St. Thomas Aquinas` Definition of Law
St. THOMAS AQUINAS` DEFINITION OF LAW 1
St.Thomas Aquinas` Definition of Law
St.Thomas Aquinas` Definition of Law
Severaldefinitions of the ‘law` exist in different settings includingreligious, legal and business environments among others. St ThomasAquinas was a medieval theologian who wanted to bring elements ofscience and nature into the Christian philosophy. According to him,the law is defined as an official order of reason for a collectiveright, enacted by a competent entity with concern for the community.This paper is an analysis of the definition of law and its elementsaccording to St Thomas.
FourKinds of Law
EternalLaw is sourced from the argument of Divine Reason or the belief thateverything has a particular and collective end to accomplish on thisearth as designed by God. According to St. Thomas, this belief isevidence by the way inanimate objects behave uniformly like allrivers flowing without any human intervention means that they weredesigned to flow as they do by God for his reasons. This, however,means that even the intelligent humans have a God-intended purpose onearth that must be consulted during the lifetime using the eternallaws.
Thereal purpose of human existence can only be defined by God throughthe scriptures or the divine law according to St. Thomas. Theunderstanding of God’s purpose for human life lies beyond humanunderstanding and as such necessitated his revelation through thescriptures. Salvation and eternal life have been identified as God’spurpose for man through the Bible which also judges the intent of anywrongful action by them. This is contrary to the human law whichprosecutes the action themselves but considering the intentpassively.
Humanbeings by their nature have an inclination to the ‘good things’in their life as prescribed to them by God, unlike every othernon-intelligent creature according to St. Thomas. The combination ofthe inclinations on activities that humans pursue in an attempt toacquire the ‘good’ in life form the concept of morality. Naturallaw has four kinds of inclination including self-preservation,procreation, and rearing of offspring, to live in a society and toknow about God.
Humanlaw involves the standards that are set for the different ways ofimplementing the natural laws. St Thomas has recognized that people’sperceptions are unique in the various regions based on their socialcustoms, histories, and cultures among other traits. He has thusidentified human law as the most rational means that satisfies three‘requirements of law’ for implementing the different aspects ofnatural law.
TheNatural Law as a Guide to Living Well
Humansalways endeavor to have the best things in their life which createnatural human inclinations. ‘Morality’ is a factor of acombination of the individual inclinations that define humanity andways of implementing the natural law. Natural law thus guides theattainment of the right things in human life using morally acceptableways. Four inclinations are applicable in the achievement of naturallaw in human beings.
Humanbeing naturally tries as best as they can to preserve their lives foras long as possible. This inclination in human life will ensure thatthey will always act in a manner that respects the sanctity of life -which will guarantee they live longer. The second inclination ofestablishment and maintenance of a family unit through procreationand rearing of off-springs. When applied in life immorality and casesof single parent families will be eliminated.
Thethird inclination of coexisting in societies ensures that humansachieve their relatedness needs. This will ensure that peace ismaintained in societies. Individual knowledge of the benefits of thesociety to people is known to them explicitly. The fourth inclinationof humans according to St. Thomas is that of knowing God. Knowing Godor salvation establishes a belief system in people who have set upmoral and ethical standards of living.
Lawsset standards of living that are acceptable based on an individual’sbelief system. St. Thomas Aquinas has defined the law in boththeological and other philosophies using the four categoriesidentified by him. The application of the four kinds of rulesaccording to him and the implementation of the natural laws ensuresmorality and peaceful coexistence.
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