Milton and the Theology of Secular Politics

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The text of the 2008 Founder Lecture presented at the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington. The paper argues that John Milton's so-called 'proto-liberal' thought embodies some fundamental tensions which can shed considerable light on the structure of rights-based political doctrines. Explore Milton's prose pamphlets from the 1640s and 1650s, the paper focuses on the way Milton talks about nature as a political norm, together with the way he invokes the canons of rationality and reasonableness. This analysis uncovers some of the forgotten theological assumptions that were driving the emergence of discourses about individual rights and popular sovereignty in the seventeenth century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-49
Number of pages13
JournalThe Turnbull Library Record
Issue numbern/a
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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