Just to take a break from our short series on solidarism (and because nobody is going to be reading blogs today, anyway), we’re posting our response to a question we got last week on a rather “esoteric” subject: the basis of the natural law.
Now, right up front we have to ask your indulgence . . . both of you who are reading this. The question was asked in a “Catholic” forum on the internet, and the answer is phrased in the language of the “Catholic paradigm.”
|Aquinas: Truth is a unity.|
That does not, however, mean that the answer is true only for (some) Catholics or even just theists of whatever sort. That would violate the first principles of reason, which is that the intellect is a “unity.” If something is true, it is true for everyone.
And what does that mean? The “unity of the intellect” just means that nothing discerned or based on reason can be unreasonable, that is, contradictory. This gives us the two ways of stating the first principle of reason, the “principle of (non) contradiction,” and the “principle of identity.”
The principle of contradiction is, Nothing can both “be” and “not be” at the same time under the same conditions. The principle of identity is, That which is true is as true, and is true in the same way, as everything else that is true.
Now for the question:
I keep running across this in your writing and meaning to ask you about it: "it starts with a shift in the understanding of the natural law from the Intellect (reason) to the Will (faith)". I don't get what you are talking about here. Faith is a virtue of the intellect, is it not? Faith is a kind of sight; the will is blind. ???
Absolutely. The key, however, is that the natural law is (as the name implies) natural. It relates to the natural virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude, and (above all) justice.
|God builds the capacity for natural virtue into each human being.|
God builds the capacity to acquire and develop the natural virtues in to human nature, and that capacity is an essential part of human nature. This capacity is “analogously complete” (the same . . . sort of) in all human beings. This capacity is what makes human beings ipso facto natural persons with the full spectrum of natural rights of life, liberty (freedom of association and contract), and private property.
The capacity for faith, hope, and (above all) charity, however, is not built into essential human nature. Faith, hope, and charity are supernatural virtues; they are above nature, as is (obviously) the capacity to acquire and develop them. Where God builds the capacity for the natural virtues into human nature itself, He infuses the capacity for the supernatural virtues into each human being as a free gift.
|John Paul I: "Charity is the soul of justice."|
Where the inherent capacity to acquire and develop the natural virtues gives each human being the natural capacity to become more fully human, the infused capacity to acquire and develop the supernatural virtues gives each human being the analogously complete capacity to become the adopted children of God. This is by adding to, not abolishing or bypassing nature. As John Paul I pointed out (we like to quote him because everybody forgets about him, even though he was himself quoting somebody else), charity is the soul of justice. Thus, supernatural charity does not replace or nullify natural justice.
This is why the Catholic Church teaches that reason is the foundation of faith. This is also why the First Vatican Council infallibly declared the primacy of reason (the Intellect) in Canon 2.1, which anathematized anyone who denies that knowledge of God's existence and of the natural law can be known by the force and light of human reason alone.
|McInerny: Fideism a great danger|
The primacy of reason is also the first thing in the Oath Against Modernism, and was repeated in the beginning of the encyclical Humani Generis in 1950 as the primary danger to Catholic doctrine in the world today. The late Dr. Ralph McInerny of Notre Dame (the author of the Father Dowling mysteries) considered “fideism” — relying on faith alone — (a form of modernism, considered the synthesis of all heresies) the single greatest danger to religion today.
That is why faith is a virtue of the Intellect. It necessarily is based on (but goes far beyond) reason. Faith fulfills and completes reason, just as charity fulfills and completes justice. Faith does not deny or reject reason, any more than charity denies or rejects justice.
We might say that, just as charity is the soul of justice, faith is the soul of reason. Yes, faith applies to that which is not “manifestly true” (i.e., that cannot be proved empirically or logically), but at the same time faith cannot contradict that which is manifestly true (“self-evident”).
This will be on the test.