A Modern Maistre: The Social and Political Thought of Joseph de Maistre

By Owen Bradley | Go to book overview

Chapter 3

Punishment and War

Thrones wilt when they are not fed with blood, their vitality grows with the mass of wrongs committed, with life-denials, with the crushing of all that is perpetually different and that has been ousted by them. We are disclosing here secret and forbidden things; we are touching upon state secrets hidden away with a thousand seals of silence.... Many things seem to point to the fact that Franz Joseph was in reality a powerful but sad Demiurge. - Bruno Schulz, Sanatorium under the Sign of the Hourglass

We now advance from one equivocality to another, from the law of violence found in sacrifice, to the violence of law found in executions, and from thence to the innocent slaughter of war. Maistre's reflections on capital punishment and warfare are indeed a direct application of the ideas of "Eclaircissement sur les sacrifices" to European institutions. For lack of attention to his theory of sacrifice, critics have been too quick, in light of his remarks on war and punishment, to dub Maistre a violent philosopher rather than a philosopher of violence. This is to blame the messenger for his bad tidings, as though Maistre occasioned the ills of which he speaks. There is no denying the dangerous allure of these dark subjects, dangers we will attend to closely. Of Maistre's writing, however, one must ask the same elementary question that he asked of the sacrifices of the Old Testament: "Does the Bible approve of everything it tells us?"1

In this chapter, then, we will see how Maistre applied his theory of sacrifice to European military and penal forms. The resonance of Maistre's ideas with major themes of modern European thought will lead us to reconsider the uses of the sacrificial paradigm for political philosophy, to spell out its potential abuses, and, finally, to trace the course of Maistre's influence on modern French sociology.

Before a word is said of Maistre's infamous discussions of war and capital punishment, however, an understanding of their textual setting is indispensable. This setting is precisely one of discussion, of the philosophical dialogues of Les Soirées de Saint-Pétersbourg. These dialogues take place among three characters, each of whom has his own highly

-61-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
A Modern Maistre: The Social and Political Thought of Joseph de Maistre
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Chapter 1 - French Traditionalism 1
  • Chapter 2 - Sacrifice 32
  • Chapter 3 - Punishment and War 61
  • Chapter 4 - Symbolic Power 87
  • Chapter 5 - Legitimacy and The Origins of Sovereignty 110
  • Chapter 6 - Science and Society 137
  • Chapter 7 - Providence 166
  • Chapter 8 - Revolution and Counterrevolution 199
  • Works Cited 251
  • Index 261
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 280

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.