Page:A Brief History of Modern Philosophy.djvu/12

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9
MELANCTHON

follows Aristotle and theology more closely than Vives and his book is therefore of less importance for the history of psychology than that of Vives. Melanchthon's mild conception of human nature, contrasting sharply with that of Luther and the Lutheran zealots, had a wholesome influence however. His theory of the "natural light" shows this clearly: there are a number of ideas implanted in us by God, hence innate (notitiæ nobiscum nascentes), and these form the basis of all thought and of all value-judgments. This "natural light" was darkened by the Fall which necessitated the giving of the law at Sinai. The content of the ten commandments however is the same as the "natural light." It follows therefore that ethics may be founded on human nature (naturalistically). But it is powerless to quicken the life of the spirit and give peace. (Philosophiæ moralis epitome.)

The doctrine of the natural light was taken up enthusiastically by the Reformed provinces and applied most rigorously, especially with reference to the idea of authority and of the state. John Althaus (Althusius, 1557-1638), the Burgomaster of Emden, made this theory the basis of his idea of popular sovereignty in his Politica methodice digesta (1603). Even before him, Jean Bodin (in La republique, 1577) had conceived and elaborated the idea that sovereignty is indivisible and can exist in but a single place in the state. Althaus now teaches that it always belongs to the people. Rulers come and go, but the people constitute the permanent foundation of the state. They are the source of all authority because it is their welfare that constitutes the cause and purpose of the existence of the state. As a matter of history the sovereignty of the people is revealed in the first place by the fact that in most states there are a number of officers