NATURAL   LAW   RECONSIDERED Introduction The natural law reconsidered here is the doctrine presented in  theological writings of Thomas Aquinas.

 The subtitle, suggesting a  continuity with the ideas of Chesterton and the mainly English lay and  literary theologians of the 1940s, is serious in intention. Truth is  indeed what does not lie hidden (aletheia), yet it is the only  proportionate cause of wonder. The first three chapters hammer home the same point from three  different perspectives, this point being the necessity of transcending  the legal approach. It is argued that the vocabulary of law, while  remaining convenient for Aquinas due to his view of the divine  revelational pedagogy, the Bible, is yet removed by him (and by  implication the New Testament authors) to such an analogical plane that  such discourse cannot be regarded as an essential part of his  philosophical wisdom. A continuity with Nietzsche and modern  speculation then becomes more visible. Aquinas in fact gives the  rationale of these later intuitions in terms of the  bonum honestum  itself as ultimately transcending any purely moral good. This teleological position is distinguished from  utilitarianism (ch.4) and ethical rationalism, opening the way to  creative options as pointed to in the tradition of the virtues and  their unity, this latter (unity of the virtues) being a doctrine of  more use in legitimating apparent aberrations than in discrediting  unconventional virtue. Here the individuality of any existing  substance, such as persons in particular is brought out, with the  implication of the insufficiency of any legal or scientific scheme. A  richer doctrine of vocation in terms of personal inspiration is put  forward. Three central examples are considered in support of the  thesis of love as the "form of all the virtues", viz. justice (only  "mercy" provides the will to it), the erotic, the requirement never to  murder. Next (ch.10) we consider ultimate happiness as the end uniting  all individuals, going on to consider the Gospel beatitudes as  presented by Aquinas as the charter here and now for full happiness.  This leads to the topic of our natural and hence common inclinations as  reflected in assertions of law, of which, we claim, the order of these  inclinations is the source, all being derived from the urge to personal  fulfilment (salvation). We show the continuity with biological reality,  the necessity for a meaningful ethics of having biogenic roots, thus  transcending all dualism. We end with a stress on creativity as the  sign and effect of love, love itself being the only defensible ethical  response to reality.


NATURAL LAW RECONSIDERED A Romance of the Obvious Contents

 Introduction  1.   Natural Law Reconsidered.  2.   Against Atheistic or Any Other Moralism.  3.   The New Law, Modernity and Natural Law: a Necessary  Reintegration.  4.   Consequentialism and Natural Law.  5.   Creative Options.  6.   Individual and Analogy.  7.   Justice: Legal and Moral Debt in Aquinas.  8.   Eros and the Human Good.  9.   Murder Today. 10.   Ultimate Happiness. 11.   The Beatitudes as our Natural Plan of Life. 12.   Natural Inclinations and their Order. 13.   Natural Law and Physical Reality. 14.   Natural Inclinations Broadcast. 15.   The Central Role of Creativity. Index Bibliography

Natural Law Reconsidered

The doctrine of natural law has two poles, that of nature and that of law. Conservatives use it so as to bind their charges by law, such law just happening to be "natural", though this circumstance helps them to claim to present an easy yoke, a light burden. Yet it is a mere trick of language that suggests that the naturalness of such law makes it no longer binding or constraining, as "positive" law might be felt to be. If the real, existing and individually personal subject does not find such a prescription coming naturally to him here and now then he or she is without qualification law-bound, unfree. It is not here that the easy yoke and light burden is found.1

       Cf. Mtth.11,30.

In the thought of Aquinas, however, natural law does not seem to have functioned in this way, much to the annoyance of the more zealous moralists calling themselves Thomists.2 In reading him one is forced more and more to see how he focusses first upon the natural inclinations, understood in an "objective" sense as being those ends of our specific and generic nature, in so far as this nature may be taken as common to us all, which evoke inclination prior to any operation of free choice. For it is precisely these inclinations that a free agent will consult as part of the activity of choosing (electio) itself.3 WE do not begin, that is, with constraints, as calling this ethics a theory of law must often have suggested. Thus our guiding, central inclination is to our ultimate end ("ultimate" is to be understood here as in "ultimate reality"; there is no call to make it exclusively a term to a temporal process). As being our ideal fulfilment one can only have one such end, just as a matter of conceptual analysis, Aquinas thinks. We call it happiness, though Aquinas has two terms for it, felicitas and beatitudo, both of which he identifies with God (it can also be called salvation). Revealingly, he states that these, or this, is more truly or directly the bonum honestum, or honourable good, than is virtue. Virtue is only a bonum honestum as leading to happiness.4 This alone shows that Aquinas was not a moralist, in the sense of an adherent of moralism, i.e. of the doctrine, in whatever form, that there is a universe of "values" somehow separate from the human good in general, so that we have to "respect" it or them, not allow ourselves spontaneously to follow after happiness.

       Cf. V. Bourke, "Is Thomas Aquinas a Natural Law Ethicist?" The  Monist 1974, pp.52­66.

       Just one short quaestio of the vast Second Part of the Summa  Theologia, the whole of which deals with ethics and moral theology, is  devoted to natural law. This is not even the main concern of the  treatise on law itself, which as serving as a preface to the immediately  following treatise on grace is only there at all out of deference to the  pattern of development in scripture. Law is also dealt with in the  questions on the virtue of justice, which again are more concerned with  this virtue than with natural law. Aquinas's exhaustive commentary on  Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics underscores this stress, and cannot be  dismissed as merely retailing Aristotle's views, since Aquinas begs to  differ in a few places. What he does stress (more than Aristotle) are  the ends of human nature, and here the aspect of law as defining an  essence or nature appears, but not as particularly restrictive. For  these ends only oblige us as it were vacuously, or under pain of not  attaining them if we fail to pursue them.

       Summa theol. IIa­IIae 145, 1 ad 1um, ad 2um.

Aquinas explains natural law by a reduction of it to these inclinations. The order of the "precepts" just is the order, in our nature, of these inclinations, from which it is obvious that each inclination is itself a law, a precept. Hence the moralists try to contest this reading of the text, basing themselves on Aquinas's saying in one place that the one order is according to (secundum) the other. But when order A is according to order B then the two orders are the same, and there are other texts to drive home this identity in any case. Even the reference to precepts, in which Aquinas says natural law consists, belongs only to the super-structure of his conception. This is because lex naturale is an intellectual abstraction made from the real ius naturale, which is a proportion holding between things in reality and not something imposed at all.5 One acts according to natural law when one's action is in tune with reality, especially the reality of one's own natural needs. In so far as obligation is a factor in Aquinas's thought it rests entirely upon the natural necessity of those ends we call goods, as being required for our happiness. We are obliged to pursue them and to avoid what averts from them. But this is what we anyway naturally do, more or less imperfectly, just as we naturally try to do it yet more perfectly. This is the bakground to virtuous effort.(Jan16) Of course it is true that one of the virtues or habits we need for success here is justice, the will to bestow what is due (to the other), and it is under this aspect that moral obligation appears, a bonum honestum attaching to actions needed, or to non-performance of actions needing to be avoided, for the attaining of the ultimate bonum honestum. Even goodness, or the good, and hence also moral goodness, is not an ultimate for Aquinas. Good, any good, he points out, is a being. If some beings become goods then this is because they are desired by us, i.e. this is what goodness names, whether they be desired naturally or by a particular choice indifferently. It is beings that are ultimately real, and a desired being is a being in a certain relation to will.6 Happiness, accordingly, is a state of being of a subject which could in principle be objectively defined and described, as by Boethius, for example. It is identical with the good, as also with the attainment of the good, and while one can make some play with this double aspect of happiness the main point stands, that it is being, substantial or accidental, which is desired. It was the cardinal

       Ibid. IIa­IIae 57 1, ad 2um.        Cf. QD de potentia 9, 7 ad 6.


error of Puritanism to divorce the morally good from what was or even could be naturally desired, Kant's talk of a "higher or nobler end than happiness" being just on the face of it a simple abuse of language, even after allowing for his stipulatively "low" understanding of what can be called happiness. Good, in fact, like truth, is an ens rationis. There are many further indications of how far Aquinas is from attaching any literal legality to natural law, which he defines as a reflected divine light, something rather distant from any usual notion of law, to say the least. One might indeed want to say that this is a case of metonymy in the sense of a change of name, i.e. of a wrong name for such a light. This light, however, as being God, is identified with the eternal law, lex aeterna, in the theory one with God in so far as his government of the world, one with his being like all God's attributes, is considered. For all law flows from this government, including in itself the divine justice and mercy, corresponding to the biblical faithfulness. This notion, however, posits nothing more nor less than the stability of natures, stipulating that there be real, law-governed essences in the world, the "laws of nature". Certainly these can be called decrees, but the sociomorphism, whether or not sanctioned by scripture, is patent. Indeed it is only the third type of law in Aquinas's fourpart scheme, viz. human or positive law, that is really or literally law. And here he has marked his opposition to "legalism", to that concentration upon will, upon a will to bind, by his situating law not in the will at all but in the reason7, to the scandal or at least incomprehension of Suarez and others. Furthermore, in making human law dependent upon "natural law", i.e. upon ordered human inclination, for its validity he entirely robs the former of its sting, as hard-headed jurists down the ages have at once seen. This is a charter of freedom if ever there was one. Thus for his fourth category, the divine law of positive revelation, Aquinas, after a preliminary nod at the Old Testament, declares that the new or gospel law, the one that counts, is nothing written at all but, rather, a grace or charity infused into the human heart. It is interesting that the language of prescriptiveness is dispensed with here. Not a command to love, say, but a new nature is what Aquinas states to be a law here, just as there are the (scientific) laws of the old nature. The way for such an identification, of moral laws and laws of nature, was prepared for by situating law in the reason and not the will. It also elucidates what we were earlier wanting to see as a wrong use of

       Summa theol. Ia­IIae 90, 1.

the term "law". Such a wide view of law, however, quite removes the customary element of restriction attaching to the term, as Suarez was expressly to object.8 Law in this sense, like a law of natural being or an essence, guides and characterizes the life and behaviour of the redeemed in the positive sense of enabling such a life to be at all. Aquinas is here in agreement with St. Paul (or Origen), for whom the Old Law (apart from a historical and now defunct application) was no more than a "figure" of the new and abiding freedom, a kind of spiritual cipher requiring to be understood "spiritually". The legalists among the Thomists often accept very much of this, as good scholarship requires of them. They then go on, nonetheless, to press their rearguard action (in favour of forensic divine commands) within the field of the inclinations themselves. Not only do they distinguish, rightly, between profound or "true" inclinations and superficial urges. They go on to identify such a true inclination with a natural or biological teleology of which the individual is not conscious, since he or she may even desire the contrary of such a supposed teleology. This is questionable indeed, being hostile to spontaneity. One may not be too categorical in distinguishing inclinations and urges. A natural impulse, as we call it, is not properly "blind" if nature itself has been conceded to be the guide. A preoccupation with a supposed "corruption" of nature may lead an individual to be more or less mistrustful, but the central determining role of nature as generally whole and in order, such that grace is said to build upon it, cannot be called in question from within a natural law theory. Nor, secondly, is there any contradiction in positing a considered inclination as going beyond or negating a natural teleology, as, for example, civilized cuisine goes beyond the requirements of simple nourishment, or loving sexuality transcends its foundations in the need for procreation. It is not, that is, merely that the estate of marriage has a secondary (sic) aim of mutual spousal affection, but that sexuality itself goes over into this, thus transcending its biological teleology. Similarly, one observes even in the animal world a homosexual enjoyment which at least genitally is non-teleological. It follows that natural law theory cannot be used to outlaw some inclinations by appeal to other inclinations, just as, our first point, one cannot downgrade any inclination to a "blind urge" which is somehow no longer an inclination. What one can do, rather, is to investigate what we really or most deeply want.

       Cf. F. Suarez S.J., De Legibus (1619), I, 1, i.

Even here a "last ditch" attempt can be made to bolster the legalist scheme. One can claim to show, with Aquinas indeed, that we all "really want" one thing, viz. the infinite which is God. So, once given that, one will not deeply want anything averting from that end, will in fact be obliged by one's own pondus to avoid it. Here there are complications, questions. Is this end attainable at all? If so then what, if anything, averts from or endangers the attainment of it and why? Even those questions only apply to those once convinced of the uniqueness, reality and universal desirability of an ultimate end, though this is in fact built into the Thomistic account of the natural law, since the latter is even defined as reflecting the lex aeterna. The divine is not just there as an extra sanction, which a Grotius might discard. It founds and makes possible any natural law at all. If this end does exist, then its attainability (the first question) can be defended by arguing from natural desire. Thus, a natural end must be naturally attainable, at least on the premise that "nature does nothing in vain", i.e. the creation is intelligently ordered. This particular end, however, will be by its own nature unattainable, it can be shown. for as infinite it cannot without contradiction lie passive to anyone's gaze or grasp. Any God is necessarily "a hidden God". What follows from the argument, given the premise, is a qualified conclusion as regards the natural attainability of this unique because infinite end, viz. it is natural that the infinite being will reveal or give itself in response to its creature's natural aspiration. One should, then, expect, hope, look for this, as Newman argued and Plato once indicated. The intellect itself, after all, according to Aristotle, "comes from outside". This principle, anyhow, is reflected in the existence of traditions of revelation (antecedent to their particular truth or falsity), as in the passive, expectant attitude to tradition generally evinced down the ages, taken together with people's propensity to offer sacrifice to beings considered more potent than themselves. This impulse to sacrifice, as if with all right to elicit (but not compel) a superior initiative, Aquinas saw as a primary datum of natural law, in line with what we have been saying.9 Theologians, however, tend to object here. They wish to protect the gratuitousness of divine intervention. Now certainly much of what is specific to Christianity must be gratuitous, but one can still argue in general that an intelligent creature, as part of the conditions for its creation, will have its natural needs

       Summa theol. IIa­IIae 85, 1. Cf. Lawrence Dewan O.P., "St.  Thomas, Our Natural Lights and the Moral Order", Angelicum LXVII (1990),  pp. 298­300.

provided for, including a need for some divine initiative exceeding any finite creature's active powers, given that this can be shown to be a need. It is not convincing to argue that the natural inclination is only to a natural knowledge of or about God and not to the fullest conceivable contact with him. For Aquinas it is clear that since bonum in communi, i.e. goodness without restriction, is the natural object of any rational will, so there can be no restrictions upon natural desire. We can and do naturally desire a supernatural state, once it is conceived and its import appreciated.10 All the difficulties of the hypothesis of limbo, where the unbaptized innocents only do not know that they are in hell because they are kept in ignorance of heaven, derive from this fact. In general, a Carthusian author has remarked, "what the spiritual man desires is contact." So much for our first question. If there is such an ultimate end, then it will be attainable, but upon its own terms only. For our second question we asked what might avert from such attainment and why or how it might do this. That action and the end are in general related, let us first note, follows necessarily if one accept that all free action (actus humani) is internally purposeful, propter finem. The argument (one of them) was precisely that such a final end was required for actions as a whole to be possible. But if action is for the end, it cannot also be that the end is bestowed independently of action. Thus even faith is an act, and otherwise action would be robbed of its point. But in reality the final end is pursued in any act whatever and desire for it is hence the motive force of any activity at all. Although action has to be for the end, however, this does not, so far, exclude its attainment or hindrance by other means, such as fortune, fate or predestination. One would have to argue further for any elimination of arbitrary or irrational factors from final human destiny which one wished to make. But certainly here and now fortune can affect whether an action attains the happiness it necessarily aims at, and a bad plan might succeed better than a good one. Prudent action, therefore, has to take account of this. Given then that action does affect, is ordered well or badly towards the end, then there has to be a differentiation among acts, this being a condition for the choice between actions which we make out of natural necessity. Hence some acts will

