Saturday, July 11, 2009

A discussion of the act (and virtue) of religion at Just Thomism.
Google Books: Dominican Gallery, by Aidan Nichols, O.P.

In this book Fr. Nichols discusses the lives and influence of seven English Dominicans of the 20th century.
Mark Johnson, Got 24 theses?
RTForum: Regarding the Literal Meaning of the Six Days of Creation by John F. McCarthy

Friday, July 10, 2009

Apparently Matthew Levering is now at the University of Dayton, according to this post at Ordo Praedicatorum. Does this have to do with the current situation at Ave Maria? (Dr. Levering still has a faculty page at the university.) What's going to happen to the Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal?

According to his CV(?), he will be starting at UD this Fall.


A personalist notion of the common good in Caritas in Veritate?

From the encyclical:

7. Another important consideration is the common good. To love someone is to desire that person's good and to take effective steps to secure it. Besides the good of the individual, there is a good that is linked to living in society: the common good. It is the good of "all of us", made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society[4]. It is a good that is sought not for its own sake, but for the people who belong to the social community and who can only really and effectively pursue their good within it. To desire the common good and strive towards it is a requirement of justice and charity. To take a stand for the common good is on the one hand to be solicitous for, and on the other hand to avail oneself of, that complex of institutions that give structure to the life of society, juridically, civilly, politically and culturally, making it the pólis, or "city". The more we strive to secure a common good corresponding to the real needs of our neighbours, the more effectively we love them.

What is marked in red seems to be in accord with the traditional understanding of the common good--one which is found in the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas, for example. But what follows right after seems to be a more personalistic understanding of the common good, in which the common good is subordinate to the good of each individual. I don't think the Latin translation is available yet, but I do not think it will say anything really different from what is being expressed here in English. This understanding of the common good can be found in John XXIII, the documents of Vatican II, and subsequent documents concerning Catholic social teaching. But is that enough of a pedigree to grant it validity? The two notions of the common good can be reconciled, if it is admitted that the supposed good of the individual, to which the "common good" is subordinate, is itself a common good, and not a private good.

Did Pope Pius XII write much on the common good?

I am surprised that more Catholic philosophers and theologians have not picked up on this. But if my understanding of this current notion of the common good is wrong, please explain to me how so.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Living with others

Living with others is a "basic" good; and yet is there a precept of Natural Law that commands us to do so? We may speak of a natural inclination to do so, or a natural imperative, but a precept? We may have an inclination to procreate, but this is not a precept for everyone -- the precepts of Natural Law tell us how to choose this reasonably, if we choose it. Some may renounce it for the sake of the Kingdom. But some may be called to renounce human company for the sake of God's company -- to become a hermit. They are not cut off from the supernatural communion that is the Church, but they are removed from participating in human relationships "in this world." (Physically? I think you see what I am getting at.)

It would seem from his treatment of the lawfulness of virginity that St. Thomas would affirm that there is, indeed, a precept to live with others. If someone is not needed for the earthly civitas for its perfection, but set aside by God for something greater, are they dispensed from the precept? I don't see how the duty to live with others can be anything but a duty of the individual. The duty of the multitude, as described by St. Thomas, does not seem to fit in this case: "The other duty has to be fulfilled by the multitude, and the fulfilment of this kind of duty is not binding on each one of the multitude."

Perhaps the response is that one is not really living apart from others--that the supernatural communion the hermit shares with other members of the Church is the fulfillment of the precept. The precept is not be fulfilled at one level, but is at a higher level.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Something to think about: The Genesis Flood--Why the Bible Says It Must be Local by Rich Deem

Fr. Pinckaers on St. Alphonsus Liguori

After all the shifts and variations of ethicists through two centuries--and they were at times extreme--St. Alphonsus' system established a certain balance by its return to considered reason. There followed a measure of calm in regard to the probabilist dispute, and in 1831 the Church confirmed this by declaring that the moral theology of Blessed Alphonsus might be safely taught and used in the confessional. Withotu going so far as to assert explicitly that his 'theory of equal probability' was the best system for moral theology, the Church declared him a Doctor in 1871. Thus Alphonsus became the patron of moralists.

The patronage of St. Alphonsus, which merits our respect and esteem for his achievements, still leaves ethicists free in regard to following his reasoning. They retain this freedom as long as no definite law constrains them. This freedom is all the more necessary as the limitations of casuist morality, of which St. Alphonsus was teh most highly authorized representative, have become more apparent in our day. We can now better perceive the fundamental differences in organization and structure as well as in problematics that separate it from the moral theology of St. Thomas and the Fathers of the Church. Incontestably, post-Tridentine moral theology, in concentrating on cases of conscience and the dispute over probabilism, narrowed its horizon. We see now how it contrasts with the breadth fo the views on human action and on God that we find in the Fathers and the great scholastics. The link has not been broken, but there has been a shrinkage and a slight distortion.

The Sources of Christian Ethics, 277

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Moral Choices: The Moral Theology of St. Alphonsus Liguori, by Theodule Rey-Mermet

Worth getting? It seems that St. Alphonsus'
Theologia Moralis is not easy to come by. I should review what Fr. Pinckaers says about St. Alphonsus and the debates over probabilism. Dr. Fleming esteems St. Alphonsus highly.

Doctors of the Church
A Short History of Moral Theology
Redemptorists USA

Defending Probabilism: The Moral Theology of Juan Caramuel by Julia Fleming (Google Books)
American Papist: Text: Caritas in Veritate on 'urgent need of a true world political authority'

Pope Benedict's third encyclical is a mammoth work which will take some time to digest, but here is a third important paragraph I'd like to highlight, one that is sure to generate some vigorous debate back-and-forth:
67. In the face of the unrelenting growth of global interdependence, there is a strongly felt need, even in the midst of a global recession, for a reform of the United Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth. One also senses the urgent need to find innovative ways of implementing the principle of the responsibility to protect and of giving poorer nations an effective voice in shared decision-making. This seems necessary in order to arrive at a political, juridical and economic order which can increase and give direction to international cooperation for the development of all peoples in solidarity. To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago. Such an authority would need to be regulated by law, to observe consistently the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, to seek to establish the common good, and to make a commitment to securing authentic integral human development inspired by the values of charity in truth. Furthermore, such an authority would need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all, regard for justice, and respect for rights. Obviously it would have to have the authority to ensure compliance with its decisions from all parties, and also with the coordinated measures adopted in various international forums. Without this, despite the great progress accomplished in various sectors, international law would risk being conditioned by the balance of power among the strongest nations. The integral development of peoples and international cooperation require the establishment of a greater degree of international ordering, marked by subsidiarity, for the management of globalization. They also require the construction of a social order that at last conforms to the moral order, to the interconnection between moral and social spheres, and to the link between politics and the economic and civil spheres, as envisaged by the Charter of the United Nations.
... globalization and development are dependent upon... cheap energy...
Substance, Accident, and Transubstantiation
Peter A. Kwasniewski

(the rest of the article)

R. R. Reno on Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.

R.R. Reno