n Journal for Christian Scholarship = Tydskrif vir Christelike Wetenskap - Middeleeuse staatsfilosofie, die geïndividualiseerde staat en Samuel Rutherford se bydrae tot die politieke wetenskap

Volume 55 Number 1-2
  • ISSN : 1013-1116


Medieval philosophy of the State, the individualised State and Samuel Rutherford’s contribution to political science

Medieval political theories proceeded from the whole of society and the hierarchical structure of social life. The divinely organized nature of society was viewed as being organismic in essence with each part related to the whole of society as the limbs of the human body are attached to the torso and the other parts of the human body. Church and State were respectively perceived as the soul and body of human society. As in antiquity, the Middle Ages failed to subscribe to the idea of the State as a legal personality. However, the private law conception of legal personality was initially bestowed upon the towns and the cities, and later on the State as a whole composed of its parts. The private law conception of legal personality supported the notion of the people's will being the ultimate source of State authority. The idea of the sovereignty of the people gained in influence to the point where the subjection of the people to the authorities in the natural realm, was traced to the voluntary and contractual submission of the community to political authority. The seventeenth century Reformational author, Samuel Rutherford, played an important role in the statement of a Reformed theory of the individualised State subject to law. However, Rutherford remained committed to the basic tenets of Medieval political theory – a commitment preventing him from coming to grips with the foundational principles of sovereignty-in-own-sphere and the limits of State competencies emanating therefrom.

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