       The various traditional fantasies as to the Devil's archangelic  intellect having baulked at just this offer are too tenuous and picture­ laden, too specific in fact, to form a serious counter­argument here.

hinder attainment of the end at least in the sense of slowing down what a better chosen act could have achieved. Thus far there may or may not be acts which send one in the opposite or reverse direction, which avert from the end. They would do this in virtue of some principal cause making them to be of this class. The traditional Christian answer identifies this with destructiveness of the love of God or neighbour. Independent analysis might seem to confirm this. Thus the last end is sought because loved.11 What we love we desire (cupiditas) and we love ourselves in desiring good for ourselves (amicitia) as we might for another, such friendship however being also a good we ourselves desire to possess, thus completing the circle which makes up the unity of love, of eros and agape, of losing one's life to save it. So to love the ultimate end, however we see it (God or our own happiness etc.), is already a disposing union of mind and heart for the real union or possession sought. We should not doubt that to resolve with energy to be happy is a positive step. We need strong wants, as even a Buddhist must want strongly to shed his wants, if he or she is to hope to succeed in that particular quest. It can anyhow be shown philosophically, it is worth repeating, that God, any God, whether actual or hypothetical, must itself have and indeed be love.12 It would then follow that in loving we become like and hence relatively closer on our way to him, her or it, a view reflected in the Johannine biblical texts particularly. But is it possible not to love, or to stop loving? Is happiness sought with more force by some than by others? This must be true, and hence an agent's missing the target, so to say,13 is not primarily due to his or her having aimed with an equal energy at something else, as that sporting image might suggest to us, even though lack of concentration and indifference are foes of achievement in sports particularly. For we say that one "aimed at" self-love in place of love of God or neighbour, or followed a ruling passion which had usurped the desire for the infinite or "whole". But the deeper truth is that there was a lack, an absence of the degree of force or life (of love) needed, leaving a vacuum that could be filled by particular demonic energies in the negative sense. Thus the difficult goods of friendship or virtue (Aquinas

       That there is love in God, such that on his principles the  divine simplicity would thus be identified with (inter alia) love,  Aquinas first argues for at the most general level independently of the  Christian revelation (Ibid. Ia 20, 1).

       See note 10.


       This idea is the tymological basis of the biblical Greek word  for sin, hamartia.

sees friendship itself as a virtue) are rejected, fallen away from. But friendship, seeking the other's good, is itself a need, a good, required by our own nature, to which we cannot but be inclined and even inclined to strive for. This is inclusive of that friendship with God from which theologians often wish to debar what they call the natural man, who has no right to expect it. Yet he can dare to hope for it as falling under bonum in communi, this hope maybe even leading him to aim at the "supernatural". Otherwise how would he begin that journey. What, conversely, can forbid him thus to hope, in ways immortalized, for example, in the psalms of David or the poetry of Emily Bronte? Thus it is that when Aquinas wishes to characterize sin, in its traditional division of mortal and venial, he writes: When the will sets itself upon something that is of its nature incompatible with the charity that orientates man towards his ultimate end, then the sin is mortal by its very object... whether it contradicts the love of God, such as blasphemy or perjury, or the love of neighbour, such as homicide or adultery... Here, although he mentions classes of action against which there might be legislation or quasi-legislation, yet what he stresses is the failure in the exercise of love, love as that which orientates and unites with our object. Hence he adds But when the sinner's will is set upon something that of its nature involves a disorder, but is not opposed to the love of God and neighbour, such as thoughtless chatter or immoderate laughter and the like, such sins are venial.14 The new Roman Catechism, however, where this passage is quoted, prefers almost on the same page to say of mortal sin that it "destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God's law."15 But God's law, the New Law, is, we have seen, precisely this charity, actually a freedom at the opposite pole to law. There is no other divine codex of law, as is suggested here, clean contrary to the quoted text of Aquinas, who keeps his examples of action-types to a minimum, as being things one can be morally certain will contradict love. The legalists prefer to speak of destroying charity by exhibiting disobedience, somehow a self-defeating and provocative way of speaking which reached

       Aquinas, op. cit. Ia­IIae 88, 2.        Catechism of the Catholic Church, Vatican City 1994, no. 1855.


its acme in the heyday of late-medieval nominalist theology. Disobeying is just one way in which a child may hurt a parent, and that not the most fundamental. We don't destroy charity by violating something called God's law. We act unlovingly in ways that can be generalized in general statements. Thus when John writes that "no murderer has eternal life dwelling inside him" he is not declaring a divine refusal to forgive murderers but saying, rather, why murder is generally wrong as being hatred of one's brother. It denies love, and all that we seek. While grace attempts to re-educate or perfect our spontaneity the rationalist legalists strive to eradicate just that. So much, indeed, follows from Aquinas's statement that charity is the form of all the virtues.16 There is no set of laws or commands in separation from the imperative of love. This is in fact clear even in the Old Testament. The wrong or "averting" action or action-type is always such under its aspect of incompatibility with love, and statements of law are at best like attempts to freeze or arrest the energy or fire of love as it passes by, as in a photograph. Focussing too much upon a set of precepts has obscured this, though it is certainly possible to restate natural law in a more dynamic way, or to restate, rather, a programme of life for which that term might prove to be more inappropriate than ever.17 ********************************** Strategies for attaining the ultimate end might vary at different stages of life, since, again, we are not tied exclusively to the interpretation of it as terminating a linear temporal process. This is a genuine counterweight to there being an objective hierarchy of goods, as sketched out by Aquinas in Article Two of Question 94 of the pars prima secundae of his Summa theologica. At some stages of life, for example, attainment of ideal fulfilment (eudaimonia) depends very heavily for many people upon sexual fulfilment, which in Aquinas's list would be situated if anywhere under the second of the three sets of inclinations, viz. those

       Summa theol. IIa­IIae 23, 8.


       Cf. the passage cited below from Herbert McCabe's Law, Love and  Language. The analogy of a revolutionary struggle (an analogy inclusive  of the element of causality, "like causes like", if we recognize the  Gospel ferment behind much revolutionary mentality) underlines the  creative and free approach to ethical judgment (thus reducing its  distinctness from decision) typical of those possessed by love. Adoption  of this view leads me to wish to modify at least some of my earlier  criticism of R.M. Hare on this point.

shared among all animals. Yet on his view human sense-life is always superior to and more subtle than that of the brutes, even before we consider that tendency we noted for each part or passion to overflow its proper nature or to transcend itself. It is the one intellectual soul that experiences the orgasm and its preliminaries. At the season of passion all of being is grasped and can only be grasped as mediated by such a fragile and particular analogy. That is why there is "a time to love and a time to die". Being, after all, has no parts, is one. In fact the hierarchy of inclinations, it can be shown, is not so much linear as circular, returning back upon itself.18 What might be taken as the "lowest" impulse, for example, being shared by all substances, viz. the impulse to self-preservation, actually contains within itself the ultimate inclination to bonum in communi and final beatitudo. Correspondingly, the specifically intellectual inclinations to the knowledge of the truth about God, say, or to life in society, in a way rejoin this first motor of all impulses. It follows that the sexual impulse implies no descent. All human quests are equidistant from the centre, and this implies that this distance is nil, i.e. if they are not more distant than the impulse to God as such which is at the centre. The centre is everywhere and there is no path that one treads that is not oneself. Conversely, in having God one would have all things, since all are analogies of God before they are themselves. This in fact is the meaning of being which Heidegger chided us for forgetting. It is undivided and fully present in each and any being. This is what founds the possibility of artistic achievement and satisfaction, that nothing is a mere part of being, since it cannot have parts. Real analogy is hence the background to a proper understanding of the unitary striving for the ultimate end amid a world of multiplicity. The via negativa as often practised seems based upon a wrong understanding, one which discounts analogy, so that those who thus follow it reach the end, if they do, in spite of rather than by means of it. The sine qua non, in any case, is that one is driven into and through these activities by the same impulse and energy that actually proceeds from the last end as first motive power, viz. love. Even all social life and social responsibility fall under this. As Maritain indicates, in his Christianity and Democracy, a progression is required from civic friendship to the fraternity of the human family under one fathercreator, this not as an addition to but as the hidden form (caritas) of any movement of social cohesion that ever succeeded.

       Cf. Appendix I.

This, though, was especially illuminated by the "new" Gospel teaching on forgiveness, movingly echoed in Nietzsche's descriptions of the magnanimity of the Übermensch: For that man be delivered from revenge, that is for me the highest hope, and a rainbow after long storms.19 Against this transcending of a structure of quasi-legal restriction one might want to object by recalling that the atrocities of the earlier and mid-century found a powerful counterweight in the revival at that time of natural law doctrine, as does the contemporary practice of routine abortion. Under natural law a prohibition is placed upon any killing of human beings, even when guilty, at least by private persons, while no created instance at all can take upon itself the killing of the innocent. This absolute prohibition corresponds to the constant which is the transcendent dignity of human nature, such as Kant or Aquinas claimed to establish in their different ways. Now, however, we seem to be removing the security of law in so far as we would make it an abstraction of reason. Does this not open a way for the Nazis, say, to claim to have been serving the common good by their exterminations, as if their final solution (genocide) were a creative and free response to circumstances, a mere variation of strategy for attaining the end? We answer no. It certainly was a strategy, but one which we can show fails. We are, anyhow, not discarding law as such. Rather we are stressing the dependence of moral and, hence, even of properly legal prescriptions upon the relations, often but not always constant, obtaining in reality. This is law in the sense of essence, and it is the very nub of natural law to derive prescription from this alone. If no murderer has eternal life then this is because such a deed is in essence the denial of life and love, harmful of the common good which is yet, like being, personal to the murderer himself and to each one of us. Here belongs the Socratic insight that he harms himself most of all, a view not in necessary connection with a lenient attitude to criminals. The point is that there is no need for some additional precept to bolster this insight, though unfortunately use of the term "law" can suggest this to some minds. We do not need to prove that God has forbidden murder before we can prosecute the Nazis, or make laws under which to prosecute them.20 We only

       F . Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (tr. Kaufmann), in The   Portable Nietzsche (ed. W. Kaufmann), Viking press, 1954.

       That we need a law against murder in civil society is certainly 

need to see that it denies human dignity, upon affirmation of which the common good depends as requiring love of self and others.21 It is in line with these analyses when Nietzsche, for example, implies that the superior man will endlessly forgive, since this follows from his notion of being free of all resentment. He describes this in terms of valuing a human being, any human being, for his being rather than his action. This, Nietzsche claims, is what we do within a family, and we human beings as such form a family. This is the positive thrust of one form of moral nihilism. It does away with justice as a real relation (though not of course the concept) since there is no longer any pure other upon whom, Shylock-wise, to exercise a pure justice. The impulse, indeed, to be just, where not thus restricted and hence de-formed, can only proceed from the first of all impulses (always to the ultimate end) which we are calling love. Hence, as we saw with other human impulses, it has it in itself, as proceeding from a whole human being, to transcend itself. Thus interpreted this specifically moral nihilism or existentialism is a straight reflexion of the being and teaching of Jesus Christ, as also, in a less careful way, of that metaphysics which only permit goodness to be distinguished from being in the mind, not in reality. All concur in rejecting what we have called moralism or moral rationalism. When Jesus told people their sins were forgiven he was understood by his more hostile critics to be setting aside or failing to respect the moral law, the law of God indeed, and similarly when he told us to forgive one another and, by implication, ourselves. Who can forgive sins but God alone, they asked. This divine prerogative itself, however, they had understood, again, in a legalistic way, as if due to God's not being bound by his own decrees, a sociomorphic term. The divine freedom to pardon was amoral. Jesus implies the error and shows the poverty of this outlook when he exhorts us to love and accept and forgive one another indiscriminately, precisely in this way being children and hence likenesses of God who "sends his rain on the just and the unjust", showing himself just in this way, this lowly, everyday way, to be our "heavenly father", the father of all, who will always give the egg or fish to those who ask and never a stone or scorpion.
not contested here. Our point, on the contrary, is that organized human  society is the one place where law literally belongs.

       It might also seem to require denial of the view that "man is a  useless passion."

For the same reasons we must expect Jesus to say, as he does, that he has other (non-Jewish) sheep. The impulse to universality arises from his own person. As Maritain says, we cannot go back from this teaching of universal brotherhood to one of civil rights restrictively viewed without great scandal to humanity. In this teaching Jesus lays the foundation for the future teaching of the eternal law, just as he confirms the previous teaching of this by Plato, Cicero and others. Such a law is no longer extrinsic, though this be the essence of law as normally understood, but one with the divine being. One can now suggest, all the same, that in calling this so insistently a law Augustine22 was tending to regress to legalism, as might seem confirmed by the events and apparent compromises of his life as reflected in his other writings, understandable as these may be in the light of the then developing situation. In accepting the new faith in Jesus the emperors and men of power were unbearably tempted to tailor it back to the normal assumptions of legal government and thus also to tempt or at least place special demands upon the Church, as materially subject to their bounty. This, however, would not prevent the emergence of Francis of Assissi, or even of the paradoxical figure of Joan of Arc, as the Church's truest children. Greater things than I shall you do, Jesus had said, with equal paradox. The New Law, anyhow, as "law of freedom", is only linguistically a paradox, one arising, indeed, from the need to show continuity, about which though there was nothing fictitious, with an existing situation. "I am come not to destroy but to fulfil." It is worth noting, in so far as people often consider socalled law ethics and virtue ethics in parallel, that while any purportive ethical law can be questioned and even thrown out, this is not in general the case with virtues. One reinterprets, as claiming to understand more deeply, not so much the virtue's definition as what behaviour might correspond to it.. The table of the virtues remains intact as the ends of human nature remain intact, this being powerful confirmation of the ethical tradition which Aquinas felt able to represent in terms of natural law theory. We should, however, bear in mind that even in the Summa theologica he does this in just one small space, and perhaps there with a further end in view, viz. to illuminate what is called in scripture the New Law. This is why he has recourse to natural law at all, and in a theological text, not in the commentary on the Nicomachean Ethics, for example. There is no good reason to put

       Augustine, On Free Choice of the Will I, 6. See also his de Vera  Religione 31, Contra Faustum I.

