Natural Law Theory

Topics: Natural law, Aristotle, Stoicism Pages: 2 (662 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Natural Law Theory

The natural law theory is a theory that dates back to the time of the Greeks and great thinkers like Plato and Aristotle. Defined as the law which states that human are inborn with certain laws preordained into them which let them determine what is right and what is wrong.(Bainton 174) This theory was them adapted by religious philosophers to fit the Christian religion.(Berkhof 114) This, however was not exactly the same as the original. The classical thinkers were the first to define the natural law. Heraclitus, in the sixth century BC, specified one the components by saying, *for all human laws are nourished by one, the divine.* This meant that a divine power determined a logic and gave to all humans. (Microsoft Encarta) This definition put this law into direct conflict with positive laws. Aristotle elaborated on the word natural in relation to law. He said that a natural law was one that had the same validity for every one and situation.(Berkhof 268) An example of this would be that a man contemplating murder would see that it was wrong by his nature. His reason would tell him that to kill another was unnatural, and therefore wrong. Cicero tries to determine what the actual law encompassed and he came up with the theory of Stoicism. Stoicism is an interpretation of the natural law which states that every, single person is a part of the universe that was created and is ruled by a divine power rationally. To live rationally and with virtue, according to the Stoics, was to follow one*s nature and reason. Thus, they deemed emotion and passion irrational, and therefore unnatural. For Stoics, the wise would be those who excluded emotion and passion from their decision making process.(Bainton 21-22) The great Christian philosophers came upon this theory and realized that it was compatible to their religion. Probably the most famous of them was St. Thomas Aquinas. He stated in his Summa Theologiae that God gave man the...

Bibliography: Bainton, Roland H. Christianity. Houghton Mifflin: Boston, 1987.
Berkhof, Louis. The History of Christian Doctrines. Baker Book House: Grand
Rapids, Michigan, 1990.
Compton*s Encyclopedia. *St. Thomas Aquinas* Britannica Inc.: Chicago, 1989.
vol. 2. pg. 520. Compton*s Encyclopedia. *Natural Law* Britannica Inc.:
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vol. 16. pg. 87-88. ELibrary, Internet, *Natural Law*
Microsoft Encarta. *Natural Law.*
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