Saturday, April 30, 2022

Socratic loyalty

Socrates was so critical of his country that he was put to death by it.  Yet he could have escaped execution had he wanted to.  The reason he did not, as he famously explained in Plato’s Crito, was out of loyalty to the country of which he was so critical, and which willed to destroy him.  I don’t think that Socrates’ example is, in this case, one that we are bound to follow; Aristotle did no wrong in fleeing, lest Athens sin twice against philosophy.  All the same, that example is worth pondering for contemporary conservatives tempted to oikophobia by the sorry state of the West, and for Catholics tempted by the sorry state of the Church’s human element to depart from her, or to refuse due submission to the Roman Pontiff. 

The argument of the Crito

Socrates’ argument, in brief, is that one’s country is like one’s father or mother, so that to deny its authority over one would be like denying the authority of one’s parents.  Now, to flee Athens so as to avoid execution would, Socrates continues, be tantamount to denying its authority.  Hence, he concludes, it would be wrong for him to flee.  However unjust, his execution was in his view something he had to suffer out of a kind of filial loyalty.

Naturally, one might object to this argument in several ways.  But one objection that I think has no force is the claim that Socrates is being inconsistent.  In Plato’s Apology, Socrates had, of course, refused to submit to the command that he cease philosophizing.  Continuing to philosophize was, he argued, required by obedience to a higher law than that of Athens.  Because of this, it is often suggested that there is a tension between the views presented in the two dialogues.  (This has come to be known as “the Apology-Crito problem.”)  But the parental analogy shows, in my view, why there is no genuine inconsistency here.

Suppose you are a minor and your father commands you to do something immoral – to steal a bottle of whiskey from the supermarket, or to bully other children, or whatever.  You ought to disobey those particular unjust commands.  But that doesn’t entail that he is no longer your father or that you can in general deny his authority over you.  He is still owed the minimal respect that any father is owed.  He still possesses the general authority over you that a father has over a child, and still ought to be obeyed when his commands are lawful.  And you may have to suffer unjust punishments for your refusal to obey particular unjust commands.  For example, if he grounds you for a week for refusing to steal, you’ll just have to grin and bear it until you reach adulthood and are no longer under his authority.

Obviously there are going to be extreme cases (such as those involving sexual or extreme physical abuse) where a parent ought to lose custody of a child.  I put those cases aside for present purposes, and focus just on the less extreme sort of case, in order to understand Socrates’ argument.  The general principle he is appealing to, it seems to me, is that in the case of parental authority, it is possible for a child to have a right to refuse obedience to a specific unjust command while still having no right to deny a parent’s general authority over one.  And he argues for a parallel to his relationship to Athens.  He is saying that even though he has a right and indeed a duty to disobey certain specific commands (such as the command to cease philosophizing), it does not follow that he has a right to reject the city’s general parental-like authority over him (as, he thinks, he would be doing if he fled the city in order to avoid execution).  Hence there is no inconsistency between the positions he takes in the Apology and the Crito.

That doesn’t by itself guarantee that the argument is, at the end of the day, correct.  One might still challenge the assumption that the city is relevantly like a parent.  Or one can accept this assumption, but then argue that the injustice in the case of Socrates’ execution is so grave that the city is acting like an extremely abusive parent, who ought to lose “custody” of Socrates (so that he can justly flee).  My point is just that I don’t think the charge that Socrates is being inconsistent is a good objection.

Now, in fact Socrates is also on strong ground in comparing one’s country to one’s parents.  Modern readers, who tend to think of politics in terms of the individualist “social contract” model inherited from Hobbes and Locke, are bound to find this odd.  But from the point of view of classical political philosophy, for which human beings are by nature social animals, the family is the model for social life in general and parental authority the model for political authority.  Hence, for Aquinas (and indeed for Catholic social teaching more generally) patriotism and a general respect for public authorities are moral duties falling under the fourth commandment. 

Suffering for one’s country

The weakness in Socrates’ argument is rather that he takes it too far.  Again, even in the case of literal parents, it is possible for them to lose their authority over a child when the abuse is sufficiently egregious.  And the analogy between one’s country and one’s parents is in any event not an exact one, insofar as one’s duties to one’s country are weaker than those to one’s parents.  Hence the threat of unjust execution would in fact justify Socrates in fleeing the city. 

All the same, there is a nobility in Socrates’ decision, and if he goes too far in one direction, it is also possible to go too far in the other direction.  What Socrates gets right, I would argue, is that there is at least a presumption in favor of being willing to suffer injustice from one’s country for the sake of one’s country.  And this flows from a filial love and duty that is at least analogous to the love and duty one owes one’s parents.  The presumption can be overridden when injustice has too deeply permeated the basic institutions of one’s country.  But the presumption is nevertheless there, and we are duty-bound to be careful lest we judge too hastily that it has been overridden.

The “Don’t tread on me” spirit of traditional American thinking about political matters can blind us to this presumption.  I’m not entirely knocking that spirit; I largely share it myself, and it has its salutary aspects insofar as Americans are sometimes less inclined than others are to go along with idiotic and immoral governmental policies (like open-ended lockdowns, for example).

But at least in the view of some observers, some right-wingers have judged that “wokeness” has so thoroughly corrupted our country and civilization that they no longer merit our loyalty.  And in my view this is a rash and irresponsible judgment.  That is by no means to deny the danger of wokeness, which I regard as a satanic menace that cannot be compromised with.  Wokeness delenda est.  But it is, to say the least, premature to judge that this menace will win the day, as is manifest from the revulsion that its excesses have generated in the electorate. 

Twenty-five years ago, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus’s First Things magazine generated a fierce intra-conservative controversy by raising the question of whether the principles governing the American judicial system might at some point become so contrary to the natural law that citizens will no longer owe it their allegiance.  This is an even more serious question today than it was then, and the debate merits re-reading.  All the same, it is premature now, as it was then, to judge that we have reached the dreaded point of no return.  We clearly have not – as is obvious from the fact that we still have the freedom to discuss the matter.

Our forebears literally shed their own blood to save their country from tyranny.  It would be the most contemptible softness and “sunshine patriotism” to think that (say) getting kicked off Twitter, or being required to wear a mask – obnoxious as these things are – mark the End of Democracy and absolve us from any further loyalty to our country and its institutions.  Yes, wokeness is a monster.  So we should work to save our country from it, rather than retreating into a fantasyland of crackpot conspiracy theories and political fanaticism and sympathy with the West’s enemies.

Suffering for the Church

Loyalty to country is not absolute, but loyalty to the Church must be, because unlike one’s country, she is divinely protected from total corruption.  The project of saving one’s country from tyranny and decadence can fail.  The project of saving the Church from bad prelates and heretics cannot fail.  To despair of such salvation – to fret that the problems remain unresolved after ten or fifty or a hundred years – is to sin against the virtues of faith and hope, which demand of us that we take the long view.

But it is also a sin against charity.  It is a shallow love which endures only to the extent that the beloved remains attractive.  Caritas demands more.  As St. Paul wrote, “perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die.  But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7-8).  Similarly, we must love and pray for our own enemies, and not just our friends and families.  How much more must we love the Church, even when her human element is dominated by immoral and faithless men?  Indeed, especially then, since this is when the Church most needs us?  How much more must we love and uphold the foundation of the Church, the papacy, even when (and again, especially when) the office is held by someone who fails to do his duty?  And yet there are those Catholics whose personal disappointments lead them to abandon the Church, and those who strain to find fanciful rationalizations for refusing submission to Christ’s vicar. 

This is not to deny for a moment that there can be legitimate respectful criticism of the Church’s authorities, including the pope, as the Church has always recognized.  But if such criticism does not have the desired effect, then the only option is patient forbearance rather than picking up one’s marbles and stomping off.  As the instruction Donum Veritatis teaches:

For a loyal spirit, animated by love for the Church, such a situation can certainly prove a difficult trial.  It can be a call to suffer for the truth, in silence and prayer, but with the certainty, that if the truth really is at stake, it will ultimately prevail.

We find here too a parallel with Socrates, who simultaneously criticized the governing authorities while refusing to subvert their authority, even to the point of submitting to unjust punishment.  But the more apposite parallel is to Christ.  As Socrates rebuked Crito, so too Christ rebuked Peter, who similarly, and wrongly, urged him not to put up with the injustice that the authorities of his day sought to inflict on him: “Get behind me, Satan!  You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men” (Matthew 16:23). 

96 comments:

  1. @ Professor Feser,

    Is the essence of Socrates his method or his act? I've heard a lot of people say they admire his method but not many want to imitate his act, something the way most of us are with Jesus.

    Also, what has happened with the combo-box for comments, at least for anonymous responses on Android phones? They are getting close to impossible to use.

    Tom Cohoe

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  2. Are we conflating the "Social Contract"—a theory of ethics—with the compact theory of political sovereignty? The American constitutional tradition is based, in part, upon our native colonial experience with government—the Mayflower Compact, for example, predates the birth of Locke and the publication of Hobbes's "Leviathan" by decades. Moreover, the the compact theory of political sovereignty doesn't originate with the Enlightenment. To quote the Augustinian canon, Manegold of Lautenbach, writing in 1080 (taken from Harold Laski's "Historical Introduction to Vindiciae Contra Tvrannos"):

    "No man can make himself king or emperor, the people raise a man above them in this way in order that he may govern them in accordance with right reason, give to each one his own, protect the good, destroy the wicked, and administer justice to every man. But if he violates the contract (pactum) under which he was elected, disturbing and confounding that which he was established to set in order, then the people is justly and reasonably released from its obligation to obey him. For he was the first to break the faith that bound them together."

    I won't conflate that with Lockean or other Enlightenment formulations of a compact, but the general idea was certainly a part of political discourse for centuries. What does that mean for the "parental model" of political authority?

    First, political authority is partly natural, derived from our nature as "political animals," and partially constructed, insofar as political is invested. Since such authority is held in trust, it's contingent and revocable in a way that parental authority is not (the English Parliament deposed Richard II in 1399, so again, not exactly an Enlightenment concept).

    Second, political authority, being invested, is limited in a way that parental authority is not, even while there may be a presumption of obedience to that authority. Indeed, that existence of the family and its precedence must limit the scope of government.

