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REVIEW ARTICLE: LINGUISTIC CONTEXTUALISM AND MEDIEVAL POLITICAL THOUGHT: QUENTIN SKINNER ON MARSILIUS OF PADUA

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Abstract:

This article discusses hitherto unexplored aspects of Quentin Skinner's work on the history of political thought by offering a critical appraisal of the medieval section of Skinner's Foundations of Modern Political Thought. The article investigates and critically assesses Skinner's study of the medieval 'classics' with a specific focus on his interpretation of the fourteenth-century political thinker Marsilius of Padua. In particular, the paper demonstrates that Skinner's analysis of Marsilius' political ideas is at odds with his own methodology. It also contends that Skinner's emphasis on the intellectual- linguistic context as a starting point for the interpretation of major political writers of the past downplays the normative value of Marsilius' political theory and is, in the end, a narrow interpretation of the overall scope of Marsilius' Defensor pacis.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion, The University of Chicago, 1025 E. 58th St., Swift Hall, Chicago, IL 60637-1509, USA. vsyros1@ uchicago.edu

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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