English Political Theory

English Political Theory - Richard Hooker(1554-1600 Born...

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Richard Hooker (1554-1600) Born into a poor family, Hooker was educated, at a wealthy uncle’s expense, at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in music, theology, and poetry Hooker was appointed deputy professor of Hebrew at Oxford in 1577 on the recommendation of Robert Dudley, the earl of Leicester, Queen Elizabeth’s favorite courtier An ordained Anglican priest, Hooker rejected the strict Calvinism of the Reformed theology; he held that God was so merciful that even a person’s “anxiety about not having faith can be taken as a sign of having it” Hooker’s great work, Of The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (1593), is the first major work of philosophy, theology, and political theory in English, and responds to attacks on Hooker from the Calvinist reformist Walter Travers The first four books of Hooker’s texts were used by Elizabeth’s ministers in Parliament to support an Act of Suppression of Protestant separatists and Catholic recusants in 1593; this bill retrospectively validated the execution of separatists Henry Barrow and John Greenwood on April 9, 1593 Hooker powerfully defended the supremacy of the monarchy over the church, the cornerstone of the Henrician and Elizabethan settlements (the so-called Erastian church)
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Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (1593) Hooker rests his argument in favor of church government on a hierarchy of divine and natural law —the first revealed to humanity by God in the Scriptures, the second divined by human reason and applied to the governance of human societies Although Scripture contains all that is necessary to salvation, it also assumes the validity of natural human reason and the formation of human institutions for the regulation of human affairs, both in civil and religious aspects; these institutions, consequently, may change as historical and human conditions change (i.e., the Reformation changed the government of the church) At the same time, Anglican devotional forms should not be disposed of merely because they imitate prior Catholic ceremonial usages—the test is whether such ceremonies edify the church and build it up Hooker thus felt that outward ceremonies, such as the sacraments, were important to the life of the church— public worship effected “an ongoing personal transformation shaping the whole of life” Nevertheless, although Hooker defended the episcopacy, he did not presume that this particular form of church government was either immutable or divinely mandated
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Importantly for later theorists, primarily Locke, Hooker held that political authority, i.e., subjection to the monarch, is consensual and that even the monarch is subject to the municipal laws of the land; in other words, the Crown’s dominion depends on laws emanating from the community, represented here by parliament in which all the monarch’s subjects were present either in person or by proxy “Two foundations there are which bear up public societies, the one a natural inclination whereby all men
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This note was uploaded on 02/24/2011 for the course E 316K taught by Professor Berry during the Spring '09 term at University of Texas.

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English Political Theory - Richard Hooker(1554-1600 Born...

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