Natural Law Theories in the Early Enlightenment (Ideas in Context)
T. J. Hochstrasser
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This study examines the development of natural law theories in the early stages of the Enlightenment in Germany and France. T. J. Hochstrasser investigates the influence of theories of natural law from Grotius to Kant, with a comparative analysis of important intellectual innovations in ethics and political philosophy. This book assesses the first histories of political thought, giving insights into eighteenth-century natural jurisprudence. Ambitious in range and conceptually sophisticated, it will be of great interest to scholars in history, political thought, law and philosophy.
circumstances that led to its publication is given in chapter . At this early stage, his ‘history’ consisted of no more than a self-justifying sketch that placed his own work in relation both to his most distinguished contemporaries whose work he believed he was completing, and to those ﬁgures in ancient moral philosophy whose work he believed to preﬁgure his own, or from whom his writings might be most sharply contra-distinguished. At no time did Pufendorf envisage a teleological reading of the
Aristotle, the Stoics and other gentiles with the Christian faith’.³⁴ But although Thomasius distanced himself from religious syncretism, he remained wedded to its philosophical parallel by retaining the assumption that all seventeenth-century novatores could be assimilated to Aristotelianism, and that nothing other than a cyclical interpretation of the history of philosophy was tenable. Although he doubted aspects of the tradition in which he had been educated, he could not envisage an
and law by his free will. And, indeed, justice follows certain rules of equality and proportion [which are] no less founded in the immutable nature of things, and in the divine ideas, than are the principles of arithmetic and geometry.²⁶ Secondly, and more crucially, once the source of natural law had been shifted from divine institution to a calculative and instinctual sociability generated from within the individual, the obligation of such a law would obtain quite irrespective of God’s
Pufendorf-Studien, pp. –; and for an examination of the issues involved in the debate over confessional reunion see J. Moore and M. Silverthorne, ‘Protestant theologies, limited sovereignties: natural law and conditions of union in the German empire, the Netherlands and Great Britain’, in J. Robertson, (ed.), A Union for Empire: Political Thought and the British Union of (Cambridge, ), pp. –. ¹⁰¹ It is relevant to note that Pufendorf himself boasted that he had wasted little
history of philosophy is less clearly a ‘progressive’ history: its various episodes represent a mixture of both truth and error which have to be separated and evaluated. This in turn requires the historian himself to organise and interpret his materials ⁶ Buddeus, Compendium, p. . ⁷ Buddeus, Elementa philosophiae instrumentalis (Halle, , th edn), ‘Lectori Benevolo’ (unnumbered). ⁸ Buddeus, Compendium, p. . ⁹ Ibid., §xxxiii-xxxv, pp. –. ¹⁰ Ibid., pp. –. ¹¹ Ibid., p. .