In this analytical piece, author Albert Hwang explores the historical and social impact of 17th century dutch philosopher Hugo Grotius. Analyzing Grotius from a historical and philosophical perspective, Hwang delves deeply into the roots of Grotius’s work and life.
The primary premise of the piece is then, that by looking deeply into the history of Grotius’s life and personal convictions, it is easy to find the basis of his thinking.
Born directly after the 17th century religious wars, Grotius was a devout Christian that loathed the terrible carnage that his people committed in the name of Christ. A devoted scholar, Grotius set out to overcome some of the intellectual barriers that held the thinking of man captive to his emotions. Believing that religious wars were nothing more than carnal passions and roots, Grotius hoped to define a set of metaphysics or epistemology that he hoped with preserve the dignity of Christianity while giving man the independence of thought that was necessary for a running government. In the end, Grotius wrote extensively on the nature of “natural law” or the ability for humans to know what they know through intuition.
He found it parallel, but eventually subservient to God’s law or divine law. His philosophy stood out as a beacon of hope to those in the 17th century who had long forsaken religion and forsaken hope in the midst of despair.
Although it is difficult to draw direct parallels to Grotius’s life today, it can be seen that in the Jihadist movement there are overtones of religious justification for many of the terrible things done. Regardless of whether it is the west or the Islamic extremists that are conducting acts of terror, injustice done in the name of religious is injustice all the more and ignorance as well. Hugo Grotius, the Dutch philosopher who set out gallantly to defend Christianity in its darkest moments was a man who saw the nature of God clearly. Hopefully we may all have this discernment in the years ahead.