Quentin Skinner

Quest for Freedom is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and intellectual historian Quentin Skinner, Barber Beaumont Professor of the Humanities at Queen Mary University of London. Quentin Skinner is considered to be one of the founders of the Cambridge School of the history of political thought. This thoughtful, detailed conversation examines how Quentin Skinner came to appreciate the importance of the distinction between the modern view of freedom and the so-called neo-Roman view, together with what it implies for our current and future political understanding.

This carefully-edited book includes an introduction, Status Symbols, and questions for discussion at the end of each chapter:

  1. Paradoxical Origins – Puzzled by Machiavelli
  2. Presupposing the State – The triumph of the modern liberal view
  3. The Perils of Arbitrary Power – Becoming a slave
  4. Freedom, Applied – Contemporary politics through the lens of arbitrary power
  5. Rhetoric – Closely examining another classical Roman idea
  6. Reshaping a Moral World – Recovering important ideas
  7. Question and Answer – Resisting the lure of the canonical

Now available in electronic format on:



This conversation is also available as part of the 5-part Ideas Roadshow Collection called Conversations About The History of Ideas in both paperback and electronic format.

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We’ve created a one-hour video of our conversation with Quentin Skinner which is available on Vimeo On Demand: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/questforfreedom