Saturday, June 07, 2008

Fr. Brock's PhD dissertation, The Legal Character of Natural Law according to St Thomas Aquinas, is now on-line.
Just Thomism: Modern Science and the Existence of Nothing, II

Schedule for this year's ISN Summer Conference

here--starts this coming Friday, June 13. Some good papers being presented. If you're in the Boston area and can drop by, please do.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Alain de Benoist

A website dedicated to him and his writings, Les Amis d'Alain de Benoist.
(Nouvelle Droite)

I haven't read anything written by him, but he has been referenced by several writers on "the Right." Is it accurate to say he is opposed to the liberal (dis-)order and some sort of communitarian? I know he's received some criticism from those on 'the Right' for changing his mind about certain things. (Or was it being too accomodating to certain demographic trends?)

Video Alain de Benoist,Propos volés - Alain, de, Benoist ...
Alain de Benoist sur Radio Bandiera Nera 1/5

The De Benoist Archive
Nouvelle Droite - New Right - English articles--
Manifesto of the French New Right in Year 2000
The Philosophical Foundations of the French New Right

Jihad vs. McWorld. An interview with Alain de Benoist | Alberto ...
The Faye-Benoist debate on Multiculturalism
Three Interviews with Alain de Benoist
Alain de Benoist - Stirpes
Alain de Benoist move the left? - OD Board
Alain de Benoist's 'Multiculturalism': A Problem In Defining A New ...


Zenit: Holy See on UN Protection of All Human Rights

Holy See on UN Protection of All Human Rights

"A Positive Step Toward a Fair Social and International Order"

GENEVA, JUNE 6, 2008 ( Here is the English-language address Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva, gave Wednesday to a working group of the 8th Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council. The talk addressed an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

* * *

Mr. President,

The Delegation of the Holy See associates itself with previous speakers to thank the Chairperson of the Open-ended Working Group on an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), Catarina de Albuquerque for her efforts and firmness to carry out her work.

In the fight against poverty, especially extreme poverty, the international community has set for itself specific objectives like the Millennium Development Goals, which are an important road leading to a more universal development. The various "instruments of the United Nations and its specialized agencies concerning the integral development of the human being, economic and social progress and development of all peoples" (Declaration on the Right to Development, Res. 41/128 of 4 December of 1986, Preamble, 5) sustain, in fact, a culture of justice and global solidarity.

The ICESCR serves as a major framework for the achievement of these goals. The steps that have been taken to increase its effectiveness through new mechanisms are a sign of the continue determination to look at the implementation of all human rights in a balanced way.

The universal value of human dignity requires the promotion and protection of all human rights without distinction of any kind. The new Optional Protocol of the ICESCR, therefore, represents a positive step towards a fair social and international order.

Historically economic, social and cultural rights were considered too vague to be justiciable and a base for an individual complaint procedure. In a way they were looked at as second-rate human rights. Now the text presented at the 8th Session of the Human Rights Council, is a good compromise. The new Optional Protocol, through an Inquiry and Communication system, gives the possibility to individuals and groups to seek justice from violations, and it reinforces existing mechanisms for an effective monitoring of the activity of States.

The experience of other Treaty bodies shows that these procedures can help to clarify and implement the normative content of a particular provision; to lead monitoring systems to a more focused and disciplined legal approach; to concentrate on a concrete violation of human rights, keeping in mind that coherence is needed to avoid their fragmentation.

While different approaches to human rights can emerge, in the light of the "inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family" (UDHR, Preamble, 1) it would be possible to arrive at a fair agreement. In this way, differences should open the way to a more dynamic recognition, promotion and protection of human rights and not stifle their universal implementation. In this connection, there is a need to adopt a comprehensive and holistic approach under which all human rights would be covered and reservations should not be permitted.

Mr. President,

The new Protocol will fill a gap in the international human rights system. However, our work is not finished until every person will enjoy the right "to a standard of living adequate for the health and well being of himself and of his family" (UDHR, article 25).

Thank You, Mr. President.
Dr. Médaille responds...

Chapter VI will be devoted specifically to Justice, Distributive and Corrective, although every chapter will, in its way, be about this topic. The major sources are, of course, The Nichomachean Ethics and St. Thomas's commentary on the same, as well as the Summa. But it is a case of Philosophy is easy, plumbing is hard. Distributive justice is easy to see and understand philosophically, but its implementation in the real world, its "plumbing" is very hard indeed.

