Cookie Consent

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mark Kirk Update

And on the topic of Illinois' RINO Senator, with a petasus tip to Andy Martin. . .,0,46660129,full.story 

Michael Fumento, on an unrelated topic, apparently repents having been a Republican in a piece.  Estase has ridiculed the hyperbolic excesses of Ann Coulter for years, but why Fumento decided to praise George Will and air his grievances at the same site that called Will a "hack" who promotes "toxic Republicans" escapes me.  Is the Occupy movement any less crazy and hysterical than the worst right wingers?  Was particularly moderate when they called G.W. Bush Hitler?  

Update:  Monday, June 18th is the day the Senate is scheduled to vote on Andrew Hurwitz, architect of Roe v. Wade.  This man must be kept off the Ninth Circuit Court.  Senator Kirk?

Battle of the Books: Persuasion and Force

This quote is also from James Fitzjames Stephen's Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.

On the other hand, when a priest says,'Vote as I tell you or you will be damned,' he employs force just as much as if he held a pistol to his parishioner's head, though the arguments through which the force is applied are more elaborate than in the other case.  A surgeon tells a patient that he will die unless he submits to a painful operation.  Is this persuasion or force?  No man would lose a limb if he were not forced to do so by the fear of losing what he values even more, but the surgeon would usually be said to persuade his patient, and not to compel him(p77).  There is one other point in Mr. Harrison's article which calls for notice.  He totally misapprehends the object of my chapter on the distinction between the temporal and the spiritual power, and he naturally misrepresents what I have said on the subject.  As to his misrepresentations, I have dealt with them as far as I thought necessary in foot-notes to the passages misrepresented, and I will only say here that they may be summed up in a few words.  Mr. Harrison supposes me to teach 'the paradox' of 'the essential identity of material and moral power,' in order to establish the conclusion that the 'State ought to be the Church,' that it is not to be a Pope-king, but only a King-pope.'  If Mr. Harrison had read the chapter in question with any care, he would have seen that I said nothing of the sort.  I admit as fully as anyone can the difference between temporal and spiritual power.  The one I say is the power which rests upon temporal sanctions, and the other the power which rests upon spiritual sanctions, and I think that when for this expression, Mr. Harrison substitutes the word 'hell,' he does me great injustice.  I mean by spiritual sanctions all the hopes and fears, all the feelings of various kinds which may be excited by the prospect of a future state.  What I deny is the right of positivists, who do not believe in spiritual sanctions at all, and who do not accept the distinction between spirit and matter, to make use of the word 'spiritual,' and I say that their theory becomes nonsense without it.  Again I do not deny, but assert, the distinction between persuasion and force.  What I deny is that this distinction corresponds to the distinction between temporal and spiritual power.  I observe indeed, in passing, that persuasion and force run into each other, as do many dissimilar things, but the whole of my argument shows that I recognise the distinction, as, indeed, Mr. Harrison himself proves from other parts of my book, thinking to catch me in a contradiction.  This, however, is unnecessary to my argument, and the passage which Mr. Harrison refers to as if it conveyed the substance of the whole chapter might have been struck out of the book without interfering with its principal positions.  The whole chapter forms a carefully constructed argument, and it is difficult to answer it without an equally careful consideration of it as a whole(p244-45).

Battle of the Books, Part One

Here is an account, similar to Finnis' Incommensurability thesis, but informed by Hume, thus without a Natural Law potential.  It comes from James Fitzjames Stephen's Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.

To give a specific illustration, Hume's doctrine,'that personal merit consists entirely in the usefulness or agreeableness of qualities to the person himself possessed of them, or to others who have any intercourse with him,' and that,' every man who has any regard to his own happiness and welfare will best find his account in the practice of every moral duty,' is quite independent of religion in my sense of the word.  That up to a certain point 'true self love and social are the same' does not admit of serious dispute(p176).  Happiness has a very different meaning to a fierce pastoral tribe in Central Asia;  to an ignorant husbandman in Bengal;  to a cultivated modern European;  to a naked savage in Central Africa, to say nothing of the different conceptions of happiness which are formed by different individuals similarly situated.  But what does this prove?  Merely that morality is not fixed but varying, that there is no such thing as absolute, unchangeable morality, and that it is hardly possible that there should be moral intuitions, and this is the plain truth and the ultimate result of these speculations.  Bring any considerable number of human beings into relations with each other.  Let them talk, fight, eat, drink, continue their species, make observations, form a society, in short, however rough or however polished, and experience proves that they will form a conception more or less definite of what for them constitutes happiness;  that they will also form a conception of the rules of conduct by which happiness may be increased or diminished;  that they will enforce such rules upon each other by different sanctions, and that such rules and sanctions will produce an influence upon individual conduct varying according to circumstances(p225, Liberty Fund ed.)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Not Because Hume Didn't Try

The last post discussed John Finnis' claim that the Thomistic theory of desirable ends as the source of natural law, vis a vis the later opinion of Suarez that morals are rationally discernable and based on divine command.  It seems to have been the opinion of Finnis that somehow the desirable ends theory of Natural Law was impervious to the Hume's Dictum distinction between the way things are and the way things should be.  Of course, even Suarez was not really saying that Natural Law is simply doing things as they are currently done, he was saying that morals can be rationally inferred from nature, and there is a difference.  Estase sees a huge difference between the theory of Suarez and the theory that morality is somehow what is typically done.  What is typically done is customary, and Suarez would blush at the customary practices of the Jersey Shore.  What Suarez is getting at may be what Cicero implied in his works, a morality of realism based on what is naturally offensive, although Estase admits to little familiarity with Suarez.  Does Thomism survive Hume's Dictum?  If so, it's not because Hume didn't try.