On the De Regno of St. Thomas Aquinas
Can explicitly Christian principles be invoked and put into practice in political life without thereby rendering that politics fideistic, exclusionary and immoderate? Could such principles in fact strengthen the rule of reason in politics? Many secular and Christian thinkers agree that the answers to these questions must be no, only parting ways on their practical conclusions. But Aquinas' much-neglected De Regno suggests the matter is not so simple. In his careful pedagogical structuring of De Regno, Aquinas opens up the possibility of a kind of dialogue between convention, reason and revelation, one that permits him to propose and reformulate his political teachings according to diverse but convergent principles. I aim to develop an account of Aquinas' political teaching that reveals itself as indebted to revelation for its principles but grounded in and open to reason, and thus neither irrational, exclusionary nor immoderate. I will focus particularly on his treatment of the natural law.