“Often we are deceived, and we suffer glaucoma”. Rethinking Legal Humanism in the History of the Western Rights Tradition
Title: “Often we are deceived, and we suffer glaucoma”. Rethinking Legal Humanism in the History of the Western Rights Tradition
Author: LONGFIELD KARR, Susan
Series/Number: EUI MWP; 2010/05
This working paper argues for renewed attention by scholars of early modern political and legal thought as to how and why humanist jurists invoked the authority of rights—natural and customary—to legitimize or to critique the expansion of authority underway within Europe in the early sixteenth century. It suggests that attention to legal humanists’ discussions of natural law, ius, and ius gentium can offer new insights into one of the most complex problems addressed within the literature: the transformation of natural rights into human rights within the history of early modern political and legal thought. As such this working paper consists primarily of a review of the historiography, wherein legal humanism is either characterized as an incongruity, is dismissed, or is omitted altogether from the history of modern rights theories. After exploring the dominant literature, this essay then provides a broad comparative overview of why it is worth revisiting legal humanism for historians and human rights scholars alike.
Subject: Natural law; natural rights; ius gentium; legal humanism; Renaissance humanism; early modern political and legal thought
Type of Access: openAccess