THE Global Justice Movement Website

THE Global Justice Movement Website
This is the "Global Justice Movement" (dot org) we refer to in the title of this blog.

Thursday, February 20, 2020


Continuing our presentation and discussion of the Core Values of the interfaith Center for Economic and Social Justice, as we saw in the previous posting on this subject there is a difference between work performed to keep body and soul together, and the work of becoming more fully human, i.e., the work of promoting or working for one’s own perfection or completeness as a human being by conforming more closely to human nature.

Just try to find a reference that is based on reason, not faith.
At the same time, although there is a difference between the work of subsistence and the work of perfecting one’s self, both types of work are not contradictory, but complementary.  One, in fact, is not possible without the other; work for mere subsistence loses all meaning, while working for one’s perfection alone without taking care of one’s material needs (or palming off the responsibility on to others) is selfish.  Thus, the fourth Core Value of CESJ is —
In interacting with nature to promote one’s own perfection, every person must respect the rest of creation. Each human being, a steward of nature, remains responsible for conserving natural forms of existence, each of which is interdependent and shares the same divine origin with humanity.
This, as we might expect, requires a little explanation.  Too often these days “stewardship” is interpreted as meaning you don’t really own what you own.  God or the human race as a whole is the real owner of everything.  You just get the use of it . . . as long as God (or those who claim to speak in His Name) or humanity (or those who claim to speak in its name) agree with your use and don’t require it for some higher (i.e., their) purpose.
Not exactly.
"Yeah. Me again. Get used to it."
First, of course, no interpretation of anything in the Aristotelian (or Thomist) framework can contradict the precepts of the natural law and violate the natural rights of life, liberty, and private property.  In this context it is important to realize that “natural law” refers to the universal code of human behavior as discerned by the force and light of human reason.
Now, that in and of itself will raise a few eyebrows, as many people are convinced that “natural law” is not based on reason, but on faith; it is a religious concept.  Anything, therefore, based on natural law is automatically suspect as forcing one’s morality on others.  It is Sin Number One to the secular mind . . . unless something else shoves it aside for the nonce.
The problem is that the three Abrahamic faiths — the ones usually under the gun for “forcing their morality on people” (specifically Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) — actually insist that the natural law must be discerned by reason . . . at least, those sects that accept the philosophy of Aristotle, as the orthodox ones generally do.
Henri de Saint-Smon
In this, the secularists are somewhat in the position of the ink calling the paper black.  It is the secularists who often insist that since morality is faith-based instead of reason-based, it applies only to those who accept that particular faith or lack thereof.  At the same time, the religionists insist that since morality is reason-based, it applies to everyone regardless of religious faith or lack thereof.
Interesting irony: when the proto-socialist/New Christian founder (of his own church) Henri de Saint-Simon invented his new “religion of humanity” he called “the New Christianity,” he rejected traditional morality on the grounds that it is faith-based . . . a conclusion he accepted on faith, as it flatly contradicts what the proponents of the Old Christianity were saying about their own system.
Saint-Simon then proceeded to promulgate a new morality based on what he called science, the chief principle of which is that everything is justified if the intent is to promote the betterment of humanity.  This, of course, is only Machiavelli’s dictum that the end justifies the means dressed up in new clothes.
Saint-Simonian religious habit. No, really.
Interestingly, Saint-Simon assumed on the basis of faith alone that morality is faith-based and is to be rejected.  He then assumed on the basis of faith that something he could neither touch nor see — the abstraction (idea) of “humanity” — actually exists.
Well, yes, ideas/abstractions exist, but not in and of themselves.  Within the Aristotelian framework (explaining why all the New Christians and others tend to be Platonists!), ideas have no existence apart from the human minds that create them.  This means that any moral system based on faith in something that has no independent existence and that cannot be shown to be consistent with reason is less than faith-based.  It is mere opinion.
The bottom line here is that within the Aristotelian framework, life, liberty, and private property are based on reason, not faith.  Since these are the three premier rights of natural law, it necessarily follows that the natural law must be reason-based, not faith-based.  Therefore private property, liberty, and life are not mere expedients that can be set aside for the good of humanity or anything else.  They are the very stuff of existence.  Negate natural law in any way and you soon slide into moral relativism, eventually nihilism.
And that means the concept of “stewardship” governs use, not ownership, that is, the exercise of private property, not the right to be an owner.  The right to be an owner is part of human nature and is absolute and unlimited, while the rights of ownership must be limited and socially defined.
"Sorry, Dudes, no contradictions."
Stewardship therefore governs how we use what we own, even in some cases what we can own, e.g., something that already has an owner cannot simply be taken away without just cause and due process.  It does not say that you cannot own.
The Catholic Church recognizes this in its twin principles, “the generic right of dominion” and “the universal destination of all goods.”  Unless we are prepared to accept a contradiction in natural law or religious teaching, we assume as a matter of course that these two principles cannot be in conflict or contradictory.  There’s a raft of reasons why this is so, but we won’t go into any of them.  Just accept for the sake of the argument that contradictions in Aristotelian philosophy must be rejected as neither true nor false, but nonsense.
Thus, the only way to accept these two “Catholic” principles is to assume that the generic right of dominion signifies the natural and absolute right every human being has to be an owner, while the universal destination of all goods signifies that when using what is owned within the bounds of custom, law, and tradition, no material harm must be done to one’s self, other individuals, groups, or the common good as a whole.
Further, since the physical world is part of the environment within which human beings live, the no harm caveat — stewardship — applies to everything, not just other human beings and one’s self.
Now . . . that wasn’t so hard, was it?  This won’t be on the test, but you are expected to know the material.