Political Philosophy of the Baron de Montesquieu

Trias politica and montesquieu (1689-1755) are no stranger to the ears of those who study political theory. These two words are like two sides of a coin that cannot be separated. In the formulation of current political theory, the shape of the system of government is much influenced by this concept. But in this paper, I do not want to review the political trias, but this article emphasizes more on the basic principles put forward by Montesquieu in formulating general laws that apply generally in political institutions.

Montesquieu seeks to find laws that can become the basis and foundation of political institutions. He was very optimistic about the progress of humanity by holding fast to science. In his efforts to find laws that determine social phenomena, he did a lot of research and sought answers with field studies in real life, observation and historical analysis.

His optimism and belief in science are embedded in the foreword in his Spirit of the Law . He wrote, “First of all I think that all human beings, as well as my thoughts, in the midst of a variety of rules and guidelines, are not merely dictated by superstition.” And also in his attempt to find a general principle in various social phenomena, he also wrote, “I have laid down the first principle, and found that certain cases naturally arise from it; and that the history of the nation is only a consequence of it; and that any particular law is related to other laws, or to a certain extent, depends on it. ”

In a certain sense that Montesquieu in his exploration of knowledge wanted to emphasize the importance of laws and to understand the laws forming a phenomenon. In his book Spirit of the Law , he put forward several principles. The first principle he emphasizes the role of the environment, and secondly social relativism.

In the first principle, he stressed that law and political institutions are adapted to the environment, history, and location of the region. In short, the formulation of legal and political matters must be drawn from the historical experience in which these people lived. It does not accept definite rules or laws and deny the form of government that applies as a whole to all human communities.

The formulation of law and political institutions can only be more perfect when the basis for taking is based on the scope, configuration of time, space and tradition. Settlement of legal conflicts cannot be reduced to universal matters, such as public authority and individual rights. But such problems can only be solved differently in different places.

The best legal and institutional matters can only be obtained from the direct involvement of people in the reality around them, and the historical processes that take place, where between humans and the environment are already underway.

In Montesquei’s view, he assumed that giving appreciation to the principle and the driving force was more needed than talking about the ideal concept that was generally applicable and far from the wishes of the people, where they lived.

The second point, social relativism. At this point there may be a number of things that seem odd. Because at the beginning of this article it has been said that on the one hand, Montesquieu believes in science, but on the other hand he clashes with social relativism. This becomes a critique for him who seems to be unsystematic in building his logic,

The main problem between science and social relativism certainly lies in the objectivity or objectivity of a thing. But when he was about to be traced again, it was discovered that this was not a distortion, because Montesqueiu’s view defined the law as “the ratio of human beings who governs all inhabitants of the earth; The political and civil law of each nation should only be a particular case as a result of the process of human reason. ”

In the view of science, Montesquieu does not deny the existence of general norms and principles that exist in human beings and can become moral standards. That humans are not entirely dependent on natural law and not fully controlled by nature. Humans as free creatures, humans can determine their destiny and achieve their own goals.

One thing is certain that state law must not conflict with the basic principles of natural law, or some things are in accordance with natural law. And humans must be directly involved in the process of determining law and political institutions.


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