William Penn as Social Philosopher

William Penn as Social Philosopher

William Penn as Social Philosopher

William Penn as Social Philosopher

Excerpt

This book is a study of the ideas of William Penn. It is not a biography, though biographical details are frequently given to explain or illustrate the man's philosophy. It is not a history of the period, though discussions of political and social phenomena are occasionally included to illuminate the motives and attitudes of one who was in his generation so prominent a public figure. Research for this study has been limited to Penn's theories concerning the multiple relationships of individuals in society. His religious beliefs have been given no place except as they throw light upon his ideas of man in purely mundane concerns. No attempt has been made here to offer a psychological analysis of his mental and emotional reactions. This investigation is purely an excursion into the history of social philosophy.

For the sake of convenience, Penn's social ideas have been studied from three points of view. The first presents him as a political theorist and statesman. His ideas of the nature and function of the state were conceived in an era vitally important to English and American constitutional history, an era absorbed in decisive controversy and rich in the formulation of political theory. Those ideas must have determined to no small degree his social philosophy. Penn's political theories, set forth in an age of expansion by the founder of one of the new commonwealths in a new world, have in themselves an abiding interest. Shaped while world empires were being built and commercial imperialism controlled the policies of governments, the views of this intimate of English kings assume increased importance. Because they were suggested to a troubled Europe in an age of almost constant international armed strife, the Quaker pacifist's theories will have significance for seekers after peace in another era of wars and rumors of war. Much of Penn's enormous energy was devoted to . . .

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