Montesquieu outside Europe. Translations and uses of The Spirit of Law

Montesquieu outside Europe. Translations and uses of The Spirit of Law

International symposium, University Bordeaux Montaigne, spring 2020
 
Organizor : Eddy Dufourmont (University Bordeaux Montaigne, SPH EA 4574).
 
 
PRESENTATION
 
The Spirit of the Laws is a difficult work to read, for two reasons; firstly by its size (more than a thousand pages written during fourteen years), second by its difficulty of interpretation.  
Montesquieu's masterpiece has given rise to a great diversity of interpretations: hailed as the founding moment of political science, some see in him the expression of modern republicanism while others prefer to put it in the liberal creed. The multiplicity of themes tackled, in an apparent disorder, can puzzle the reader: in his search for the physical and moral causes of institutions, Montesquieu proposes a theory on the law, on the types of government; a reflection on political freedom as well as a theory of climates and the "general spirit". This book was also the one by which Montesquieu gave substance to the concept of despotism he invented, bringing together under the adjective "oriental" associated with this political regime, the Ottoman and Persian empires, China and Japan.
 
How this monument of the Enlightenment was read outside Europe, especially in the countries Montesquieu ranked in the category of despotism? What challenges represented the translation of the work and the understanding of the topics? What was the use in a context of introduction of European political philosophy? These questions, which are very early in modern Japan (where The Spirit of the Laws is translated as early as 1875), certainly concern a good part of the countries of Asia or elsewhere and we invite all specialists of non-European language to discuss them. The analysis will focus on all or part of the constituent themes of Montesquieu’s book, in the perspective of the cultural transfer and the intellectual history.
 
  The language of the conference will be French and English.
  The submission of proposals must be made before July 1, 2019.