Book Summary: Limits of State Action by Von Humbolt

A Work on Political Philosophy

Rick Rejeleene


February 4, 2017

1. Why care about this?

This is one of my best read books.

  1. Depth
  2. Quality
  3. Cognition required to understand

Also, a Foundation for Classical Liberalism, While reading Humboldt’s dense writings, I inferred, Perhaps?

In 17-18th century, quality of education was admirable

This work would help, anyone raise their level of thoughts. To raise one’s quality of thought - What should we do?

We must read writers, engage with, who are better than us. For that - one requires persistence, curiosity, and herculean effort.

2. What is this about?

Von Humboldt was a Prussian Writer, Civil Servant, contributed for Classical Liberalism. Von Humboldt’s ideas were influential for Higher Education. Humboldt asks, “To what end, state institutions; should be set to their activity?”

To respond to this, He writes this entire book. I’d suggest reading it. To make it relevant to contemporary Tamil Nadu, India.

Could we apply this to Politics in Tamil Nadu?

My hunch is, We are forcing western concepts work into local Tamil Politics.

3. What did I learn in this?

I learnt about Freedom, Principles for Classical Liberalism.

How in Tamil Nadu - we do not have, foundational works in Political thought?

My own vague response, perhaps from Sangam Literature? Maybe, someone could re-construct or advance knowledge in Tamil Political thought?

My favorite part from the book,

Humboldt says,

“Men who love labor for its own sake, improve it by their plastic genius and inventive skill, cultivate intellect and refine their pleasures.”

Political theorist, lay foundation, upon which, political parties stand upon. From there, Politicians formulate positions on issues.

I would recommend this book to everyone.

“Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind” - Kant