this down to a deference to Aristotle. Deference, on his part, is more likely to be operative in the theological realm. But we should note that even in the commentary, through giving a more central role to natural inclinations than Aristotle seems to do, he moves more towards a theory of natural law in the open sense described above. Scripture, as deriving from the Jewish tradition, was bound to speak in terms of law, as if by a divine choice, whether or not we want to accord divine inspiration to the Old Testament. It may still, and even a fortiori, be the case that Jesus set out to raise the tradition of law above itself altogether. It is thus absurd, it might seem, when Kierkegaard treats the "new commandment" ("love one another as I have loved you") as an old-style precept addressed to our higher will, in order to exclaim over the paradox of commanding love (though this is already done in the Old Testament). Is not Jesus rather pouring a grace into the heart? It is even more imperceptive, at best, for Kant to argue from the mere phraseology used (taken from the operative cultural background) that what we have is an imperative addressed to pure will and nothing of an affective or above all spontaneous nature. For the new law, as Aquinas insists, and hence the new command, is neither written nor spoken.23 The Superman has been anticipated, the charter of freedom is there, as it was when Augustine exclaimed "Love and do what you like." There is no call to respond "Yes that is all very well but..." This, as an attitude common among believers, would be to make God's word void, and is in fact a case of applying a restrictive interpretation to what offers itself as in essence the abolition of restriction, the liberation of captives. The battle against objectification, legalism, abstract generalization, is constant as flowing from the ineptness of thought and language. The evil of giving in to this pressure lies in the wish for self-justification, wishing to know that one cannot be faulted, while the whole Christian proclamation centres around not judging, around being justified by God and believing in this. This is a bigger thing than God's paying the price (to whom?) for our sins and so on. For it is a supra-historical declaration against such objectification and legalism, culminating in the best man, who is also God, it is claimed, being "made sin" for us. It was the dynamic of the best Protestantism to have latched on to this so single-mindedly, and much of our humanity and freedom today, as expressed in our literary tradition, for example, derives from this,

       Summa theol. Ia­IIae 106, 1 & 2. He also says, at 3 ad 3 of this  question that it is only due to man's fallen or sinful state that this  "law" was not given and maintained from the beginning of the world.

of which the ultimate source remains the Gospels as fulfilling the prophecy and promise of the Jewish sacred writings. Thus Aquinas did not typically express himself in terms of a restrictive natural law. The theme of the pars secunda of the Summa theologica is that of the virtues, habits and graces needed for attaining the end, and there is, again, little call to argue that his commentaries upon Aristotle's ethical writings do not represent his own views. ************************************** This teaching, this tradition, this revelation continues to have its effect in the world. The Popes, we may say, compromised and clericalized as they may often have been, do not sit in Rome for nothing, and we may place the canonization of Aquinas alongside other bold and imaginative strokes of theirs such as the visits to the Frankish court around the eighth century or general encouragement of the Renaissance or, later, of regular sacramental communion, all of which have been regularly kicked against by restrictive legalists and enemies of eudemonism generally. Properly understood, the canonization of Thérèse of Lisieux, who declared she had no virtues, was also a revolutionary act. It is not sufficiently noted that Jesus told his disciples that they could not but rejoice when the bridegroom was still with them. This bridegroom said that he was life and we who are alive may and are to rejoice, with a joy that can face the shadows to come, since "he who believes in me will never die." These are the perspectives which expand the heart and slowly turn it from all that is negative or evil, just as they provide courage and inspiration for eventual sacrifice with love unfeigned. Marxism, it is well known, looks to a future abrogation of law in general harmony. The attitude to capital punishment today is an instructive example. Should we view the revolt against it as an urge to the humanization of law within the law's system only, or is something more fundamental involved, such as the beginning of a general shift in our view of law and of its necessity? Let us recall again the French revolution, liberty, equality, and the shift from civic friendship or feudal bondage to brotherhood. The revolution's atrocities, like those of Marxism, are well known. But so are those of many defenders of orthodox religion. To be against capital punishment is not just opposition to something inhumane. In some cases it may not seem inhumane at all. One makes a statement, rather, that the life of no man or

woman should lie under, be subject to, the law. The law, it is felt, does not possess sufficient dignity for this. One inclines to this position, perhaps, in proportion as one sees that law, public law, is not a straight administration of divine law properly speaking. Hence Aquinas, in both his main treatments of it, defends society's right to use capital punishment in terms of a kind of exception required for survival, not in terms of a divine dignity of law. Neither God nor human nature are legislators. Human reason may legislate if it wishes, and certainly what it sees is to be done is to be done, but this seeing is one not perhaps with an actual decision but at least with a choice (electio) which may itself be creative or more like an invention than a choice. Nor need the insights of reason always be universal, as when one decides to marry this girl or boy. This was in fact Nietzsche's point, that the being of someone (i.e. his life) is not to be sacrificed to any rule or principle. Jesus implies the same when he says that the sabbath prescription must give way before the restoration of health and hence life to a "daughter of Abraham". His reaction to the idea of stoning an adulteress is well known, while it was the thief himself, and not Jesus, who declared on the Cross that he, the thief, was justly punished. It is not our business here to outline how society might manage without old-type legal systems. Nor need we address pedagogical questions which may arise. It may indeed be true that law is the best pedagogue for the immature. This would not affect the truth of what we have said here.

CHAPTER TWO Against Atheistic and Any Other Moralism No search is as wild as the search for God. This statement may seem forced, artificial. To the men, and sometimes women, whose voices are recorded in what we now call the Bible, however, it seems to have been a natural enough idea. One can also adduce later works of art, the very atmosphere of certain music, not to mention the excesses of fanaticism down the ages. For wildness, of course, is not concerned with moral discrimination.

There is enough testimony to find it a certain blindness in Kant when he pronounces it impossible for the finite to love the infinite.24 That is just what it does love, one would rather say. The state of being in love might always seem to consist in finding an infinite value in the object of one's love. One passes beyond any sphere of calculation. That we others can see that the object is then over-valued is not relevant here. But clearly God, at least, could not be loved too much, and our inclination is thus most typically blocked by a lack of knowledge of God. The Old Testament commandment of this love seems to be intended as natural to man. We encounter repeatedly, all the same, among our highminded thinkers of the Romantic era in particular, but also those of later times, a schizophrenia as between moralism and the spirit of freedom. Not many people can follow Kant in seriously claiming to fuse these two things. Thus in the English novel, through George Eliot to Iris Murdoch (and Henry James is something of an exception), we encounter this division, muted in Graham Greene to a conflict between the law and mere sin but in Murdoch burgeoning to full awareness of the demonic. All the same, as her philosophical writings underscore, her conception of goodness is ultimately moralistic and hence, from the metaphysical point of view, restricted. For on this metaphysical or even "religious" view, again, the good is one with the real and the true, this being the doctrine of the unity of the transcendental predicates. But the phenomenon of moralism, it would seem, has to do not just with a breaking of the link between goodness and being. More specifically it is a case of the isolation of justice from the other virtues, consequent upon the casting of our view of behaviour as such into the legal mode, almost unreflectively, it might appear, as if these thinkers are blinkered by childish or rationalistic moral training, of a kind to damp all spontaneity and at times all love.25 Yet it is a task of philosophy to show how justice, as much as temperance, say, is needed for happiness, for life, and needed in no other way. This requires a philosophy of community, not indeed merely of the social body but of the body of mankind united in love, as form of all the virtues. Ultimately this will be a philosophy of the Church. On such a religious view we can trust and seek out the

       I. Kant, Die Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der blossen  Vernunft, WW IV, 838.

       Cf. André de Muralt, "The Founded Act and the Apperception of  Others", The Self and Others (ed. Tymeniecka), Dordrecht 1977.

demonic, understanding this in the sense of the daimon of which Plato's Socrates spoke as source of his inspiration. We might rather call it the inspired, the creative, or, reversing the m and the n and changing a vowel or two, the dynamic. The touchstone here is power, life, and not passive rule-following. From such a viewpoint to say of some course of action, like President Kennedy, that we must do it "because it is right" is on the wrong tack, or at least does not go far enough, does not get to the bottom of things, to just why an action is right or not. Thus crime, we know or believe, like a lack of the civil virtues, does not pay. That is even what makes it crime, we want to say here26, for even justice is that which pays, all things considered, and what does not pay is what is unjust. It never pays to kill the innocent, because it always harms the common good, the good we hold in common. If it ever did truly pay then it would then be just, i.e. if it ever were expedient that one man should die for the people. But those whom we generally reckon to be just hold that it never is expedient. Murder is ultimately always a great act of impoverishment of the good we hold in common, a good seen as greater even than the good of our common continuance in life. So the demonic is not immoral or even amoral, just as Christ, we pointed out in our first chapter, was not amoral in forgiving sins. It was a righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and pharisees, love and hence freedom being the form of all true virtue. We speak of the spirit of love blowing where it will. So a failure to love would be in the end a weakness, a diminution of spirit and life. Although we may find it easier to understand an energy of hate, such as we more often call demonic, yet the witness of creative art, along with the inspiredly creative lives of Christ and the saints, suggests otherwise. Hate, except where fed by an at least partial love, is negative, its life, like that of a cancer, stifling the authentic life of its own possessor. *********************************** Under justice, then, such as moralism isolates, one considers law and duty. That is to say, they depend for their activation upon a virtue, justice. But justice correctly viewed is just one of a set of virtues within a system. Still, we might seem to have the two contrasting aspects of law and virtue as alternative approaches to the theory of ethics, or to a system of morals. Kant expressly set duty as more fundamental, claiming that virtue can be misused.

       See our The End of the Law: Dispensing with Moralism, Peeters,  Louvain 1999.

Still, his good will or will to do one's duty could certainly be called a virtue in so far as it might become habitual, and that virtue is clearly justice. But these two aspects of ethical theory need, anyhow, to be integrated, as is not always the case. It is clear that for Kant, for example, virtue is not important as a philosophical concept serviceable for the "metaphysical" (his term) explanation of ethical reality. In later "analytical" moral philosophy it is even clearer that the essentially ethical is thought of on the analogy of giving an order, so that reason, for example, dictates to the subject after the manner of a universal law-giver.27 The alienation of reason from the self in this manner is already a departure from the profundity of the tradition. We remember, for example, that St. Thomas spoke of the order of the precepts of natural law being according to the order of the inclinations of human nature,28 a thought quite alien to Kant, and doubly so when St. Thomas combines this with the repeated assertion that natural law is in fact the law of human reason, i.e. just Kant's characterization of it. But St. Thomas gives us an explanation, a justification rather, of his view, for example where he asks the question, closely connected with our main enquiry here, whether all the acts of the virtues belong to the natural law.29 We remember here, incidentally, that whereas virtues are habits, natural law is not itself a habit but consists of precepts concerning things (or bona) to be done (facienda, sc. agibilia) or pursued (persequenda). Hence it could only be acts of the virtues, not the virtues themselves, which might coincide with the natural law (unless we can say that a virtue itself is to be pursued30). St.

       This was the point of entry of P. Foot's criticism (cf. our  Morals as Founded on Natural Law, Frankfurt 1987, pp. 43­49, referring to  her "When is a Principle a Moral Principle?", Aristotelian Society  Supplement XXVIII, 1954). One calls "someone good because of what one  believes one has recognized in him. This that one can recognize can only  be the disposition or habit we call a virtue" (p.51). So one should go  even further than Foot, when she shifts the emphasis in ethics from  principles (judgments, i.e. Aristotle's second act of the understanding)  to concepts (first act). We should focus on the reality conceived, so as  to see that the "collection" of virtues and vices is not, as she says,  "haphazard", but an ordered structure in (human) nature. Otherwise we  still remain at the rationalist level of discourse about morals, i.e. we  confuse truth and being, concept and thing.

       Summa Theol. Ia­IIae, 94, 2.        Ibid. 94, 3.



       The distinction between acts and their ends in relation to what  is obligatory is discussed later in the present chapter.

Thomas writes: it was said (94, 2) that everything to which man is inclined according to his nature pertains to the law of nature. But anything whatever is naturally inclined to the operation which belongs to it according to its form (formam), as fire inclines to heating. Whence, since the rational soul is the proper form of man, there is therefore an inclination in any man to act rationally; and this is to act virtuously. Hence, according to this, all the acts of the virtues belong to natural law, for his own reason naturally dictates to anyone that he should act virtuously. Everything in this text (of Ia-IIae 94, 3) falls into place with a kind of obviousness as natural as the nature described, provided we accept the substantive, in some way astonishing premiss that the rational soul is the proper form of man, that is, the soul of which intellect and will are the powers, as flowing from its immaterial substance. This is the view that is foreign to Cartesian (and hence Kantian) philosophy, according to which reason is totally and even definitionally separated from the extended quantities and bodies which it studies, bodies which need no form outside of their own measurements, least of all an intellectual and self-subsisting form, in order to make them what they are. Reason then, for St. Thomas, gives man his very self (forma dat esse). It is, as natural, not alien to him. The importance of this for ethics was stressed again by Pope John Paul II (K. Wojtyla), himself no mean philosopher, in the encyclical letter Veritatis Splendor: A doctrine which dissociates the moral act from the bodily dimensions of its exercise is contrary to the teaching of Scripture and Tradition... the true meaning of the natural law... is the person himself in the unity of soul and body, in the unity of his spiritual and biological inclinations (49, 50). So reason unites law and the acts of the virtues. But how does it do this? Our text in fact refers to just one inclination, that to acting virtuously or rationally, though it mentions that the natural law includes the others. In this way the law might seem more

extensive than virtue. On the other hand we find, in St. Thomas's treatment of the virtues, that at the end of his treatise on each virtue he has a section on the precepts of that virtue. In fact, under just one virtue, justice, he includes all the precepts of the Decalogue in their specific capacity (ratio debiti) of ordering us to others.31 So all virtues come under one precept (to act rationally), and all precepts come under one virtue (justice). How is that possible? It at least requires a certain coextensiveness of law and virtue after all (tempered no doubt by a measure of equivocation upon our phrase "come under"). Before we go any further we should remind ourselves of a simple fact. Law, for St. Thomas, belongs to reason. The moral virtues, on the other hand, belong to the will as participating in reason.32 So how far we are able to distinguish law and virtue depends in a sense upon how far we are able to distinguish intellect and will. The distinction is clearer in St. Thomas than in the great Greeks, and this is largely due to St. Augustine. We remember that for Socrates virtue was knowledge. In explaining how precepts fall under a virtue St. Thomas says that law is only imposed by some ruler (dominus) upon his own subjects, and therefore precepts of law (their existence) presuppose the subjection of someone receiving the law to him who gives the law.33 He also states clearly that Since precepts are given concerning acts of the virtues any act falls under precept insofar as it is the act of a virtue.34 It is clear then that law introduces the aspect of obligation, which in the treatment of the virtues we only meet at one particular

       Summa theol. IIa­IIae 122, 1.


       Even the intellectual virtues, as habits, are distinct from the  rational principles of the law. Thus the virtue of intellectus, which is  the habitual understanding of first principles, whether speculative or  practical, is in the latter case synderesis, the habit of (the  principles of) natural law, not this law itself (Ia­IIae 94, 1; cf. Ia  79, 12).

       IIa­IIae 16, 1.


