Basis of Natural law

Ius versus Lex.

In my book, Law from Within, presently with the publisher, I present the idea, with substantive reasoning, that Natural law is Creator’s invitation to truly live. This position differs markedly from law, as rule, or commandment.

Natural law, as invitation, differs markedly from law, as rule. Yet, sadly, it is often accepted that even in natural law, the word law stands for a command, a rule, executive order, or some directive statement. Accordingly, most folks interpret that a law commands, permits that something be done, or forbids it being done.

Law as instruction, originates from the translation of the Latin word ‘lex.’ A lex, in the general sense, means a contract, usually written. Its original meaning and use, came from the mobilisation of armies, and the organising of military campaigns. The word lex derives from the Latin root verb, ligare, ‘to bind.’ Progressively, over years, Lex came to mean any general directive, rule, or law issued by the highest political authorities.

Have we been misled? Yes, reason being that the word law was also used to translate the Latin word ‘Ius’. ‘Ius,’ (‘iurare’, to swear), refers to a bond or obligation that arises out of a personal commitment made in a solemn speech. More generally Ius denotes an order of human affairs, stemming from such mutual commitment. Differently, ius can mean a natural, or customary right. Accordingly, an ius can exist without it being codified, thus making it independent of written law.

The overall outcome is ambiguous. If Lex means a contract, usually written as law, and Ius can mean a natural or customary right, independent of written law, then Lex and Ius are very different, if not opposed.

So what term, might give law natural standing? The answer is, that the word lex, becomes ‘Lex Naturale,’ or ‘Lex Naturalis.’ Although these terms are said to be natural law, the concept of rule remains attached, from its lex origin. Ambiguity arises, because, whereas Lex Naturale combines legal provision, as law, supposedly with a natural right granted by it, Ius has nothing to do with exercising political authority. 

Readers are urged discernment, for much spoken of today concerning natural law refers to Lex Naturale, not Ius naturale, despite that both are generically referred to as natural law. Effectively, Lex seeks a natural permission for authority to rule. The fact that true natural law is invitation, not command, is why I included the term Ius Naturale on the cover of this book. Ius Naturale stands in vivid contrast to Lex Naturale, which permits that one man or woman, can unilaterally oblige or rule another. 

Ius upholds conditions wherein people meet as free and equal individuals, permitting arrangement of their affairs by agreement, contracts or covenants, within natural law. 

For detailed examination of this subject I recommend The Lawful and the Legal, by Frank van Dun, Philosopher of Law. Although my perspective differs, his conclusions principally echo mine,  or vice versa. 

© Ken Bartle 2016