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Humboldt, Wilhelm Von (1767–1835)

Wilhelm von Humboldt was a German political theorist and a statesman. It is difficult to say when classical liberalism as a political philosophy fully emerged. In England, one usually thinks of John Locke and his Two Treatises on Government (1690) as the starting point of this philosophy of limited government. In Germany, the question cannot be answered as easily, although there is one major candidate for honors as its major early advocate: von Humboldt, whose famous treatise was titled The Limits of State Action. At the least, it is difficult to find another work of such outstanding relevance and quality within the German liberal tradition.

By the mid-18th century, liberal ideas had already made some advance within the various German principalities, but the French Revolution inspired ...

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