary veneration for their rulers.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 05.14)
     A reaction: I suppose religions have submission to authority built into them.
05.15 p.156 A despot's agents must be given power, so they inevitably become corrupt
     Full Idea: A government cannot be unjust without putting some power in the hands of its agents; it is impossible that they not profit from their position. Embezzlement is, therefore, natural to such governments.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 05.15)
05.16 p.158 The will of a despot is an enigma, so magistrates can only follow their own will
     Full Idea: Under despotism, the law is nothing more than the will of the ruler. Even if the despot were wise, how could a magistrate follow a will unknown to him? He has no choice but to follow his own.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 05.16)
08.02 p.161 Democracy is corrupted by lack of equality, or by extreme equality (between rulers and ruled)
     Full Idea: Democracy is corrupted in two ways: when it loses the spirit of equality, and when the spirit of equality becomes extreme, that is, when everyone wishes to be the equal of those he has chosen to command him.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 08.02)
     A reaction: The latter seems to be what happens when a referendum is called (as in Brexit 2016). The winners come to despise the elected representatives, if the latter disagree with the outcome.
08.03 p.163 Equality is not command by everyone or no one, but command and obedience among equals
     Full Idea: The spirit of true equality consists, not in creating a situation in which everyone commands, or in which no one is commanded, but rather in obeying or commanding only our equals.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 08.03)
     A reaction: I love this idea, but it is so easy to feel superior when you command, or to feel inferior when you are commanded. I take the solution to be the appointment of everyone in authority by those they will command (but fat chance of that).
08.16 p.170 In a large republic there is too much wealth for individuals to manage it
     Full Idea: In a large republic, there are large fortunes, and therefore but little moderation in the minds of men. its resources are too considerable to be entrusted to a citizen.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 08.16)
08.16 p.170 In small republics citizens identify with the public good, and abuses are fewer
     Full Idea: In a small republic, the public good is more keenly felt, better known, closer to every citizen; abuses are spread less widely, and consequently, are less tolerated.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 08.16)
     A reaction: This idea of very small republics now seems outdated, but this idea still applies. Small states like the Baltic States (or Scotland?) have a better chance of the citizens identifying with the whole community.
11.03 p.180 Freedom in society is ability to do what is right, and not having to do what is wrong
     Full Idea: In a society where laws exist, liberty can consist only in being able to do what one ought to will, and in not being contrained to do what one ought not to will. ...If a citizen could do what the law prohibits, all others would have the same power.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 11.03)
     A reaction: This sounds pretty quaint in 2017, but I love it.
11.05 p.181 All states aim at preservation, and then have distinctive individual purposes
     Full Idea: Although all states share the same general objective, to preserve themselves, each has its own particular purpose (such as aggrandisement, war, religion, commerce, tranquillity, navigation, liberty, pleasures of the ruler, glory, individual independence).
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 11.05)
     A reaction: [he gives examples for each of the list in brackets] I'm trying to think of the distinctive purpose of the UK, and can't get beyond sport, music gigs and comedy shows.
11.06 p.182 The judiciary must be separate from the legislature, to avoid arbitrary power
     Full Idea: Were the judicial power joined to the legislative, the life and liberty of the citizens would be subject to arbitrary power. For the judge would then be the legislator.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 11.06)
     A reaction: This is the key 'separation of powers', which seems to be a mantra for nearly all theories of the state.
11.06 p.182 A government has a legislature, an international executive, and a domestic executive
     Full Idea: In every government there are three sorts of powers: the legislative; the executivem in regard to those matters determined by the laws of nations; and the executive, in regard to those matters determined by civil law.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 11.06)
11.06 p.185 All citizens (apart from the very humble poor) should choose their representatives
     Full Idea: All citizens ought to have the right to choose their representatives by election. The only exception concerns those whose condition is so base that they are considered to have no will of their own.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 11.06)
     A reaction: This is an amazingly liberal view of the franchise for its time (though he may not be including women), but with a rather breathtaking coda! It may be hard for us now to grasp the very humble state of an illiterate peasant.
11.06 p.185 If deputies represent people, they are accountable, but less so if they represent places
     Full Idea: When the deputies represent the body or estate of the people, as in Holland, they ought to be accountable to their constituents. When the deputies represent boroughs, as in England, the situation is not the same.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 11.06)
     A reaction: Not sure how this works. Modern UK MPs are accountable to the residents of their borough. Did the Dutch actually name the citizens that a deputy represented?
