The Lost Soul of the Body Politic
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The modern nation-state is the product of a gradual process in which the religiously concerned medieval political and ecclesiastical synthesis became more secular and centralized. Mirroring this external institutional development, the theoretical conception of the state changed from one of a natural organic unity of diverse corporate members to a consent-based compact among atomized individuals. This change can be traced in the Body Politic metaphor of four authors: John of Salisbury, Christine de Pizan, Johannes Althusius, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In this project, I argue that the Body Politic metaphor, particularly the inclusion or exclusion of a soul of the Body Politic, is uniquely appropriate for capturing the complexity of political life in general across differing levels of aggregation and for elucidating the political and religious commitments of the authors who employ it, as they critique their own contemporary political and religious institutions and describe their ideal societies. In the conclusion, I suggest that the loss of a strongly organic conception of the state has denied modern society and political theory a well established means for incorporating corporate entities and for explaining the existence of the modern nation-state in any kind of transcendental moral context, thus the lost soul of the Body Politic.
Medieval Political Theory
Early Modern Political Theory
Christian Political Theory
John of Salisbury
Christine de Pizan
Chupp, Jesse (2012). The Lost Soul of the Body Politic. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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