       Ibid. 44, 4.

place, viz. the treatment of justice: it is most manifest that the notion of obligation (ratio debiti), which is required for a precept, appears in justice, since this is essentially other-directed (ad alterum). For in those things which are for one's own benefit one appears at first sight to be free from constraint in what one chooses to do; but in relation to others it is most clear that we are obliged to give them what is due to them.35 So, certainly, there is one virtue, justice, concerned with fulfilling one's obligations, but we need to ask: how do obligations come into the picture? We might think that virtue alone is needed for the good life, inclusive of course of the virtue of paying to others their due, either financially or otherwise. But here the whole sum of moral activity is seen as coming under an obligation, presumably to God as law-giver. One can reasonably wonder why courses of action should be obligatory in this transcendent way. Even a believer in God might wonder this, wonder if some huge extrapolation from social relations has not been made here36. We may note that St. Thomas makes religion as a virtue a part, the noblest part, of justice. Here it is the theory of the end or ends that is crucial. In humanis autem actibus se habent fines sicut principia in speculativis.37 The basic principles of human action, that is to say, are the ends pursued, and it is upon these that the Thomistic account of obligation rests, just as those habits are virtuous, and hence good, which human beings need to attain their ends.

       Ibid. 122, 1.


       We have already referred to N. Berdyaev's ideas on  "sociomorphism", e.g. in his Slavery and Freedom, 1944.

       Ia­IIae 57, 4. "In human acts ends play the role that principles  do in speculative matters." It follows immediately that practical  principles do not play this role, and so are not the same kind of thing  as speculative principles. There must therefore be an analogy in  operation in St. Thomas's parallelling of the two sets of principles at  Ia­IIae 94, 2, sufficiently indicated, after all, by the fact that  practical reasoning employs the principle of non­contradiction, whereas  speculative reasoning does not employ the principle bonum est  persequendum, however this may guide the person choosing to reason.

In distinguishing the necessity of compulsion and the necessity of obligation St. Thomas speaks of the necessity of an end, a precept (for its part) only being necessary quando scilicet aliquis non potest consequi finem virtutis, nisi hoc faciat.38 This shows already that it is primarily the end that is obligatory. The primary or per se duty (debitum) is id quod est finis, quia habet rationem per se boni (the end itself, because definitionally this is the good pursued).39 The action, on the other hand, as id quod ordinatur ad finem (that which is ordered to the end), is a duty only propter aliud.40 This passage occurs in an argument for the primacy of the precept of charity, the end being union with God, which is variously impeded by things which are in consequence forbidden. Also in the justification of prudence as a virtue St. Thomas speaks of electio recta, right choice, which, to be right, must choose firstly the due end (debitum finem), secondly what is ordered to the end, viz. virtue in the will perfected by the habit of reason (habitus rationis), knowledge of the natural law being implied.41 Now these ends, we have seen, are those things to which we are by nature inclined. Such inclinations, as pertaining to our appetitive power, are not so much habits as the beginnings or

       IIa­IIae 58, 3 ad 2um: i.e. when someone cannot attain virtue's  end unless he acts in this way (according to the precept).

       The appearance of utilitarianism is illusory. Every action has a  built­in end (its objectum) specifying it, which no programme or more  general end may erase from reality.

       IIa­IIae 44, 1.


       Ia­IIae 57, 5. One should note, however, that to speak of a  knowledge of natural law other than that communicated by one's own  present inclinations is to introduce a rationalistic and inert authority  into the heart of morality, in place of the spontaneity of love. Cf.  Aristotle's "As a man is, so does the end seem to him." It is in this  sense that we are responsible for our moral beliefs. The habitus  rationis which we need to exercise, however, is in no sense the same as  having a rationalistic approach to behaviour. Compare the distinction  between a "perfect use of reason" (in the virtue of scientia) and  wisdom, which judges per modum inclinationus (IIa­IIae 45, 2).

natural starting-points (inchoationes) of habits, as it were seminalia virtutum.42 It is they, their hierarchical order in human nature, which determines the order of our duties, precisely because inclination and duty coincide in each and every natural end.43 Prior to legal formulation there is a ius and a iustum within nature itself, failing which indeed legislative reason would be falsified or rendered totally irrelevant to any serious praxis: lex non est ipsum ius, proprie loquendo, sed aliqualis ratio iuris.44 This, however, gives answer only to the question of what, what kind of entity, is obligatory, viz. that it is ends that we should pursue, not the performance of certain actions in vacuo (as if we were indeed nothing but actors on a stage, "merely players"). The further question, as to why, or how, such an end and its pursual can be obligatory, refers to human nature as being in the divine image.45 It is paradoxical that the rationalist and enlightened ethics of Kant and his successors, such as R.M. Hare, should fasten on obligatory actions after the manner of what Nietzsche called a slave morality of obedience, albeit to reason, reason seen, however, very much as an extrinsic or alien power when no longer seen as forma corporis (why did Romantics or the Fascists wish to revolt against reason, if this were not so?). St. Thomas, on the contrary, can show the rationale, the reasonableness and naturalness, of obligation and why the obedience which it requires in no way alienates us from ourselves but rather fulfils us. ****************************** So we have here a theory of action as being the means of and even participation in an individual's attaining to what he wants. All

       Ia­IIae 51, 1; cf. 63, 1 (and Ia 115, 2).


       We are speaking throughout of the inclinations of our whole and  hence rational nature, not disordered impulses of unintegrated parts of  it. It is natural to man to be rational, as we saw (and even to apply  the requisite discipline or education to that end).

IIa-IIae 57, 1 ad 2um. I.e. law is not the just thing or right itself, properly speaking, but a certain formal intelligibility or expression of the right. Ius stands to lex as matter to form (cf. Theron, "Precepts of Natural Law in Relation to Natural Inclinations: a Vital Area for Moral Education", Anthropotes 2, Rome 1991), pp. 172-187.

Cf. J. Maritain, Moral Philosophy, Magi Books, Albany NY, 1990, chapter 5.

moral dispute is about that, and this will include matters of justice. The demands of justice, while directed to the other, ad alterum, are not themselves other or alien to us. How is this? Why do we, as individuals, both want and need to be just? The question is at least as old as Plato. One can answer it in terms of the common good where this is rightly understood and distinguished from what has been called the aggregate or utilitarian good.46 The common good is shared in common as friendship is shared in common. Between friends, and they may be more than two, as in a family, each one fully possesses the good of the friendship or of the family unity. To fail to give friends or other family members their due, to defraud them in other words, is to lose the good of friendship or of familial harmony. The person walking out of his or her family loses that good totally, while the other injured family members retain something of the common good damaged; they have not totally lost it. This example illustrates the Socratic dictum that the offender against justice is more to be pitied than the unjustly harmed. In just the same way, and not merely analogously, one who destroys another's human life has destroyed human brotherhood in himself, whether or not repentance is possible. He is to that extent no longer one of us, one of our society, whereas the murdered man has simply passed over to the host of our honoured dead somewhat before his time. The same reasoning can be applied to theft, deceit and all unjust acts. Here especially the idea of acting against conscience comes in, if we take conscience as our knowledge, our becoming aware through memory, and so on, of what is or was due from us. We can discount situations of people feeling obliged to this or that without reference to conscience, when they so feel out of some kind of fear, for example. The trouble, rather, is the ease with which conscience can become diseased or neurotic or, in a word, erroneous. From what we have said so far, however, it can be seen that the requirement for justice follows just as much from an inclination of the agent as does the need for any and all of the other virtues. This, again, is in general and principally the inclination to act rationally, but as understood in a philosophy where the intellect is the form of our human being and nature. It is not a source of mysterious dicta or maxims before which nature shrinks in terror, so to say. It shows us, rather, the way to go, as Cf. Thomas D. Sullivan & Gary Atkinson, "Benevolence and Absolute Prohibitions", International Philosophical Quarterly, September 1985, pp.247-259.

being in the service of our deepest desires. How necessary or absolute is justice? This is a root question for our enquiry, our project of deducing justice from needs, from what is required for the fullness of (in this case, human) being. The common good, we are saying, which justice serves, is needed for each person's good. Were this not so then justice would not be justice. Yet we would still say, with Thrasymachus perhaps, that it is not just to be just (this indeed was part of the triumphant counter-argument). But this refers to formal justice, as a necessary catgory47, before it receives material content in terms of equality of proportion. Yet this equality is still there if we would say that the weaker ought to defer to the stronger. This debt, signified by "ought", is first cousin to truth, as Anselm saw so clearly. Justice, the will to discharge it is rectitudo (voluntatis), as truth is a straight (recta) reflection of being, of what is, of the world, of how things are, in the mind. So justice in this formal sense means being true, in action, in the will (as habit), to the real. It is the real, then, that requires justice, even or especially formally speaking. Hence the point stands that if, even though it be unthinkable, the world were otherwise then justice would be otherwise.48 Due proportion would remain as formal constituent (just as the lion's unintelligible utterances would be speech), the content of the due would alter. The quarrel with Thrasymachus, however, is less radical than this, being only about what is due to human beings, weak or strong, as such. It is about human dignity, in the end a question of natural philosophy, not of conceptual formalities or metaphysical necessities. The element of "value", anyhow, in the modern rationalist sense, lies precisely and only in this point of the will's subjection to, love of, the real. Being, the true, is good, i.e. good is understood or "defined" in terms of being. But this does not give us a "separate universe of value". Rather, it binds us in just homage to the one true universe as enshrined in the intentions of its infinite creator. The problem, however, might seem threatened with Not of mind, but of reality, i.e. it is an a posteriori necessity, intuited with respect to how mind and will have, by their nature as constituted by their immanent objects (the true and the good in communi), to respond to this reality.

It would not be otherwise in such a way that we could describe and understand it in this world. Cf. Wittgenstein's saying that if a lion could talk we would not understand him.

incoherence in so far as the agent in some way always proclaims by his very action what seems just to him, as Satan, in one version, said "Evil, be thou my good." As desired, evil becomes a good; as chosen, an action is judged proportionate, just, though there can be error, and even wilful error, in this very judgement, in this very choice. For it seems one can never choose totally against all judgment, for "as a man is, so does the end seem to him", in Aristotle's words. But this consideration actually buttresses our position. For the properly just man also does what seems just to him, as his action too proclaims. He does not, either, act against all desire, as in the fantasies of secularist altruists, but pursues his highest and overall aim, assisted by fortitude, temperance and prudence. This assistance turns our reflections to the question of the unity of virtue, rather unhelpfully, we shall see, called the unity of the virtues in the plural. *********************************** What Kant said about virtue being able to be used in the service of bad acts was pretty crude and unreflective. For Aquinas this is only a seeming virtue, like thieves' honour or a murderer's courage. It is so because of the unity of the virtues which in turn depends upon the controlling role played by the ends of human life towards which it is the unifying role of prudence to dispose our actions. There is however a truth behind, if not in, Kant's observations here. This is, that there is no guarantee built into the concept of virtue that its possessor is going to act in a way generally considered right. It may please Aquinas to harmonize the virtues with precepts but this provides no security, as indeed we can observe in the lives of individualistic saints, against a person's acting in a way considered reprehensible by society. This, paradoxically, is a truth also entailed by the thesis of the unity of the virtues. Either Tom Jones in lacking chastity is not in general very virtuous or admirable or else what the novel would force us to say is that in so far as he is admirable his improper acts are not contrary to the virtue of chastity which he must possess along with the others. In a similar way St. Thomas, if indeed he was a hearty eater, could not have been a glutton. Again, one might ask if the unjust steward was really unjust, if indeed his master commended him. It seems we in some way assume the unity of virtue. We find that those monks of whom Gibbon writes who pictured Charlemagne in heaven except for his "guilty member",

which was variously plagued, badly lacked imagination. They can't have it both ways. Either Charlemagne was not the saint that ecclesiastical political mythology required him to be or, if he was, then his exceptional amorousness was somehow all right, in character as we say, justified by the general bigness of the man or however we want to put it. We can see this in quite simple dilemmas of the moral life, such as our inability to determine externally whether one man retreating before a particular danger has less courage than the possibly foolhardy man rushing ahead. The first man may possess perfect courage, as time will tend to show. Virtue, that is to say, does not in these cases have to correspond with an external moral absolute, since virtue itself is in the will. Of course if there are acts of themselves undue then the virtuous man will never commit them, but it is also true, as we are saying here, that any act which the virtuous man does commit (and which he himself does not repudiate) is ipso facto not undue, however it may look. Materially it may merit, or at least incur, some nasty name or other, but formally it will be free of it. ********************************** The question of the unity of the virtues falls primarily under a consideration of prudence. According to St. Thomas, it would appear, all the acquired (as distinct from the infused) virtues are connected in such a way that he who lacks one virtue can have none of the others perfectly.49 This thesis meets with opposition from modern analytical philosophers generally sympathetic to Thomism such as P.T. Geach or A.C. MacIntyre. The latter's argument depends on the assumption that Aquinas denied that there could be any virtue at all in the morally flawed person.50 Against this MacIntyre points out that a Nazi, say, would need moral re-education in charity and humility but not in courage. This, however, is not self-evident, while it is anyhow not true that Aquinas taught that there was no virtue at all in morally flawed persons. For one thing he distinguished between perfect and imperfect virtue (as MacIntyre fails to do here), notably at the beginning of just the response where the thesis is asserted:

Summa Theol. Ia-IIae 65, 1.

Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, London 1981, p.166f. In later work MacIntyre appears to have come closer to Aquinas's position.

virtus moralis potest accipi vel perfecta vel imperfecta. Imperfect virtue he equates with a natural or acquired inclination,51 such as might cover the customary behaviour of Nazis or, say, those who might become prompt to works of liberality, who nevertheless are not prompt to works of chastity. Before we consider Aquinas's argument concerning perfect virtues and their unity, however, we will consider Geach's objections to the position. Geach sums up Aquinas's argument52, saying that the conclusion, all the virtues stand or fall together (sic), is "both odious and preposterous". It means that if a man is manifestly affected with one vice, then any virtue that he may seem to have along with his vice is only spurious, and really he is vicious in this respect too. Against this he cites the apparent teaching of human experience all the world over that a man may be very laudable in some respects and very faulty in others. Now if the above were the teaching of Aquinas, then he might seem in agreement with classical Protestants such as Baius, who taught that all the works of unbelievers are sins, and the virtues of the philosophers are vices, or Johann Huss, who wrote that

Such inclinations, we saw in the previous chapter, are mere starting-points (inchoationes) upon which the virtue can be built.
51 52

P.T. Geach, The Virtues, p.164.

if a man is vicious and does anything, then he acts viciously. Yet the former proposition was condemned by Pope St. Pius V, the latter by the Council of Constance (1415), authorities that nonetheless had no difficulty with Aquinas's teaching on this point. In fact he teaches that the acquired virtues (not the infused) are able to exist without charity53 (just as he and Geach agree is the case with the theological virtue of faith). Much depends on the distinction between acquired, imperfect virtues and infused, perfect virtues which are infused with charity54 and depend upon it (as its effects55). Now of course these infused virtues "stand or fall together", for theological reasons which Geach hardly goes into, though he shows awareness of the distinction when he says that all virtues, however, are in the end vain for a man without the theological virtues (p.168), or when he asks But, after all, what good is such imperfect virtue? Is it not really spurious virtue? Not necessarily... But by imperfect virtue here, context suggests, Geach does not mean acquired virtue as such (the sense that Aquinas gives to the phrase), but something such as a vice of laziness working only quasi-virtuously to moderate a man's other vices. In fact the only challenging example we find for his position, as critical of Aquinas, is the appeal he makes to the need for moral virtue if one is to succeed in science or art, many paragons of which, he implies, have been notorious for particular vices. But whether these are not spurious virtues (as used in the art of theft) is just what needs to be proved in each case, while enquiring whether a man "pursues good ends" is far too simple a test, if one is to stop at the outward achievement.56 We hear of

Ia-IIae 65, 2.