    Third, if rights are construed as a claim against interference in pursuing those ends proper to us a human beings (a definition which, I'll note, does place a limit on rights)—faith, family. community, vocation—making use of our particular gifts, then government is justly limited in a way that parental authority is not. Moreover, as it better for the bonds of trust in community that men should settle matters among themselves without first resorting to law, in most cases there should be a presumption against interference by government (which is not to say there are never cases of intervention).

    Third, adults may rightfully be subject to law, but they aren't (or shouldn't be) wards of the state. And where they are citizens and not just subjects, having a share in governance, they rightly cannot be wards of the state. At least in that respect, the relationship between government and the civic body should not resemble the relationship between parent and child.

    I'm not arguing against the "parental model" per se, only noting that there may be grounds for significant qualifications. Yet, as uncomfortable as it may be for me to acknowledge, there is a hierarchical relationship where rightful political authority should be acknowledge and obeyed.

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    1. David Marcoe wrote, "if rights are construed as a claim against interference in pursuing those ends proper to us a human beings"

      A definition is supposed to help people grasp a more complex idea by dividing it into ideas that are clearer or easier to understand. But this definition of "rights" doesn't do that, not for me at least. For it substitutes "right" with "proper", without defining either. (It is no less tautological than the UN definition of rights that DNW alluded to below.)

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    2. David Marcoe wrote, "No man can make himself king or emperor, the people raise a man above them in this way in order that he may govern them in accordance with right reason, "

      If I understand it correctly, this notion of "political sovereignty" implicitly assumes that the people have right reason and know what justice is, and the duty of the sovereign is to execute the will of the people as a delegate, otherwise he can be deposed.

      One problem with this model is that its assumption is not always true, i.e., people don't always know or agree on what is just and right.
      So people form a government to resolve the conflicts between them without bloodshed. A government with supreme authority, in that it is the ultimate arbiter of what is just and right, and its decision is final.

      I think Plato is highlighting this aspect of government, among other things, in Crito: if everyone does what is just and right in his own eyes, and disobeys the government whenever he sees fit, government would be meaningless.

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    3. But this definition of "rights" doesn't do that, not for me at least. For it substitutes "right" with "proper", without defining either.

      While I agree with taking a very cautious attitude toward "rights" as used in modern parlance, I don't think this is quite accurate. The comment clearly (to me, at least) intends to modify the generic meaning of "right" (which could be used to say, for example, "it is right for me to worship God here and now in this way" into a narrower, more limited claim "whether I am right to worship God in this specific way or not, you are in the wrong if you interfere with my action.

      This is, still, not a fully adequate formulation of "rights" but that doesn't make it wholly empty.

      this notion of "political sovereignty" implicitly assumes that the people have right reason and know what justice is, and the duty of the sovereign is to execute the will of the people as a delegate, otherwise he can be deposed.

      While that may be one notion of political sovereignty, there are others at odds with this. There are many political orders in which it was believed that the top guy was ruler by divine ordination, and that was that. Others allowed that it is by (some significant subset of) the people that a specific group of people are identified as rulers, but that the the authority came from God and they do not rule "as delegates" and are not obliged to execute "the will of the people". The latter, indeed, is a sort of belief common in democratic republics, but is not general, and is disputed even such democratic republics as to whether an elected representative must or should vote the way his constituency wants, or should "vote his conscience" even if that opposes his constituents' views.

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    4. Tony wrote, "whether I am right to worship God in this specific way or not, you are in the wrong if you interfere with my action."

      In your statement, the idea of wrongness is implied by the word "interfere". So it is basically saying you're in the wrong if you do wrong, without explaining what constitutes the wrong. It is still a tautology to me.

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    5. To interfere, says Oxford, is ‘to prevent (a process or activity) from continuing or being carried out properly’. It gives as example sentences, ‘A holiday job would interfere with his studies,’ and, ‘The rotors are widely separated and do not interfere with one another.’ Clearly there is no moral idea of any kind stated or implied in these usages of the word interfere. The tautology arises in your own interpretation, because you assume from the outset that the word must have a moral connotation. Tony is specifying the conditions under which interference becomes a moral issue, and that is not a tautology.

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    6. Tom Simon wrote, " Tony is specifying the conditions under which interference becomes a moral issue, and that is not a tautology"

      OK. We can rephrase Tony's original statement in the following ways:

      "Whether I am right to worship God in this specific way or not, you are in the wrong if you prevent me from continuing with my action.".

      or

      "Whether I kill that person or not, you are in the wrong if you prevent me from continuing with my action."

      What is the condition under which it is wrong to hinder someone's action?

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  3. Nice post Professor Feser! I agree with the general sentiment of it! However I do think that at times all the negativity tends to get exaggerated to a certain extent. One could point towards issues where conservatives have made more progress then at any other point like for example pro-life issues. And it isn't only in terms of making progress on the legal front but even on the people's front. During the last pro-life rally, there seemed to be people of all stripes and colours across the social divide. Although that issue does have some rhetorical advantages in so far as one can frame it as affecting all of us in some way , because a baby is at the end of the day part of some community. It has this more evident "all of us are in this together" kind of feel which has its political and social advantages as compared to other issues. Apart from that though, there is also the question of which time would one want to go back to. The last century was peppered with ghastly wars, maybe there was some kind of social unity, but if you ask parents if they would prefer losing their children in war in exchange for social unity. They would obviously refuse. Also if these current issues aren't there, there will always be some issue, like the violent catholic-protestant wars. The kind of alliance between catholics and protestants in the USA is actually not very common. I also think many prominent right wing commentators are responsible for the panic. The Daily Wire explicitly was like if you are a conservative and you want to do something useful for the country, leave California. There comes a point where a genuine attempt to recover natural principles turns into a desperate attempt to gains as much views and engagement as possible. Also the tendency of the left and right to pick the most extreme examples and say it's actually widespread, doesn't help at all, albeit this habit was promoted by the left. Lots of people actually exist in the middle and there is still room for convincing them which is done through scholarly and serious engagement with the best arguments of the other side, the likes of which you and other figures like Prof.Kaczor have done. (Prof.Kaczor especially with regards to Pro Life issues). Cheers :).

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  4. I don’t think that Socrates’ example is, in this case, one that we are bound to follow; Aristotle did no wrong in fleeing, lest Athens sin twice against philosophy.

    I think Socrates elevated philosophy by dying nobly, whereas Aristotle sinned against philosophy by living cowardly (for one pitiable year at that).

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    1. Though Aristotle was accused of impiety against Athens, as far as I can tell he was never tried much less convicted, and he did not escape custody when he fled Athens. He merely departed - he was not flouting laws and officials by leaving. So, it might have been cowardly in some vague sense, but it was not cowardly / disorderly in the concrete sense that Socrates' action would have been had he taken the pathway offered to his friends to escape the jail.

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    2. Dr. Feser wrote, "The weakness in Socrates’ argument is rather that he takes it too far. "

      As a Platonist, naturally I don't agree that Socrates' arguments were weak or that Aristotle was justified in fleeing.

      Parents has authority because they have given being to their child, fed him and educated him, and raised him to adulthood. If nothing else, they have author-ity because they are the author of their child's being. Similarly, the State has authority over a citizen, because it contributes a great deal to his coming into being: the citizen is born under the auspices of the State, fed and sheltered by her produces, educated and entertained by her people. This is not a "presumption", but a fact.

      (One could argue that, since the parents have given life to their child, they have the right to take it back if they so wish. IF that is the case, then hardly anything would constitute "egregious" parental abuse.)

      Even if one denies the "parental" authority of the State, there is still the "social contract" (or "terms of service", as I would call it) model of government: If the citizen thinks the laws of the State are unjust, he has the option to change the laws using legitimate means, or go somewhere else. If he doesn't do that, but remains in the State and enjoys its benefits, he has implicitly agreed to abide the laws of the State. Therefore, it would be unjust for him to disobey the laws.

      These are Socrates/Plato's main arguments in Crito, as I understand them, but there're more. I would recommend those who are interested to read it firsthand. It can be downloaded from Gutenberg.

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    3. Tony wrote, "[Aristotle] was never tried much less convicted, and he did not escape custody when he fled Athens. He merely departed - he was not flouting laws and officials by leaving "

      I was assuming that Aristotle left Athens because he believed Athenians would convict him and sentence him to death, and so "sin twice against philosophy". If he left Athens because he wanted a change of scenery, of course that would be a different story. But, if the former is true, then he was no different from a fugitive from justice.

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    4. Nemo, two points. First, Aristotle was born in Stagira in northern Greece, of Stagiran parents. Since Athenian law required that at least one parent had to be an Athenian citizen, Aristotle was never an Athenian citizen. If he fled Athens, it was not as a citizen fleeing his own native polis.

      Second, the charges on which Socrates was tried and convicted were "impiety" and "corrupting the youth", on the basis of his teachings. These were not actions that anyone could have clearly known, in advance, that they would be considered to violate any concrete law: the accusers effectively constructed a claim of wrongdoing that they could pin Socrates on. Sort of like creating a law ex post facto to hang him on. That's not the same thing as "he broke the law (by an act that he knew was breaking the law) and then ran away."

      Aristotle was accused of being a Macedonian sympathizer. Again, not something which, beforehand, he could have known would become "illegal".

      Maybe Aristotle was being a coward, but NOT in the sense of a citizen brazenly killing someone and then fleeing his native polity to escape a clearly known punishment for the act.

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    5. Tony,

      First, Aristotle was a resident of Athens for half of his life, so although he was not a citizen, he was still bound by the laws of Athens.

      Second, it is part of the nature of the Athenian Constitution that the laws were decided largely by jury trial, not by concrete written laws. Aristotle knew it well -he wrote a book on it, and lived with it for some thirty years. There was no other plausible explanation why he left Athens when he did, but that he feared punishment.

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    6. There was no other plausible explanation why he left Athens when he did, but that he feared punishment.

      Sure, he feared being put to death. But fleeing because he is going to be found "guilty" of being a Macedonian sympathizer, when a couple years earlier being a Macedonian sympathizer was not something criminal, is not the same thing as fleeing just punishment for a long-standing law.

      Second, it is part of the nature of the Athenian Constitution that the laws were decided largely by jury trial, not by concrete written laws.

