Choose color scheme

Category Archives: Aristotle

  • Thinking in Terms of Principles: Principles vs. Convention

    There is a seemingly fine line between principles and convention.

    When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence (with the editing assistance of John Adams and Benjamin Franklin), he penned the list of grievances against the British throne and parliament that provided the foundation and principle the Colonies used for separation. Many have argued that Thomas Jefferson plagiarized much of John Locke’s Two Treatises on Government (e.g. the Declaration’s use of the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”), yet Jefferson spoke conventionally when he said in a letter to James Madison, August 30, 1823, that the Declaration of Independence

  • Natural Right, Natural Law, and Positive Law: Aristotle’s Influence on St. Thomas Aquinas

    Since Thomas Aquinas, most arguments concerning natural right and natural law find their way back to Aristotle. Indeed, Aristotle pioneered a new concept of rights that were never discussed before his time. Whereas Plato bound the individual to his duty within the organ of the state, Aristotle argued that the individual deserved the right to enjoy an equality based society (Miller 87). Each individual had rights that existed within nature by definition (natural law). In addition to the discussion of natural law, Aristotle is credited for giving a detailed account of positive law as well.

    Many common interpretations of Aristotle’s theory on natural right, natural law, and positive law are seen through the eyes of Aquinas; however, this approach has drawn much criticism. There is no question that Aquinas was heavily influenced by Aristotle, but there are several convincing arguments that question whether an accurate view of Aristotle is seen through the lens of Aquinas’ interpretation; in other words, “we must be wary of reading back into Aristotle Aquinean doctrines” (Shiner 188).