6th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Vernazza

Diego Vernazza

Montesquieu’s Political Theory: A Local and Conflictual Notion of Order

In this presentation I would like to propose some considerations on the significance of Montesquieu’s political theory concerning the problem of order. I try to demonstrate, firstly, that the main theoretical problem of the Spirit of Laws is not a constitutional one but a political one: finding the institutions able to transform antagonisms and conflicts into the elements of a new conception of order: an ‘immanent conception’. Secondly, I will explain in what consists this political theory of order, constructed fundamentally around the notions of ‘powers’, ‘institutions’, ‘mores’ and ‘government’, and how these concepts are ‘globally’ articulated. Finally, I will argue that this implies a specific interpretation of the point of view of the political theorist: if the order of a Republic can only be conceived from an ‘intrinsic point of view’, and not from an extrinsic one, this means necessarily that the point of view of the political thinker is not the regard of ‘totality’ in order to propose ‘global solutions’ but the construction of a general cartography of powers intended to act on one or more of them to attain some specific effects. This is the way, I would suggest, we should understand the Spirit of laws: as a general (but non exhaustive) cartography of powers oriented to establish an adapted conception of the Machiavellian conflictual/immanent order as a means to guarantee citizens’ liberty.