Theocracy, Conscience, and the Rule of Law

October 4, 2005

Rémi Brague, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris I)

Professor Brague suggests that it is commonly admitted that the present struggle is fought between theocracies and democracies. Now, "theocracies" are not always the rule of priests. The word was coined by Flavius Josephus in order to describe the rule of Moses' Law. Democracies plume themselves on the "rule of law." Furthermore, we consider that the ultimate instance in legislation is conscience, which was considered as being something divine in man (Aquinas, Rousseau). To what extent can our polities subsist when conscience is considered as purely human in origin?

Rémi Brague is Professor of Philosophy and Co-director of the Center for Research in the Tradition of Classical Thought at the Université de Paris I—Sorbonne, and Professor of Medieval Arabic Philosophy at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich. He has taught at Boston University and the University of Lausanne and been a Humboldt research fellow at the University of Cologne. His works in ancient philosophy include books on Plato's Meno, the meaning of "world" in Aristotle, and Plato and Aristotle on time. More recently he has written Eccentric Culture: A Theory of Western Civilization (St. Augustine Press), The Wisdom of the World: The Human Experience of the Universe in Western Thought (University of Chicago), and Divine Law (forthcoming from University of Chicago).

 

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