      And precisely because juries could make, in effect, ex post facto laws, it was considered reasonable to flee into self-imposed exile for such "crimes". That too was part of the law, so to speak.

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    7. Tony wrote, " it was considered reasonable to flee into self-imposed exile for such "crimes"

      Considered by whom? Under what circumstances?

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    8. Tony wrote, "Sure, he feared being put to death. But fleeing because he is going to be found "guilty" of being a Macedonian sympathizer,"

      I think it is likely that Aristotle would have been charged with treason, not merely "being a Macedonian sympathizer" per se, but doing harm to Athens on behalf of the Macedonians, perhaps even benefitting from it financially.

      Treason, as well as impiety, was punishable by death. It is not an "ex post facto", but long-standing law in Greece, although what constitutes treason might change with time and circumstances, and therefore is at the discretion of the jury.

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  5. At last and inevitably the ancient self-appointed institutional "religious" rulerships have failed, and its "official" institutional Christian-ism religion-power is now reduced to all the impenetrable illusions and decadent exercises that everywhere characterize previously privileged aristocracies in their decline from worldly power. All of institutional Christian-ism (including and especially the "catholic" church) is now a chaos of corporate cults and Barnumesque propagandists that "rule" nothing more than chaotic herds of self-deluded seekers in the market place of whats-in-it-for consumerist religiosity. Barnum was of course wrong - thousands of suckers are born every minute!
    Therefore, the myth of the cultural superiority of "official" institutional Christian-ism (especially in the case of the "catholic" church) has now come full circle.
    The public masses of religion-bound people - who, all over the Earth, for even thousands of years, have been controlled in body and mind by ancient self-appointed institutions of "religiously"- propagandized worldly power - are now in a globalized state of grossly-bound "religious" delusion and social psychosis.

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    1. @ Anonymous,

      "At last and inevitably ..."

      How funny.

      Tom Cohoe

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  6. This is an excellent insofar as provocative, posting; and, I am surprised that it has not elicited a hurricane of responses already, though it might do so yet.

    I cannot do much because I'm using a small hand-held decice and cannot trust it, or my "typing" but I want to make a couple of observations.

    First, I agree, in broad outline with the thrust of David Marcoe's "historicist" analysis.

    Just as Aristotle was able to classify different categories of polities or constitutions ( in the broadest sense of the term constitution) so an historical tracing of actual political regimes will reveal critical distinctions and predicate assumption differences among so- called contract or compact based polities.

    The fatuousness of the typical progressive crowing about the United States being a whole cloth "construction of the Enlightenment " is made obvious to anyone who has read the primary literature.

    Second, I was surprised, and reassured in my own thinking, to see his formulation of presumably fundamental or natural rights in this way: " ... if rights are construed as a claim against interference in pursuing those ends proper to us a human beings ..."

    I have not kept up my reading since leaving school so I don't know what has been academically published about natural rights and liberty in the last 30 years, and is ready-made to be picked up. But the formulation he is using is one I only managed to come up with for myself after a great deal of thought and argument about rights, Constitutional (US) and otherwise, and with specific regard to "negative liberty", which we may all recall was being damned with faint praise during a relatively recent administration.

    And I say this having earlier in life had probably a dozen undergrad courses on the Theory of Law, American Constitutional and legal development, the development of English common law, Colonial history and other related matters.

    This precise formulation, expressing the notion of an inalienable "claim" (or other term) against interferencein the exercise of a natural and ordinate power - a legal immunity in one sense, that makes interference by "authority" ultra vires - is one that seems to require people to grasp a negative predicate and its application in a way that many seem to find difficult to do.

    As a result we get tautological inanities, from the United Nations for example, informing us that Human Rights, are rights you have simply by being human". End of story, full stop. Nothing more to see here.

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  7. "the Church is not to be looked for in a snapshot of the members who exist in any particular generation

    Nor I suppose is the United States defined solely by the participants and audience of The View" or the voters in the mayoral races in New York, or the members of the New Jersey legislature, or the membership of the Democrat party.

    But when the moral degenerates not only accede to and then insinuate themselves into government offices for the purposes of fundamentally transforming the constituting society and the persons who make it up, then we have an existential question begining to poke its head up.

    Our system is still Federal, if not nearly in the sense it once was. So there is some hope that the arsonists will immolate mainly themselves and by so doing honor the platitudes of the past about our great " laboratory of Democracy"

    But I doubt it. When granny liberal who ran the drag queen story book hour in her hometown comes begging for admittance to a place her insanity has not yet fully infiltrated and destroyed, the neighborhood Wine Moms will probably instantly open the gate and let the old witch in.

    The author of the essay on oikophobia Ed linked to, asked: if given the evidence that the morally perverted West had not yet lost its military striking power, was it then time for conservatives to stop predicting institutional collapse as a consequence of the perversity, and just admit that they did simply did not like the morality of the progressive?

    Well, skeptical questions of institutional inertia and captured wealth and labor aside, if the author was right in suggesting that gender fluidity and intergenerational incest will not stop the towers of steel and glass from soaring or the cruise missiles from unerring strikes, the question still remains: can traditionalists actually survive, much less live free and flourish, in an unrelenting always molesting sodomite social hell?

    At that juncture I think that it becomes clear that: if progressivism is sustainable then it is not distributively so given the curren human population.

    Implying, that if some people can thrive in that social setting it will literally destroy the others we usually called normal.

    And, that we have now arrived at a point where "we" have diverged, perhaps through technological enabling, into different moral species.

    Of course, that only goes if we extrapolate from what the defender of the west suggested is true about the clash being reducible to a matter of presumably nature-neutral likes, and if what I suggested concerning "likes" being fundamental to the one doing the liking's survival, is correct.

    At this point I am still slightly leaning toward the idea that progressives are a mentally ill like-kind, as opposed to another, mutant, antipathetic kind, altogether.

    But all the same, I don't lose any sleep worrying that Putin will send a hit squad to wipe out the anchors of the BBC

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  8. But at least in the view of some observers, some right-wingers have judged that “wokeness” has so thoroughly corrupted our country and civilization that they no longer merit our loyalty.

    At least to my mind, it's more that the woke totalitarians who have taken over our governing institutions are so evil, so diabolically opposed to natural law and the Body of Christ, and so filled with hatred for my civilization and country and driven by a fanatical motive to destroy them and normalize every form of madness and wickedness in their place, that I cannot be loyal to our rulers if I am to remain loyal to my country, my civilization, and my God at the same time.

    The rulers of Athens who murdered Socrates were wicked fools, but they did not hate Athens to its very core, hate its people, and hate its legacy, and wish to see them all crushed underfoot and swept away forever.

    I don't see our rulers as an abusive but still legitimate father. I believe they are more akin to the "father" in the movie Night of the Hunter, having no genuine filial relationship at all.

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  9. And the analogy between one’s country and one’s parents is in any event not an exact one, insofar as one’s duties to one’s country are weaker than those to one’s parents.

    They may be weaker in one sense, but they are WIDER in another sense. Your parents’ role hangs on the end of parenthood, which is to raise you up to adulthood. After that, you leave their household and you no longer owe them obedience, (though you continue to owe them honor). The state rules over you for your whole life long, and with regard to your whole life’s matters as those pertain to the common good. Similarly, parents do not ask children to risk their life for the parents (rather, the other way around if necessary) but the state asks men to risk their lives for the good of the community. Further, parents do no have authority to punish unto death, but the state does. So, “weaker” needs considerable qualification.

    But at least in the view of some observers, some right-wingers have judged that “wokeness” has so thoroughly corrupted our country and civilization that they no longer merit our loyalty. And in my view this is a rash and irresponsible judgment.

    A wrong judgment it is, but at the same time we need to permit this SORT of debate to go forward, for 2 reasons. First, precisely so that those who are excessively hasty can be corrected by their wiser peers. But more importantly, because the entire body of information needed to justly judge that the state no longer merits our obedience will only be gathered with great difficulty, and will only be justly recognized when MANY contribute to that gathering, and (together) sift the data for due and proper conclusions. This is a judgment of extreme difficulty and sensitivity, and requires considerable time and maturation of consideration. Given that, the work of gathering and sifting the needed information will (typically) take many years and will need input from many quarters.

    Compare: the realization that Bill Cosby was a predator could not have been arrived at without input from MANY women. Yet those women would not have known, before the first ones decided to speak out, that many other women had been targeted. So, it was essential that SOME FEW be willing to step forward and start saying things, in order for others to take up the issue and broaden the investigations. It was necessary, in that case, to allow that the first such women to speak out were not doing something wrong to speak out, even though they could not have known, beforehand, that many other women would come forward.

    The recognition of large-scale problems that are hidden or semi-hidden from view necessarily will take place with fits and starts and wrong turnings at times, and that’s OK, it’s part of the hurly burly of the political process and the prudential deliberation in practical form.

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  10. Another aspect of the difficulty of a just and upright prudential judgment of that sort (that the state no longer deserves our obedience) is that both inevitably and REASONABLY, it will occur in upright men at different times. This is due to two main factors: first, because each person has access to differing bodies of data.

    But more importantly, each person’s analysis of that data will arrive at different results – quite reasonably. This is because in prudential analysis we are dealing with probable reasoning, with not just probabilities and estimations, but layers and layers of such estimations and probabilities. Each person will weigh the reliability of claims differently. (These will be different because each person will bring to the estimate their own personal history of reliable and unreliable past testimony.) Each person will reflect on different groupings of secondary causes, as well as different groupings of secondary and tertiary effects about things that “would” happen months and years down the road. Therefore, each individual will (justly and reasonably) arrive at a different morally weighted set of results about which things can be trusted and which possible future effects can be acted upon (or against).

    So, in addition to hotheads and rash people arriving unjustly at conclusions of the sort like “that does it, I am done with them”, eventually (when things have gotten bad enough for long enough) you will get just, upright, and prudent people arriving at the same conclusion before OTHER just, upright, and prudent people at that conclusion. The fact that we have not got there yet does NOT make discussion of these matters wrongheaded. It is ONLY by (well-grounded, tempered) discussions of that sort, occurring for quite some time BEFORE the conclusion is correct, that prudent men will, eventually, correctly conclude that the state has become so wrong that it no longer merits obedience. And even when they have rightly done so, other prudent men with less information will still not join them in that judgment, quite yet.

