Cicero's View On Law

1062 Words5 Pages
One Law and a Politics for All
In the Gospel of John, Jesus articulates an understanding of law that supplements our understanding of the theory of natural law espoused by Cicero. Principally, it addresses the anxiety that surrounds the anchor of ‘right reason/doubt’ in natural law, which Cicero articulates as the guiding framework for an ideal political community. With a primary focus on Cicero, this essay posits that his theory of natural law and one law lays the foundation for ensuing ideas of law and politics. Furthermore, this essay seeks to ascertain the learning points arising from the reconciliation between Cicero and John on law. Ultimately, this essay seeks to emphasise the value of one law as a framework for a politics that works
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Moreover, Cicero assumes that the ‘always and already’ of nature is rooted in divinity – “the whole of nature is ruled by the immortal gods” (Laws 1:21). Cicero then argues that man was created by the “supreme God” (seemingly in contrast to the other ‘immortal gods’?) and imbued with the faculty of reason (Laws 1:21). As there is nothing “more divine than reason” which becomes “wisdom” when developed, and since man and God share in the divinity of reason, the universe can be conceived of as a shared and “single community”. As beings in the same universe, “moral excellence” is inherent in both man and God, and this virtue is the “completion and perfection of nature” (1:25). Cicero elaborates that nature has endowed man with multiple gifts and faculties such as the “power of speech” to foster “human fellowship” and presumably to achieve “moral excellence” (Laws 1:25-7). More importantly, Cicero contends that nature itself “strengthens and completes human reason” (Laws 1:27). In this vein, Cicero seems to be following the logics of Aristotle’s argument that “man is by nature a political animal” – we are gifted with speech and reason and are driven by an inner desire to form partnerships to live well (Laws 1:32). Mankind is “born for justice” because of nature and able to “attain moral excellence” by using nature’s…show more content…
Unlike civil law which is based on the short-term needs of “communities” and “popular approval” (Laws 2:11), the one law as conceived by Cicero is always valid for all political communities. Cicero compares this law as one not conceived by individuals or communities but immanent within an “eternal force” and that “original and final law is the intelligence of God, who ordains or forbids everything by reason” (Laws 2:8). Therefore, if the political legislation is derived via right reason, it cannot be against nature, and thus, “laws devised to ensure the safety of citizens. The security of states, and the peaceful happy life of human beings” are valid laws (Laws 2:11). Hence, laws that are “harmful or unjust” cannot be considered law, as they violate
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