Looking forward to Chapter 6!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Chapter 1 of Dr. 's book, The Political Economy of Distributism, is now up: Chapter I: What's in a Name?

This is how he explains the failure of the distributivists:

The Failure of the Distributists

Although this book must be a critique of modern economics, it must start with a critique of modern distributists. I say “modern” distributists because distributism itself is nothing more than the rediscovery of an older view of economics. Until the 16th century, there was no real dispute that economics was a colony of ethics, rooted in the political order and dependent on distributive justice. No philosopher or theologian worthy of the name, beginning with Aristotle, was without his economic commentary. He felt it merely part of his natural function to comment on the real affairs of real men, and the economic and political orders were simply part of that commentary. So very nearly the full weight of human opinion, taken as a whole, comes down on the side of the distributists. While distributism adds to modern economics precisely what it lacks to become to a real science—the science of Political Economy—distributists themselves have often been reluctant to put their case in economic terms. They have often argued from moral terms; they have placed their arguments in the necessary connection between free property and free men; they have argued on agrarian terms, on the natural rhythms of life and social order often disrupted by modern capitalism; they have argued from Catholic teaching and the social encyclicals. But on the whole, they have been unwilling or (I’m afraid) unable to enter the economic debate on purely economic terms.


Despite these successes in both theory and practice, however, it is too often the case that in any discussion of economics, the distributist is likely to be the least well-versed in the science; he is, too often, the one least able to place his argument in economic terms, and too ready to retreat to moral arguments. This has unfortunate consequences for distributism as a movement. First, we often fail to convince others of the economic soundness of our case. Second, those distributists who have an interest in economics find insufficient sustenance in distributism, and often drift off to Austrianism or Keynesianism or socialism, things which are nearly the opposite of distributism. Finally, we cannot recognize the similarities between our own positions and allied positions like Mutualism and Georgism. And failing to recognize these similarities, we fail to recognize our natural allies. We even fail to recognize, too often, that which is valid and useful in neoclassical and Keynesian theories. All of this gives distributism a parochial cast. We end up marginalizing our own theory, simply because we often have a marginal understanding of the theory.

But if the distributist will only enter the economic lists, he will find weapons to hand and armor enough to stand against any opponent. Our theory is competitive at the intellectual level and thoroughly demonstrated at the practical level; we fill the gaps in the science of political economy that neoclassical economics, and all its variants, cannot. We do not need to stand on the margins, but in the mainstream.

What are characteristics of modern economics?
1. Quantification of human desire and behavior, and economic "laws" expressed through mathematics
2. A lot of hypothetical reasoning -- if/then implications which could possibly be turned into syllogistic form.
3. Descriptive and predictive, rather than being normative, though the predictions yielded by economics can be used in determining public policy/legislation.

So what does it mean to formulate distributism in economic terms? Through quantification? To yield what result/formula? Let's see how the rest of the book carries out this goal.

In the comments section, Dr. also writes:

Property itself, btw, is merely a means to an end; the end is distributive justice, namely that each man (and woman) gets the just fruits of their labor. Property properly understood leads to this result; property abstracted to an absolute becomes the opposite, a substitute for work. But property is not the only way of getting a just result.

This is interesting--I had not come across distributive justice being applied to the fruits of labor as well as to common goods.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Now available from Eighth Day Books: Discerning the Mystery: An Essay on the Nature of Theology, by Andrew Louth
It's not clear to me if Eighth Day Books is responsible for the republication, or if it's another party. It was published by Oxford University Press.

Google Books: Discerning the Mystery: An Essay on the Nature ...

How does Fr. Louth's understanding of the division between the sciences and the humanities match with the Aristotelian account of knowledge the Aristotelian 'scientific method'? Is Fr. Louth critical of "Latin theology" or its method? I do not think he would fall into an equivocation like some Orthodox writers who seek to throw Latin theology into disrepute by arguing that theologia is not an acquired science, but direct experience of the Trinity/Logos.

I'll have to skim through the online copy when I get a chance, in order to ascertain whether I should buy the book or not.

Some discussion of the book over at WordPress.
The Ochlophobist: Orthodoxy has a problem with theology: louth on ...
Theology and Spirituality
Insight Scoop: Pope Benedict XVI, Theologian of Joy: An Interview with Monsignor Joseph Murphy

The interview itself.

Ignatius Insight: You often refer to Introduction to Christianity, widely considered an essential work by Joseph Ratzinger. What are some other works by Ratzinger/Benedict that you think are at the core of his large body of theological work?

