Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Faith and Reason Again, II: The Thomist Just Third Way


Yesterday we looked at the respective roles of faith and reason, and how they are complementary.  We also emphasized the fact that, while faith and reason go together, neither one can substitute or fill in for the other.  Today we will apply the basic principles we looked at yesterday, with emphasis on the natural law basis of the Just Third Way.

This is because the current movement to eliminate “exchange” based on justice and base economic life on “gift” based on charity — the so-called “logic of gift” that rejects the gift of logic — is, ultimately, both wrong-headed and anti-human. It implicitly denies the humanity of those who do not have charity, making them less than human.  It also strokes the ego of the ones attempting to impose gift in place of exchange, for it turns them into a spiritual and material elite with gnostic knowledge not available to
hoi polloi.

The Just Third Way is the only approach to the social problem of the wealth and income gap that doesn’t take the short cut of trying to base things on charity.  Trying to base things on charity automatically restricts the fullness of participation in the common good to the (self-proclaimed) elite who have charity (as they define it) for all . . . usually by taking what belongs to some for redistribution to others (with a rake-off for themselves).  It is incredibly easy to be “charitable” with what belongs to someone else.  Being charitable with your own goodies is a bit harder.

Instead of charity, the Just Third Way bases its approach on the three principles of economic justice (Participation, Distribution, and Social Justice), albeit infused with charity, but not based on it.  Thus, the Just Third Way is in full conformity with the basis of the natural law and with human nature (obviously) by having justice as part of its essential nature, and with “redeemed” humanity (if you want to put it that way) by being infused with charity.  Will the Just Third Way work without charity?  Of course — but it wouldn’t be “complete” without charity; charity fulfills justice.

The systems that rely on charity, however (what Kelso called “needism”) ignore that justice that is the basis of human nature and the natural law, and assume as a given that everyone should get what he or she needs just because he or she exists.  This shifts the orientation from equality of opportunity, to imposition of predetermined results.  The role of the State necessarily changes from maintaining the institutions of the common good to ensure equality of opportunity, to providing for each individual good, becoming all-powerful in the process, and imposing a condition of dependency (slavery) on the non-elite members of society.  Social justice changes from making it possible for others to meet their own needs through their own efforts, to meeting those needs directly . . . making them dependent on the provider of the largesse.

As far as I can tell, the Just Third Way is the only system that incorporates the fullness of Aristotelian-Thomist philosophy without any amendments or shortcuts.  It is fulfilled by charity, but does not rely on it, and accommodates to situations that are less than ideal by allowing expedients such as redistribution in emergencies, as long as the expedient is not taken as the solution.

#30#

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