Natural right

In terminology, natural right, as opposed to “natural wrong”, refers to []

In 1651, Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) published his Leviathan, which set the stage for theories about natural rights.

In 1670, Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677), in his Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (§3), building on Hobbes and Maimonides (1135-1204), digressed on what he referred to as the natural right of things, as follows: [1]

“By the right and order of nature, I merely mean the rules determining the nature of each individual thing by which we conceive it is determined naturally to exist and to behave in a certain way. For example fish are determined by nature to swim and big fish to eat little ones, and therefore it is by sovereign natural right that fish have possession of the water and that big fish eat small fish. For it is certain that nature, considered wholly in itself, has a sovereign right to do everything that it can do, i.e., the right of nature extends as far as its power extends … since the universal power of the whole of nature is nothing but the power of all individual things together, it follows that each individual thing has the sovereign right to do everything that it can do, or the right of each thing extends so far as its determined power extends.”

In circa 1675, Jakob Thomasius (1622–1684), Gottfried Leibniz's teacher in Leipzig, composed a work, Adversus Anonymum, de Libertate Philosophandi, devoted entirely to the refutation of the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus and its underlying naturalism. Leibniz too seems to have regarded Spinoza's views on right and law as more dangerous even than Hobbes', for while Hobbes at least allowed conceptual space for a divine legislator, Spinoza did not. [1]

In 1689, John Locke argued in his Two Treatises of Government that political society existed for the sake of protecting "property", which he defined as a person's "life, liberty, and estate"; according to which life, liberty, and property are three main natural rights. (Ѻ)

In 1771, Goethe, influenced by Spinoza, wrote his Positions of Rights, set of 56 theses, on topics ranging from natural law to inheritance law to criminal trial procedure, that he defended on August 6th allowing him to obtain a degree of licentiate of law.

In 1776, Thomas Jefferson, in the Declaration of Independence, stated that the three “unalienable rights” of people are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”; which some conjecture has its origins on Locke’s earlier formulation. (Ѻ)
natural vs unnatural
The chemical thermodynamic definition of a "natural" vs "unnatural" (and reversible) process, according to Edward Guggenheim (1933), based on the Clausius inequaliy (1862), for "freely-running" earth-bound reacting systems. [2]

In 1809, Goethe, building on Bergman (1775), came to see natural right and natural wrong defined by the moral symbols of physical chemistry, according to which in social interactions there is battle between "morality and passions" the result of which is determined by the measure of the chemical affinities; the measure of the affinities being determined to be free energy in by Helmholtz (1882), according to which natural right and natural wrong in modern terms are quantified by Gibbs energy differentials, as shown adjacent.

1. (a) Steinberg, Justin. (2008). “Hobbes and Spinoza on the Right of Nature” (Ѻ),, 2013.
(b) Laerke, Mogens (2010). “G.W. Leibniz's two readings of the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus,” in: Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise: A Critical Guide (editors: Yitzhak Melamed and Michael Rosenthal) (pgs. 101-127; esp. pg. 125), Cambridge University Press.
2. Guggenheim, Eduard, A. (1933). Modern Thermodynamics by the Methods of Willard Gibbs (pgs. 5, 17). London: Methuen & Co.

See also
Appeal to nature

External links
Natural and legal rights – Wikipedia.

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