According to a habit which may or may not be used, says St. Thomas (it cannot be used, for example, by infants until long after they have actually received it in baptism).
54 55

Ibid. 63, 3.

Particularly important here, if one is not to caricature Aquinas's position, is the difference between actual sin,

politicians of whom it emerges at the end of their lives that they sought achievement in the socialist movement merely because there was someone on the right whom they could not hope to outshine. Yet they may have done as great things for their country as the old Roman whom Geach cites did for the Republic.57 But Geach here cites IIa-IIae 47, 13 (Utrum prudentia possit esse in peccatoribus: whether there can be prudence in sinners) as if Aquinas there speaks against the unity of the virtues which he elsewhere affirms. Far from this, however, Aquinas rather confirms the thesis, saying that a prudence which judges rightly over the whole of life but which fails in some point accordingly to command (praecipere) is only found in a bad man, propter defectum principalis actus. But his perfect prudence or prudentia simpliciter seems to be an infused prudence, since only this can rightly judge of the end of life as a whole, this being supernatural: prudentia... vera et perfecta, quae ad bonum finem totius vitae recte consiliatur, judicat et praecipit; et haec sola dicitur prudentia simpliciter; quae in peccatoribus esse non est58 (i.e. in people who have any one settled vice, or in the sinner at the time that he sins). This is the point in the argument which Geach contests, saying that There is a tacit assumption that if a man's habit of sound moral judgment is vitiated anywhere it is vitiated everywhere. In other words, corrupt habits of action in any area will destroy the habit of prudence. But no behavioural virtue is a virtue at all unless behaviour is regulated by prudent judgments. So loss of any one behavioural virtue is ruinous to prudence, and thereby to any other behavioural virtue. repeatable through weakness, and habitual vice. See below in text. One may take Shakespeare's Brutus as an example of what moral complexities may be involved.

"True and perfect prudence, which rightly deliberates in favour of a good achievement of the whole life, judges and commands; and only this is called prudence simpliciter; which is not able to be in sinners."

This is indeed the substance of Aquinas's argument (for the unity of the infused virtues), who says that no virtue can be had without prudence because it is proper to moral virtue, as an elective habit, to make a right choice,59 for which is needed not only that inclination to the due end which is immediately proper to any moral virtue (in its particular matter), but also the effective choice of whatever is needed for that end, which happens through prudence, which is consiliative, judicative and preceptive of such a means. But this prudence in turn cannot be had without all the moral virtues, since it is recta ratio agibilium in general, and such a rightness depends upon recognition of the due ends sought by the virtues. Yet Aquinas explicitly says that imperfect prudence, judging rightly about a particular end (Geach's science or art) only, or failing, perhaps through akrasia, properly to command (praecipere), can be found in sinners60, just as imperfect virtue (in his sense) can there be found, which hardly seems "odious and preposterous". The position of St. Thomas here in summary is that virtues are only truly and perfectly such which look to the supernatural end, informed by charity, and are hence infused. Acquired virtues are virtues imperfectly only, and these are not necessarily connected. Hence even perfect prudence is infused and cannot exist without charity. An acquired virtue is compatible with serious sin, since the use of a habit possessed (the virtue) is subject to our will: Neque unus actus peccati tollit virtutem.61 But St. Thomas might just be thought to envisage the possibility of sin even against an infused virtue, when he qualifies the incompatibility of mortal sin with such virtue by saying

Ia-IIae 65, 1. IIa-IIae 47, 13.


"Neither does one act of sin take away virtue." Ia-IIae 71, 4, sed contra.

maxime si in sua perfectione consideretur.62 Such sin is not the same as habitual vice. One may sin, at least venially, against an infused virtue63, but it is not possible to have a habitual vice without total corruption of such virtue. Vice, after all, depends as much upon settled choice and will as does any virtue, while repeatedly committed and repented sin does not of itself amount to a vice (habitus non est simpliciter plures actus64). It is the contrary vice which destroys the virtue totally (though any such vice destroys perfect prudence). For the fact that the virtues are interconnected does not mean that they are all connected in equal strength: potest esse unus homo magis promptus ad actum unius virtutis quam ad actum alterius vel ex natura, vel ex consuetudine, vel etiam ex gratiae dono.65 What has been said here would not be complete without recalling St. Thomas's teaching66 that all previous gifts are restored in the sacrament of penance, which might accordingly be viewed as a return to a lost unity of virtue in whatever degree and not necessarily as "back to square one". In this way the indelible "Especially if it is considered in its perfection." Ia-IIae 63, 2 ad 2um. The absoluteness of the incompatibility (of mortal sin with divinely infused virtue) here seems to be qualified.

Ibid. 71, 4. This article speaks more absolutely (i.e. without the possible qualification noted above) of the incompatibility of mortal sin, considered as excluding charity, with infused virtue, of which charity is the root.

"A habit is not simply a succession of acts." Ia-IIae 71, 3 ad 2um.

"One particular man can be more prompt to the act of one virtue than to the act of another either by nature, or through custom, or even through a gift of grace." Ibid. 66, 2.
65 66

E.g. in the Summa theologica, pars IIIa.

sacramental character and graces on the Christian scheme are analogous to virtues as forming a character not lost by isolated but uncharacteristic acts, just as one may note, looking in the contrary direction, that the moral life is in continuity with the spiritual or interior67 life, as the doctrine of the beatitudes and gifts itself suggests. The association, however, is found equally in traditions, religious or otherwise, not laying claim to a supernatural intervention, e.g. it is found in Plato. Such an approach, indeed, is implicitly endorsed wherever one presents ethics under the rubric of "the good life". It is endorsed wherever the end itself is viewed as internal to ethics, i.e. as itself constituting, from the side of the possessor, at least, a quality of life and behaviour68, as in the Christian hope of divine friendship or the less ambitious Aristotelian ideal of "active" happiness. ************************************* The doctrine and central importance of the unity of virtue (the virtues are one as all falling under what is due for the attainment of the end, for life and the fullnes of our being) is reinforced if we consider how the four cardinal virtues and their inter-relations are thought of in the tradition. Against this background the points raised by Geach and others are seen rather as difficulties only, of which we hope we have in part at least disposed, than counterarguments. Certain virtues are called cardinal, because they sustain the virtuous life as hinges sustain a door. We find these four virtues listed, with slight variations, from early times as fulfilling this cardinal or principal role, e.g. in scripture69, by Cicero70, St. Ambrose71, St. Augustine72, St. Gregory the Great73. One should therefore try to grasp the reality implied by this doctrine and I take this term from the traditions of, in the main, French spiritual and mystical literature.

It has been the mark of liberalism to refuse concern with this.
68 69

Wisdom 8, 7. Rhetor., lib. 2 de Invent.


On Luke 6, 8: Scimus virtutes esse quattuor cardinales (lit: we know that the virtues are four cardinal ones).

De Moribus Ecclesiae 15: Quadripartita dicitur virtus (virtue is said to be fourfold) etc.

these distinctions. St. Thomas understands the metaphor of a hinge (cardo) as meaning that these virtues are principal, in the sense that all other (human) virtues proceed from them. Accordingly he asks, at 61, 1 (of Ia-IIae), whether it is moral virtues which should be called principal (as source of all good action) in the life of man, and not rather some intellectual virtues. These, after all, pertain essentially to reason, which is the active, formal part of man, whereas the moral virtues, like the will itself, pertain to reason only by participation.74 The theological virtues, again, might, from another point of view, seem to be more principal, as being ordered directly to God, the ultimate end, whereas the moral virtues are ordered only to those things which help one to the end. This is true, says St. Thomas, but such virtues are superhuman or divine, whereas we are concerned here with human virtue. Now human virtue, in the full sense, requires right desire (rectitudinem appetitus)75, i.e. it does not only perfect the faculty or ability of acting well (as do intellectus, scientia, sapientia and also ars, art). Virtue, that is, in the full or perfect sense of the term actually causes the good use of such a faculty. Hence such virtues are more principal or fundamental to being a good person. But such virtues, as bearing on the will to act, are the moral virtues (inclusive, however, of prudence which, though formally intellectual, as recta ratio, is yet moral with respect to its matter, viz. agibilia76). Only after establishing this point as to the moral character of the cardinal or principal virtues (Socrates is perhaps the principal opponent here77) does St. Thomas tackle the question of whether and why there are four such cardinal virtues. Given that these are moral, he argues, then they are concerned with the good, i.e. with the perfecting, firstly, of practical reason in itself, which gives us prudence. But such virtues are concerned, secondly, with the perfecting of practical reason where it exists as 2 Moral. 49: In quattuor virtutibus tota boni operis structura consurgit (the whole structure of good action is encompassed in four virtues).

Cf. 58, 2: omnium humanorum operum principium primum ratio est.
74 75

Cf. Ia-IIae 56, 3. Cf. 57, 4; 58, 3 ad 1um. Cf. 58, 2.



participated, i.e. in the will, both with regard to action, the will to act rightly, which gives us justice, and also with regard to the passions, either as restraining them, which gives us temperance (in the "concupiscible" sense-appetite as moderated by reason), or as holding fast to reason against certain passions, such as fear, which gives us fortitude (in the "irascible" sense-appetite). The claim is that all the other virtues are reducible to these, which are themselves irreducible. This may be meant, firstly, as by definition alone, in that any virtue, i.e. every habit of acting well or rationally, when it relates to rational consideration as such, may be called prudence; but when it has to do with what is right and due in actions it may be called justice; when it restrains passion it may be called temperance; when it involves constancy in adversity it may be called fortitude. But there is also, secondly, a material or real basis, in addition to the formal basis, for the reduction of all virtues to these four, in so far as they refer to what is most prominent in the defined area. Thus the skill of determining what to do always falls under prudence, which is "preceptive". All objective debts and duties fall under justice. All moderation of sense-pleasure falls under temperance. The facing of death, to which all danger and adversity tends, falls under fortitude. Yet we may wonder whether (or how far) these virtues are really distinct from one another. For, as Gregory the Great says, there is no true prudence which is not just, temperate and brave, while the same applies to these three in turn; true courage is prudent and so on. We often seem to attribute what belongs to one virtue to another. Thus the temperate man's self-conquest is rightly called bravery, says St. Ambrose. Now it is true that in one way the cardinal virtues can be taken as merely naming the elements which must be found in any virtuous act. In this way they do not signify a diversity of habits in reality. Any moral act, again, requires a certain firmness (fortitude), a certain due order (justice), a certain reasonable moderation (temperance), plus the initial discretionary judgment (prudence). When the virtues are so taken then prudence alone would seem essentially distinct as belonging essentially to the reasoning prior to the commencement of action. But, as we have said, these virtues each have a special object or materia in which, says St. Thomas, that general condition of virtue described above is specifically praised. So they are diversified by these objects. Thus the cardinal virtues are only denominated from one another by "a certain redundancy". Prudence, for example,

redounds upon the other virtues in so far as they are all directed by it. Fortitude, since firm against death, is firm against harmful pleasures and, in reverse, temperance preserves courage from foolhardiness. This is the redundancy upon one another of habits in themselves distinct, even if they cannot exist apart from one another. Granted their diversity we might ask, firstly,78 how far these virtues are found in an exemplary way79 in God. The divine mind, if considered as practical providence, seems then to be prudence, while the divine self-affirmation corresponds to conformity of desire to reason (temperance), the divine immutability to fortitude; divine justice is clear to view. St. Thomas is here looking in the divine nature for causal analogues of the virtues as realities.80 Secondly, these virtues can be political, inasmuch as man uses them in the necessary affairs of society. Thirdly, as virtutes purgatoriae (purgatorial virtues) they structure man's search for the divine, the finis ultimus. Here prudence rejects what is less than this and directs man wholeheartedly to God, temperance "uses the world as though it used it not" (St. Paul), fortitude helps us not to be terrified by the Cross, while justice consents to the whole divine plan. Fourthly, what of the virtues of the souls in heaven (virtutes purgati animi), St. Thomas asks.81 He answers: prudence knows only the divine, temperance knows no earthly desires, nor fortitude passions, while justice associates with and imitates the divine mind. As Peter Geach does in his The Virtues (Cambridge 1977).

I.e. exemplary in the Platonic sense of a more absolute way of existing.

Geach denies that temperance, in particular, can be attributed to God. He also denies that chastity and sexual morality comes under temperance, as it does according to Aquinas and the tradition.

61, 5. If this article is compared with 65, 2 (Whether the moral virtues can exist without charity) then it would seem to be the mind of St. Thomas that also the "political" virtues, i.e. those with which we conduct the affairs of this life in society, are not truly virtues except where they are infused, i.e. by grace, without which there is no charity (a theological virtue, and form of all virtues, even of prudence).

This applying of the general fourfold scheme to four such specifically different areas (though three of them be in some way theological) serves to underline its objective basis in a fourfold reality, this in turn helping to explain the unanimity of the tradition. ******************************* Thus our initial protest against moralism as a doctrine of behaviour in divorce from the natural goals of life, and in favour of a unitary vision of "the good life", seems to find justification. It is a mistake to prefer a philosophy of value to this ultimately eudemonistic vision, even though it may be the specifically Christian thinkers whom we have to credit for making this clear, a point which utilitarians ought more often to note. We simply cannot pretend to discard this moment in the development of our tradition. This is to take the more positivistic theologians upon their own valuation of themselves, instead of attending to the deep continuity between grace and nature from which an understanding of our modern autonomy cannot be separated. "He's a hedonist at heart," says C.S. Lewis's Screwtape of God, quoting the psalm, "At thy right hand are pleasures for ever more." In philosophies of "value", by contrast, such as that found in Dietrich von Hildebrand's Christian Ethics82, the value spoken of is somehow conceived of as apart from the natural universe while, as von Hildebrand himself says, St. Thomas "does not use this concept" (not surprisingly, in view of its distinctly rationalist provenance). As Etienne Gilson explains it, perhaps with some exaggeration, the Christians stood the old pagan philosophy of virtue (and hence of value, the bonum honestum) on its head, by making union with and enjoyment of God the end of all things. This prepared the way for a philosophy more unambiguously based upon happiness as final end of human action.83 "Only this is desirable for itself, and all else for the sake of it" (Augustine). To this corresponds the primacy of being over the good argued for by the Christians, following Exodus, as opposed to the Neoplatonic primacy of the Form of the Good (and ultimately of the One) over Being. Iris Murdoch's view of goodness, we noted, seems to revert to this ancient view, and indeed moralists often slip back into this worship of "pure" morality, altruism and so forth. But "this moral

London 1953.

