Higher Law: A Necessity for the Individual and Society

Essay by squeakerboxHigh School, 12th gradeA+, March 2006

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This essay explains what exactly Natural Law is and how it can be applied to contemporary times.


From ancient times before Christ, to the founding of our country, through the Civil Rights movement, and finally making its way to modern times, all of the theories of natural law all have the same thing in common: that natural law implies, if not explicitly states, the existence of a supreme being that instilled in man a notion of what is morally right and what is morally wrong. But what is natural law? Charles Rice says that the natural law is a "guide to individual conduct and also serves as a standard for the laws enacted by the state." There is a development on what exactly natural law is as time progresses. There is a basic understanding of it through Sophocles' Antigone; then the idea develops further with the creation of the Declaration of Independence.

Martin Luther King Jr. expands this idea, and lastly, a modern day view of old texts (compiled by Charles Rice) explains what the essential meaning and relevance to society of natural law is amongst men.

Sophocles' Antigone is one of the first major works to address the issue of human laws being subject to a higher law of some sort. Creon gives a decree that Polynices must not be given a proper funeral or burial. Since Polynices is Antigone's brother, she feels that she is compelled by her conscience (and the gods' laws) to bury him. When faced with the penalty of death, she remains firm on her position. Antigone explains to Creon why she dared to break the law: "Yes, Because I did not believe that Zeus was the one who had proclaimed it; neither did Justice, or the gods of the dead whom Justice lives...