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  11. My most tempting yet still unjustified rationale for believing that Pope Francis is not the Pope, is that it would make avoiding the sin of heresy a lot easier. It's a lot harder to convince yourself that society is wrong, when the Pope is often joining in with society to condemn you for being orthodox. Now I still believe that Pope Francis is the Pope, but it gets harder every day.

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  12. The institutions have gotten pretty bad, to the point that supporting them may undermine our civilizational inheritance. I am reminded of this analogous analogy:

    >>> You see chrysalid-type insectoid thing come into your house, disrupt and inhabit father's body as zombi; proceeds to pimp out your sister, try to castrate you, your mother in & out of loonyhouse with BPD; then you hear some confused rightist ask "Why are you disloyal to FAMILY!"

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  13. I feel no allegiance to "the West". I feel allegiance to my nation. Ireland, in my case, which is probably the most liberalized and PC country in the world right now, and which severely tests my loyalty. (Indeed I've heard some Irish conservatives declare that they have no nation anymore.) I don't even know what "the West" is.

    For all its problems, America is still the city on a hill to conservatives and Christians all over the world.

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  14. A feature of "the Laws'" argument as Socrates represents it in the Crito, but which Prof. Feser did not highlight, is that you, Socrates, willingly gave your assent all these years to be governed by us, the laws. You contradict the principle of your own life if you reject our verdict now.

    This element of the subject's assent is not brought out in the OP. The analogy of child to father does not fully overlap that of citizen to laws in the Crito, since the child does not give assent to the father's authority in the same way that the citizen of Athens gave assent to the authority of the laws in Socrates' argument.

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    1. willingly gave your assent all these years to be governed by us, the laws...since the child does not give assent to the father's authority in the same way that the citizen of Athens gave assent to the authority of the laws in Socrates' argument.

      Feser points out something that relates to this. While there is a sense in which the "you gave your assent" in a democracy, it's not sufficient to cover the obligation of obedience owed to the state. He explicitly separates out the obligation from the Hobbesian and Lockean notions of the "origin" of it as through an assent.

      For one thing, it applies to all of the governmental forms, including monarchy and aristocracy as well as democracy. And for another, you are obliged to obey EVEN IF you didn't willingly give your assent: children, for example, don't have the capacity to assent or not, and yet are obliged to follow the laws. And a rebellious sort of child, when he becomes an adult and dislikes being under the state's authority, he is still obliged to obey.

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    2. Come to think of it, it seems to me inconsistent to support the death penalty on the other hand, and on the other support fleeing the death penalty on the ground that the sentence is unjust. For hardly anyone would consider their death sentence just. If death penalty can be carried out, only if everyone agrees, then it would never be executed.

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    3. I don't think Dr. Feser supports the death penalty when unjust when the whole point is about justice.

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    4. @Nemo

      Interesting. Would your argument be more of a prudence point like "you know, perhaps the fact that i'am the one being punished is screwing my judgment, maybe it is a just sentence and i can't see it, so i should not flee?

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    5. One of the arguments against the death penalty is that it is bound to be unjust for some people, given the flaws of the judicial systems and the fallibility of the jurors. So if one supports the death penalty, he would have to accept this injustice as part of the package, so to speak.
      He cannot turn around and justify the practice of fleeing the death penalty on the ground that the verdict is unjust.

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    6. Come to think of it, it seems to me inconsistent to support the death penalty on the other hand, and on the other support fleeing the death penalty on the ground that the sentence is unjust.

      It is well known that Dr. Feser supports the death penalty in the cases of extreme gravity of crime adequately proven at law. As do I. The issue is not whether the criminal "thinks the penalty is just", but whether the criminal (and the rest of society) can see by observation that the conviction and penalty were arrived at through the ordinarily just means of an appropriately followed just process of accusation, trial, and sentencing. (And by "appropriately followed" I mean not that the authorities pretended to follow the rules, like communist dictators sometimes do, but that they ACTUALLY followed the rules both in letter and in spirit, with access to third-party appeal, etc.) The fact that criminals often don't consent to being punished is not relevant to whether an upright citizen should be willing to accept the result of a trial and sentencing procedure that was justly followed but happened to arrive at the wrong result from accidental causes.

      And, unlike communist dictatorships, nations should not normally prevent its own people from fleeing systemic injustice, so if a person is predicting that he is about to to undergo an unjust procedure due to a basic social disorder (e.g. bad laws), he notionally should be able to flee the country BEFORE that procedure is started, without moral fault. In some cases the person might be better-advised to fight the unjust laws (even knowing he very probably won't win) than to flee, but this is exactly the sort of thing that is prudential in kind and may sit differently for different individuals.

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    7. Tony wrote, "The fact that criminals often don't consent to being punished is not relevant to whether an upright citizen should be willing to accept the result of a trial and sentencing procedure that was justly followed but happened to arrive at the wrong result from accidental causes.

      You touch upon the notion of due process of law. It was part of my point about the trial of Socrates: The guilty verdict is reached through due process of law. Since he has implicitly agreed to abide by the laws of Athens, including its jury trial system, he is obligated to comply with the verdict. Socrates is a "criminal" in the eye of the law. Whether he or other people, upright or not, think the verdict is unjust doesn't count, legally speaking. (To put it differently in the words of the late Justice Scalia, due process of law is a procedural guarantee, not a substantial guarantee.)

      As I mentioned in previous comments in this thread, the individual has the right to leave the country if he believes the judicial system is fundamentally unjust. but not because he would be convicted by due application of the law otherwise accepted by him and the general public as just.

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    8. @Nemo

      I see. Would it not be fair to argue that, just as a child has the right, perhaps even a obligation, to somehow denounce abusive parents and fight against the abuses on the ways possible even while still having the duty to obey they normally, that Socrates had the duty to obey the athenian law normally but that this was not so when it acted completely unjustly against he?

      Your view seems to work very well with a sort of legal positivism, where there is nothing above the legal and all that. But when we take in to account the fact that there is a Law supremely above any human law them it is aways possible than the two will conflict.

      A possible objection would be that if we alowed that them we would have oppened a path to any criminal escaping justice for conscience reasons, but that only seems to be a big problem on a very pluralistic society, where there is a lot of moral views. Well, a problem for pluralism them.

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    9. Your view seems to work very well with a sort of legal positivism, where there is nothing above the legal and all that. But when we take in to account the fact that there is a Law supremely above any human law them it is always possible than the two will conflict.

      Right. And ex post facto law seems to be a pretty good example of a defeater for the notion that "whatever the positive law says right now" defines justice. Another is that such a view would make it irrational to ever CHANGE the laws, and yet everyone who proposes legal positivism is fine with changing laws.

      Since he has implicitly agreed to abide by the laws of Athens, including its jury trial system, he is obligated to comply with the verdict. Socrates is a "criminal" in the eye of the law.

      Even if we grant the "compact" theory you use to state the case, this STILL leaves Socrates' case different from that of Aristotle, who was not convicted. Yes, he was not convicted because he fled, but that's still legally different. Maybe Aristotle was cowardly in fleeing, but his case was not morally nor legally identical to that of Socrates after he was convicted and sentenced to death.

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    10. Talmid wrote, "just as a child has the right, perhaps even a obligation, to somehow denounce abusive parents and fight against the abuses"

      There are a few objections to that line of argument:

      First, it is anachronistic to apply modern Western standard of right parent-child relation to the ancient world. For example, in the Mosaic Law, obedience to parent is placed immediately after worship due to God, before everything else. A disobedient child can be stoned to death. (How many would live to adulthood if that law were strictly enforced today?)

      Second, even if we set side ancient customs and laws, it has not been established that a child has the right to fight against the parent, on what ground and who decides. A child is supposed to obey his parents, at least normally, partly because he cannot discern right from wrong. So it is ultimately left to the State to judge whether the parent has abused the child. Is that just?

      You wrote, "when we take in to account the fact that there is a Law supremely above any human law"

      Even so, it doesn't follow that what each individual thinks is just is consistent with the Supreme Law, and therefore trumps the laws of the society. The Rule of Law means that all obey the same laws, consented to beforehand by all, not that each individual obeys his own law.

      When we take into account Christian morality, the Socratic principle of suffering wrong rather than doing wrong is consistent with the teachings in the NT (1 Corinthians 6 and 1 Peter 2), not to mention the example of Jesus Himself.

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    11. @Nemo

      Hi! You truly is a interesting thinker. I did comment before but it seems it did not make it. Well...

      "First, it is anachronistic to apply modern Western standard of right parent-child relation to the ancient world. For example, in the Mosaic Law, obedience to parent is placed immediately after worship due to God, before everything else. A disobedient child can be stoned to death. (How many would live to adulthood if that law were strictly enforced today?)"

      Exactly, obedience to parents come after obedience to God. I can't remember a example of a disobedient righteous kid on Sacred Scripture*, but Jonathan did disobey his father to protect King David and it was a good act.

      Of course, Jonathan was a adult, but was under his father Saul authority, so this example is a bit closer to what i defend is morally possible, even if it does not make it.

      "Second, even if we set side ancient customs and laws, it has not been established that a child has the right to fight against the parent, on what ground and who decides. A child is supposed to obey his parents, at least normally, partly because he cannot discern right from wrong. So it is ultimately left to the State to judge whether the parent has abused the child. Is that just?"

      Yes, i would say it is. The State has the obligation to grant the common good, which necessitates the protection of the weak and the good work of families, both actions that can be helped by protecting kids of bad parents.

      Besides, a uncle, grandma, family friend, teacher etc could help the child. We tend to think about the State doing all, but it does not need to be so.

      "Even so, it doesn't follow that what each individual thinks is just is consistent with the Supreme Law, and therefore trumps the laws of the society. The Rule of Law means that all obey the same laws, consented to beforehand by all, not that each individual obeys his own law."

      I admit that this is a very good point: individuals can
      be wrong about ethics and this is not uncommon, especially if it is convenient to err. But if we pick a place with a shared morality like Ancient Athens and use the morality as the basis of the criticism, kinda like the prophets, i could see it being useful to prevent some mistakes.

      While letting people disobey the State can lead to fleeing justice, we can also create situations were opression is not fighted because people refuse in principle to disobey. This seems a bit of a Prudential decision.

