Johannes Althusius, die Middeleeuse staatsfilosofie en die ontwikkeling van die publieke ampsidee

Authors

  • Andries Raath University of the Free State, South Africa

Abstract

Die Middeleeuse politieke filosofie het nie die staat beskou as ? geïndividualiseerde sosiale struktuur wat deur die reg gekwalifiseer is nie. Die Middeleeuse filosofie het egter wel die basis vir die ontwikkeling van die idee van publieke ampsbehartiging in latere eeue gelê. Die beginsels opgesluit in die Middeleeuse ampsidee het verskeie belangrike elemente vir die beperking van publieke mag en totalitarisme in latere eeue bevat. Eerstens, was die beginsel van regeerders wat rekenskap aan die onderdane verskuldig is en regering wat van regsweë beperk is, nie vreemd aan die Middeleeuse politieke filosofie en teologie nie. Tweedens, was die opvatting dat politieke regeerders as administrateurs of bestuurders verplig is om die publieke welsyn te bevorder, nie ongewoon in die geskrifte van Middeleeuse skrywers nie. Derdens, is politieke magshebbers beskou as voogde en dat hulle derhalwe verplig is om die openbare belang te dien. Uit hierdie publieke diensmotief het gespruit die standpunt van rentmeesterskap en die plig van politieke ampsdraers om rekenskap van hul politieke administrasie aan die volk te gee. Rentmeesterskap is beskou as behorende tot die publieke bestuur of administrasie van die gemenebes. Die aard van rentmeesterskap was die resultaat van politieke ampsdraers wat as gevolmagtigdes van God beskou is om die onderdane in die gemenebes te dien. Bygevolg is die regeeramp ? amp van verheerliking onderworpe aan die wette van God. Die aard van rentmeesterskap in die werke van Middeleeuse geleerdes weerspieël die onverkwiklike spanninge tussen natuur en genade, en die soewereiniteit van die volk en dié van die regeerders. Publieke rentmeesterskap was nie gegrond op die beginsel dat alles ? eenheid vorm in Christus nie, maar in die onversoenbare motiewe van natuur en genade. Hoewel Althusius wesenlik deur die Middeleeuse opvattingsvan natuur   en genade beïnvloed is, het sy insig in die leges propriae van die onderskeie samelewingsfere die weg gebaan vir ? genuanseerde teorie van die geïndividualiseerde struktuur van die staat as ? unieke lewensvorm onderhewig aan die reg. Deur die publieke ampsidee as ? aspek van die staatlike struktuur te beskou, het Althusius se politieke teorie ? meer genuanseerde insig in die publieke ampsidee gebied. Volgens hom was die publieke amp ? dienshoedanigheid ingevolgewaarvan  ampsbekleërs geroep is tot gehoorsaamheid aan die tipiese wette van die staat. Ingevolge dié dienshoedanigheid staan ? vors onder die opdragte ter ontwikkeling van die lewensverhoudinge wat aan die staat verbonde is, synde ? lewensfeer onderhewig aan die reg. Die individualisering van publieke ampte in die staatstruktuur ondersteun die ontplooiende multiformiteit van sosiale sfere en die onderskeidende aard van politieke instellings in die sosiale lewe. Althusius se sienswyses oor publieke ampte het beduidend bygedra tot die teorie van die staat onderworpe aan die reg ten einde totalitêre en absolutistiese regeringsvorme te verhoed.

Johannes Althusius, Medieval political philosophy and the development of the idea of public office
Medieval political philosophy did not regard the state as an individualised structure qualified by law. Medievalists, however, did provide the rudimentary outlines of the idea of public office as an aspect of political life. The principles embodied in the Medieval texts on political philosophy reflected a number of important perspectives for law state theories in following centuries. Firstly, the principle of rulers responsible to the people and government limited by law were not unknown to Medieval political philosophers and theologians. Secondly, the notion that political rulers are obligated to promote the public weal in their capacities as administrators or overseers were not uncommon in Medieval literature. Thirdly, a number of prominent Medieval writers regarded political rulers to be tutors who are obligated to serve the common welfare. From this idea emanated the notion that the primary duty of public office bearers is to give account of their public administration to the people of the commonwealth – an idea expressed in diverse views on the stewardship of rulers in their management of public affairs. The notion of stewardship was explained in terms of their being vice-regents of God for purposes
of serving the interests of the commonwealth and that the public office of rulers is a status of glory under God. The notion of stewardship in the works of Medieval scholars, however, reflected the irreconcilable tensions between nature and grace, as well as the dialectically opposed notions of the sovereignty of the people and the plenitude of power of rulers. Furthermore, stewardship or public administration was not informed by the principle that all things are to be brought into a unity in Christ, but by the opposing ideas of form and matter implicit to the ground motive of nature and grace. Although Althusius’ political philosophy was substantially influenced by the Medieval motives of nature and grace, his Reformational commitments steered his social philosophy towards recognising the leges propriae pertaining to the various societal spheres. This insight paved the way for subscribing to a theory of the individualised structure of the state as a unique life form governed by law. By integrating the idea of public office into his legal and political theory Althusius work on politics reflected a more nuanced insight regarding the idea of office as a core element of constitutional theory. In terms of the lex propria governing the state, public office bearers are deemed to be servants called to obedience to the typical laws of statehood and public offices serving as guardians who must bring their charge to fulfilment in the public sphere by meeting the requirements of stewardship. Althusius’ political theory furthermore entails that public office is grounded in the original creation ordinance by which God orders all created reality, including political life. This also implies that public office reflects a covenantal nature and is subjected to God’s commandments. Furthermore, it entails that the rights attached to public office consist of the ruler’s God-given authority to function as God’s representatives with the assignment to carry out God’s commandments. In essence the rights of public authorities are of a delegated and limited nature. In the multiformity of office coinciding with the various life-relationships (e.g. family, church and state), the office of public authorities is basic to the development of the life relationships attached to the state, being a life zone governed by law. The specialisation of office in the life zone of the state supports the unfolding multiformity of social spheres and the distinguishing nature of political institutions. Althusius’ views on public office contributed substantially to the development of the theory of the state subjected to law, thereby preventing totalitarian and absolutistic forms of government.

Published

2018-08-06

How to Cite

Raath, A. (2018). Johannes Althusius, die Middeleeuse staatsfilosofie en die ontwikkeling van die publieke ampsidee. Tydskrif Vir Christelike Wetenskap | Journal for Christian Scholarship, 54(1), 19-50. Retrieved from https://pubs.ufs.ac.za/index.php/tcw/article/view/442

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Artikels | Articles

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