Author(s)Lambert, Donald Alan
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AbstractThis is a study of the significance of the myth of the Anglo-Saxon constitution as part of the 18th century artisan mind. The study is undertaken by applying social science concepts such as structure, paradigm and myth to examine the logic of popular ideas. The myth of the Anglo-Saxon constitution is first related to the general level of rationality or mentality. This is followed by two case study chapters which examine particular expressions of 'Anglo-Saxon' or gothic thought in detail. This involves a reassessment of the writing of Major John Cartwright, Thomas Bewick, William Cobbett, Sir William Jones, John Baxter, Thomas Evans, Thomas Spence and Grovenor Henson. The last chapter draws together the common elements in all these writers and supports the existence of 'gothic paradigm' by examples from other writers of the time. It is argued that virtue, custom and natural law form part of a single paradigm of thought. It is further argued that these secular political concepts are embedded in a (Protestant) religious framework. A deeper substructure is also discovered and is formalised using social anthropological conceptions of myth. Consequently, while not a primitive or pre-literate society, the study of certain aspects of its political ideology suggests 18th century society is pre-Enlightened, pre or semi-industrial and pre (modern) capitalist in many of its habits of mind.