Saturday, December 05, 2009

Is the public good the same as the common good?

I believe "public good" is used in Dignitatis Humanae rather than the "common good." Can it be identified with the classical notion of the common good, or is it a subordinate good, akin to peace? One could argue that peace is an instantiation of the common good, in so far as it is not merely the absence of strife and violence (and injustice), but caused by the members of a community abstaining from such acts. On the part of the majority, such acts may not result from virtue, but from the fear of punishment--nonetheless, it would be the barest instantiation of the common good, as it is understood in Aristotle and Aquinas, since it can only come about through the compliance of the members with the laws, and the enforcement of the law by the public authorities.

I'm going to have to read Finnis again on the instrumental common good and see how he explains it.
Mark Shea posts this Zenit article: Scholars Aim to Disprove Darwin. Abstracts of the presentations. In the comments to Mr. Shea's post there is this message from Hugh Owen of the Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation:

Pax Christi!

As we reach the end of the Church year, I would like to thank you for your prayers and gestures of support which have opened so many doors for our apostolate during the past twelve months. In this letter, I would like to summarize some of the highlights of the past year, and introduce you to some new books that would make ideal Christmas presents for your friends and loved ones.

Thanks to your prayers and support, Pope Pius XII’s plea to Catholic scholars in his encyclical Humani generis (in 1950) to examine the evidence for and against the evolutionary hypothesis was finally answered when Catholic scholars gathered at four major academic centers in Europe during the “year of Darwin” to present the evidence against the evolutionary hypothesis. During the past 59 years, there has been no shortage of conferences in support of evolution, but now, for the first time, Catholic experts in natural science and philosophy have presented what a recent conference at Villanova University called “the untold story”—the fatal weaknesses of the evolutionary hypothesis. Perhaps more important than the actual conferences has been the publication of the conference proceedings. In the spring, the proceedings of the conference “A Scientific Critique of Evolution” were published by Sapienza University in Rome and, two weeks ago, the proceedings of a conference on evolution at the National Research Council in Rome were published by a major Italian publishing house, Cantagalli, under the title Evolution: The Decline of an Hypothesis.

In September, natural scientists and philosophers gathered at Gustav Siewerth Akademie, a Catholic university in Germany founded with the help of then-Bishop Josef Ratzinger, to present arguments from natural science and philosophy against evolutionary theory. In a letter to the Rector of the Akademie, through the Vatican Secretariat of State, Pope Benedict XVI gave his blessing to the conference. In the words of the correspondent:

Pope Benedict XVI has attentively taken note of the program and of the publication. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may your scientific discussions during your event lead you to a deeper knowledge of Creation and of its divine plan.

In the near future, the proceedings of the Akademie conference will also be published in English. Finally, on November 9, 2009. the conference “The Scientific Impossibility of Evolution” was held at St. Pius V University in Rome to an audience including quite a few priests and seminarians studying at various Pontifical universities.

As Christmas approaches, I would like to draw your attention to several important new publications that will greatly enrich the holiday season for your friends and loved ones. For those interested in the scientific evidence against the evolutionary hypothesis, the proceedings of the Sapienza University conference “A Scientific Critique of Evolution” are now available in English for a suggested donation of only $10.00.
Thanks to the generosity of several benefactors, we have also been able to publish a second edition of Fr. Victor Warkulwiz’s masterpiece The Doctrines of Genesis 1-11. If you are looking for a Christmas gift for a priest or educated layman, this is a reference book that changes lives—now reduced from $32.95 to a suggested donation of $19.95, and available on a special website of its own www.genesis1-11.org

For those who would like a clear, readable introduction to the origins controversy from a Catholic perspective, an experienced director of religious education from the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, Olivia McFadden, has written just such a book. Entitled A Bird in Hand, Mrs. McFadden’s little book provides an excellent summary of the case for the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation—available for a suggested donation of $15.00.

