Christianity and the Principle of Dignity


Catholic Studies



Document Type

Book Chapter




Legal documents after World War II frequently invoke human dignity. As a legal concept, human dignity was formulated long after its powerful history as an ethical and political idea had begun. In the Western tradition, human dignity is rooted in the Christian faith. The Bible expands the royal privilege of being an image of God to every human being, independently of their social standing. This idea was a powerful explosive that detonated in the cultural revolution of the Patristic era. In the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas unfolded the social significance of human dignity with surprisingly modern formulations. The Renaissance humanists continued the tradition preparing the School of Salamanca to expand the notion of human dignity to the newly discovered peoples of America. The Enlightenment, foremost Kant, took their notion of human dignity from the Christian tradition but placed it into a different, non-Christian framework.

Published in

Christianity and Global Law

Citation/Other Information

Schlag, M. (2020). Christianity and the Principle of Dignity. In Christianity and Global Law. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003015208-16

This document is currently not available here.