Friday, June 12, 2009

Is this sufficient for Blackstone to be called a voluntarist in his account of law?

This then is the general signification of law, a rule of action dictated by some superior being: and, in those creatures that have neither the power to think, nor to will, such laws must be invariably obeyed, so long as the creature itself subsists, for it's existence depends on that obedience. But laws, in their more confined sense, and in which it is our present business to consider them, denote the rules, not of action in general, but of human action or conduct: that is, the precepts by which man, the noblest of all sublunary beings, a creature endowed with both reason and freewill, is commanded to make use of those faculties in the general regulation of his behaviour.

Man, considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his creator, for he is entirely a dependent being. A being, independent of any other, has no rule to pursue, but such as he prescribes to himself; but a state of dependence will inevitably oblige the inferior to take the will of him, on whom he depends, as the rule of his conduct: not indeed in every particular, but in all those points wherein his dependence consists. This principle therefore has more or less extent and effect, in proportion as the superiority of the one and the dependence of the other is greater or less, absolute or limited. And consequently, as man depends absolutely upon his maker for every thing, it is necessary that he should in all points conform to his maker's will.

This will of his maker is called the law of nature. For as God, when he created matter, and endued it with a principle of mobility, established certain rules for the perpetual direction of that motion; so, when he created man, and endued him with freewill to conduct himself in all parts of life, he laid down certain immutable laws of human nature, whereby that freewill is in some degree regulated and restrained, and gave him also the faculty of reason to discover the purport of those laws.

Considering the creator only as a being of infinite power, he was able unquestionably to have prescribed whatever laws he pleased to his creature, man, however unjust or severe. But as be is also a being of infinite wisdom, he has laid down only such laws as were founded in those relations of justice, that existed in the nature of things antecedent to any positive precept. These are the eternal, immutable laws of good and evil, to which the creator himself in all his dispensations conforms; and which he has enabled human reason to discover, so far as they are necessary for the conduct of human actions. Such among others are these principles: that we should live honestly, should hurt nobody, and should render to every one his due; to which three general precepts Justinian[1] has reduced the whole doctrine of law.

But if the discovery of these first principles of the law of nature depended only upon the due exertion of right reason, and could not otherwise be obtained than by a chain of metaphysical disquisitions, mankind would have wanted some inducement to have quickened their inquiries, and the greater part of the world would have rested content in mental indolence, and ignorance it's inseparable companion. As therefore the creator is a being, not only of infinite power, and wisdom, but also of infinite goodness, he has been pleased so to contrive the constitution and frame of humanity, that we should want no other prompter to inquire after and pursue the rule of right, but only our own self-love, that universal principle of action. For he has so intimately connected, so inseparably interwoven the laws of eternal justice with the happiness of each individual, that the latter cannot be attained but by observing the former; and, if the former be punctually obeyed, it cannot but induce the latter. In consequence of which mutual connection of justice and human felicity, he has not perplexed the law of nature with a multitude of abstracted rules and precepts, referring merely to the fitness or unfitness of things, as some have vainly surmised; but has graciously reduced the rule of obedience to this one paternal precept, "that man should pursue his own true and substantial happiness." This is the foundation of what we call ethics, or natural law. For the several articles into which it is branched in our systems, amount to no more than demonstrating, that this or that action tends to man's real happiness, and therefore very justly concluding that the performance of it is a part of the law of nature; or, on the other hand, that this or that action is destructive of man's real happiness, and therefore that the law of nature forbids it.

This law of nature, being coeval with mankind and dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other-It is binding over all the globe in all countries, and at all times; no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this: and such of them as are valid derive all their force, and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original.

source: Commentaries on the Laws of England, Book I, Section 2

Thursday, June 11, 2009

James Chastek, Cultural value endoxes

A good piece regarding endoxa. When it comes to the discussion of morality in high schools and colleges, traditional values are questioned, but modern ones (especially modern rights) are not -- evidence that liberalism is just another tradition despite its pretense to the contrary? When I was in high school, I found that the students were the ones who were questioning received attitudes, while the teachers would act as "neutral" moderators, doing nothing to defend tradition or to lead the "liberated" students to question their own values. There is one classmate in particular who annoyed me greatly with his smart-ass attitude. To this day I have no inclination to talk to him. (Or friend him on Facebook.)

One can see this liberal bias against endoxa (or their rejection by those who desire license) clearly with respect to morality. It seems to happen less with respect to the speculative sciences. However, a similar critique can be made of professional educators. It may be part of the standard narrative that what was believed in the past has been rendered obsolete or false through new discoveries; but for what cannot be immediately be verified, even these supposed new "truths" are taken as assumptions, rather than proved. No attempt is usually made to show why someone reasonable might hold to those beliefs in the past.

People are critical of what they have rejected, but they do not undertake to examine their own beliefs in the same way. Is that close-mindedness? It is certainly proud ignorance to claim that one is "open-minded" or "critical" when one is not really so.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Website dedicated to Fr. Seraphim Rose.
Fr. Finigan links to the following: On Rupture Theology

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Fall 2008 issue of Communio is on the subject of Natural Law.
Dawn Patrol: And then God created the olive branch
David Schindler calls time-out in dispute over Christopher West's teachings
A guest post by FR. ANGELO MARY GEIGER F.I.

Response to Profs. Smith and Waldstein Regarding Christopher West, by David Schindler
A thought that struck me while I was discussing TOB with its defenders -- has TOB become another tool with which those who have been influenced by feminism beat men (and husbands)? While it may be true that some men act selfishly with respect to sex, how true is this of American (and Catholic) husbands? How many women withhold sex in order to punish or spite their husbands? And how different are male and female sexuality? Does Karol Wojtyla recognize that there is a difference in male and female sexuality (and how men and women perceive sex), like Dr. Laura, or would he reject this as a rationalization for "getting it whenever he wants it."

Let's not even get into women's groups, which sound like an excuse for women to complain to other women about their husbands. Not exactly a good way to strengthen one's marriage, especially if it is used primarily as a means of validating their complaints.
James Chastek, A definition and division of analogy