School of Salamanca  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The School of Salamanca (Template:Lang-es) is the Renaissance of thought in diverse intellectual areas by Spanish theologians, rooted in the intellectual and pedagogical work of Francisco de Vitoria. From the beginning of the 16th century the traditional Catholic conception of man and of his relation to God and to the world had been assaulted by the rise of humanism, by the Protestant Reformation and by the new geographical discoveries and their consequences. These new problems were addressed by the School of Salamanca. The name refers to the University of Salamanca, where de Vitoria and other members of the school were based.

The leading figures of the school, theologians and jurists Francisco de Vitoria, Domingo de Soto, Martín de Azpilcueta (or Azpilicueta), Tomás de Mercado, and Francisco Suárez, were all scholars of natural law and of morality, who undertook the reconciliation of the teachings of Thomas Aquinas with the new political-economic order. The themes of study centered on man and his practical problems (morality, economics, jurisprudence, etc.), but almost equally on a particular body of work accepted by all of them, as the ground against which to test their disagreements, including at times bitter polemics within the School.

The School of Salamanca in the broad sense may be considered more narrowly as two schools of thought coming in succession, that of the Salmanticenses and that of the Conimbricenses from the University of Coimbra. The first began with Francisco de Vitoria (1483–1546), and reached its high point with Domingo de Soto (1494–1560). The Conimbricenses were Jesuits who, from the end of 16th century took over the intellectual leadership of the Catholic world from the Dominicans. Among those Jesuits were Luis de Molina (1535–1600), the aforementioned Francisco Suárez (1548–1617), and Giovanni Botero (1544–1617), who would continue the tradition in Italy.

The juridical doctrine of the School of Salamanca represented the end of medieval concepts of law, with a revindication of liberty not habitual in Europe of that time. The natural rights of man came to be, in one form or another, the center of attention, including rights as a corporeal being (right to life, economic rights such as the right to own property) and spiritual rights (the right to freedom of thought and to human dignity).

The School of Salamanca reformulated the concept of natural law: law originating in nature itself, with all that exists in the natural order sharing in this law. Their conclusion was, given that all humans share the same nature, they also share the same rights to life and liberty. Such views constituted a novelty in European thought and went counter to those then predominant in Spain and Europe that people indigenous to the Americas had no such rights.

Sovereignty

Template:More footnotes The School of Salamanca distinguished two realms of power, the natural or civil realm and the realm of the supernatural, which were often conflated in the Middle Ages through granting royal control of investiture of bishops, or the temporal powers of the pope. One direct consequence of the separation of realms of power is that the king or emperor does not legitimately have jurisdiction over souls, nor does the pope have legitimate temporal power. This included the proposal that there are limits on the legitimate powers of government. Thus, according to Luis de Molina a nation is analogous to a mercantile society (the antecedent of a modern corporation) in that those who govern are holders of power (effectively sovereigns) but a collective power, to which they are subject, derives from them jointly. Nonetheless, in de Molina's view, the power of society over the individual is greater than that of a mercantile society over its members, because the power of the government of a nation emanates from God's divine power (as against merely from the power of individuals sovereign over themselves in their business dealings).

At this time, the monarchy of England was extending the theory of the divine right of kings—under which the monarch is the unique legitimate recipient of the emanation of God's power—asserting that subjects must follow the monarch's orders, in order not to contravene said design. Counter to this, several adherents of the School sustained that the people are the vehicle of divine sovereignty, which they, in turn, pass to a prince under various conditions. Possibly the one who went furthest in this direction was Francisco Suárez, whose work Defensio Fidei Catholicae adversus Anglicanae sectae errores (The Defense of the Catholic Faith against the errors of the Anglican sect 1613) was the strongest defense in this period of popular sovereignty. Men are born free by their nature and not as slaves of another man, and can disobey even to the point of deposing an unjust government. As with de Molina, he affirms that political power does not reside in any one concrete person, but he differs subtly in that he considers that the recipient of that power is the people as a whole, not a collection of sovereign individuals—in the same way, Jean-Jacques Rousseau's theory of popular sovereignty would consider the people as a collective group superior to the sum that composes it.

Gabriel Vázquez (1549–1604) held that natural law is not limited to the individual, but obliges societies to act in accord and be treated with justice.

For Suárez, the political power of society is contractual in origin because the community forms by consensus of free wills. The consequence of this contractualist theory is that the natural form of government is either a democracy or a republic, while oligarchy or monarchy arise as secondary institutions, whose claim to justice is based on being forms chosen (or at least consented to) by the people.

The law of peoples and international law

Francisco de Vitoria played an important role in the early modern comprehension of ius gentium (the rights of nations). He extrapolated his ideas of legitimate sovereign power to society at the international level, concluding that this scope as well ought to be ruled by just forms respecting the rights of all. The common good of the world is of a category superior to the good of each state. This meant that relations between states ought to pass from being justified by force to being justified by law and justice.

Francisco Suárez subdivided the concept of ius gentium. Working with already well-formed categories, he carefully distinguished ius inter gentes from ius intra gentes. Ius inter gentes (which corresponds to modern international law) was something common to the majority of countries, although being positive law, not natural law, was not necessarily universal. On the other hand, ius intra gentes, or civil law, is specific to each nation.

Some scholars have disputed the standard account of the origins of modern International law which emphasises the seminal text De iure belli ac pacis by Grotius. They have argued for the importance of Vitoria and Suárez as the forerunners and founders of the field.

See also




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