Definition of Law, Part 4 to blupete's Essay
In considering the definition of law, we turn, once again to John Locke, 1690: "Law, in its proper Notion, is the Direction of a free and intelligent Agent to his proper Interest."9 "Proper Notion"? "Proper Interest"? What do you suppose Dr. Locke meant by this. My idea, is, that a proper Notion of law is that kind of law which comes from no human authority, other than from the individual person who is bound to follow it; it is the law that each of us carries around in our breast. A law is a rule which each of us, as a free and intelligent agent, will obey, because we fear the punishment that may come in the breaking of such law, and, by as much or more, because we fear the loss of respect from family and acquaintances. The "Proper Notion" of law is that it is found within a person, himself or herself; it is not imposed externally; in such a notion of law, there is absolutely no curtailment of that essential ingredient of life: "freedom." The "Proper Notion" of law is that it is an ideal necessarily given in the form of a precept, which we ought to follow.
For a further development of these ideas, it will be necessary for a person to understand that there are two basic kinds of law: one is scientific, or natural law; the other is a rule (or set of rules), apart from a natural law, which society prescribes for itself.
Or, GO TO
TABLE OF CONTENTS
[Essays, First Series]
[Essays, Second Series]
[Essays, Third Series]
[Essays, Fourth Series]