Saint Thomas Aquinas’s Theory of Law


Revista Jurídica da Universidade de Santiago, ISSN 2309-3595, Ano I, nº 1, jan./dez., p. 57-69, Santiago, 2013

One of the positive things communitarian thought offers us in the debate with philosophical liberalism is the recognition of the role played by tradition in any author’s philosophical ideas; all proposed rationale, it is said, is nothing more than an response to the challenges faced by a community, by life and by thought in the attempt to achieve their quest for happiness. The text found herein, on St. Thomas’s Theory of Law, helps us understand his efforts to integrate reason and faith in the beginning of the 12th century, when Roman Law showed signs of recovery and Aristotelian rationalism resurfaced when universities were a work in progress, though the world then was still hierarchized under the principle of divine authority. The tripartite theory of law, as advocated by our dear Holy Doctor, recognizes the superiority of the eternal law and the irrevocability of the natural law as guides in human affairs. However, unlike Saint Augustine, being witness to the 5th century pessimism that befell the Western civilization, he gives positive law a prominent role in the pursuit of justice and the common, human good, even as he deprives the Church of any authority to institute or interpret said law.

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