A Critical Study of Empiricists’ Theories of Natural Law in Modern PeriodResearch Areas : Geneology of philosophical schools and Ideas
Mohammad Hosein Talebi
(Associate Professor, Political Science Department, Research Institute of Hawzah and University, Qom, Iran)
Keywords: nature law, empiricism, Hobbes, Locke, modern period,
The doctrine of “natural law” is one of the oldest and most famous and efficient subjects of practical wisdom in Western philosophy. This theorem is employed in various fields of human sciences such as philosophy, anthropology, ethics, law, political science, education, and sociology. Unlike Muslim philosophers, Western thinkers have provided several theories about this doctrine. According to their most famous interpretation, natural law is a system of law based on the orders of practical wisdom regarding the behaviors of human beings in order to attain happiness. The purpose of this study is to investigate modern empiricists’ philosophy concerning the natural law and explain the defects of their views following a rational and critical approach and based on philosophical arguments. The interpretation of the thinkers of the modern period (17th and 18th centuries), such as Thomas Hobbes and John Lock, of the rational doctrine of the natural law is an empiricist one. According to this interpretation, since the spirit of positivism dominated the thoughts of empiricists, the immateriality of the human soul was generally unacceptable to them. They only observed the human nature in order to explain the natural law and did not go beyond the satisfaction of human natural and material desires. They neglected the social interests of human being while the natural law always reinforces the orders of practical intellect for the development and progress of the humankind in all material and spiritual, personal and communal, and social affairs. The outcome of their approach to the natural law only directs people towards moral and material joys and delights and closes their eyes to everything that pertains to their everlasting and spiritual life in the hereafter. Therefore, the right to life and freedom, which is one of the concomitants of the natural law in the empiricism of modern Western civilization, mainly targets only material life and freedom. This approach results in ignoring a large part of the world of reality, that is, metaphysical affairs. This philosophy paved the context for the vast dominance of positivism over all aspects of human life in the 19th century and granted an empirical nature to all sciences. As a result, rational discussions, particularly those in relation to the natural law remained dormant for more than a whole century.
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