What is Natural Law?
It is worth asking at this point, what exactly is natural law and why does it matter? Natural law is a term that generally creates a lot of confusion, as the term on its own is quite vague. Many people at first believe that natural law means ‘survival of the fittest’ or similar Darwin-esque phrases. Simply put, natural law can best be described as a system of ethics that derives moral standards and rules from the observable world and human nature. A key part of natural law is the idea that laws should be universally applicable and eternally relevant to human affairs.
Cicero’s View of the Universe
Cicero’s view of the universe was deeply informed by the Stoic philosophers. He did not believe literally in Roman religious myths, but justified taking part in Roman religion on the grounds of utility and respect for tradition. Cicero instead was influenced by the Stoic philosophers, who believed that there was a rational and divine order that governed the universe. In his famous book from De Re Publica,later entitled The Dream of Scipio, Cicero described how all human souls are bestowed upon humans by the divine reason of the universe.
The mark of divine intelligence upon all things is law; Cicero stated that “law is not a product of human thought, nor is it any enactment of peoples, but something eternal which rules the whole universe by its wisdom in command and prohibition”. These divine or natural laws were eternal, immutable and universally applicable. Cicero emphatically wrote, “nor is it one law at Rome and another at Athens, one law today and another thereafter; but the same law, everlasting and unchangeable, will bind all nations and all times”. This divine law can be seen implanted on all things, bestowing upon them a divinely ordained purpose and function."