This chapter examines the juridical status of natural liberty within legal humanist and Aristotelian thinking. Within the broadly Aristotelian political literature, there are two places where the question of a natural liberty surfaces. The first is in Book I of the Politics, where Aristotle argued for the existence of natural slaves. Aristotle here did not contrast natural slavery with natural liberty but with natural mastery or dominium. The second is in Book V of the Politics, where Aristotle defined the democratic understanding of liberty as “to live as one likes” and for “the fancy of the moment”—a misguided understanding, because “it ought not be regarded as slavery to live according to the constitution, but rather as salvation.” In this way, the discussion of liberty as a natural faculty was intimately connected with the question of the proper understanding of civil liberty.
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