E. Gilson, The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy, New York, 1940,, pp. 325, 473.

theory does not correspond to the truth about man and his freedom."84 Here we can understand Gabriel Marcel's remark: I would accordingly be inclined to make the following undoubtedly paradoxical affirmation that the introduction of the idea of value into philosophy, an idea virtually unknown to the great metaphysicians of the past, is as it were the sign of a fundamental devaluation of reality itself...85 Thus in this tradition the virtues are habits which man needs so as to attain his or her end, and in his theology, for his part, Aquinas develops and extends this doctrine into a general teaching concerning supernatural wisdom, as he calls it (theological virtues, beatitudes, gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit). A personalist doctrine emerges wholly distinct from individualism, since individualism has no doctrine of the common good. It is precisely because certain actions, including offences against justice committed for utilitarian motives, harm the common good that, as we noted above, the person thus responsible harms his own ultimate and personal good in so acting. This theory of the ultimate end is not the same as the "one thing needful" of the mystical tradition. Bonum in communi (actually identified by Aquinas both with happiness and with God), goodness as such or all that is good, is the specific good of the rational will and hence of the human being. Yet the various faculties other than the will have each their own particular goods which it is natural and hence right for man to desire as well as this bonum in communi as such. The natural desire for God is just one of the human desires and our openness to the transcendent, as touched upon in the first chapter, does not contradict this. There is a hierarchy of the natural inclinations, including, for example, such desires as that to marry or that to live in political society. On the other hand, even the (so-called supernatural) doctrine of "using the world as though one used it not" seems prefigured in statements of Plato and Aristotle, as when the latter says that just a little of divine truth is worth more than all the other goods together and that the wise person should practise death (athanatizein) in relation to these things for the sake of gaining wisdom. Self-transcendence of (human) nature is built into (human) nature, it seems. Thus Aquinas can transpose this

Pope John Paul II, Veritatis splendor, Rome 1993, 48.

G. Marcel, Les hommes contre l'humain, Paris 1951, p.127.

Aristotelian ideal into a doctrine of divine vision as ultimate end of life. In contrast to Aristotle though he thinks that it is necessary to know that this is the end in order to be able to live well. True teleology, all the same, does not require us to deny that there are intrinsically evil acts, acts, that is to say, which never lead to the end. One recognizes the traditional Christian scheme. (T)he Christian moralists sought first to attach all moral worth to the voluntary act as its root;... at the same time they gathered up the concepts of the beauty and honour of human acts into a concept still more comprehensive, that, namely, of the good; then referred the good to a transcendent principle worthy of all honour in itself and absolutely, more truly even than virtue, which is only honourable on account of this. They regarded the soul of a just man as beautiful and worthy of honour because virtuous, but virtue itself as honourable only because it leads man to God. It is therefore not the supreme good, the nec plus ultra that it was to the Greeks, the allsufficient unconditioned condition of all morality.86 ******************************* We will conclude and in part develop the above by considering this crucial concept of the bonum honestum in relation to temperance (having begun with justice) as treated by Aquinas, bearing in mind our saying that each of the four virtues in one way covers the whole of moral or practical life. Aquinas paraphrases honestas, which he puts as one of the "integral parts", together with verecundia (a kind of passion of modesty or delicacy), necessary for any act of temperance, as "spiritual beauty". One can perhaps see intuitively how honestas as beauty might be especially associated with temperance, which includes abstinence, sobriety and chastity as its so-called "subjective parts" and, Aquinas tells us, has associated with it (its "potential parts") such pleasant-seeming virtues as moderation, continence, humility, mildness and simplicity.87 Those modern authors who feel that sexual morality does not belong under temperance thus described88 might well have

Gilson, op. cit. p.325. Cf. p.473, note 4. Quaedam spiritualis pulchritudo (IIa-IIae 145, 4). E.g. P.T. Geach, The Virtues, Cambridge 1977, p.137.



lost the sense of a connection between unchastity and spiritual ugliness, even if they should sound more severe against sexual sin than the mild Aquinas. This in itself might be symptomatic of a divorce of morality from the overall good life in the manner of which we are complaining. They might equally well go the other way and choose to ditch the traditional constraints upon sexuality. This impulse to separate chastity and temperance, that is to say, is a sign that some sexual behaviour spontaneously reprobated in the classical and ritualistic cultures, a tendency we find continued in today's Islam, is no longer seen as essentially intemperate, as spiritually ugly. This development, partly consequent upon the removal of certain sociological constraints in the position of women, for example, was foreshadowed in the traditional institution of carnival and (as reflecting a more permanent imbalance) its earlier pagan counterparts. This traditional imbalance was itself perhaps the prime cause of the puritanism which succeeded it. For one understands the puritan as being someone bound by his convictions to call evil or sinful what he naturally apprehends as good89, a state of mind entailing the theology of total depravity as a psychological need for him or her. This means that the puritan is bound eventually to apostasise, since he represents an essentially transitional or halfway approach. Temperateness itself, by contrast to the real or fancied embodiments of it to which one may commit oneself, can, as pertaining to the formal anatomy of goodness, never be Geach gives no cogent reason for his view, as does Aquinas for his. The remark about parvity of matter (p.138) is a straight ignoratio elenchi; all the virtues admit of both trifling and grave violation. Geach interprets "the Founder's" words on looking at a woman to lust after her as if they would proclaim a stricter law, old-style, not subsumable, again, under mere temperance. But they are surely better seen as declaring a relative lack of interest in law, as wishing to put a quite different consideration at the centre of the spiritual theatre, viz. that we should forgive trespassers (an act of love), especially as we are ourselves are in pretty much the same case, a case for which we may or may not wish to condemn ourselves at different stages of our life and development. For, in fact, as an ad hominem appeal this teaching seems to avoid making a direct pronouncement upon the behaviour concerned, only saying in preface that "ye have heard that ye shall not...", and this might well be deliberate.

reprobated. One should note though that the teaching of Jesus itself envisages a state where what is as natural to one as an eye or a foot becomes (though it be not it essentially) a source of offence or contradiction, at least once one is entered upon the quest in pursuit of the self-transcending end. But it is not entailed that these or other organs are in themselves an offence or that they will offend everyone at some time. It is not even entailed, thus far, that our nature is wounded (though it may be), a doctrine anyhow misread in the puritan schizophrenia. All that is implied is that we may be called to give up one good for the sake of another. Puritanism results from confusing this heroic predicament, this call to transcend nature (to which, we noted, it is no contradiction that we are naturally sympathetic90), with our nature itself, as if man should naturally hate himself, a perhaps inevitable mistake after whole populations had been committed to the Christian message. For it is difficult for a whole nation to consist entirely of aristocrats. An offshoot of the mistake is the philosophy of the welfare state (and communism itself), in which what can only fittingly proceed from social charity, i.e. in the freedom of love, is made the legal responsibility of all citizens by means of an essentially thieving tax system. Totalitarian philosophy, therefore, like the puritanism to which it is akin, since it is its effect, is bound also to be abandoned as transitional. The call of Jesus, on the other hand, as calling to our freedom, forbids institutionalisation. This development towards welfare, but also towards its abandonment in a more generous future, was foreshadowed in the Robin Hood legend, just as the carnival foreshadowed both the contradictions of puritanism (such as the reduction of an intrinsic sexual ethos, perhaps more imagined than lived up to at any time, to an extrinsic prohibition) and its later transcendence in liberalism. In both cases restrictive law can be hoped to pass over, via the transitional states, into the new, unwritten or spiritual law of love, form of all the virtues.91 The human will, as participated intellect, has bonum in communi as its object.

Cf. Jacques Maritain, True Humanism, G. Bles, London 1938, passim. It might seem unwarranted to see this hope as anything more than an action-guiding ideal. This will depend upon how much weight we are prepared to grant to the argument from natural desire, and this in turn upon anterior premisses.

It is anyhow symptomatic that Geach, for example, rejects the existing arguments for "the traditional view about sexual vices"92, urging rather that we "hang on to" this view in blind faith. For there is a clear connection between these arguments in their appeal to "natural teleologies" and the ideal of the fitting or decorous (i.e. the natural) which honestas suggests.93 All the same of course, if an individual argument of this type happens to be unsound, e.g. in a particular view of just what is unnatural, then Geach is right to reject it. It could be that acting freely and spontaneously is more natural and hence more fitting to man than the following of any rule at all. St. Thomas, then, speaks of honestas as that through which one loves the beauty of temperance, adding that it is especially temperance, i.e. not justice or prudence, to which one attributes a certain beauty (decorem), just as the vices of intemperance appear as having an especial vileness (turpitudinem94), as corresponding to the lowest in man, which belongs to his animal nature.95 Enlarging on the special relation of beauty to temperance St. Thomas finds the common thread in "a certain moderate and convenient proportion", this being the essence (ratio) of both the beautiful and of temperance.96 There is in general a special refinement or subtlety in this stress upon honestas in the context of a teleological ethics. Even though moral principles are explained as precepts enjoined as means to human fulfilment yet we meet here the idea of moral

Op. cit. p.141.

For exposition and defence of the traditional argument see our "Natural Law and Humanae vitae", in "Humanae vitae": 20 anni dopo. Atti del II Congresso Internazionale di Teologia Morale, Rome 1988; also The Recovery of Purpose, Frankfurt 1993, Chapter Two.
93 94

IIa-IIae 143, 1.

St. Thomas uses the word bestialem, in contrast to his general view that human sense-life is nobler than that of the brutes. With intemperance, however, we are dealing with sense-life when manifested as without due proportion to reason or intellectual nature (forma corporis) and as thereby less properly human.

IIa-IIae 145, 2. Aequalitas proportionis, equality of proportion, is also, we saw, the essence of justice.

beauty, of the goodness of right moral choice, in itself. Nor does this contradict the overall teleological perspective. Cicero, whom St. Thomas cites, tells us that the honestum is that which is desired for its own sake (honestum esse quod propter se appetitur, Rhetor.II). This was later echoed in St. Anselm's definition of justice as rectitudo propter se servata, implicitly criticized, however, by St. Thomas at IIa-IIae 58, 1 ad 2um. For justice, he points out, is not rectitudo essentially97, as he here (145, 1) says that honestas is in some sense virtue as a whole, as characterizing human excellence.98 Virtue, however, and hence honestas, he goes on to say, and we have already noted it above, is a less perfect good than the last end, happiness (felicitas), which is always desired or loved only for itself. For honestas is only sometimes loved for itself, as having in it something (by participation) of ultimate happiness, and this can be so, therefore, even when it seems to bring us no further good (etiamsi nihil aliud boni per ea nobis accideret). All the same it is in general desirable as leading us to the more perfect good. St. Thomas therefore states expressly that God and beatitude (Deus et beatitudo) are to be honoured beyond virtue as being more excellent than virtue, i.e. as being greater goods. We do not worship virtue. It is noteworthy here how he seems to use the terms God, beatitude and happiness (felicitas) interchangeably, in so far at least as he says the same about all three, viz. that they are a more perfect good than virtue. This, indeed, is what we found Gilson stressing about St. Augustine and the Christians, viz. that they "stood the old pagan philosophy of virtue on its head." As the supreme moral value Christianity replaces virtue by God, and the whole conception of the moral end is thereby

Ad secundum dicendum quod neque etiam justitia est essentialiter rectitudo, sed causaliter tamen: est enim habitus secundum quem aliquis recte operatur et vult: i.e. justice is not essentially but only causally rectitude. For it is the habit whereby someone acts and wills rightly (recte). One can hardly find a better example of the precision employed by St. Thomas in this work of discrimination among the virtues.

Honestum... in idem refertur cum virtute. The honourable and the virtuous are referred to the same things.

transformed.99 The bonum honestum, as "that which is to be enjoyed (frui not uti=utile), but not used" (Gilson, p.474)100, is thus in reality God rather than virtue, since virtue "depends on God... as regards... its existence and worth". The name (honestum), however, is applied generally to virtue as that which is more known to us. We praise virtue as alone making a man good, we honour it (honestum) in so far as it is desirable for itself. The bonum honestum as applied to moral life is thus in reality just one exemplification of a general metaphysical truth, viz. that everything is good in itself (to be enjoyed, we said above) which fulfils its nature or, more generally, in so far as it is. This is so even though it is also true that every finite thing is to be used (bonum utile), so as to lead us to the last end.101 The action which is really useful is thereby the action which is beautiful (honestum) in itself. Hence St. Thomas says that "the honourable concurs in the same subject with the useful and the delightful, from which it nevertheless differs in meaning."102 In this way Maritain too distinguishes the orders of formal and of final causality, of specification and of exercise in his terms103, pointing out that

Gilson, op. cit. p.474.

Frui has a more "substantive" sense than does the enjoyment of the delectabile, as witness our word "usufruct". Still, we can enjoy both the honestum and the delectabile for themselves, but not the utile. In so far as we did it would cease to be this.

The truth in question depends upon the reality of the analogy of being, according to which finite things truly are (so that the term for being, "are", is naturally analogous), and are not, like shadows, things which "both are and are not", as we find in Plato's univocist account.

Honestum concurrit in idem subjectum cum utili et delectabili, a quibus tamen differt ratione (145, 3).

This distinction is found in Summa theol. Ia-IIae 9, 1, as that between a power's potentiality or need to be moved quantum ad exercitium (to act or not to act) or quantum ad determinationem actus. Here, however, it does not seem to imply Maritain's notion of a separate moral order or universe. On formal and final causality in this connection cf.

The honourable good is the very first, primordial aspect of the good, its first apprehension, in the moral order.104 It is only later, in philosophical analysis, that we see how all is and must be for the sake of the finis ultimus, present and operative in all moral activity. Such analysis, however, should not tempt us to deny our spontaneous tendency to respond to the beauty (honestas) of, say, an act of self-sacrifice (of which we might ourselves be incapable), etiamsi nihil aliud boni per ea nobis accideret105, i.e. even though no other good would come to us through it. Maritain speaks here of this aspect as that which is substantially good (i.e. not merely instrumentally) in the moral order: The expression "substantial good" would be more philosophical than "honourable good". There is a connection between the honourable good in the moral order and substance in the metaphysical order. Substance, in relation to being, is what is fit to exist in itself or by itself.It is the first meaning of being in the order of the categories. Likewise, in the moral order, the honourable good is what is desirable or lovable in itself, since it is plenitude of being... of the act of freedom itself, which does not fall short of this primordial accomplishment,... agreement with its own rule (reason).106 Laurence Dewan O.P., "The Real Distinction between Intellect and Will", Angelicum 57 (1980), pp.557-593, especially note 24. It is hard to see how distinguishing formal causality from final should lead to a separate order of absolute obligations or "values", especially if obligation is itself conceptually tied to ends ("absolute" or natural enough) and finality in the way that we have tried to show. J. Maritain, An Introduction to the Basic Problems of Moral Philosophy, New York (Magi Books), 1990, p. 40.