Monsignor Murphy: In many ways, Introduction to Christianity is the closest Joseph Ratzinger came to producing a theological synthesis, even though it is incomplete and there are significant developments in later writings. It has to be remembered that Introduction to Christianity was first published forty years ago (in 1968), yet it remains an extraordinarily fresh work and a classic of modern Catholic theology. Introduction deals with the question of faith and belief in the modern world, before commenting in an original way on the contents of the Apostles' Creed. As my book aims to present Ratzinger's approach to the main elements of Christian belief, it is only natural that I quote and refer to it quite frequently.

It is a pity that Ratzinger's doctoral thesis, People and House of God in St. Augustine's Doctrine of the Church, has never been translated into English. It is important for a better understanding of the genesis of Ratzinger's thought as contains the basic insights on the Church in her inner nature and in her relationship to the state that he develops in his later writings. Ratzinger's Habilitationsschrift, The Theology of History in St. Bonaventure, is important for his thinking about salvation history and about the distinction between eschatology and utopia.

Regarding Ratzinger's strictly theological work, one would also have to mention Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life, which is intended as a manual for students of theology, although it is quite original in its presentation. As to other areas of theology, much of his thought is developed in a series of articles published in various journals or collections. These were often republished in books such as his important volume on fundamental theology, Principles of Catholic Theology, his recently republished meditations on the Trinity, The God of Jesus Christ, his more recent works on ecclesiology among which I would count Church, Ecumenism and Politics, and Called to Communion, his collection of articles and meditations on the Eucharist, God is Near Us, and his volume of articles on religious pluralism, relativism and faith, Truth and Tolerance. Regarding Christology, apart from the relevant chapters of Introduction to Christianity, one would have to mention his interesting attempt at developing a spiritual Christology, Behold the Pierced One, and, above all, his most recent book, Jesus of Nazareth. His liturgical writings are also very significant and already proving quite influential. In this regard, his liturgical trilogy must be mentioned: The Feast of Faith, A New Song for the Lord and, above all, The Spirit of the Liturgy.

For readers unfamiliar with the Pope's thought, an easier introductory approach could begin with his short autobiography Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977, which explains the context for much of his earlier work, and his three book-length interviews, The Ratzinger Report, Salt of the Earth and God and the World.

Ignatius Insight: What do you think is the place of Joseph Ratzinger in 20th century theology? What are some aspects of his work that will likely to have a significant influence on theological studies and writing in the years to come?

Monsignor Murphy: It is very difficult to prognosticate how Joseph Ratzinger will be seen in the history of 20th century theology. Now that he is Pope, many who were unfamiliar with his work previously will want to know more about his thinking. His theology is less speculative than that of Karl Rahner or Bernard Lonergan, and, largely because of his other commitments, he did not produce a monumental synthesis like that of Hans Urs von Balthasar. His thought has a lot in common with that of ressourcement theologians, like Henri de Lubac, who did much to recover the rich heritage of the Fathers and prompt a greater appreciation of the complexity, subtlety and variety of medieval thought beyond the simplifications of a large part of the manual tradition. With regard to medieval thinkers, it is true that Joseph Ratzinger is more influenced by Augustinianism and by its continuation in the Franciscan tradition found in St Bonaventure than by the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, whereas de Lubac devotes more attention to the latter. Also Ratzinger's thought has a very strong Scriptural component, as can be seen in Introduction to Christianity and even more so in Jesus of Nazareth.

I am of the view that Pope Benedict's approach to doing theology is likely to have a strong influence. In the introduction to Christ Our Joy, I outlined some of the characteristics of his theology, mentioning among other things that it is very Scriptural, profoundly rooted in tradition, especially in the Fathers, and is also both pastoral and spiritual. While the necessary distinctions must be made between Pope Benedict's personal theology and his Magisterium, we do find something of his theological approach in his official teaching. At present, following a number of General Audience talks on the Apostles and the early Church, recently published by Ignatius Press [Jesus, The Apostles, and the Early Church], the Pope is engaged in a very interesting series on the Fathers of the Church, in which he explains the key aspects of their thought and gives some indication of their relevance to contemporary debates. I believe this is likely to encourage theology students to delve into the riches of the Patristic writings and this is sure to benefit both theological reflection and preaching in the future. As a result, we can hope for a more reflective and spiritual style of theological writing, which draws on Scripture and tradition, while being sensitive to the questionings of our contemporaries.