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RICHARD HOOKER AS POLITICAL NATURALIST

  • SIMON P. KENNEDY (a1)
Abstract

Richard Hooker's understanding of political society has engendered significant debate. Does he hold that society is natural, in keeping with his commitment to aspects of Aristotelianism? Or does he believe that society is conventional, leading somehow to a social contractarian conception of society? My contention is that he is a political naturalist, though his naturalism is tempered by his Augustinian theological anthropology. Hooker emphasizes human sin in his account of the nature and purpose of civil government, and gives humankind agency in the establishment of society. But, ultimately, he considers political life to be natural to the human condition. In this way, Hooker navigates a via media between Aristotelian naturalism and conventionalism.

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Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, Level 5 Forgan Smith Building, University of Queensland, St Lucia qld 4072 s.kennedy3@uq.edu.au
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I am grateful to Peter Harrison, Leigh Penman, George Duke, and W. Bradford Littlejohn for commenting on earlier drafts of this article. My thanks also extend to the two anonymous readers who offered a number of helpful comments on the manuscript. The research for this article was made possible by an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship and a Fellowship from the Davenant Institute.

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1 Locke, John, Two treatises of government, ed. Laslett, Peter (Cambridge, 1988), 2.5.1–2, p. 270.

2 Ibid., 2.15.1–3, p. 277.

3 Eccleshall, Robert, Order and reason in politics: theories of absolute and limited monarchy in early modern England (Oxford, 1978), p. 129. Cited in Kirby, W. J. Torrance, Richard Hooker's doctrine of the royal supremacy (Leiden, 1990), p. 11. Also see Brydon, Michael, The evolving reputation of Richard Hooker: an examination of responses (Oxford, 2006), pp. 139–40.

4 George Bull, ‘What did Locke borrow from Hooker?’, Thought, 7 (1932), pp. 122–35.

5 Rosenthal, Alexander S., Crown under law: Richard Hooker, John Locke, and the ascent of modern constitutionalism (Plymouth, 2008), p. 98.

6 Ibid.

7 Troeltsch, Ernst, The social teaching of the Christian churches (Louisville, KY, 1992), p. 638.

8 Munz, Peter, The place of Hooker in the history of thought (London, 1952), pp. 205–6.

9 Cromartie, Alan, ‘Theology and politics in Richard Hooker's thought’, History of Political Thought, 21 (2000), pp. 4166, but especially p. 55.

10 Thompson, W. D. J. Cargill, ‘The philosopher of the “politic society”: Richard Hooker as political thinker’, in Dugmore, C. W., ed., Studies in the Reformation: Luther to Hooker (London, 1980), pp. 132–91, at p. 162.

11 The connection and tension between Hooker's Aristotelianism and his Augustinianism is made in Rosenthal, Crown under law, p. 98; see also Cargill Thompson, ‘The philosopher’, pp. 161–2; Cromartie, ‘Theology and politics’, p. 55.

12 See also Aristotle, The politics (Cambridge, 1989), 1278b9–15, 1282b10–11, and 1289a11ff.

13 Rosenthal, Crown under law, pp. 98 and 110.

14 Grislis, Egil, ‘The role of sin in the theology of Richard Hooker’, Anglican Theological Review, 84 (2002), pp. 881–96; Ingalls, Ranall, ‘Sin and grace’, in Kirby, W. J. Torrance, ed., A companion to Richard Hooker (Leiden, 2008), pp. 152–83. W. J. Torrance Kirby addresses Hooker's use of an Augustinian framework in his theories of law and sovereignty, but leaves aside the question of anthropology. See Kirby, W. J. Torrance, ‘From “generall meditations” to “particular decisions”: the Augustinian coherence of Richard Hooker's political theology’, in Sturges, Robert, ed., Sovereignty and law in the middle ages and Renaissance (Turnhout, 2011), pp. 4365.

15 O'Donovan, Joan Lockwood, Theology of law and authority in the English Reformation (Grand Rapids, MI, 1991), pp. 129–52.

16 See more generally Kirby, Richard Hooker's doctrine.

17 Cargill Thompson, ‘The philosopher’, pp. 131–91.

18 Littlejohn, W. Bradford, The peril and promise of Christian liberty: Richard Hooker, the Puritans, and Protestant political theology (Grand Rapids, MI, 2017).

19 Grislis, ‘The role of sin’, pp. 881–4; Ingalls, ‘Sin and grace’, pp. 51–83.

20 Booty, John E., ‘Introduction’, in Booty, John E., ed., Of the laws of ecclesiastical polity: attack and response, in Hill, W. Speed, ed., Folger Library edition of the works of Richard Hooker (6 vols., i–v: Cambridge, 1977–90; vi: Binghampton, 1993), iv, pp. xiixiv.

21 The fragment is reproduced in ibid., p. 147, lines 12 through 15. Subsequent citations of the Folger edition will be in the form of FLE [volume]:[page].[line]. So FLE iv:147.12–15.