The understandable wish to belittle or condemn the martyr might exemplify such a temptation to denial.

Maritain's tendency to speak of two orders in parallel seems regrettable. In reality there is only the one order of reality, viz. the metaphysical, in which indeed the world of personal spirits may be thought to outweigh the area of the

Similarly, when St. Thomas wishes to prove that the honestum is the same as the spiritually beautiful (which, with being, true, good etc. is one of the transcendentals) he argues from due proportion (debita proportio) as a property of the beautiful (pseudo-Dionysius) to behaviour which is well (duly) proportioned according to the spiritual "clarity" of reason, reason being the rule of freedom as he says elsewhere. For this is the meaning of honestum.107 So what Kant wished to say of the good will as "good without qualification" applies simply to the point where the will, as principle of moral life, is measured in the same way as any other (substantive) reality, viz. as good in its own being.108 It does not apply uniquely to the will, after all. Anything whatever is good without qualification in so far as it is. We may add to our analysis that the substantive good of virtue is further called honestum as being that which makes men and women worthy of honour. ***************************** We conclude by recalling Aquinas's view that such honestas belongs especially to temperance, as beauty is opposed to the especial disgracefulness of intemperance, with its brutales voluptates. Again, the very name "temperance" recalls the good of reason, in the proportion of which, we noted above, spiritual beauty (honestas) is found, since it belongs to reason to moderate and temper base desires.109 Our century (i.e. the twentieth) might seem to have been characterized by a great effort to see the integrally human in the specifically sexual, to free the latter from the taint of baseness. But there is no reason to oppose this effort to the good or beauty of chastity as the virtue of rational control, of temperance, in this material. Thus, again, the good, like anything else, is a being (an ens rationis in fact, since secundum rem it is the same as being), and good is sought as that which perfects (one's own) being. Will, similarly, is a participation in reason.

IIa-IIae 145, 2.

Calling it substantive is not to say that the will is a substance. As a power of the human soul it is a proper accident of the substance man. Accidental being, however, is real in its own (analogous) way, according to Thomism.
108 109

Moderari et temperare concupiscentias pravas (145,


area. For when we ask what is the right way to live with our sexuality we are asking what is the rational way and hence, according to the above arguments, what is the beautiful and honourable way. Nothing has changed there. And so, when St. Thomas tells us that temperance as chastity has to do with the sense of touch, But temperance concerns the delights of touch... Some of these are ordered to our power of procreation: and in these chastity is ordered to the principal delight of coitus itself, while modesty (pudicitia) is ordered to the surrounding delights to be found, for example, in kisses, touches and embraces,110 we should bear in mind his general principle that this kind of precision (praecisio) is compatible with a coincidence in reality with other factors, as sexuality belongs with love, creativeness, the sense of life and beauty and so on.111 It remains the case that sexual vices, however we materially identify them, are basically vices of intemperance, even if erotomania, like sexual love itself, has all kinds of ramifications as profound as they may be elusive and magical. Any further resistance which one may feel to the analysis may well be found to lie at root in a more fundamental 143, 1: Est autem temperantia circa delectationes tactus... Quaedam vero ordinantur ad vim generativam: et in his quantum ad delectationem principalem ipsius coitus est castitas; quantum autem ad delectationes circumstantes, puta quae sunt in osculis, tactibus et amplexibus, attenditur pudicitia.

Again, we might keep the substance of this doctrine of temperance and chastity while developing a different or at least more nuanced view from those traditionally held as to what materially exemplifies these virtues. It might be worth noting, for example, that the earliest church council enjoined abstinence from "fornication and things strangled", as if these two were on a par. Yet the ban on the latter is no longer operative! The word for fornication, however, could have a built-in sense of intemperance separable, at least theoretically, from the identification of it as intercourse between the unmarried. Or it could refer to the partly ritual prohibitions of Leviticus 15, which would remove it even further from a material moral prohibition of a non-provisional kind.

disagreement concerning the role of reason in human nature. For in Thomism this is seen as by no means an alienating, restrictive factor but rather as the form of humanity (forma corporis) itself. This is why canons of goodness do not constrain human existence and being, open as it is to original impulses of power and creativity such as Socrates associated with his daimon. "Power is the morality of those who stand out from the rest and it is mine" (Beethoven). The doctrine in the Summa theologica (and elsewhere in the Thomistic corpus) of spiritual gifts and related matters seems to show this to be a thoroughly Thomistic sentiment.112

CHAPTER THREE The New Law, Modernity and Natural Law: a Necessary Reintegration We have not yet settled our account with what we have called here rationalist moralism. We have always to strive for further understanding of how the new insight, as we believe we may characterize it, relates to a previously established wisdom, so that what is ever new is, in another sense, ever the same. It is a matter of paring away the imperfect apprehensions of what has always lain within the grasp of man, of men and women. Thus in what MacIntyre calls an epistemological crisis new ways of seeing things are applied to an old or abiding tradition in such a way as to explain why the old ways are no longer valid, in his terms, and so as to keep the riches of the tradition accessible. We can apply this to moral theology and philosophy. The whole stress of the revival of natural law doctrine has been to show how, in one way or another (on a spectrum from the "deontological" to the "teleological"), the divine commands are St. Thomas attributes these developments towards a transcendence of constraining or rationalistic morality to the operation of an extrinsic, supra-natural principle, viz. grace. But we can focus upon the development without having to decide as to the cause, all the more so since it seems the view of Aquinas that nature somehow naturally requires perfection by grace.

rooted in the inclinations of human nature.113 "This do and thou shalt live" is the biblical word, understood as saying that this is intrinsically the way to life, ultimately, in the New Testament, life eternal. When one sees this clearly, however, then the time has come to ask whether the doctrine of natural law was ever, even as such, more than a middle or holding position. This implies that one also has to ask whether it is not also time for the divine command element to drop out of the picture, being recognized as a metaphor. One way of asking this, as situating the enquiry but also as of inherent theological and human interest, is to ask whether this was not the further intention of the preaching and teaching of Jesus.114 In other words, or to particularize, in saying "This is my commandment: love one another" what was Jesus doing? Was he, at least among other things, discreetly discarding the paradigm of law and obedience, rather than simply enjoining a "love" at the opposite pole to spontaneity and passion, a somehow more spiritual attitude of will, this being where Kierkegaard and MacIntyre's Scotchmen put the emphasis? We have had the doctrines, biblical enough, of the new law, the law of the spirit, the law written on the heart115, the law of It is an oddity of the "Scottish Enlightenment" as discussed by MacIntyre (Whose Justice? Which Rationality?) that this does not seem to have been so there, a doctrine of "deontological" moral principles unrelated to "self interest" being set against English utilitarianism. The natural law theory of tradition however enjoins morality precisely as the means to human fulfilment and the religious discussion, where Christian or post-Christian, must presuppose that God ultimately wishes us well, wishes us fulfilment, just as we wish ourselves, only sometimes misidentifying its content.

We can apply this enquiry both to Jesus as portrayed by the evangelists, thus allowing for the particular theological interests of each, and also to the "historical" Jesus who can be distinguished from this portrayal (though not thereby found to differ from it), just as can Socrates from the Platonic record of him. The Gospels themselves, one may feel, encourage us to go behind the letter of their text on occasion.

This expression is used of natural law by St. Paul (in Romans), certainly, but specifically as applied to people who have no set of divine commands, the Gentiles, and Aquinas, we saw, defines natural law in terms of a reflected divine

charity poured into our hearts, the unwritten law of grace, the spirit as opposed to the "letter" of the law, which is nothing without charity or love. Certain it is, anyhow, that law is an elastic, an analogical concept, this being what enables it to remain a concept necessary to any orderly explanation of reality. But despite analogy, we found in our first chapter these explanations of law as structuring our essential nature, as man or as grace-led Christian, can be seen as kinds of reduction (or transcendent expansion) of the original legal concept naming the relation of an essential denial of freedom as between an inferior and a superior. Such expansion, though, has in practice been forced uneasily to co-exist with the old obedience mentality. Contraception, say, was against natural law, but nobody could really see it. Thus in practice loyal believers just had and have to obey the directive, to knuckle under to an explanation of their natures they could never have given themselves, since they take rather like ducks to water to the freedom given by "the pill". In addition to this, it is not clear how far natural law means or expresses a demand for a subjection to natural teleologies apparently contrary to natural inclination, even granted that we may have deeper desires than those of which we are most conscious. This and related situations can of course be explained as directives given by the wise (sapientes) to those who should be naturally inclined to listen to them. But what if the wise themselves do not see the matter clearly, are merely adhering to a tradition the validity of which is not clear to their unaided wise perception either? Would this not mean that no one knows any more (did they ever?) that the practice is wrong? This might almost (if, perhaps, not quite) seem to have been the situation for Aquinas himself when writing negatively, but loyally, of fornication, in so far, at least, as the argumentation appears weak. It has been well said, to pursue the example as proving the general claim, that if physiology were different then sexual morality would be different (e.g. if sex did not produce babies). But can one accept that, as one can hardly avoid doing, and yet rule out from the start that other changes in circumstances might not affect sexual morality, particularly a change approximating more and more to this very hypothesis, viz. the separation of the light in the mind, not an impress of precepts (even if he can say elsewhere that such a law "consists of" precepts). The situation tends to support our view of natural law as an openness to ever further fulfilment.

procreative from the copulative or unitive aspect?116 This is merely to argue for the possibility of change in the matter of the law, old-style. The new law of Christ, however, was at the least a change in the very type of law, and we were asking here whether this change should not in the end be seen as more equivocal than analogical where law is referred to, as a liberation indeed from the yoke of law. This, in another way, was the inspiration of Kant, the philosopher of modernity. To be autonomous was to live only as if under a law, as we have emphasised above in our treatment of Kant. If one is as if under a law then one is no longer actually under it, but rather above it. One is "captain of one's soul" and does what one wants. There remains only the task of coming to understand what one wants, for "as a man is, so does the end seem to him" (Aristotle). Christ enjoined love, and it is often objected that love must have matter to go to work on, and so this matter would be the natural law, fulfilled from the higher motive of those who are perfect, who "need no law", who can "love and do what they like", this being the new freedom, viz. one that is inter alia freed by charity from sinful desires. There is much truth in this, but is it really and fully the revolution as intended? In fact Christ did supply matter to love, i.e. matter of his own. Thus he did not say, except dismissively to the rich young man, if you love me keep the commandments, but if you love me keep my commandments, adding that "my commandment is that you love one another." Nothing is said in these last chapters of John's Gospel about natural law. But what is taught throughout as the matter of love and unique condition of life in the "kingdom of heaven" is forgiveness, and forgiveness without limit (up to seventy times seven, so stubbornly if grotesquely misunderstood by Emily Bronte's Joseph Poorgrass), applied even, in Luke's Passion account, to those driving in the nails. The point is not their having an excuse, but the tremendous will to forgive and hence to find an excuse. What is forgiveness? One can find surprisingly little about it in Aquinas's Summa Theologica, perhaps because of the grounding of moral theology there in natural law and the virtues,

This separation is, of course, itself condemned by defenders of a traditionalist view of natural law, but there cannot be a moral condemnation of a change in a situation (viz. that such a separation is now much more possible), only of an action. The moral question is what to do about the change, granted that some changes do or would affect our duties. Of course some sins, in earlier teaching, were defined precisely as a seeking of solitary or mutual pleasure in separation from procreation. We might otherwise seem to be saying that the same morality which would alter with altered physiological conditions forbids the altering of those conditions!

maginificently crowned indeed by the prominence given to charity (love) as form of the virtues. Aquinas insists, in his treatment of the sacrament of penance, that "sins are forgiven in the Church"; this, attractive as it is, would not of itself measure up to or fully translate Christ's placing of central weight upon a disposition of forgivingness in the ordinary, non-formalized conduct of life, between man and man and between man and God, as Aquinas would surely have agreed. On the other hand the doctrine seems echoed, unconsciously maybe, by the teaching of Nietzsche on the Übermensch or superior man who is free of resentment and grudges, who, in a word, forgives without limit, as one forgives a brother, simply because all human beings are his brethren. In Nietzsche this forgiveness coincides with the setting aside of moral law. But this, we remember, is how the pharisees understood Jesus, his claim to forgive sins or to just tell people that they were forgiven. The Sermon on the Mount prompts to similar thoughts. There is a coincidence between the raising of the law to a "perfect" imitation of the Father before whom all are brothers and a setting aside of the law, even of justice in some sense. For justice, we remember, was classically "ad alterum", to the other as other, but the matter of this new proclamation is that there are no others, no aliens, we are all brothers and sisters or at least invited to be so. This should be remembered when Jesus asks "who are my mother and brothers and sisters" and answers that it is anyone who does his Father's will, so that we do not fall back into an uninteresting (and untrue) interpretation of these words in terms of moralism alone. It is the family of those who forgive and are forgiven, who live in freedom, this disposition being what has been declared as his will. Again, the depths of the remark about adultery in the heart go beyond a mere charter for an oppressive regime directed against "impure thoughts". It also teaches that those publicly caught out in what we might call traditional sin are not in fact worse than the rest of us, as is reinforced by the question as to who shall cast the first stone, this being again a prelude to forgiveness - "neither do I condemn thee." ******************************** A close study of Aquinas's ethical theory reveals that for him the first principles of behaviour are the ends of our nature, known by synderesis, which is a natural or innate habit. Any moral principles

of a judicial or enuntiative kind, by contrast, are conclusions drawn by the intellectual (if also moral) virtue of prudence. While synderesis is not merely analogous to but actually is the virtue of intellectus in its practical aspect, so prudence, as intellectual, coincides with practical knowledge (scientia, again an intellectual virtue) concerning things to be done, agibilia (a distinct intellectual virtue bearing upon practice, here factibilia or things to be made, is art, ars or techne). Prudence, for its part, is only distinct as a virtue from scientia because it is never purely speculative, but practical, a knowledge ordinata ad opus. Any purely speculative knowledge of moral systems, such as Aquinas's own moral theology, comes under scientia, not prudence. Hence theology is not a practical science, as Scotus was to teach, and neither are science and prudence distinguished by their matter, but by the type of knowledge, speculative and practical respectively. There can arguably be a practical knowledge of speculative principles or conclusions, just as we have allowed for a speculative knowledge of practical principles. If it is the ends of nature which primarily oblige, then there seems no room for any possibility that a principle concluded from such ends, as all moral rules must be, should frustrate those ends. One may believe that a given divine commandment, say, will never frustrate these ends, but must still grant that if or where it did then there it would no longer apply. This is a better answer than just refusing to suppose a counter-instance, at least within philosophy. One should not wish to defend a greater absoluteness of enunciated moral principle than that. To this extent Aquinas appears in agreement with "situation ethics" if this phrase refers to an agent bringing to a situation a view of his natural ends, happiness, survival, etc. These ends, also called goods, have thus to be arranged into a correct hierarchy, since this very hierarchy it is which gives the order of the precepts, since they are based on it alone. Finnis's objection to this hierarchy is thus a massive exegetical error, whatever else it may be.117 In a similar way Aquinas is thus far in agreement with the utilitarians or consequentialists. Styling his ethics a version of natural law theory has obscured this. We should rather see him as accommodating the natural law tradition to this fundamentally teleological ethics. He does this very skilfully, as when he points out that law itself is to some end, comes from reason and not will, a thought he further emphasises by equating this so-called law

