essay 5 Montesquieu

essay 5 Montesquieu - Armand Hershowitz The Persian Letters...

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Armand Hershowitz The Persian Letters: G?d Persian Letters, written by Baron de Montesquieu, is heavily a religious satire composed of a series of letters composed by two Persian brothers during a nine year tour within France. Originally published anonymously in Amsterdam in 1721, Persian Letters divulges the vices of the acclaimed French culture. Similar to Voltaire’s Letters Concerning the English Nation (1733), Persian Letters allow the reader to comprehend French society vicariously through the observations of a stranger, allowing for established beliefs to be critiqued. Therefore, the question of G-d, which looms above our heads to this day, is scrutinized throughout Persian Letters . Is G-d Allah? Is G-d Yawabh? Is there even a G-d? How are we to live our lives? What are to do? What are we not to do? Montesquieu’s gives us fodder to “overthrow the distinctions established by our divine Prophet, and the fundamental points of the Law, which was written by the hands of angels.” (Letter 123, pg. 221) In Letter X, Usbek summons the divine Mullah Mohammed Al, and proposes that “Mud only seems dirty to us because it offends the sight, or some other sense; but in itself it is no more dirty than gold or diamonds… It must be, then divine Mullah, that the senses alone can judge whether things are pure or impure.” (Letter 17, pg. 64) In other words, Usbek proposes that our scientific senses have the ability to judge what is deemed proper and improper. In contrast, the divine prophet replies with “You keep on asking us questions that have been put to our holy prophet a thousand times. Why not read the Traditions of the theologians? Why refuse to consult that pure source of all understanding? You would find all your doubts resolved.” (Letter 18, pg. 65) Usbek’s cynicism was an immediate threat to Papal supremacy.
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  • Fall '07
  • Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu, Baron de Montesquieu, Persian Letters, Usbek

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