Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



The importance of a man can be judged by his influence on the thinking of other men. Periodically during the course of the centuries men have appeared who exercised this power to a commanding degree. The presence of "great" names in all fields of human endeavor attests to this...Such a man was Thomas Aquinas. He was a trail blazer in many regards, one of them being especially his work on law. His was the first systematically organized treatise on law and its philosophical roots, and over the years it has been recognized as a masterful accomplishment. Consequently, during succeeding generations this work has been a powerful factor in shaping the minds of countless men on the nature and significance of law. By way of an overview of this article, it may be said that its purpose is to present Aquinas' philosophy of law to the average lawman, who is not necessarily trained in this type of legal thinking. This entails an obvious difficulty for which there is no ready solution. All that can be done, it seems, is to set out Aquinas' thinking on this subject and let him speak for himself.