Pavel Sokolov   1
  • 1 National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation

“Missing Link”: The Embryological Interpretation of the State of Nature by Pieter De la Court and Johan De la Court

2017, vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 83–100 [issue contents]
This study examines the status and the functions of the medical (“embryological”) argument in Pieter and Johan De la Court’s treatise Considerations of State, or Political Balance. In the beginning of the second book of the treatise, the co-authors decide not to confine themselves to the Hobbesian explanation of the causes of the state of nature, setting forth their own interpretation of this phenomenon, which is the certain “impressions” or “marks” (indrukselen) the foetus receives at the moment of conception and during the mother’s pregnancy. The article primarily focuses on this striking inversion of the commonplace regarding prenatal conditions, and on the particular way of merging the political arguments with medical arguments while approaching aporia,the famous state of nature. The authors proceed by sorting out the contexts of Cartesian and Harvean embryological writings (A. Deusing), popular medical texts describing the pathologies of conception and pregnancy (J. Cats and J. van Beverwijk), and treatises on “political natural philosophy” (R. Cumberland) which illuminates the reasons of using this “anomalous” argument as an explanation of the inevitability of the state of nature. The research emphasizes the ambivalence of the De la Courts’ political republicanism. Though preserving some significant elements of the ethical-rhetorical paradigm (parrhesia, the idea of the “Batavian liberty”), this political philosophy does not manage to coherently represent the relationships between the biological and the civil orders, or between heroic ethos and “beneficial violence”.
Citation: Sokolov P. (2017) «Nedostayushchee zveno»: embriologicheskaya interpretatsiya estestvennogo sostoyaniya u Pitera i Yokhana De la Kurov [“Missing Link”: The Embryological Interpretation of the State of Nature by Pieter De la Court and Johan De la Court]. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 16, no 1, pp. 83-100 (in Russian)
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