22 Hooker, Richard, Of the laws of ecclesiastical polity (Oxford, 1845), 5.56.10, from Keble, John, ed., The works of Richard Hooker (3 vols., Oxford, 1845). I will cite the Laws as LEP [book].[chapter].[section] herein; FLE ii:241.23.

23 FLE iv:146.18–23.

24 Ibid., 101.15–18.

25 LEP i.10.3; Georges Edelen, ed., Of the laws of ecclesiastical polity: preface, books I to IV, in FLE i:98.6–7.

26 LEP i.10.3; FLE i:98.8–9.

27 Laetitia Yeandale and Egil Grislis, eds., Of the laws of ecclesiastical polity: tractates and sermons, in FLE v:312.24–6.

28 Ibid., 312.30–1.

29 Grislis, ‘The role of sin’, p. 882.

30 FLE iv:101.4–6.

31 Ibid., 103.8–9.

32 Ibid., 103.12–17.

33 LEP i.8.11; FLE i:92.25–8.

34 Littlejohn, The peril and promise, p. 214.

35 FLE iv:103.19–29.

36 LEP i.7.7; FLE i:80.30–1.

37 LEP iii.9.3; FLE i:238.30–1.

38 LEP iii.9.3; FLE i:239.2.

39 LEP iii.11.18; FLE i:266.1–3.

40 For some biographical background, see Lee W. Gibbs, ‘Life of Hooker’, in Kirby, ed., A companion to Richard Hooker, pp. 1–26. On the polemical and theological context, see Kirby, W. J. Torrance, ‘Richard Hooker's theory of natural law in the context of Reformation theology’, Sixteenth Century Journal, 30 (1999), pp. 681703, at p. 684; Littlejohn, The peril and promise, pp. 50–124; O'Donovan, Theology of law, pp. 109–36; New, John F., ‘The Whitgift–Cartwright controversy’, Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte, 59 (1968), pp. 203–12; Heal, Felicity, The Reformation in Britain and Ireland (Oxford, 2005), pp. 353424.

41 Dominiak, Paul, ‘Hooker, scholasticism, Thomism, and Reformed Orthodoxy’, in Littlejohn, W. Bradford and Kindred-Barnes, Scott N., eds., Richard Hooker and reformed orthodoxy (Göttingen, 2017), pp. 111–13.

42 McGrade, A. S., ‘Introduction’, in McGrade, A. S., ed., Hooker: of the laws of ecclesiastical polity (Cambridge, 1989), pp. 22–3.

43 E.g. LEP i.1.3. Also see i.16.5.

44 Atkinson, Nigel, Richard Hooker and the authority of scripture, tradition and reason: reformed theologian of the Church of England? (Carlisle, 1997), pp. 27–8; Littlejohn, The peril and promise, p. 157; LEP i.16.5.

45 Dominiak, ‘Hooker, scholasticism’, pp. 101–26; see also d'Entrèves, Alessandro P., The medieval contribution to political thought: Thomas Aquinas, Marsilius of Padua, Richard Hooker (New York, NY, 1959), pp. 118–21.

46 Littlejohn, W. Bradford, Richard Hooker: a companion to his life and work (Eugene, OR, 2015), p. 135; Dominiak, ‘Hooker, scholasticism’, pp. 112–19; McGrade, ‘Introduction’, pp. 17–19.

47 LEP i.2.1; FLE i:58.26–9.

48 LEP i.2.1.

49 Aquinas, Thomas, The summa theologica (ST), trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (Chicago, IL, 1952), ia–iiae, Q. 90, art. 1.

50 Ibid., ia–iiae, Q. 90, art. 4.

51 McGrade, ‘Introduction’, p. 19.

52 LEP i.8.4; FLE i:84.16–22.

53 LEP i.1.2; cf. W. J. Torrance Kirby, ‘Reason and law’, in Kirby, ed., A companion to Richard Hooker, p. 251.

54 LEP i.2.3; FLE i:60.1–2.

55 LEP i.2.5; FLE i:61.28–62.1.

56 LEP i.2.5; FLE i:62.8–9.

57 ST, ia–iiae, Q. 93, art. 4.

58 Ibid.

59 LEP i.2.6.

60 Ibid. 3.1; Kirby, ‘Reason and law’, p. 253; cf. W. Bradford Littlejohn, ‘Cutting through the fog in the channel: Hooker, Junius, and a reformed theology of law’, in Littlejohn and Kindred-Barnes, eds., Richard Hooker and reformed orthodoxy, pp. 234–6. Kirby's insight that Hooker's use of the ‘logic of hierarchical disposition in Aquinas's theological method’ in Book i of the Laws is ‘contained … within a broad Augustinian theological frame’ is vital in understanding this unusual division of the lex eternae. See Kirby, ‘From “generall meditations”’, pp. 49–56.

