Date of Award

12-1-2010

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Clinton, Robert

Abstract

In the following work, I present Eric Voegelin's account regarding the tradition of natural law as an intellectual and spiritual phenomenon of Western civilization. The eight-volume History of Political Ideas, published posthumously, gives a compelling account of the shift from classical to modern natural law. Chapter one will set up the parameters of the study and give a summary of the background details surrounding the controversy of Voegelin's History. The second chapter will deal with the account given on the development of natural law from the early church fathers and the Hellenic-Stoic thinkers, up to Thomas Aquinas. Chapter three explores Voegelin's critique of Martin Luther and John Calvin as largely responsible for the dismantling of Aquinas' synthesis and anthropology which is based on a loving friendship (amicitia) between man and God. Reformed theology and the emergence of the nation-state as the sole political unit are the primary factors motivating the quest to establish "new orders" in modern political philosophy. Hugo Grotius, Thomas Hobbes, and John Locke are the focus of chapter four, as Voegelin carries out an analysis of their new modes of natural law, concluding with a grim assessment. Finally, I will briefly comment on integrity of Voegelin's story as a plausible interpretation regarding this rich civilizational heritage.

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