In order to be capable of comprehending John of Salisbury’s argument regarding moral obligation of the state and its citizens, we must first understand Cicero’s framework of political ethics and his own reassessment of the supremacy of moral reflections. Cicero’s chain of logic begins with Stoic thought which asserted that the world is nature, nature is divine reason, and therefore inherent reason exists in all aspects of the world. Humans a...
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...eason. Conversely, Salisbury’s argument relies on the inflexible hierarchal structure, passive membership, and avoidance of sin that all stem out of faith. Salisbury claims that “so long as the duties of each individual are performed with an eye to the welfare of the whole, so long, that is, as justice is practiced, the sweetness of honey pervades the allotted sphere of all” (257). However, this argument has very different meanings depending the time, the place, and the culture. For Salisbury the welfare of the commonwealth was based on obedience of divine law and utilization of faith, while Cicero has forever cemented in our minds that we are all bonded together by obligations because we operate on divine reason.
Cicero. On Obligations. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Salisbury, John. Policraticus. New York, NY: Russell & Russell, 1963.
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