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This exhibit examines the political developments of Early Modern Europe and their roots in the philosophy of Classical Antiquity (Ancient Greece and Rome), highlighting the preservation and reconceptualization of ideals that occurred between the periods. Said analysis of political philosophy and its manifestations will be largely conducted within the context of Early Modern Italy. However, having not been a phenomenon that can be constrained within a single state or political entity (instead being developed through a far-reaching network of intellectual communication), the works of non-Italian political philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes and John Locke will be included as well.

The exhibit will be divided into set categories designed to guide the reader with a sharper understanding of the development of early modern politics. To go about this, the initial focus will be on tying the Classical Antiquity philosophy to that of the political discourse occurring in the early modern period, by focusing on the two primary forms of government: monarchies and republics. Plato's concept of the enlightened monarch is furthered by Machiavelli. Hobbes further develops the optimal political structure of monarchy, claiming the necessity of absolute power. Aristotle promotes republican democracy via the polity, encouraging political participation by the ruling class. Kant categorizes this participation into public and private reason.

The next step will be to provide a broader understanding of how these political ideas influenced religious events and economic policies. Through a combination of these diverse subjects, the early modern period was indebted to the political ideas that emerged from classical antiquity and prompted the Italian explosion of political thought, which would in turn influence the entirety of Europe. For example, early modern Christianity was rooted in Platonism.

The exhibit is intended to provide the reader with a grasp of Early Modern European political philosophy/politics and its foundations. Through this, an understanding of the deeply interconnected nature of intellectual history will be fostered.


Moses Jehng, Michael Schultz