Concept of State

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Some contemporary Scholars like Quentin Skinner define the state today as "a locus of power distinct from either the ruler or the body of the body of the people." (Skinner, Foundations of Modern Political Thought, II, p.355). Yet, others would argue that the potency of the word "state" derives from the fact that it means both ruler and people. In other words, the state is at the same time loved for its promise of order and stability for the whole community and feared for its threat of coercion by the power which does the ordering. Both schools of thought may be right for there is no universal definition of the concept. But no intellectual discussion about the concept of the state is complete without a review of the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas and Martin Luther. First, and most important, St. Thomas Aquinas arguably was the first to formulate the concept of the state as the "set order of the rulers" at the heart of every stable commonwealth. The general concept which was necessary before the name could be attached to a particular form of government in Aristotle's framework. Second, Martin Luther continued to evolve the concept of the state in terms of how he saw a division of labor between Church (or spiritual power) and the those things temporal—the state—and how the ruler, without direct intervention from the Church, should govern it with respect to his nobles and, above, all the common good of the people of his realm. Aquinas establishes early on that the state is a natural institution (very different from Augustine whose ideas prevailed up to this point in history) because "la naturaleza del hombre [es] ser un animal sociable y politico que vivien sociedad." (Aquinas, La Monarquia, I, p. 7) And he goes on to affirm that man must live in societies to achieve fulfillment "porque un sol hombre por si mismo no puede bastarse en existencia." (Aquinas, La Monarquia, I, p. 7). As a result, there has to be a group within state whose job it is to take thought for...
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