The Reading Room

The Free Sea: Grotius against the Portugals


by Eric Mack

Beyond his arguments for the right to trade and for the Sea being open to all who seek to travel for trade, a good deal of The Free Sea is devoted to countering various particular arguments that the Portugals might advance for their monopolizing trade with the East Indies. Grotius’ refutations of these arguments further reflect his proto-liberalism.
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OLL's January Birthday: Francis Bacon (January 22, 1561 – April 9, 1626)


By Peter Mentzel

This month’s featured birthday anniversary is the English philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon. A key figure in the transition from the Renaissance to the Early Modern Period, he is widely regarded as one of the most important early proponents of the scientific method and inductive reasoning, and a foe of the older medieval scholastic deductive methodology. For this, he is sometimes called the Father of Empiricism.  

The Free See: Grotius and the Sea as a Permanent Commons


by Eric Mack

According to Grotius, “God gave all things not to this man or that but to mankind . . .” (Free Sea, 22) However, it is clear that Grotius does not mean that all persons are joint-owners of the raw natural world in the sense that any individual’s use of any portion of the natural world requires every joint-owner’s consent. Rather, all components of the natural world are given to mankind in the sense that, at least to begin with, each of these natural components is morally available for the use of any human agent (or association of human agents). In this sense, the actual original condition of natural material is being unowned.

History on Film: Sifting Through the Past


by Sarah Skwire

Basil Brown: Is that why you want to dig, Mrs. Pretty? Tales of buried treasure?
Edith Pretty: My interest in archaeology began like yours, when I was scarcely old enough to hold a trowel. My childhood home was built on a Cistercian convent. I helped my father excavate the apse.
Basil Brown: That speaks, don’t it? The past.
--The Dig (2021)

“I need to find a new place to search. All we pull up these days is litter and ring pulls. This is the land of the Saxons. I want to discover where they buried their warriors and their kings.

--The Detectorists, Episode One, Season One, (2014)