Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Constitution as celestial mechanics

...Montesquieu insists that the English Whigs copied the new astronomy when they were creating the modern British Constitution. Referring to this in one of his essays, Woodrow Wilson drew attention to the fact that the Constitution of the United States had been made on the same principle. 'They [writers in the Federalist] speak of the checks and balances of the Constitution,' he said, 'and use to express their idea the simile of the organization of the universe and particularly of the solar system....'
From a passage on the metaphorical uses of mechanical and scientific terms during the Enlightenment, in History in English Words by Owen Barfield.

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