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"Justice Enacted Not These Human Laws" (Antigone): Religion, Natural Law and Women's Rights

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Since the time of Aristotle, the character of Antigone in Sophocles' play of the same name has been cited as an example of natural law, in her appeal to the gods to justify her defiance of the law of the polis represented by Creon. With reference to interpretations of Antigone offered by Costas Douzinas and Ronnie Warrington and by Jacques Lacan, I challenge the association between Antigone and natural law, particularly with regard to the representation of women, rights and law. I argue that a feminist retrieval of the scholastic natural law tradition might offer a more holistic and integrated concept of female personhood in the context of human flourishing, natural reason and the goodness of nature. I conclude by considering Olympe de Gouges' Déclaration des Droits de la Femme et de la Citoyenne, as an example of an appeal for women's rights and sexual equality informed by pre-modern concepts of natural law.

Affiliations: 1: Catholic Studies, Roehampton University, London, UK


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