      *now that i think about that, very few kids did anything in the Bible

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    12. Talmid wrote, "Jonathan did disobey his father to protect King David and it was a good act."

      Yet, when his father almost killed him in a rage because of it, Jonathan did not fight back. It is interesting to ponder where the line is drawn and why.

      As for the State "protecting kids of bad parents", that assumes the State knows good parenting and has the authority to step in, but these conditions have yet to be established. The same goes for the relatives of the child.

      You wrote, " we pick a place with a shared morality like Ancient Athens and use the morality as the basis of the criticism,"

      Yes.The laws of the society reflect "shared morality", at least to some extent, I think, and that's why they should be obeyed.

      I understand the concern for fighting oppression and injustice, but it is all too easy and common to replace one form of injustice and oppression with another, especially when individuals accept no authority but themselves.

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    13. @Nemo

      "Yet, when his father almost killed him in a rage because of it, Jonathan did not fight back. It is interesting to ponder where the line is drawn and why."

      That is quite a good point, actually. While it would not go as far as showing that obedience is aways due it is very relevant when discussing rebellion. Thanks!

      David himself could illustrate it as well, seeing how he was not exactly letting the king kill him but he also refused to kill him and take the throne.

      "As for the State "protecting kids of bad parents", that assumes the State knows good parenting and has the authority to step in, but these conditions have yet to be established. The same goes for the relatives of the child."

      There are situations and situations. Sometimes anyone can see it and sometimes there is nothing to see. I don't think we can put a general rule here.

      And i truly can understand what your point is, especially seeing the disaster that group protestes can be, but it seems to me that, like Bishop Barron said, that the hebrews clearly defended that there is a Authority above the State, and this has to be considered on our analysis of Socrates case, even if we take the prudent route.

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    14. Talmid,

      My point is not that "obedience is always due" to the State nor that there is no Supreme Law. If that were the case, Socrate wouldn't have to think so long and hard about it. On the contrary, it is precisely because Socrates believes there is a Supreme Law, which requires his obedience to the laws of the State, that he decides to submit to the death sentence.

      There are so many components in Plato's argument in Crito, it is easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees and vice versa. I'll try to explain it from a different angle:

      On the one hand, Socrates has implicitly acknowledged that laws of the State are just and agreed to abide by them.

      On the other hand, when the just and generally applicable laws are applied to Socrates, he is unjustly convicted and sentenced to death.

      So here is a conflict between the demands of justice, which requires the arbitration by a superior law. For Socrates, the superior law is that one ought to suffer injustice rather than committing injustice (which I think is consistent with the teaching of Jesus). That is why he decided to submit to the death sentence.

      It is the Platonic ideal that man ought to always act in accord with reason, even and especially in matters of life and death. People who accept no authority but themselves do not follow reason, and are in this (Platonic) sense tyrants unto themselves and others.

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    15. I see. I would disagree with Socrates, though, that fleeing on this particilar case was commiting injustice, for there are limits to what the State can reasonably ask and these were broken when they decided to kill him.

      His theory is alright, it seems that the dificult is in the aplication. Once you have a sentence that the State can give, you have no right to flee.

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    16. Talmid wrote, "there are limits to what the State can reasonably ask and these were broken when they decided to kill him."

      If the "limits" are agreed upon by both sides, then yes, they cannot be broken. In Socrates' case, the agreement is that the State can sentence him to death (through due process of law). If he flees, he breaks the contract.

      This issue is especially relevant today, because it is all too easy for one group to say that there are "limits" to the rights of some other group, when those "limits" are not agreed upon by both sides, and are therefore invalid.

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  15. Miguel CervantesMay 2, 2022 at 8:28 AM

    Timely observations. There is a growing tendency among some conservatives to sympathise with the enemies of the West.

    I think there's a range of positions between acquiescence and outright disloyalty to one's country or civilisation. There's also the distinction between governments and the countries themselves. Modernity presents us with a situation Saint Thomas Aquinas was not familiar with; governments that actively and openly subvert the nation and Christian civilisation.

    In the early modern period, however, openly subversive governments appeared and the Church did not waste time in providing the necessary rationale for combattng them. The Baroque theory of resistance, especially developed in Rome and in the French Catholic League, the theories of Suarez and Mariana etc., provided the principles guiding the overthrow of such governments and the renovation of the state. This is not to say we should consider such actions now, but in the Catholic mind such a course is an acceptable final resort in an extreme situation, whereas abandoning our country or civilisation is unthinkable, let alone siding with its enemies, which some conservatives are doing over the invasion of Ukraine.

    It's necessary to respectfully criticise religious superiors when they make serious mistakes regarding the faith. I've done it on occasion; they really don't like it! However inelegantly one puts up with their furious reactions, it's always worthwhile. In the end, these issues get properly resolved because the error in question hasn't been allowed to go on without causing "trouble". As this post points out, the truth wins out eventually. That's been my experience.

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    1. Miguel Cervantes wrote, "The Baroque theory of resistance, especially developed in Rome and in the French Catholic League. "

      Just out of curiosity, and pardon my ignorance, could you briefly explain this theory?

      BTW, why "Miguel Cervantes" of all people?

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    2. Miguel CervantesMay 3, 2022 at 9:06 AM

      Nemo, unfortunately these theories don't get the attention they deserve. Robert Bellarmine and Francisco Suarez, opposing the absolutism advocated by James I of England, pursued a scholastic approach that saw society as the political effect of man's social nature. Political arrangements were to serve the common good and society had it within itself to establish the political dispensation most suitable. This opposed the mythical, almost magical accounts given by the new “divine right” ideologies of the time.

      The Baroque theorists not only confronted tyrannical rulers who espoused new religions and oppressed the Church; theorists in France, England and other countries developed ideologies that divinised society itself. These theories still admitted the existence of divine and natural law in theory, but when they were infringed, society was allowed no recourse in practice (Bodin and his absolute sovereign power). A view was adopted that civil society and the Church were one and the same society (Richard Hooker, Edmond Richer). The English jurist Hooker thought the Church was simply civil society at prayer. The monarch was therefore head of the Church and subject to nothing but the “law”, but the highest interpretation of such things was the Monarch in Parliament. Hooker’s ideas were very influential in the English establishment, and later, on Edmund Burke, down to the notion of civil society as “an immortal being” (invented by Hooker), something falsely appropriated from the nature of the Church itself. The divinisation of civil society damaged the religiosity of society and the Church.

      Baroque theorists argued that civil society and the monarch were subject to divine and natural law, and that these things could only be authoritatively and definitively be established by the universal Church. This placed limits on the theories of absolute monarchy and civil society being developed in France and England. In addition, they provided mechanisms for legitimate resistance to the state – including the overthrow of political leadership - when its contraventions of these things were denounced by the Church.

      Miguel de Cervantes was the great enemy of myth and ideology. In Don Quixote we see a depiction of society where myth and ideology are absent; Don Quixote is truly alone in a world of Catholic realists. In such a society, the believer in myth can easily look mad – but the protagonist converts in the end. In the modern West, believers in myth and fantasy are the majority, and old Don Quijote probably wouldn’t stand out. In 1605, however, Catholic realism was hegemonic. Cervantes’ own view of the world and religion is freely given in the partly autobiographical account contained within the work, called “The Captive’s Tale”.

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    3. Miguel Cervantes,

      Thank you for the brief summary. Locke quoted Hooker so extensively in his treatises on government, it's not clear which, if any, ideas of Locke were original. But I didn't find Locke's notion of "rights" persuasive in the least, and so lost interest in tracing its origin

      About Cervantes, why do you think his book wasn't banned by the Spanish Inquisition, as it seems to parody Catholic beliefs and practices of his time, such as penance, self-flagellation, deliverance of souls from purgatory, etc?

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    4. Miguel CervantesMay 3, 2022 at 11:49 PM

      No worries. I don't think Cervantes parodied these things. Where exactly do you think he does?

      The procession of hooded penitents or nazarenos attacked by Don Quijote run off and in that situation look amusing, but it can't be construed as ridicule of processions as such. The Inquisition itself is the subject of humour when Don Quijote's parish priest conducts an inspection of his library, consigning most books to the fire, but pardoning many for reasons that are clearly not serious. It's funny precisely because it contrasts with the work of the Inquisition at the time, which was respected by society, starting with Cervantes. The Tale of the Captive illustrates this when it recounts in matter-of-fact fashion the reconciliation of the Christian renegade - including the prescribed administrative step of a visit to the Inquisition.

      Don Quijote is surrounded by Catholic realists, not Catholic saints. Cervantes depicts all his characters as thoroughly human. There's none of the religious cynicism of a Moliere here.

      Don Quijote gives lot of great speeches, some of which are myth and ideology, but many are sound, intelligent accounts, often of Catholic doctrine. Cervantes (and the novel's characters) never fail to note when it's sense and when it's nonsense. Every time, Cervantes writes as the believer who upholds truth. He never waivers. Not for him the disease of most artists of modernity, who seem to be allergic to truth and doctrine, despite supposedly being concerned with beauty, which is related to truth. There's a problem for philosophy to study.

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    5. Miguel Cervantes wrote, "Where exactly do you think he does?"

      The penance in the nude by Don Quixote, and the shows at the Duke's castle and the tricks the Duke played on Don Quixote, which seem to me to parody self-flagellation, deliverance from purgatory and resurrection, etc.

      (I read it recently and posted a short review at my blog. Judging by your comment, I might have misunderstood Cervantes).

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    6. Miguel CervantesMay 5, 2022 at 6:13 AM

      Nemo, I saw it as the unpleasantness of mockers; but they were mocking Don Quijote, not Christian beliefs. Modern interpretations of this work, which began two hundred years after its appearance, have distorted our view. Nobody seems to want to take Cervantes at his word when he announces the purpose of this work in the preface.

      This is part of a general scholarly effort (led by Maragall and Abellan) to discredit the Baroque generally. By including in "Baroque culture" even the ideas and culture of its enemies (just because they belonged to the same period or adopted the trappings of hegemonic Baroque art forms), the Baroque becomes entirely incoherent. The general line now is that it was an irrational effort to fight the inevitable tide of "modernity", and Don Quixote, instead of being the prototype of modernity's myths and illusions, becomes the symbol of the Baroque. In this interpretation, Cervantes is really Don Quijote. If only he'd known about these literary experts - he would have found a good place for them in his book.

