Nature and Artifice

Nature and Artifice

The Life and Thought of Thomas Hodgskin, 1787-1869

David Stack

Thomas Hodgskin (1787-1869), radical thinker, is the subject of this study, and he is presented here as a forerunner of New Right ideology rather than as `early English socialist'.
Thomas Hodgskin was one of the most significant thinkers of nineteenth-century radicalism. An active writer for over fifty years and an associate of Bentham and James Mill amongst others, his life provides a paradigm for understanding the evolution of radicalism from Waterloo to the Second Reform Act. This study rescues him from his marginalisation and mis-casting as an "early English socialist": far from being a socialist, many of his views seem to mark him out as a forerunner of New Right or neo-liberal ideology. Drawing on a range of new sources and reassessing Hodgskin's life and work, Dr Stack argues that the crux of Hodgskin's thought was the essentially theological distinction he drew between nature and artifice. Throughout, he makes plain the centrality of providentialism to nineteenth-century radicalism.

Dr DAVID STACK teaches in the Department of History at Queen Mary and Westfield College at the University of London.

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A quantum leap in our understanding of an oft-misinterpreted writer... a most welcome recounting of a fascinating biography. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

Excellent volume... rescue[s] Hodgskin from being seen simply as a "pre-cursor of Marx" and provide[s] at the same time a fascinating addition to our knowledge of 19th-century radicalism more generally. HISTORY

Stack's assured handling...rests on the closest reading of a voluminous output... Historians of early trade unionism and radicalism will need to heed carefully what [he] has to say. LABOUR HISTORY REVIEW

Rescues Hodgskin from the various people who have tried to claim him as part of this or that tradition, and sets him in context as a political thinker in his own right... A very sound piece of scholarship indeed. ARCHIVES

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