Ralph C. Hancock

Written by Ralph C. Hancock

Ralph C. Hancock is a Professor of Political Science at Brigham Young University and President of the John Adams Center for the Study of Faith, Philosophy and Public Affairs. His books include Calvin and the Foundations of Modern Politics (Saint Augustine’s, 1989) and The Responsibility of Reason: Theory and Practice in a Liberal-Democratic Age (Rowman and Littlefield, 2011). He has also translated numerous works from French, the latest being Pierre Manent's Beyond Radical Secularism (St. Augustine's, 2016).

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Calvin and the Foundations of Modern Politics. Ralph C. Hancock. St. Augustine Press, 2011.
 
Leo Strauss’s injunction to endeavor to understand an author as he understood himself is certainly a very wholesome corrective to the facile and dogmatic historicism he taught us to contest.  And the honest pursuit of an author’s deliberate intention is always a good place to start.  But…

Calvin and the Foundations of Modern Politics. Ralph C. Hancock. Cornell University Press, 1989.
 
I first became aware of the problem of the relationship between Calvinism and modern political thought in reflecting on the Puritan background of American political idealism, on what Tocqueville calls the “marvelous combination” in America of the “spirit of religion” and the “spirit of freedom.” I found…