Montesquieu

Montesquieu, whose full name is Charles-Louis, Baron de Montesquieu (1689–1755), poked fun at the French society of his day with Persian Letters, a book written in the form of correspondence between two Persian visitors to Europe. This device of the stranger in a strange land quipping about what he observes has been used many times. The satiric piece was a big hit and is considered one of the first classics of the Enlightenment.

Montesquieu was also a noted jurist who spoke of relativism as it pertains to the law. Relativism is the belief that what is good for the goose may not necessarily be good for the gander.

Montesquieu believed in a political system that separated the powers of the government and provided a series of checks and balances so that one branch could not gain too much power and become a tyranny. This philosophy directly influenced the Founding Fathers when they were framing the United States Constitution.

The Baron of Montesquieu concerned himself with legal relativism. Good and bad, legal and illegal were not absolutes to Montesquieu. What is an appropriate and good law for one society may be inappropriate for another. Montesquieu's tolerance did not extend to what are called despots, monarchs who do not have the best interests of the people at heart and abuse the privileges of power to indulge their own vices.

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