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Divine Law and Political Philosophy in Plato’s Laws
Mark J. Lutz
"Lutz has written the best first book to read on Plato's Laws. It is free of jargon, straightforward, and accessible in its presentation. Though the title suggests a narrow focus on laws that claim a divine origin, Lutz leads readers to see that the real subject is education to virtue....Highly recommended." -CHOICE
All over the world secular rationalist governments and judicial authorities have been challenged by increasingly forceful claims made on behalf of divine law. As Mark J. Lutz makes plain in this illuminating book, political rationalists should not dismiss such defenses of divine law but rather should take these claims seriously and respectfully. With penetrating insight, Lutz conducts a sustained, thematic examination of how Plato in the Laws justifies the political philosopher’s authority to guide divine law.
Plato’s Athenian Stranger shows that the citizen who believes in divine law necessarily believes that it aims at the complete virtue of a human being. If the political philosopher can demonstrate that he understands virtue, Lutz argues, then he will have found a common ground with the devout citizen on the basis of which he can demonstrate his knowledge of divine law. And if he can show that he understands virtue better than do those who have been educated by the laws, then he will have established his authority to guide the law.
Few before Lutz have sought to unearth from Plato’s writings what he actually thought about the true relation between philosophy and divine law. By helping readers discern the deepest themes of the Laws, Lutz makes this long neglected work more accessible to contemporary readers. This important study will appeal to not only political theorists but also scholars at all levels interested in religion and politics and in the questions that surround ethics and civic education.
Mark J. Lutz is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and author of Socrates’ Education to Virtue: Learning the Love of the Noble.
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