This book compiles and considers the politics of social institutions, from the time of the ancient Greeks to the Reformation in the sixteenth century.
The focus is on those civil society institutions which occupy the intermediate social space which exists between the family or household, on the one hand, and what Hegel refers to as ‘the strictly political state,’ on the other. The book relies upon a way of thinking about politics according to which the internal affairs of social institutions are a legitimate concern for students of politics. A central feature here is the notion of authority, together with that of my station and its duties. The book considers what the theorists selected have said about the relationship that exists between superiors in positions of authority and their subordinates within hierarchical social institutions. It is assumed throughout that claims to authority always involve issues of social identity and of recognition.
Individual chapters are devoted to an exploration of these themes in the writings of the ancient Greeks; in the writings of the Roman Stoics and the Roman law of corporations; in medieval Christianity; in the corporation theory of the later medieval and early modern periods; and finally in the works of the Protestant Reformers of the sixteenth century. The thinkers discussed include Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Marsilius of Padua, Nicholas of Cusa, Jean Bodin, Charles Loyseau, John Calvin, Martin Luther and Gerrard Winstanley.