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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly


published on March 11, 2020

José A. Poblete

The Medieval Reception of Aristotle’s Passage on Natural Justice
The Role of Grosseteste’s Latin Translation of Ethica Nicomachea

This essay argues that Robert Grosseteste’s Latin translation of Aristotle’s passage on natural justice was philosophically determinant for its medieval reception. By altering the passage, Grosseteste allowed for a reconciliation of prima facie opposing views on natural law, namely: On one hand, the Ciceronian-Stoic and Augustinian-Neoplatonic idea that natural law is primarily immutable; and on the other, Aristotle’s claim that all things that are naturally just are subject to change. Focusing on Albert the Great’s first commentary on the Nicomachean Ethics, and on Thomas Aquinas’s Sententia libri ethicorum, the paper shows that several distinctions made by these authors, which account for a restricted description of how naturally just things can change, were allowed and suggested by Grosseteste’s alterations of the passage.