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Reason, Nature, And Natural Law

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Chapter Summary

It has been commonplace for historians of political thought to identify sixteenth-century Protestant political literature as being hostile to natural law ideas, or, at least, not particularly comfortable with them. Cicero offered an extremely speculative account of natural law, believing all things were held together by reason. Reason connected person with person and, ultimately, persons with God. For Cicero, the laws of nature were: self-preservation; social intercourse; pursuit of truth; passion for prominence; and, a love of order. The chapter also seeks to explain why natural law played a 'more limited' role in English political thought during the second half of the sixteenth-century. Protestant polemic during the Marian reign retained the pessimistic view of the human intellect. The uneasy marriage between Reformed theology and traditional political thought led to a tradition of natural law that was, for the most part, superficial and trite.

Keywords: Marian reign; natural law; nature; Protestant political literature; reason; Reformed theology; sixteenth century



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