A heartfelt thanks to you, Dean, and to all those who provoke intelligent discourse based on fact [Bones] these days, as it bestows the rare beauty of wisdom, critical thinking and careful research–something, apparently, our institutions of higher learning are unable to impart nowadays.
On the premise that: John Locke is the intellectual father of our country. . .
While a number of thinkers, stretching from Plato and Aristotle to Blackstone and including Thomas Aquinas, Grotius, Pufendorf, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Hume, and Hobbes made important contributions, this political and social philosopher of 17th century England influenced the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Framers of the Constitution more than any.
Every basic structure in American governance flows from Locke, especially protection for private property.
To understand why Locke was considered the intellectual father of our country it is essential to study those philosophers that influenced his thinking. Locke drew on a vast array of philosophers. Some well known while others somewhat obscure to the casual observer.
While this study lightly touches on the many elements influencing Locke’s ideas it will give the reader a basic understanding of the thinking of that era and why it was so critically important as to how and why we became the United States of America.
The Founders were influenced by a vast wealth of intellectuals and philosophers of the the time that ultimately produced the inspired documents that are so vital to our heritage as Americans.
This rich heritage is drawn from the greatest thinkers in history. The Founders left no stone unturned in the formation of what is now arguably the greatest nation on God’s green earth.
I agree with Bones that the Constitution is no longer applicable and in fact hasn’t been for decades. We have descended into a society bent on it’s own self destruction through corrupt politicians and an ever increasing lack of moral values.
The question remains can we take our country back…can we restore the Republic and the Constitution? imho I would have to state unequivocally no. However, we can rebuild it and through a careful, methodical process perhaps make this nation even better than our Founders envisioned.
But as Bones has stated on many occasions, we must know our past to know where we are going. That is the truth as I see it.
Therefore I submit that each of us, as American patriots, should make it a priority to study our nations past, the men who so diligently argued moral ethics and gave us this beautiful wonder called America, and the traditions that make us what we can be again….free men and women.
We owe it to ourselves; more importantly we are duty bound to our posterity to pass wisdom along.
Samuel von Pufendorf (1632 – 1694)
1.) “It must absolutely be maintained that the obligation of the natural law is from God himself, the creator and supreme governor of the human race, who by virtue of his sovereignty over men, his creatures, has bound them to its observance. He formed the nature of things and of man in such a way that the latter cannot be preserved without a sociable life.”
Pufendorf’s primary contribution was his emphasis on the “sociality” of humankind as the foundation of the natural law. “Any man must, inasmuch as he can,” he wrote, “cultivate and maintain toward others a peaceable sociality that is consistent with the native character and end of humankind in general.” Sociability, however, is threatened by the fallen character of the human condition. “What would men’s life have been like without a law to compose them?” he asks: “a pack of wolves, lions, or dogs fighting to the finish.” Hence God, the divine lawgiver, established laws to order human social life. As Pufendorf writes, “Just as the life of men would without society be similar to the life of the beasts, so the law of nature is chiefly based on the principle that social life is to be preserved among men.”
2.) Pufendorf’s earliest work, the Elementorum jurisprudentiae universalis libri II (Two Books on the Elements of Universal Jurisprudence) marks the starting-point of his career as a lecturer on natural law and of the emergence of the modern natural-law tradition in Germany.
Though overshadowed by Pufendorf’s larger work on natural law, De jure naturae et gentium, and its textbook abridgement, De officio hominis et civis juxta legem naturalem, the Elements already contains essential features of his mature theory.
