John of Salisbury

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Slides on the writings of John of Salisbury for an undergraduate course in Political Thought that I taught between 2003-2005.

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  • Learning Objectives: 1.) To understand the context surrounding political thought during the modern period. 2.) To appreciate the debate concerning the respective roles of religious and secular authority.
  • John of Salisbury

    1. 1. John of Salisbury
    2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Who was John of Salisbury? </li></ul><ul><li>How did he view the relationship between political and religious authorities? </li></ul>
    3. 3. After 476 AD… <ul><li>The fall of the Roman Empire left a large power vacuum </li></ul><ul><li>Two institutions eventually arose as legitimate alternatives to the Empire: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Feudalism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Catholic Church </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. Implications <ul><li>Feudal institutions and the Church helped keep the fabric of society together </li></ul><ul><li>The relationship between Church and state would continue to be problematic even until the Middle Ages. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who was sovereign over whom ? </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. <ul><li>Named after Pope Gelasius I (492-496AD) </li></ul><ul><li>Also known as the doctrine of the two swords </li></ul><ul><li>The doctrine submits that there are two swords of power: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sacred </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Royal </li></ul></ul>The Gelasian Doctrine <ul><li>sovereign in spiritual matters </li></ul><ul><li>sovereign in temporal affairs </li></ul>
    6. 6. John of Salisbury (1115-1180) <ul><li>Catholic philosopher during the Feudal period </li></ul><ul><li>Studied philosophy and arts in Paris </li></ul><ul><li>Had plenty of experience in public affairs (kings and popes) </li></ul><ul><li>Papalist </li></ul>
    7. 7. On Royal Authority <ul><li>Political authorities are servants of the people </li></ul><ul><li>Both political and religious authority have their source in God </li></ul><ul><li>As such, secular authority must be in accordance with natural law. </li></ul>
    8. 8. Rulers and Authority <ul><li>Fundamentally rooted in the principle of equity </li></ul><ul><li>The basis of equity is (natural) law , and hence should apply to all things </li></ul><ul><li>Rulers are obliged to obey the law out of a love for justice </li></ul>
    9. 9. On Justice and Mercy <ul><li>(Positive) Laws are instruments of justice </li></ul><ul><li>The object of such instruments is to secure the welfare of our fellow man </li></ul><ul><li>Hence, harsh laws should only be used as necessary </li></ul>
    10. 10. Rulers and Priests <ul><li>All earthly authority has its source in God </li></ul><ul><li>Rulers have authority in secular matters, priests in religious affairs </li></ul><ul><li>In essence, priests bestow authority upon rulers </li></ul>
    11. 11. State as an Organism <ul><li>Salisbury subscribes to the view of the state as a commonwealth </li></ul><ul><li>As such, the state is a body composed if different parts with different functions (reciprocity) </li></ul><ul><li>These functions affirm that rulers are subordinate to priests </li></ul>
    12. 12. Liberty and Tolerance <ul><li>Liberty is not absolute </li></ul><ul><li>True liberty stems from virtue </li></ul><ul><li>Tolerance is a special virtue that should be practiced </li></ul><ul><li>As such, individuals have the qualified right to depose tyrants </li></ul>
    13. 13. Lessons <ul><li>Authority should be rooted in broader principles of morals equity, law and justice </li></ul><ul><li>Laws should be reasonable </li></ul><ul><li>Neither liberty nor tolerance are absolute </li></ul><ul><li>Individuals have the right to depose oppressive rulers </li></ul>

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