15.01 p.200 Slavery is entirely bad; the master abandons the virtues, and they are pointless in the slave
     Full Idea: There is nothing good about the nature of slavery. The slave can achieve nothing by being virtuous. The master acquires all sorts of bad habits, and is accustomed to behaving with a total lack of moral virtues.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 15.01)
     A reaction: Most slavery of that time took place in colonies, far remote from the moral judgments of the mother country. The temptations of such power over others are far too great for most masters to live virtuously.
15.02 p.201 The only right victors have over captives is the protection of the former
     Full Idea: War can confer only one right over captives, and that is to ensure that they no longer harm victors.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 15.02)
     A reaction: He is arguing against both the killing of captives, and their enslavement.
15.02 p.202 Slaves are not members of the society, so no law can forbid them to run away
     Full Idea: What civil law could prevent a slave from running away? Since he is not a member of society, why should the laws of society concern him?
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 15.02)
     A reaction: Hm. Does this apply to children, who can't vote or stand for office?
15.02 p.202 The death penalty is permissible, because its victims enjoyed the protection of that law
     Full Idea: It is permissible to put a criminal to death because the law that punishes him was made to protect him. For example, a murderer has enjoyed the benefits of the law by which he is condemned.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 15.02)
     A reaction: Dubious! We could add torture, and life imprisonment for parking offences, if this argument is sufficient justification.
15.04 p.203 French slavery was accepted because it was the best method of religious conversion
     Full Idea: Louis XIII was made extremely uneasy by the law that enslaved all the negroes in his colonies. But when told that this was the most efficacious way of converting them, he gave his consent.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 15.04)
     A reaction: That is a spectaculary bad advert for giving an established religion a leading role in society. It is relevant to the upbringing of children, as well as to slaves.
15.09 p.206 The rich would never submit to a lottery deciding which part of their society should be slaves
     Full Idea: I do not believe that anyone of [that small part of a nation that is rich and voluptuous] would submit to a lottery determining which part of the nation would be free, and which slave.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 15.09)
     A reaction: Wonderful! This is exactly Rawls's 'initial position' and 'veil of ignorance'. It is used here to deconstruct implausible arguments in favour of slavery.
15.09 p.206 The demand for slavery is just the masters' demand for luxury
     Full Idea: The demand for slavery is the demand for luxury and voluptuousness; it has nothing to do with concern for public felicity.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 15.09)
     A reaction: True monarchists and aristocratic elitists presumably think that a society should have one part which lives in great luxury. Where else are the fine arts and wonderful buildings going to come from?
19.03 p.207 Tyranny is either real violence, or the imposition of unpopular legislation
     Full Idea: There are two sorts of tyranny: that which is real and consists of the violence of government; and the tyranny of opinion, when those who govern institute things contrary to a nation's mode of thought.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 19.03)
     A reaction: By this reckoning the abolition of the death penalty by the UK partliament was tyrannous, as it went against popular enthusiasm for it. Representative democracy is always in danger of drifting towards mild tyranny.
19.04 p.207 People are guided by a multitude of influences, from which the spirit of a nation emerges
     Full Idea: Men are ruled by many causes: climate, religion, laws, maxims of government, examples drawn from the pasts, customs, manners. Out of them is formed the general spirit of a nation.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 19.04)
     A reaction: This is one step away from Rousseau's general will, which is an attempt to give precise expression to this 'spirit of a nation'.
19.27 p.222 Freedom of speech and writing, within the law, is essential to preserve liberty
     Full Idea: If a state is to enjoy and preserve liberty, everyone must be able to say what he thinks. In a free state, therefore, a citizen may speak and write anything not expressly forbidden by the laws.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 19.27)
     A reaction: A commonplace now, but fairly bold then. I blame Freeborn John Lilburne for wild ideas like these.
24.14 p.234 If religion teaches determinism, penalties must be severe; if free will, then that is different
     Full Idea: When religion teaches that human actions are predetermined, penalties imposed by law ought to be more severe, for without these measures men would behave with complete abandon. If the dogma of religion is free will, the situation is altogether different.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 24.14)
     A reaction: Presumably persuasion and influence come into the free will picture. Calvinist Geneva was determinist, and Catholic France for free will.
24.16 p.236 Religion can support the state when the law fails to do so
     Full Idea: Religion can support the state when the laws themselves lack the power to do so.
     From: Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 24.16)
     A reaction: A thought which didn't occur to Spinoza, but then the thought merely confirms that religion offers a rival to the rule of law.