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Cannibalism And Absolutism

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Chapter Summary

In the Two Treatises Locke quotes a long passage from Garcilaso de la Vega's Royal Commentary. Locke's choice of Garcilaso's description of cannibalism seems all the stranger when it is set against the views of other writers that he had in his collection who moderated their condemnation of cannibalism among non-European peoples by attempting to put the practice in its social context or by comparing it to the even more reprehensible behaviour of Europeans. While not defending cannibalism, Montaigne put the practice in the context of the social and cultural life of the Tupinamba. Cannibalism, like absolutism was an example of how man's imagination could cause him to behave in ways that were far from reasonable. Locke did not merely condemn absolutism in terms of the supposed ancient constitution of feudal England, in the usual Whig manner, he attempted to develop a universally applicable argument against absolutism.

Keywords: absolutism; cannibalism; Garcilaso de la Vega; Locke; Montaigne; Tupinamba; Two Treatises



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