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    7. Miguel CervantesMay 5, 2022 at 6:21 AM

      That's José Antonio Maravall and José Luis Abellán

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    8. Miguel Cervantes wrote, "I saw it as the unpleasantness of mockers; but they were mocking Don Quijote, not Christian beliefs."

      Don Quixote claimed that he was following the footsteps of Jesus and His disciples -one might even say that Jesus was the first Knight Errant. If it wasn't Cervantes' intention to mock Christian beliefs and practices, why did he make Quixote say such things, and then subject him to mockery?

      You obviously know more than I do about Cervantes and the times he lived in, so I'm curious about your take on this.

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    9. Miguel CervantesMay 7, 2022 at 5:23 AM

      Nemo, I'm no expert, but when the narrator in this work speaks, I feel like a fish in water. It's hard to see where the protagonist was ever subjected to mockery for saying sensible things, which he regularly did. The author and his characters often remarked on his habit of sprouting sense or incoherence, depending on the time. Some of this was due to impaired judgement - how to apply his knowledge of things that happened to be true. But there were many instances of false ideas as well, and these are treated with incredulity or derision by the people around him. Of course, Don Quijote had a likeable personality and a good will and these enabled him to overcome the ideas that had addled his brain - "dried" it out, as Cervantes says. The danger of false ideas!

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    10. Miguel Cervantes wrote, "But there were many instances of false ideas as well, and these are treated with incredulity or derision by the people around him"

      So it is possible that Cervantes thought some of the contemporary ideas about Christianity were false, and so he subjected them to mockery in the person of Don Quixote, just as he mocked these other false ideas expressed by him?

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    11. Miguel CervantesMay 8, 2022 at 12:28 AM

      Well of course he wasn't made to voice Lutheranism or Islam - the adventure wouldn't have gone past the front door in that place and time.Indeed, the Spanish just weren't interested in heresy. For them it was something wrong that needed to be fought but above all, dumb. What Cervantes had in mind was the spirit of the Renaissance and the beginnings of ideology. Don Quixote is still a believer, but in him the Faith has to compete with other beliefs, and ideologies of earthly utopias.

      For example, there is his long harangue to the goatherds, where he longs for the restoration of a "golden age" where property was in common and women wore revealing clothing. The goatherds listen to all this gaping in amazement and saying nothing. Then they ask him to join in some food and music. I think that sums it up.

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  16. Socrates was assassinated when he criticized his country. But you can do it if you like. Plato claims that he did not do that in Crete because he was so loyal to the critics and wanted to destroy it. Aristotle, for example, was not obliged to flee from Socrates, so he did not commit two crimes against the Athenian philosophy. According to modern Orthodoxy, Western nations must bear the burden of selfishness, and Catholics must leave the church or renounce obedience because of the weight of the human body.

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  17. I have a couple of brief comments.

    For any who have any lingering sympathy for that old pederast Socrates, a sympathy inherited presumably from boiler plate references of previous generations of educators to the "great men and moral geniuses" of the past to whom we owed a respectful deference, I suggest reading I. F. Stone's, "The Trial of Socrates".

    Yes, I know that I.F. Stone has himself shall we say, an "interesting" and somewhat veiled past.

    And too, I am willing to admit that we basically know Socrates only, or mainly, through Plato, but the closer I view his personal sensibilities, the more I feel like punching him in the face. "You want to commit suicide, Socrates, instead of proposing a less ridiculous and insulting fine to the court, or migrating to another polity? Then, please, be my pest."

    Next: "our rulers".
    Here in the United States, we don't have, or did not have, and still do not have in any morally obliging sense, "rulers"

    We have conceptually, The Rule of Law, and various officers and governors charged with enforcing the rule of that law. Office holders are in no sense sovereign: they have only delegated authority within absolute limits. Anything more, and they become rogue, or the polity itself becomes so corrupt that it cannot even pretend to claim an honest citizen's allegiance.

    There are undoubtedly, numerous polities in the world which are the outgrowths of "natural societies", of organic nations: The United States is not one of them. Whatever sympathy I might possess for my fellow man, it is not directed through the artifice of the polity: which exists - in this American instance - specifically to fulfill certain circumscribed and impersonally distributive functions. Anything more is per definition illegitimate, even if seemingly acquiesced to by a meek, weak and increasingly peasant-like population.

    Lastly, the formulation of natural right as, roughly, "... a claim against interference in pursuing those ends proper to us a human beings ..." is not tautological.

    The term "right" in the sense we are using it is a legal term; or at least a proto-legal term denoting a particular set of informing conditions understood as moral rules. The right refers not to the forces propres themselves as old Marx might have termed them, but the bedrock morality of their exercise; in this case there being a conceptual immunity from their being lawfully interfered with.

    There are some areas wherein the law may not tread or decree without becoming an enemy of itself, or at least of the conditions generating its possibility in the first place.

    To say that a law, specifically a statute, is unlawful, is not nonsense in a constitutional polity which was born out of an ultimately natural law predicate. It may seem mysterious to those from parliamentary systems where Parliament is sovereign; or those from countries like Germany, where the so-called "Basic Law" may be modified by acts of the legislature.

    But the hierarchy of laws is nothing mysterious, and was grasped with perfect clarity by Albert Venn Dicey, in his justly famous Introduction to the Law of the Constitution, wherein he recognized that although the so-called constitution of the United Kingdom was just as amenable to change or abolition as the "Dentists Act", the situation of the American Constitution was very different and stood as a law above and conditioning all other law making [at the Federal level at least]

    For those who still have trouble grasping the concept of the lawfulness of laws, reflect on the legitimacy of a statute that commanded that you jump straight up in the air 14 feet, three times a day or else pay a ruinous fine; or a law commanding that you take a breath only every 30 seconds.

    I would recommend a review of the famous debates between Herbert Hart and Lon Fuller, described in Fuller's book, 'The Morality of Law" for those who wish to grasp what might constitute in general the minimal rules for rule making

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    1. DNW wrote, "For any who have any lingering sympathy for that old pederast Socrates,"

      As a coward, idolater and murderer, I have not just sympathy, but respect, for that old pederast.
      ...
      DNW wrote, "The closer I view his personal sensibilities, the more I feel like punching him in the face. "You want to commit suicide, Socrates, instead of proposing a less ridiculous and insulting fine to the court, or migrating to another polity? Then, please, be my pest."

      First of all, Socrate's body was trained to endure the hardship of war and inclement weather. He was commended by the Athenians for his bravery in war. So if the two of you really get into a fight, I suspect you would be the punching bag, not him. But, he would not punch you, instead he would conquer you with civility and reason.

      Second, regarding "ridiculous and insulting fine": Priests are supported by the State because they supposedly serve the public interest. Socrates spends his life serving the god and the public with his philosophy, while not receiving any payment from private individuals. Why is it ridiculous and insulting for the State to support such a man?

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    2. Nemo quotes me,

      " 'DNW wrote, "For any who have any lingering sympathy for that old pederast Socrates, ' "

      [Then Nemo writes in response]: "As a coward, idolater and murderer, I have not just sympathy, but respect, for that old pederast."

      Nemo, I don't know what to make of your public professions of cowardice, idolatry, and murder. But I will take you at your word on that, and grant you too your admiration for the old bald headed, snub nosed, boy-molester.

      Thank goodness Plato seems to have outgrown him by the time Plato wrote "The Laws". None of that "Rival Lovers" puke there.

      Next, we can ignore the part of your response about Socrates beating me up. I just happen to doubt it for reasons we need not go into.

      Lastly, I cannot quite make the connection you are proposing between a publicly supported priesthood and the activities of Socrates.

      You mention, "serving the god". The god Socrates served was, according to him, his personal daemon.

      What public recompense he should have rightfully expected from the polity he was subverting as a reward for serving his own daemon, is less than clear to me.

      One might reasonably argue that death is a rather severe punishment for a conviction on the charge of impiety. But maybe not so much on the corruption of youth part of it; considering the ugly old bugger's supposed proclivities.

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    3. DNW wrote, "Nemo, I don't know what to make of your public professions of cowardice, idolatry, and murder."

      I guess I should have said "like everybody else", but that would be understood only by a Christian-ish reader.

      You wrote, "You mention, "serving the god". The god Socrates served was, according to him, his personal daemon."

      Socrates was serving Apollo, who said nobody was wiser than he, who kew nothing. His service of Athens was to show the wise that they were not. Come to think of it, this kind of service would do some good today, if it is not too late.

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    4. DNW wrote, "One might reasonably argue that death is a rather severe punishment for a conviction on the charge of impiety. But maybe not so much on the corruption of youth part of it; considering the ugly old bugger's supposed proclivities."

      I didn't respond to this because pederasty is off-topic, but, "silence gives consent", so I think it appropriate to clear the air, so to speak, and dispel any misconceptions readers might have about Socrates:

      There is no evidence that Socrates had sexual relationship with any Athenian youths. He was physically attracted to beautiful youths (as vividly described in Chamides), but, his supreme self-control (cultivated with long practice, no doubt) kept him from succumbing to the temptations, if we believe Plato's account. Socrates also rejected repeated sexual advances from Alcibiades, an Athenian youth famed for his beauty and ambition, among other things (see Symposium).

      The "corruption of youth" charge against Socrates was not for pederasty, as it was an accepted custom in ancient Greece and Rome.
      In contrast, impiety is punishable by death, for it directly endangers the State by bringing down the wrath of the gods upon it. Presumably, Socrates "corrupted" the Athenians with his "impious" philosophy. So in an act of self-preservation, the Athenians sentenced him to death.

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    5. "He was physically attracted to beautiful youths (as vividly described in Chamides), but, his supreme self-control (cultivated with long practice, no doubt) kept him from succumbing to the temptations, if we believe Plato's account.

      "Temptation" and "long practice"; laughing out loud here.

      Yeah, so your argument strategy regarding the Gadfly of the Dialogs, is to acknowledge he is a pervert, but to give him credit for restraining himself in public, even when he gets a peek inside the garments of the youth he has been excitedly waiting to meet.