Pufendorf’s aim as articulated in the preface to the Elements was to develop natural law as a demonstrative science modeled after the mathematical disciplines. He saw the traditional denial that a moral science was possible as a misunderstanding of the Aristotelian doctrine of demonstration. In a scientific proposition, necessity does not refer to the subject of the proposition as distinguished from the predicate, but to the necessary connection of subject and predicate that can be demonstrated by some undoubted axiom or principle
Among the principles of the natural law system only two are considered as axioms, whose “certainty and necessity, flows from reason itself, without the perception of particulars,” namely, the axiom of imputability of voluntary actions “that may be directed according to a moral norm, and the axiom of the obligatory nature of norms in proportion to the authority of the person prescribing them. While imputability and the prescriptive nature of norms express formal requirements of morality, the material content of natural law is exclusively grounded in the other kind of principles—the Observations—whose certainty “is perceived from the comparison and perception of particulars uniformly corresponding to one another. They concern the human intellect and its faculty of (moral) judgment (Observ. 1), the liberty of the will (Observ. 2), the natural sociability of man (Observ. 3), the harmony of self-preservation and society (Observ. 4), and the necessity to establish human sovereignty in particular societies (Observ. 5). Here Pufendorf mainly draws on the natural law writings of Hugo Grotius and Thomas Hobbes, whom he mentions in his preface. The basic anthropology contained in the observations emerges mainly from a critical discussion of their natural law doctrines, resulting in an effort to reconcile Hobbes’s egoism and concept of human society as an artifact with Grotius’s doctrine of social appetite conceived as the telos of a rational and social nature.
1.) The Acton Institute
2.) Pufendorf and Universal Jurisprudence
Source; Samuel von Pufendorf, Two Books of the Elements of Universal Jurisprudence, translated by William Abbott Oldfather, 1931.
The baron de Montesquieu:
The baron de Montesquieu concerned himself entirely with political theory. His Spirit of the Laws (1748) sought to explain how different groups of people end up with different and varying forms of government. He argued that climate, terrain, and agricultural conditions largely predetermined both human behavior and various forms of authority. However, Montesquieu also believed that there was a single, best form of government and that humans could overcome any and all geographical and climatic conditions. For Montesquieu, the best form of human government was embodied in the English constitution after the Glorious Revolution. In particular, the English constitution divided state powers into three independent branches of government: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. Since no one person or group was in charge, the maximum amount of political and economic freedom was made available to the general population. He called this equal distribution of power “checks and balances,” and his theories of government would be the single most powerful influence upon the formation of American government at the end of the century.
(*)Montesquieu was one of the great political philosophers of the Enlightenment. Insatiably curious and mordantly funny, he constructed a naturalistic account of the various forms of government, and of the causes that made them what they were and that advanced or constrained their development. He used this account to explain how governments might be preserved from corruption. He saw despotism, in particular, as a standing danger for any government not already despotic, and argued that it could best be prevented by a system in which different bodies exercised legislative, executive, and judicial power, and in which all those bodies were bound by the rule of law. This theory of the separation of powers had an enormous impact on liberal political theory, and on the framers of the constitution of the United States of America.
(*)From: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
One small footnote of history came from my own family heritage. Yes despite my current last name from a legal adoption in my youth, I have a Scottish heritage. Born Dean Maxwell in 1947, my family, by way of Eustace Maxwell, is directly associated with The Declaration of Arbroath ( sometimes called the [Scottish] Declaration of Independence )which came about in a response to the excommunication of Scotland by Pope John XXII.
You’ll be asking yourself of what significance does this have to the discussion. Read on.
This appeal to Pope John XXII for the same rights and recognition as England was a precursor to a modern form of republican government that finds its power in the people!
Read more at Suite101: The Declaration of Arbroath 1320: Scotland’s Declaration of Independence was a New Model for Freedom.
The Declaration of Arbroath is significant in that it later became a model for the American Declaration of Independence.
For as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.
–From The Declaration of Arbroath 1320.
Scotland’s national independence was affirmed through this document in a manner in which no battle could succeed. The national independence of Scotland was justified through truth that is beyond race and nation. Mankind has a right to freedom which is given by God and to defend it with his life. The qualifications which are placed upon the baron are unimportant; truth once declared cannot be abrogated and stifled. God given liberty secured to each man will grow.
Robert the Bruce was a heather king to several of the Scots which explains the obligation placed upon a feudal monarch by his subjects. Celtic tradition was invoked in the memory of the Seven Earls, the Seven Sons of Cruithne the Pict for the roots of kingship was Celtic. It is believed that Cruithne the Pict rested the ancient right of tanistry. Tanistry is the elevation of a king by the selection of his subjects. Hence, the relationship of king and his people influenced the history of the Scots hereafter. This tradition would reach its climax in the Reformation of Western Europe beginning with Wycliffe, Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, and Knox. After the Reformation, a people’s loyalty to God was declared to be superior over the rule of earthly sovereigns.