Samuel Pufendorf and the natural law

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The ability that each individual has to conduct himself is a characteristic of the natural freedom verified by Samuel Pufendorf. According to the theorist, not being under the control of another man, nor having someone under his command, man would be in the state of nature. Even if he had developed a certain affinity that would allow him to socialize, it would still depend on uniquely and exclusively from himself, that is, each man counted only on himself to ensure his life and his assets.

Pufendorf noted that even if natural law was not incompatible with reason, his state (of nature) was not provided the enjoyment of the comforts acquired by each one, which only an organized civil society could to guarantee. This is because, being universal and convenient, it would allow men to count on other men to defend and preserve themselves (and preserve what it is also yours, that is, your goods), since the passions that predominate in man in the state of nature lead to vices and wars, while, by on the other hand, civil society can promote peace, wealth and conveniences that are convenient to all (and which are also sought after in the state Natural).

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According to Pufendorf, there are two states: the state of nature and the second state or second nature. For him, the state of nature, rationally conceived, can be understood in the following ways:

- In relation to the creator god, man recognizes his author and also recognizes himself as the most excellent of animals and must conduct himself for reason, since without it, neither rights nor duties would be conceived, and everyone would be, therefore, in a state opposite to that of society. civil;

- In relation to the sad condition of man abandoned to himself and deprived of the security of his fellow men, a condition in which man would not survive, which would make civilized life impossible;

- In their moral relations arising from natural affinities to sociability, without any convention or subjugation to others, neither causing them good or harm.

From this we infer two hypotheses that could be pointed out as justifications for the foundations of organized society: or all men are independent of each other and, even societies dissolving, each one would be able to conduct himself as well. to understand; or those who, united in a particular society, have nothing in common collectively except quality as creatures. human beings and owe nothing to each other except what one can demand precisely as a man (concept of humanity). For Pufendorf, the first option is fictitious, and the second must be the one consistent with the real, that is, that is what happened.

This second hypothesis even shows how the members of different separate and independent families lived; and today it is still seen, in civil and private societies, that they are not members of the same political body. This is because, according to Pufendorf, not every human race was in the state of nature. The first man and the first woman (an allusion to the Bible?!) had their children submitted to paternal power. To populate the world, their descendants gathered and dispersed, increasing the number of independent families. Kinships and affections evolved. There remains only a general connection of a common nature. When the inconveniences of living in private had multiplied a great deal, parental power forced those who were neighbors to unite under the same government (small societies). These early societies were united by a bond of nature, common to all who made it up.

Therefore, the law linked to the state of nature, since in this, men are independent from each other (and having a relative dependence on God) is the right to freedom in which each one is master of himself and all are equals. The natural law is the one that invariably suits the rational and sociable nature of man, who, without observing these maxims, could not exist among mankind.

By João Francisco P. Cabral
Brazil School Collaborator
Graduated in Philosophy from the Federal University of Uberlândia - UFU
Master's student in Philosophy at the State University of Campinas - UNICAMP

Source: Brazil School -
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