      And just what we are to assume occurs once the curtains fall on our little plays is another matter too, given the lines Socrates utters on stage about the so-called pleasures which he giddily describes pederasty as affording the molester.

      Now, scholarly opinion seems to be, ahem, undecided as to whether Socrates was buggering boys off stage, or whether he was mastering his perverted lust everywhere and always - not just in the immediate context of the dialog - in pursuit of more sublime and noble goals.

      Frankly, I think that one has to engage in some pretty fast footwork to arrive at the conclusion that Socrates univerally avoided practicing on principle, that which he both praised and craved.

      And by the way, his analogies often seem quite as sophistical as those we might expect from the Sophists themselves. Ship of State and a captain? Really?

      The guy's snaking around looking for boys to groom creeps one out. Kind of the same way Walt Whitman's cruising the Civil War hospital wards does.

      He may have been.marginally less bad than Ernst Rohm, though.

      I'll leave that to others to weigh.

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    6. DNW wrote, "scholarly opinion seems to be, ahem, undecided as to whether Socrates was buggering boys off stage, or whether he was mastering his perverted lust everywhere and always - not just in the immediate context of the dialog - in pursuit of more sublime and noble goals."

      You give a fair summary of the case, in spite of your apparent aversion to Socrates. Kudos to you. (FWIW, I've found your comments in this thread informative, even entertaining, if I may say so, although some of them went over my head, and others I disagree with.)

      Two points from my perspective:
      First, regarding Socrate "off-stage". If nothing else, the trial shows that Socrates was not afraid of public opinion. Even if he was, there was no need for him to behave differently on and off stage, if he wanted to indulge his lust, as pederasty was accepted in ancient Greece.

      Second, regarding whether Socrates mastered his lust always and everywhere. It is the Platonic ideal that man can master his desires and passions with reason, and direct them toward noble goals. But, as Marcus Aurelius observed, men tend to disbelieve deeds which they are unable to achieve themselves. So I choose to take Socrates at his word, until he is proven guilty.

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    7. "You give a fair summary of the case, in spite of your apparent aversion to Socrates. Kudos to you. (FWIW, I've found your comments in this thread informative, even entertaining, if I may say so, although some of them went over my head, and others I disagree with ..."

      Well, this wrapped up on a somewhat more upbeat note than I might have expected.

      You are correct that I do have an aversion to Socrates. Granting of course, that what we are always referring to here is his personality as reported mainly by Plato. So it may be a character as much as a man to whom I have that aversion.

      Xenophon, has him as a helpful neighbor, full of useful advice, and leaving everyone he met a little healthier and happier and better informed for having encountered him.

      But in fact I have more than a simple aversion to Socrates. To be honest it is a hostility and contempt, formed both by both adult reasoning and by early sentiment.

      I find it nearly comical myself, that from the time I first read about him as not much more than a "pre-teen", I disliked him. Probably it was in part due to suffering all those conventional wisdom and obligatory passing-reference encomiums celebrating his greatness in whatever history text one happened to be reading. We read crap like: "Civilization's great religious figures of the past; Jesus, Mohammad, Socrates, and Buddha ... blah blah blah " In other words the repetitive sing-song of the secularist inclusion mongering universalizing historian.

      So we are to put Jesus, and that fat little bald guy who drank hemlock and killed himself because he he had some bizarre self-destructive allegiance to the state in the same category?

      Socrates didn't sound like anyone my ancestors who fought, and probably slew, the British would have thought much of.

      By the time I had finished my historical studies in college and read through the dialogs, I recognized that my prejudices were in that case at least, sound.

      I. F. Stone's work capped my contempt for the homoerotic little gadfly's contretemps.

      Now, do I think that there was good cause and reason for a counter/anti-sophist movement to arise in Greece to oppose the mercenary cynicism of the rhetoricians and their disciples? Sure.

      But I also think that Socrates was as much an enemy of yeoman virtue - insofar as it, or something like it, existed in Greece - as he was of the cynics and demagogues.

      Aristotle may have been right, that a certain portion of any human population may be akin to cud chewing grazing animals. But that does not mean that all men are.

      Leave the cud chewing herd to the direction of their elites, and self-government to the real humans. And let each stay on its own side of the political and moral divide.

      The notion of "one humanity" and of a state admitting any and including all as enfranchised citizens, may suffer thereby.
      But better that an unrealistic theory take a beating at the hands of real men, than that real men be chained to and then die for the sake of a theory.

      There is one good thing at least about a contract-theory form of government; in those relatively rare historical instances where such a government is instituted and truly applies: You get to choose your peers and commitments, and no bloody outsider or incompetent has any right to have a say in it.

      At the very least anyway, you get to choose what dead albatrosses you are going to wear around your neck.

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    8. DNW wrote, "Well, this wrapped up on a somewhat more upbeat note than I might have expected."

      Yeah, considering it started with talks about punching people in the face and war. :)

      You wrote, "Socrates didn't sound like anyone my ancestors who fought, and probably slew, the British would have thought much of"

      Most people from America that I've met in online forums like this have an aversion to Socrates, and I never quite understood why. Now that you mention it, Socrates has a point when he argues that the State contributes a great deal to the formation of its citizens: we are shaped by the beliefs, practices and prejudices of our ancestors and elders one way or another, whether we realize it or not.

      One advantage of living in a pluralistic country, or failing that, reading or travelling widely, is that we get to see things from different perspectives, and hopefully identify and overcome our own blindspots.

      One of the problems nowadays, AFAICT, is that there seems to be no common ground between different groups, no foundation for productive discussions or debates to build a consensus. For example, I once watched a debate between Dr. Feser and a Humean philosopher. It was a civil discussion all right, but because they were starting from so completely different presuppositions that they ended up talking past each other. If highly-educated people can't reach mutual understanding, let alone consensus, by reasoning, what can be expected from the rest?

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  18. Nice post, there truly seems to be a sort of tendency on the modern right to give up too easily on saving were we live. Seeing how modern thought influences even on these circles it does make sense. Besides the incorrect view of the State that is described here, there seems to be also on the conservatives a too wordly view of things, as if history had no Writer who could change things if He wants even when it is impossible to men.


    And the post takes me to two questions:

    1. Looking at natural law theory only, is there a level where a government is not legitimate? Were you should actually work to take it down?

    Several governments nowdays became what they are by probably injust revolutions or by conquests, tend to put laws on places that only custom had authority to regulate back them, foolish regard their authority as only limited by their constitutions(a sort of self-limitation) ignore natural law and any idea of duties to Gld, and have rights against the population that the ancients would only associate with tirants, quite diferent from what someone like Aristotle would imagine as a State,so i wonder of there is a line that can't be crossed.

    2. If we take catholicism into account, is there a level were government is not legitimate?

    Remembering how p
    Pagan Rome was defended by the early Church when it was not being a direct problem to christians, i wonder of there is a limit here or if St. Peter commant to submit to even a evil master does apply.

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    1. Regarding the last: St. Paul in the letter to Timothy advised respect and loyalty for the very polity that was putting him in prison and for which he was at risk of death. I think it is pretty clear he upholds the idea of a good Christian allowing the state to enact at least some unjust actions - even to the extent of the death penalty - without that representing a basis for overthrowing the state. The behavior of the martyrs in the following 2 1/2 centuries bears out the same conclusion.

      Nevertheless, the Church seems to agree that conditions CAN get so bad that disobedience, and even revolt to overturn the government can become morally available or even an obligation. On the one hand, at times the pope issued proclamations that a certain king was excommunicated and divested of his royal authority, and obedience to him was no longer required. (The fact that these proclamations rarely had much worthwhile effect is an interesting sidelight.) On the other hand, Pope John Paul II clearly (though subtly) strongly supported the Polish Solidarity movement and its long-range goal of kicking out the Russians and getting rid of the communist dictatorship - which (rather shockingly, from a historical / statistical standpoint) they accomplished without the massive violence of open war. So, I think that at least as Church teaching represents it, the natural law supports the idea that a so-called government that isn't governing rightly to an extreme degree can be treated as "not the government" and can be resisted. The question is, what are the criteria that establish the "extreme degree". There is no general principles for that (as far as I know) other than the OVERLY general principle: when the government is not ruling for the common good, and even then it is ambiguous as to whether the "for" in that is meant in the sense "the ruler does not intend 'the common good' but rather personal goods", or the sense that "the ruler's IDEA of 'the common good' is too distant from the actual common good to serve". Or something else.

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    2. That is quite interesting, Tony, the diference between the early martyrs and St. John Paul seems quite a theme.

      I wonder if the diferent political situations cause the diference, for most of the early martyrs had no chance of ending the empire and when it was more possible keeping the empire seemed better than letting the barbarians win.

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    3. In the period of the really early martyrs – the Apostles, for instance – there was no question of ‘letting the barbarians win’, as the barbarians were everywhere in retreat and the Empire was incomparably the strongest power in the known world.

      I should say, rather, that SS. Peter and Paul and the rest were determined to bear witness to the Gospel even at the cost of their own deaths, because the living Truth is eternal, and as such, bound to prevail even over the Empire in the end. ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away,’ etc. St. John Paul exhorted the Polish people to bear witness to the Gospel in the face of Soviet persecution, likewise because the Truth is eternal and bound to prevail in the end. It was merely his good fortune (and Poland’s) that the empire set against them was weak and quickly perished, so that they lived to see the fruits of their faithfulness.

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  19. According to today's standards, Socrates could perfectly well be a 'woman trapped inside a man's body' and therefore a 'victim of the patriarchy'. He was not imprisoned because of his philosophy, but because 'he' was really a 'woman' and hated for having 'her' own thoughts.

    Welcome to the West, Socrates. You would be drinking the hemlock again if you were born into this insane and decadent pestilence.

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  20. I agree with the general spirit of this post. I’m curious, though, about the conditions where the presumption in favor of being willing to suffer injustice for one’s country might be overridden: are there any concrete real or hypothetical examples on offer that would manifest a clear case where “injustice has too deeply permeated the basic institutions of one’s country” that this presumption would be overridden, or which demonstrated that our judicial system had become so contrary to the natural law that we no longer owed allegiance to our country?

