chapter  4
54 Pages

A Question About Law

WithMortimer J. Adler

The false issues and confused controversies of modern jurisprudence must be shocking to the Thomist who finds the Treatise on Law in the Summa Theologica an almost perfect expression of wisdom about the nature, sources, and kinds of law. Positivism which is the prevailing mood of modern thought generally, is also found in the special field of legal theory. The sympathetic historian can undoubtedly cite numerous causes, operating in the decay of mediaeval culture and in the transition to modern times, sufficient to explain the loss of Thomistic wisdom; but precisely because such explanations usually place all the blame on modern shoulders, they fail to help modern thinkers recover the truth they have lost. Some historians of thought who also happen to be Thomists tend to be historical about every human thinker except St. Thomas. The misinterpretations of natural law are not entirely of modern origin. The natural law can be stated in a single principle or in several.