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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 32, Issue 1, 2022

Do We Need a New Enlightenment for the Twenty-First Century? Part III

Tatsuya Sakamoto
Pages 47-64

Hume’s Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth Revisited

This paper examines Hume’s theory of republicanism from the perspective of the history of ancient and modern thought. Hume criticized ancient republicanism for its implicit assumption of institutional slavery, and sought the possibility of a republican constitution based on the freedom and equality of citizens. Despite the title “Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth,” its content was a concrete theory and discussed the British society as it existed in the 18th century. His conclusion was the realistic proposal of a highly democratic federal republic, which not only became the origin of the U.S. Constitution through James Madison, but also serves as a valuable source of enlightenment and inspiration for our time, when the challenges and problems of party politics and mass democracy have become extremely serious.