Nature, Goodness, and God: The History of Natural Law Theory

Podcast-style audio course - 12 Topics
Length: 4 hrs and 54 mins
Texas A&M
Audio Download + Subscription
$0.00
Audio Download + Subscription
$0.00

Nature, Goodness, and God: The History of Natural Law Theory

Podcast-style audio course - 12 Topics
Length: 4 hrs and 54 mins
Texas A&M
Audio Download + Subscription
$0.00

How do we discern good and evil, just and unjust, virtue and vice? What role does reason play in morality?

With roots in Greco-Roman antiquity, natural law – the idea that human nature is guided by certain universal principles – has been a cornerstone of Western moral and political thought for centuries.

Over the course of 12 lectures, award-winning professor Cary J. Nederman, Ph.D., traces the development of natural law theory from Aristotle (384–322 B.C.E.) into the post-World War II era. Throughout, you will get a flavor for the highly consequential ways in which natural law has both shaped our social institutions and been shaped by Christian thought.

Prof. Nederman begins by defining natural law as it was understood in antiquity before shifting his focus to the transformation of the precepts of natural law by early Christian thinkers. The middle section of the series examines the revival of ancient philosophy by Christian scholars in the Middle Ages. The final third is devoted to instances in which natural law has surfaced in the context of moral an

How do we discern good and evil, just and unjust, virtue and vice? What role does reason play in morality?

With roots in Greco-Roman antiquity, natural law – the idea that human nature is guided by certain universal principles – has been a cornerstone of Western moral and political thought for centuries.

Over the course of 12 lectures, award-winning professor Cary J. Nederman, Ph.D., traces the development of natural law theory from Aristotle (384–322 B.C.E.) into the post-World War II era. Throughout, you will get a flavor for the highly consequential ways in which natural law has both shaped our social institutions and been shaped by Christian thought.

Prof. Nederman begins by defining natural law as it was understood in antiquity before shifting his focus to the transformation of the precepts of natural law by early Christian thinkers. The middle section of the series examines the revival of ancient philosophy by Christian scholars in the Middle Ages. The final third is devoted to instances in which natural law has surfaced in the context of moral and political discourse between the 17th century and the present day.

The theory of natural law remains a compelling method of exploring human nature. For a subject as dense as it is enduring, you’ll be grateful for a tutor so equally endowed with clarity and concision as the inimitable Prof. Nederman.

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Prof. Cary J. Nederman is Professor of Political Science at Texas A&M University and co-director of the Program in Ethics and Political Science. In 1983, he received his Ph.D. from York University in Toronto, where he also taught following graduation. Prof. Nederman has previously taught at the University of Alberta in Canada, the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, Siena College in Albany, New York, and the University of Arizona. He is an expert on the history of Western political thought, with a specialization in Greek, Roman, and early European ideas up to the seventeenth century.
Prof. Nederman is the author or editor of approximately twenty books, including Religion, Power and Resistance from the Eleventh to the Sixteenth Centuries; A Companion to Marsilius of Padua; Lineages of European Political Thought; and Machiavelli. He has also published more than 100 journal articles and book chapters, including contributions to leading journals in political science, history, philosophy, and medieval studies. Prof. Nederman serves on the editorial boards of several prominent national and international journals, and is the President of the Board of Directors of the Journal of the History of Ideas. He has been a research fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies of the International Institute at the University of Michigan and a teaching fellow at St. Catharine’s College of the University of Cambridge.
Praise for Cary J. Nederman
“Cary J. Nederman is among the internationally leading scholars on Aristotle and Aristotle’s reception in the medieval and early modern period. His work on Aristotle is as original as it is thought-provoking and consistently forces the reader to rethink standard perceptions.” – Bettina Koch, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
“Professor Cary Nederman is a recognized international authority on the knowledge and influence of Aristotelian philosophy and political thought in the Middle Ages, having taught, lectured, and published extensively on this subject. His work has earned him distinction among scholars and given him substantial expertise in the topics this course covers.” – Marcia Colish, Oberlin College; Yale University
“Cary Nederman is one of the world’s foremost experts in the history of political ideas from Plato to NATO. He is especially strong on what Aristotle has meant for political life over the last two millennia. He has lectured around the world, and a clearer and more dynamic speaker cannot be found anywhere!” – John Christian Laursen, University of California, Riverside
“Cary’s work has been groundbreaking. His insights into political theory from antiquity through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance have profoundly affected the current state of the discipline. I am thrilled that his understanding of Aristotle will be open to an even broader audience.” – Prof. Gary Remer, Tulane University
“Cary Nederman is a towering figure in the history of political thought. His numerous publications demonstrate a brilliant grasp of the major issues and debates in political theory. They are trenchant and insightful, and evince rigorous scholarship combined with a subtle theoretical sophistication and historical sensitivity.” – Prof. Benedetto Fontana, CUNY/Baruch College

  • Overview
  • The “Discovery” of Human Nature
  • Aristotelian Natural Law
  • Stoicism
  • Cicero
  • Roman Law and Early Christianity
  • The Early Middle Ages
  • Twelfth-Century Naturalism (John of Salisbury)
  • Scholastic Natural Law
  • Clashing Versions of Natural Law: The “Barbarian” Problem
  • Natural Law in Early Modern Europe
  • Natural Law in Recent Times

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