Introduction: before the Law
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Introduction: before the Law book
The central jurisprudential contest is a familiar and ancient one: between the claims of natural and positive law. In its original form, it provided the dramatic heartbeat of Sophocles' Antigone, with the protagonist's invocation of the 'unwritten unalterable laws' of the gods against the tyrannical edicts of Creon. Aristotelian ideas of justice and friendship found their definitive expression, at least in Renaissance jurisprudence, in Richard Hooker's Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, written during the last decade of the sixteenth century. At the heart of the 'age of gold', Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz described a very particular vision of a 'universal jurisprudence', one that was founded on 'charity' and the 'love of peace, which is so recommended by Jesus Christ'. Against Thomas Hobbes, Leibniz cited the revered figure of Aristotle, the master of 'universal' jurisprudence, the man who placed legal theory within a wider public philosophy which was itself founded upon a fundamentally humanist theory of ethics.