Quentin Skinner is Barber Beaumont Professor of the Humanities at Queen Mary, University of London. His latest book, Forensic Shakespeare, will be published later this year. (June 2014)

IN THE REVIEW

What Should You Learn from Machiavelli?

Portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli by Rosso Fiorentino, early sixteenth century

The Garments of Court and Palace: Machiavelli and the World That He Made

by Philip Bobbitt
When the Florentine Republic collapsed in 1512 and the Medici princes returned to power, Niccolò Machiavelli was suddenly and violently ousted from the position he had occupied in the Chancery since 1498. Writing to his friend Francesco Vettori in December 1513, he reported that he was now living on his …

The Advancement of Francis Bacon

Philosophical Studies c.1611-c.1619

by Francis Bacon, edited by Graham Rees

Hostage to Fortune: The Troubled Life of Francis Bacon

by Lisa Jardine and Alan Stewart
Francis Bacon has always been given a leading part to play in the grand narratives about the origins of modern thought. The philosophers of the Enlightenment made him a hero of their story about the triumph of reason over superstition and ignorance. Immanuel Kant, for example, hails him in the …

Bringing Back a New Hobbes

The Correspondence of Thomas Hobbes

edited by Noel Malcolm

Three Discourses: A Critical Modern Edition of Newly Identified Work of the Young Hobbes

by Thomas Hobbes, edited by Noel B Reynolds, edited by Arlene W Saxonhouse
Thomas Hobbes’s reputation as one of the leading figures in the history of European philosophy chiefly rests nowadays on a single work, his Leviathan of 1651. It is hardly surprising that Leviathan continues to attract so much attention. As Michael Oakeshott once memorably remarked, it is “the greatest, perhaps the …

The Past in the Present

Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity

by Stephen Toulmin
Stephen Toulmin has always been a philosopher of extraordinary range and confidence. Over the past forty years he has published a steady stream of important books, encompassing such diverse topics as the logic of explanation, the uses of argument, the place of reason in ethics, and the historical development of …

Ms. Machiavelli

Fortune Is a Woman

by Hanna Fenichel Pitkin
Hanna Pitkin’s central argument in Fortune Is a Woman is that “where politics meets gender” we come upon “the troubled heart of Machiavelli’s complex thought.” Machiavelli, for her, is “both a republican and something like a protofascist”; and the “focus of the ambivalence” she finds in his texts is “manhood: …

Habermas’s Reformation

The Idea of a Critical Theory: Habermas and the Frankfurt School

by Raymond Geuss

Knowledge and Human Interests

by Jürgen Habermas, translated by Jeremy Shapiro
Among the ever-increasing volume of studies devoted to the social philosophy of Jürgen Habermas and other members of the Frankfurt school, Professor Raymond Geuss’s recent book, The Idea of A Critical Theory, stands out as a contribution of exceptional originality and interest. It is searching in its criticisms, but never …