61 LEP i.3.1.

62 Ibid. 3.2; FLE i:64.6–7.

63 LEP i.3.4; FLE i:68.17–19; cf. LEP i.8.3.

64 LEP i.3.4.

65 Cargill Thompson, ‘The philosopher’, p. 147.

66 LEP i.16.1.

67 Ibid. 16.1; FLE i:135.24–25; see also McGrade, ‘Introduction’, p. 17.

68 LEP i.3.1; compare Aquinas at ST, ia–iiae, Q. 90, art. 4, especially reply 1.

69 LEP i.3.5; FLE i:69.9; cf. LEP i.5.1.

70 LEP i.5.1ff.

71 Ibid.; FLE i:73.10.

72 LEP i.6.5; FLE i:76.23–4.

73 LEP i.7.1; FLE i:77.1–2.

74 Littlejohn, ‘Cutting through the fog’, p. 248; O'Donovan, Theology of law, p. 137.

75 LEP i.7.7; FLE i:80.29–31.

76 On Hooker's use of reason in these ecclesiastical debates, see Eppley, Daniel, Defending royal supremacy and discerning God's will in Tudor England (Aldershot, 2007), pp. 168–76; Perrott, M. E., ‘Richard Hooker and the problem of authority in the Elizabethan church’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 49 (1998), pp. 2960, at pp. 45–56; Littlejohn, The peril and promise, pp. 163–6 and pp. 179–90.

77 FLE i:34.15–18.

78 Ibid. 34.22.

79 LEP 1.8.9; FLE 1:90.19–20.

80 LEP i.8.9; FLE i:90.22.

81 LEP i.9.2; O'Donovan, Theology of law, p. 138.

82 LEP i.9.2; FLE i:95.6–7.

83 LEP i.9.2.

84 O'Donovan, Theology of law, 140.

85 LEP i.10.1; FLE i:96.4.

86 LEP i.10.1; FLE i:96.8–14.

87 O'Donovan, Theology of law, p. 138.

88 LEP i.10.4; FLE i:100.10.

89 LEP i.10.4; FLE i:100.12–13.

90 LEP i.10.1; FLE i:96.12–13.

91 LEP i.10.1; FLE i:96.13–14.

92 LEP i.10.12; FLE i:107.15–16.

93 LEP i.10.1; FLE i:96.19–20.

94 Compare Aristotle, Politics, 1278b19–23.

95 LEP i.10.1.

96 Ibid. 10.3; FLE i:98.11–12.

97 LEP i.10.4; FLE i:98.26.

98 LEP i.10.4; FLE i:99.23; Littlejohn, The peril and promise, pp. 182–4.

99 LEP i.10.4; FLE i:100.9–13.

100 LEP i.10.5.

101 Ibid. 10.4; FLE i:99.11–13.

102 LEP i.10.4; FLE i:99.6–8.

103 LEP viii.1.2; Kirby, Richard Hooker's doctrine, pp. 98–105.

104 Cromartie, ‘Theology and politics’, p. 58.

105 LEP viii.1.2. Put another way, ‘church and common can be united as “accidents” within a single “subject”’. See Kirby, ‘From “generall meditations”’, p. 61.

106 Littlejohn, W. Bradford, ‘“More than a swineherd”: Hooker, Vermigli, and an Aristotelian defence of the royal supremacy’, Reformation and Renaissance Review, 15 (2013), pp. 6883, at p. 71; LEP v.1.2 and viii.1.4.

107 LEP viii.2.5– viii.2.6; Eppley, Defending royal supremacy, pp. 176–9. On Hooker's Two Kingdoms theology, see Kirby, Richard Hooker's doctrine, pp. 122–4; Littlejohn, The peril and promise, pp. 144–8. On the royal supremacy, see Littlejohn, ‘“More than a swineherd”’, pp. 69–72; compare Perrott, ‘Richard Hooker and the problem of authority’, pp. 56–7.

108 LEP viii.2.5; P. G. Stanwood, ed., Of the laws of ecclesiastical polity: Books VI, VII, VIII, in FLE iii:334.3–6.

109 LEP viii.2.5; FLE iii:334.8–10.

110 LEP viii.2.5; FLE iii:334.18–22.

111 LEP viii.6.1; FLE iii:385.19–20.

112 LEP viii.6.1; FLE iii:386.1–6. Also see LEP viii.6.11.

113 LEP vii.5.8; FLE iii:167.7–17; Avis, Paul D., The church in the theology of the reformers (London, 1981), p. 117.

114 D'Entrèves, The medieval contribution, p. 128.

115 O'Donovan, Theology of law, p. 47, where she discusses this idea in relation to John Fortescue.

I am grateful to Peter Harrison, Leigh Penman, George Duke, and W. Bradford Littlejohn for commenting on earlier drafts of this article. My thanks also extend to the two anonymous readers who offered a number of helpful comments on the manuscript. The research for this article was made possible by an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship and a Fellowship from the Davenant Institute.

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