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    1. I think that the example of Communist Poland, and the resistance by the Polish Solidarity movement, is a concrete example of the kind of deeply unjust government that was rightly overturned. But there, we must note that the Poles in Solidarity were rejecting the unjust government, not "allegiance to their country". They were patriots who loved Poland itself.

      As an example of laws harboring deep injustices that DO NOT represent a reason to overturn the government as a whole: As I understand it, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (as opposed to the BLM jerks) intentionally resisted unjust laws in the hopes of changing those laws, but did not advocate overthrowing the US constitutional order itself. He wanted change to the laws, within and under that order.

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    2. It is worth noting, in this context, that the rulers of Athens who tried Socrates had themselves recently overturned the government as a whole. The Periclean democracy was overthrown by Sparta in the debacle of the Peloponnesian War, and an oligarchy forcibly instituted in its place. When the oligarchy in turn was overthrown, the next regime indiscriminately punished all sorts of people who were thought to be too friendly with the deposed oligarchs, or likely to oppose the revolution. In effect, Socrates was sentenced to death by a Committee of Public Safety that had established itself by violence and maintained itself in power by the same means.

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  21. [S]ome right-wingers have judged that “wokeness” has so thoroughly corrupted our country and civilization that they no longer merit our loyalty. And in my view this is a rash and irresponsible judgment. … [I]t is, to say the least, premature to judge that this menace will win the day, as is manifest from the revulsion that its excesses have generated in the electorate.

    It is certainly possible that ‘wokeness’ will be defeated. But wokeness is only the latest manifestation of (a very resilient and adaptable) advanced liberalism. Even if mainstream conservatives somehow defeat wokeness, liberalism will simply continue to metastasize under a different guise and continue to devour our society, unless these same conservatives renounce their own liberalism in toto. But this is a tall order. People like their liberalism.

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  22. "I don’t think that Socrates’ example is, in this case, one that we are bound to follow; Aristotle did no wrong in fleeing, lest Athens sin twice against philosophy."

    Socrates was an Athenian submitting to the authority of his native country. Aristotle, in contrast, was a Stagirite resident in Athens. He was never an Athenian citizen as far as I know. It was no impiety for him to leave a foreign country that threatened him.

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  23. Edward Feser writes: " ... readers, who tend to think of politics in terms of the individualist “social contract” model inherited from Hobbes and Locke, are bound to find this odd ."

    Although it has been pointed out that those adhering to a social contract or political compact model of government authority, may trace its design to a period earlier than, and to predicates differing from, Hobbes, I don't see the slightest problem with the statement quoted above.

    It merely purports to describe a situation or view obtaining in our own country or culture. And if 10 out of 100 random Americans could more or less identify Hobbes and say to some degree what was meant by the "social contract", far fewer would be familiar with earlier and more specific formulations concerning the conditional and contractual nature of governing authority.

    My guess is that the once celebrated Mayflower Compact, is hardly known by the 6th graders who were generations ago uniformly exposed to it.

    I happen to be in complete lack of sympathy with the in loco parentis framing of governmental authority. The government is our creature, not we, its. A government composed of venal manipulators and serviles, or even such a society, is not worth preserving much less sacrificing for.

    An infested Church may be a different matter. To walk away from the Church is not only to abandon the Hell bound to their fate - which may understandably be a matter of indifference to many of us - but to abandon the patrimony of the Church to the tender mercies and exploitation of the degenerate corrupt. You think their stealing Peter's Pence is bad? Just wait till the last heterosexual male shakes the dust of the Vatican off his boots, and the nesters remaining start selling off the artwork to their boy friends.

    And It is not likely that a successful Battle of Athens, aka McMinn County War, could be waged in the precincts of the Vatican. Nor would Christ likely approve.

    Anyway there is so much interesting in this latest posting by Ed that I am surprised that there are not a thousand comments by now.

    I will further say that even the social contract is variously understood. I had some Euro type once preaching it to me, and complaining that once properly understood it, we Americans should then recognize that those submitting to the Hobbsean social contract assign all of our "natural right" - as Hobbes secularly defined it - over to society in return for security and order. I responded that he might have what Hobbes had in mind correct but that Hobbes' writ didn't run here. He in turn indignantly objected that what we Americans were describing as a contract was not a social contract body and soul, but a mere treaty.

    Yes. I'd say that that about gets the idea right.

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  24. "Now, in fact Socrates is also on strong ground in comparing one’s country to one’s parents. Modern readers, who tend to think of politics in terms of the individualist “social contract” model inherited from Hobbes and Locke, are bound to find this odd. But from the point of view of classical political philosophy, for which human beings are by nature social animals, the family is the model for social life in general and parental authority the model for political authority. Hence, for Aquinas (and indeed for Catholic social teaching more generally) patriotism and a general respect for public authorities are moral duties falling under the fourth commandment."

    Jesus Christ that's so sublime. Indeed, much more than just a beautiful way of seeing it! I could only wish I had learned such a meaningful way of thinking about patriotism back in my school days. What an insightful way of seeing one's country!

    Ed, please if you could write or give me some recommendations about that point of view I would be so glad to learn more about it (fellow blog readers, any links would be welcome too)!

    May God bless us all!

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    1. Aristotle Politics and St. Thomas On Kingship would be cool.

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    2. Possibly also these books by Cicero:

      - On Duties
      - On the Republic
      - On the Laws

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    3. Hey Tadeo, those above are good books. Keep an eye out for using the name of our Lord in vain. God bless.

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    4. Here are online links to each of the books mentioned above. (Hopefully all of the links will work for you).

      Aristotle's "Politics"
      http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/politics.html

      St. Thomas Aquinas "On Kingship"
      https://isidore.co/aquinas/english/DeRegno.htm

      Cicero
      "On Duties"
      https://oll.libertyfund.org/title/cicero-on-moral-duties-de-officiis

      "Republic" (also called "Commonwealth") and "Laws"
      https://oll.libertyfund.org/title/barham-treatise-on-the-commonwealth

      For the last link, scroll down the page and you'll see a separate link to each of the two works. (Under "Members of this set").

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    5. Ed has expanded on patriotism here: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2020/07/the-virtue-of-patriotism.html

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    6. Hey, guys thank you soo much for the kind replies! I really appreciate it!

      First, I want to thank you all for being so kind and careful in helping me with this. And I want to say how grateful I am for people like you guys.

      Internet is such a hostile place, but here, in Ed's blog, I feel like I'm home. I feel very very happy to see people that are worried about - and do care about - others' intellectual growth. This really warms my heart, to see that there are still people like you guys. May God bless you all!

      I just want to reply specifically to everyone who contributed to my previous comment in this last part of my writing.

      @Talmid thank you, my fellow countryman, for your contribution!

      @Michael man, thank you soo much for your time and patience looking for the links. That's priceless, dude! I just want to thank you for this. I really mean it! Oh, and btw, the links are working perfectly! Thank you soo much for your help!

      @Journey516 Oh, I'm sorry if it sounded like that man :/ and please notice that I'm not mad or angry about your friendly advice. I just said that in the last comment because I found it soo beautiful that I think to myself "My God, thank you for letting us know something so meaningful and sublime". I was calling for Jesus in an appreciation act by the fact I just learned. But I do understand that it sounded like profanity - Ed's called my attention, with reason, to that one time ago. So please, notice I'm not angry with that, I DO appreciate your exhortation. I will keep a look at my language next time. But I don't know if it's my OCD or something, but I think about God very often in my days, so it's hard sometimes to think of my language tone.

      @Billy Thanks man, I will read it right away! :D

      May God bless you all!

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    7. @Tadeo

      You might also want to consider reading St. Thomas Aquinas's commentary on Aristotle's Politics.

      Here's a link to a page where you can read/download the book. When I tried to select the "read" button an error appeared on the screen, but the "download" button works.

      https://isidore.co/calibre/#panel=book_details&book_id=7645

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  25. Dr. Feser, in support of Socrates’ decision in Crito, perhaps you might have mentioned the bad example Socrates feared setting by denying the general authority of his country. (Forgive me if you did and I missed it.) I think that avoiding the scandal that might have been caused by his appearing to deny the general authority of Athens also factored into Socrates’ decision.

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  26. Hi,

    its easy to say somthing like this in the united states.There are a lots of freedoms and you can mind your one busines in the states.

    Here in Europa, you have to pick one:
    1. Loyality to your country.
    2. Loyality to your moralical guidelines.

    Of course, not in all affaires.

    With kind regards,

    Norbert

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  27. Can we really get rid of wokeness in the west while still being so decadent? Can we really get rid of the decadence in the west while still embracing capitalism?

    While decadence isn't a natural outcome of capitalism, it seems to easily follow, which seems to indicate we are using the tools of our demise to fight our demise.

    It can't see things likely getting better without first getting dramatically worse, like civilizational collapsing level worse.

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    1. Can you define "capitalism" here? The difficulty is that under some definitions of the term, there is no way to get rid of capitalism without trampling necessary rights of individuals.

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    2. ‘Wokeness’ is the current form of Cultural Marxism. The idea of Western ‘decadence’, and that this decadence is an inevitable concomitant of capitalism, are themselves Marxist ideas; you can find both in Das Kapital.

      I much prefer our chances of using free markets and political liberty to expel a Marxist heresy, rather than trying to use one form of Marxism to expel another. If you call in the Devil to cast out Beelzebub, ‘civilizational collapse’ is indeed the best you can hope for.

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    3. @ Tom Simon,

      " 'Wokeness’ is the current form of Cultural Marxism"

      _A_ current form. Marxism is incoherent and is therefore without consistent intellectual form.

      Tom Cohoe

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    4. @ Billy,

      "Can we really get rid of the decadence in the west while still embracing capitalism?"

      What Marx called 'capitalism' is just the natural economic order of a free society. It is not capitalism (what I prefer to call 'free marketism' - since Marx hung the cold term 'capitalist' on natural free economic order) that becomes corrupt.

      It is people.

      The attempt to totally eliminate decadence and corruption is itself a corruption.

      It is called totalitarianism. We are currently bedeviled with it.

      Tom Cohoe

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    5. If that's true, then the "natural order of a free society" is less than 300 years old and came about as the result of the Industrial Revolution.

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    6. Nobody makes a Marxist comment that relates to no other comment posted here.

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    7. Arrrggh!

      You got me!

      Nobody

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