ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf

442. Hugo Grotius. -- Born in Holland, where the religious wars had led to religious indifference, HUGO DE GROOT (GROTIUS, 1583-1645, author of De Iure Belli et Pacis) may be regarded as the great Renaissance legislator of Natural and Social Right.

The Right of Nature or Natural Right (Jus Naturale), which belongs to the individual, is the sum-total of his imprescriptible rights as revealed by the rational study of human nature. A fundamental characteristic of human nature is sociability, innate and instinctive.

Society has its origin in the social contract, the deliberate agreement of individuals who live together for the sole purpose and with the sole aim of better safeguarding their several rights. The State, therefore, exists only by and for the individual. This is the proclamation of the human origin of civil society and the State, in opposition to the scholastic theory of their Divine origin (305).

The people delegate their sovereignty: by a delegation which is for some irrevocable, for others revocable (germ of the theory of revolution).

Between human, rational right, and Divine, revealed right, there is an impenetrable wall of separation. Religious neutrality and unlimited tolerance on the part of the State, are corollaries from this separation of State from Church. Personally, Grotius was a believer in the Christian revelation.

Questions about natural and social right now assumed a great and growing importance. We shall see presently how scholastics (457) and Protestants connected such questions with their theological and philosophical teachings.

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