Vanderbilt Law Review


Hans Kelsen

First Page



As a result of the shocks which the existing social orders have experienced through two World Wars and the Russian Revolution, an intellectual movement is becoming increasingly evident in the Western World--one which, in sharp reaction to a scientific-positivistic and relativistic philosophy, aims at a return to metaphysics and theology, and--closely connected with this--to a renewal of the doctrine of natural law. The proponents of this trend believe they find valuable support in the philosophy of Plato, whose authority until recently was virtually uncontested--and in this they are justified. Plato's doctrine of Ideas is the boldest of metaphysical speculations, for it transcends empirical reality farthest; and the intellectual system which he erected is in its total character more nearly theology than scientific philosophy. Less successful is the appeal to Plato's authority in an effort to revive the theory of natural law, an attempt which has been made recently by two American authors, Joseph P. Maguire' and John Wild. Wild goes so far as to assert that Plato is the founder of the theory of natural law.