Finally, thanks to the hard work of Fr. Victor Warkulwiz and the excellent scholarship of translator Craig Toth, the Kolbe Center is pleased to announce the publication of the first ever English translation of St. Lawrence of Brindisi’s Commentary on the first three chapters of Genesis. Named a Doctor of the Church by Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1959, St. Lawrence was perhaps the most eminent commentator on the Bible of the past 500 years. A master of all of the Biblical languages, St. Lawrence is said to have known the entire text of the Bible by heart. His commentary on Genesis 1-3 firmly upholds the traditional, Catholic doctrine of creation, and answers many of the principal objections to that doctrine which had already been raised before his time. With the help of Fr. Victor’s footnotes, you will find this work by a great Doctor of the Church a rich source of wisdom and spiritual insight—available this Advent for the first time, for a suggested donation of $20.00
Many of you have noted that our recent conference “The Scientific Impossibility of Evolution” received favorable coverage from secular and Catholic news outlets and blogs all over the world, including Zenit News and EWTN news. With the help of your prayers and sacrifices, we are determined not to slacken our efforts, but to seize every opportunity to further expose the scientific bankruptcy of the evolutionary hypothesis and to defend the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation, which is the foundation of the Gospel. As a major new initiative, several Kolbe advisors have spent countless hours designing a new website for our apostolate, one which will undoubtedly attract many new visitors and greatly extend our influence throughout the world. Please keep their sacrificial labors in your prayers.

In the final analysis, the primary purpose of our apostolate is the salvation and sanctification of souls, and the protection of souls from evolutionary errors that weaken and often extinguish the Faith. On my recent trip to Estonia on the western border of Russia, one of my hosts told me of a young Catholic boy at a local school who had just announced to his mother that he was not going to go to church any longer—he had studied enough evolutionary “science” to know that the Christian account of creation and the Fall was a “fairy tale”! How sad it is that all over the world, millions of young people renounce the “sacred history” of Genesis, for what the great philosopher and critic of evolution Larry Azar rightly called “a fairy tale for adults.” But how beautiful it is to see the faith renewed in souls who rediscover the truth of the traditional doctrine of creation and who regain an unshakable confidence in the perfect goodness of God!

If you have contact with any contemplative communities in your area, please ask them to pray for our apostolate, and please unite your prayers with theirs for the success of our mission. If you are in a position to become a regular financial contributor, please do that, too. By the grace of God, our little apostolate has accomplished a great many things with modest financial resources. But we could accomplish much more, if we had more monthly contributors.

As we enter the holy season of Advent, let us keep our eyes fixed on Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word and the Lord of history, who is faithful and true.

Yours in Christ, through the Holy Theotokos,

Hugh Owen

Thursday, December 03, 2009

On the editor's intro on the back of The Mystery of Joseph, by Fr. Philippe, OP, it is written that St. Joseph is "the greatest of saints, after Mary." I thought that position was held by St. John the Baptist? But he was put in the Roman Canon after the BVM by John XXXIII...

Zenit: Adding St. Joseph to the Eucharistic Prayer
Thomas Hibbs reviews The Modern Philosophical Revolution: The Luminosity of Existence by David Walsh

More bad intellectual history?

A review at NDPR.

Dr. Hibbs has his own website now.
If the voters merely vote what is in their own private best interest (especially financially), then the form of government which they comprise is a bad regime. It is easy to forget this when dealing with contemporary politics, in which the rhetoric of freedom is bandied about. Nonetheless, democracy is excoriated by Plato and Aristotle for good reason. For many American voters, the ultimate criterion for deciding how to vote is how a proposed law or a politician's platform will affect one's bank accounts.

How would Aristotle judge the beliefs of personalists and proponents of the NNLT that the common good is an instrumental good, ordered to the good of the individual (or of the family)? How is that any different from a society in which the good of the family is privileged over that of society? One could argue that in the former, if it is corrupt, some sort of injustice is being committed against others or society at large by those in power for the benefit of their families. However, in a personalist society, there are laws which punish these sorts of acts.

Is it possible that the legislation produced by a personalist understanding of the common good could turn out to be the same as one produced by an adherent of the classical understanding? Perhaps the "instrumental" common good is not the same as the "classical" or "holistic" common good.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The latest issue of Living Tradition: TWENTY-THREE YEARS OF NEO-PATRISTIC ACTIVITY
Some notes by James Chastek on creation and generation (and evolution).
The more I think about it, the more I think that subsidiarity is emphasized within Catholic Social Teaching not only because it is a sound political principle, but as a reminder to the secular rulers that they should be prudent and not over-extend themselves in their legislation. It is a more pragmatic approach to over-sized polities, to the world as it is, rather than focusing on claims of justice and rights, which may be true but will nonetheless be ineffectual, given who has power and the inertia of political culture.

Is it true that the Church would sympathize with those who aspire to a more humane political arrangement, appealing to rights or self-determination or secession? Where is the balance between obedience to a legitimate authority (poorly exercised) and political reform (or even dissolution) to be found? In the impact upon the common good.

Monday, November 30, 2009