John Finnis, Natural Law and Natural Rights, Oxford


with the divine light. He had a precedent for this in Christian theology, where the new law is equated with a grace beyond all law but poured into the heart without measure. But there too law is only spoken of to preserve continuity with Judaic concepts, just as here natural law preserves continuity with positive law, which Aquinas wishes to see regulated by its means. Once we have settled all this, what remains in Aquinas's work of significance for gaining ethical insight? On the negative side, to begin with, it appears that those who have wanted to use him, and his canonically established prestige in orthodox circles, in order to strengthen or even found a case for absolute principles in the sense in which we have said that they are more truly conclusions, enuntiations of prudence (scientia practica) drawn from a view of our natural ends as discerned by synderesis - such people have misused him. One finds a tendency among the orthodox, such as Geach or Lawrence Dewan, to associate God with binding law beyond the evidence. Thus awareness of the general undesirability of an action-type is interpreted by Geach as the divine promulgation of a total prohibition118, while Dewan implies that had we the intellects of angels we would see that at least some (which?) of society's adumbrated moral norms are in fact absolute laws119. There is no need to exempt Aquinas from this tendency, especially when writing in his more ecclesial vein. This is what causes the confusion, though we have also to consider his account of the common good in relation to absolute prohibitions. What we are saying, though, is that the main logical thrust of his account, whether in the Pars Prima Secundae of his Summa Theologica or when commenting on Aristotle, exerts itself in the opposite direction. There does not, incidentally, seem good reason to thus associate the infinite being with binding laws. There are psychological roots for the tendency in fear and lack of trust, which the progress of Judaic revelation (as it is claimed to be), inclusive of Christianity, could well be interpreted as increasingly setting aside. What Aquinas gives us is a full account of human nature, of what perfects it (its ends) in the passage through life, and of the various powers and habits, the virtues, needed to satisfy these initial potentialities. Precepts, not necessarily absolute or very specific, are annexed to the virtues as their most obvious

P.T. Geatch, God and the Soul, London 1969 p.125. Cp. Dewan, op. cit. p.304.


expression and exercise120, while the contrary vices are also identified and analysed. The Christian beatitudes and spiritual gifts, as well as the doctrine of infused virtues, charity above all as giving the final form to virtue, are harmoniously fitted into this scheme. Charity, indeed, is Aquinas's main bulwark against the spectre of legalistic moralism and we can see a link with our own modern attitude via the eighteenth century doctrine of benevolence, to say nothing of the more positive or liberating aspects of Luther's contribution, which the Catholic Church, despite the external break, has not failed to assimilate. In association with this thought one might remark that the ascetic Franciscans who got Aquinas condemned at various local synods (e.g. in 1277) read him with more understanding (and appalled rejection) than have those of today and yesterday who have sought to make him a support for an a priori type of moralism. These have simply followed the path of all those clerics who have had to stomach his being made a and even the doctor of the Church. His canonization by a Pope, indeed, and the late nineteenth century intensification of this move, was typically farsighted and should be classed with the initial papal endorsement of the Renaissance humanist spirit before the panic after the violent German revolt, perhaps better called the revolt of the laity or, rather, a revolt against legalist authority in general, since many clerics abetted it.121 Is the absolute authority of Christ

But also as bringing them all under justice.

As a result of the panic one may well feel that the Church has still to come properly to terms with the Renaissance and its spirit. This is the view, for example, of Louis Bouyer in his theological study, Erasmus, published earlier this century. The past thirty years, however, have seen new developments, though such things as belated acknowledgement of Galileo may seem rather damp squibs. More inspiring is the energetic application of Christian teaching within the whole range of questions about human rights, as these derive directly from human dignity, such as are so urgently raised today, rather than rationalistically remaining at the second level of the duties consequent upon them. Such rationalism was connected, again, with the corruption of philosophy by a decadent theology which had forgotten that duty is always propter finem, even and especially in the infinitely wise mind of God, whose being must be one with his law, with the right (ius coming before lex as declaring it).

legalist? Or is submission to revealed, to "poured out" spirit of another kind than a legal submission? This question is posed by Dostoyevsky's parable of the Grand Inquisitor, which has no intrinsic connection with Russian separatism. We may note that also Maritain sees a causative connection between the revelation of charity and the modern democratic movement, with its ideal of a "fraternity" (implying one father, as in the Schiller/Beethoven hymn adopted by the European Union) transcending classical notions of civic friendship. But such fraternity is expressed in equality and liberty. **************************************** One has to face squarely the implications of the denial of innate ideas, the truth that all knowledge, including practical knowledge, comes from experience of reality as grasped by our senses.The temptation to make of morality a kind of a priori datum has proved historically very strong, and an opening might indeed seem to be left to this notion, again, by the Pauline doctrine of a law written on the heart. But Aquinas, we noted, reduced this law to a "light", to an impression of divine light indeed, which becomes in Descartes the natural light of reason. What is prior to experience, that is, is a determinate potentiality both to interpret the good and, more centrally, to attain the good as the specific good of our human nature, what fulfils it as end (the meaning of good) in each person. There is an implicit limit placed upon individualism by the common nature, but this limit is more de facto than de iure. The main statement is that nature cannot allow a majority of people to be homosexual, say, not that the minority should not be allowed to be it. That is a derivative application (but still claiming to be true, to be factual)122 of the doctrine, of the fact, and thus far Aquinas might agree. The modification (of Aristotelian empiricism) introduced by consideration of morality turns, rather, upon the idea of custom, which in turn invokes the community as established over generations. This gives at once the idea of a tradition having, as such, an authority. This authority can never, however, be more than auxiliary given that any knowledge, even of moral principles, When the tradition derives "ought" from "is" it is indeed representing "ought" as a kind of "is", just as, analogously, Aquinas says elsewhere that truth is a being, and indeed that the transcendentals truth and goodness are nothing but being itself as presented to the intellect or will respectively. They are entia rationis.

any seeing of their truth, depends upon an experience of reality. This, however, is no plain either/or, given that such experience is not only experience of inanimate nature, or of one's own situation of primal need, to act, to find shelter or food. It is also, and even primarily, of the community itself, including the community in its aspect of handing down a moral teaching. Those whom we call the conventional are those who, if honest, see or think themselves to see fundamental moral truth in their simple experiencing of these universal principles and laws as applied in their society or even in the one human society in general. One has to insist, though, that this social constraint does not suffice for the binding force of moral obligation as we typically conceive it. The argument from morality to God begins here. This argument, however, says nothing as to the matter of such moral law, as it then becomes if only because of its being initially derived from a common custom of society, all law being rational, in the sense of a universal concept, and with the common good in view. The aspect of law which is commonness, transcending individual nature, does not then come from God but from the community. What comes from God is the sacred obligation. That is why it was right and rational to link this first with individual conscience. Traditionalism, in fact, has been condemned by the Catholic Church, in the form of the doctrine that moral principles (and some other putative truths) derive from a revelatory teaching given to the first human being or beings. It amounts to saying that there is no natural knowledge of morality. Natural knowledge, on Aristotelian principles, cannot be handed down or taken on faith. Natural knowledge of the community only gives knowledge of what the community professes. Each member has then to see the truth of the moral principle for himself, just as in disputation one has to see that a conclusion follows, even see for oneself the truth of an accepted principle of logic used in the demonstration.123 The authority of communities is often reinforced by the sanctions of a common religion. Judaic religion even elevates the idea of community itself to a sacred principle and hence sanction, the Chosen People, the Body of Christ. This apotheosis of totalism, however, allows the individual the initial choice, if not much else, of detaching himself from the natural totalities of tribe and nation. This new common mind, however, is held to be the expression of a common love, such love being both soul and safeguard of freedom in that general respect for conscience perhaps first adumbrated

Cf. S. Theron, Philosophy or Dialectic? Frankfurt 1994,


by St. Paul, whence it has passed into modern Western culture. Love entails that one no longer has one's happiness in one's own hand. One would not have it even if evil fortune were guaranteed averted. One who loves another is no longer an entirely separate unit. Love is a principle, that is, of union, of forming a unit with another. Doctrines of altruism miss this point, striving indeed nonsensically to restrict the universal motivation of happiness. The lover cannot be happy in despite of the beloved. Hence the resistance to and anger against love, often within the lover's own breast. It has often to contend with a hidden instinct of domination, striving for a personal power which love seems to limit.124 But this particular instinct is ultimately a refusal of all community. Whereas if love is understood as achievement and a good, then the Christian teaching as to its extension, "love one another as I have loved you", is, once revealed, logical and desirable. It founds the new community in which there is no longer that extrinsic constraint which is law and slavery, but rather the intrinsic constraint of the loving heart itself which is freedom, and which while it is never unjust is always more than just.125 It is against such, in the first place at least, that there is said to be no law. The infused prudence, or prudence informed by love, of this new community, can draw somewhat different conclusions as to behaviour at different periods of its history, though always in pursuit of those ends natural to man as man and hence stable. That, at any rate, was the assumption of Aquinas. Attempts that have been made to think through a theory of man as able to vary these ends for himself have not wholly succeeded. Here, though, we may note a certain imbalance. The Christian project itself is marked with particularity, is a positive revelation, even though grace may perfect nature. The idea of living in the Last Days, the time being short and so on, all this turns ethics into a kind of strategy for "saving the soul" in a time to come. The history of Christianity, on the other hand, is marked by attempts to soften this situation, to equate this strategy for the future with the ethics needed for the good life as normally conceived. This indeed has been, one might think, how grace has perfected nature, though it can appear, even to one Cf. S. Theron, Africa, Philosophy and the Western Tradition, Frankfurt 1995, p.104.

This is the abiding lesson of that most Christian play, The Merchant of Venice. It is merely shallow, and indeed hard-hearted, to revile it for "anti-Semitism".

such as Maritain, as a compromise.126 One can think again of St. Francis's Deus meus et omnia. Did he mean having nothing but God, or did he mean, in accordance with the analogy of being but also with St. Paul, that in having God he had all things, that all things were his, "as having nothing and yet having all things"? Life, it seems, shines with glory whether we be marked with joy or sorrow. Either may be taken from God's hand, as we take also our natural impulse to seek first joy, since we could never find salvation without it. The message is unvarying from Job to de Caussade and this faith, be it more or less specified, "overcomes the world" (St. John). It has little to do with a moral code unless at the most general and noblest level. This judgment itself, however, is of the highest significance for ethics, which is thus shown to be able to judge morals, to situate the whole project. Returning, however, to the at least apparent imbalance one may note that the scheme of human nature, of the virtues, is an open one. There is not, indeed, an openness behind this scheme, i.e. a meta-scheme, in accordance with which one can pick and chooses among these virtues, discarding courage, for example (Hare). The virtues form a unity and we should not argue from the examples that one can have some virtues without the others, but that such chastity, let us say, as was not needed to round off the attractiveness of the fictional character Tom Jones would really not have been a virtue in him given the view of his situation that he had attained. It would have been, it might be said, a pusillanimous lack of spirit. Thus we shift his imperfection to a lack of vision, if we must condemn him at all, a defect of prudence allowing him not more than, say, eight out of ten for all or any of his virtues, including chastity, instead of the ten out of ten of the fully enlightened orthodox Christian saint, fasting and rolling in his nettles or whatever. Again, a weakness nobly born can give added virtue, like the "thorn in the flesh". This open scheme, however, allows for any number of free projects, choice of which is in fact only intelligibly to be understood as the main step in pursuit of the invariant natural end and ends. In the community of love we see the extent of this choice ever widening as new vocations and interpretations, Cf. Maritain, Introduction to the Basic Problems of Moral Philosophy, Chapter 5, "Moral Experience and the Ultimate End". Maritain seems committed to the via negativa, viewing what we are presenting as a development of humanity as being in essence a mere sociological compromise. But this did not seem to be quite the view he held in his earlier book, True Humanism.

previously often judged negatively, are opened up. Less typically, but not to be excluded, older vocations can come to be ruled out, at least for a time. This scheme, then, is no more restrictive than our nature itself, which is of course not to be confused with that general material or cosmic nature in which we share. ******************************************* In works of Nietzsche, to whom we have referred above, one finds word of the overcoming of revenge as a sign of the superior man (or, a more radical expression, Übermensch), of that being who also overcomes or transcends morality and its laws, i.e. morality viewed Kant-style as a system of law. This attitude, we noted, might be viewed as being one with the spirit of forgiveness. In asking us to forgive one might say that Christianity, Christ, asks us to transcend moral law. This would be moral law in the sense of the "justice of the scribes and pharisees". For of course in a Christian system of ethics such as that of Aquinas charity, love, is itself made the form of all other virtues, being itself not merely the supreme law but rather the spirit (form) of any authentic or acceptable law at all. This is obscured in so far as Christians continue to speak of the (Ten) Commandments, of, for example, pharisaism, as giving the matter of charity, love, forgiveness, rather than holding to a more exact view of how these rules hang or depend upon charity in the sense of growing out of it. This is the view more proportionate to charity's greatness. Although called the New Law it does not come to laws which are ready formed as giving an extra or higher motive to their observance. Love rather fulfils the law, a concept different from observance. Those laws, if observed without love, were observed in a deformed way. In this sense Jesus does not bring a new attitude but recalls to the original good life. If one asks why just forgiveness is taken as the expression of love (or as the sign of the Superman), as it is also in the sayings of Jesus, one can, with Nietzsche as it might seem, give an answer in terms of being or reality. There is a certain likeness between value-nihilism and those metaphysics of being which equate being with goodness, the latter having no separate reality (as in the pseudo-"universe of values"). Goodness, rather, is only an ens rationis, i.e. it is being itself, but as presented to the will, just as truth coincides with being but with being as offered to intellect. Both value-nihilism and such a metaphysics agree in rejecting any law or value-system imposed on the human being.

For the "natural law" theorist such law is reduced to the human essence itself. The deontologies themselves become teleological. Now the deontologist has no understanding of, no possibility of justifying, forgiveness. He must find it unjust. Who can forgive sins but God himself, they ask, yet this, for them, will be precisely where God shows himself above, as not bound by, the moral law. They do not think of his compassion as a higher part of law. Mercy and compassion are or were seen by them as non-moral, until Christians called on men as somehow obliged to imitate God in this respect. Forgiveness is recognized as something that occurs in families, precisely because one values the being of a brother or child above the inflexible law applying to outsiders. For Jesus, however, there are no outsiders. All are neighbours, brothers. In this very proclamation the law as extrinsic loses any possible scope. It rather vanishes like a bad dream. Being, the being of any man, is placed above law. Being encompasses all actuality. But to forgive, as Nietzsche saw, is to forgive the past as a whole. Why? Because the only real life is the life found now under whatever conditions, life, in fact, precisely as caused by the no longer existent past. Being, that is, outweighs utterly any scale or degrees of its conditions. "Is not the life more than the raiment?" In the same way, incidentally, it is the fact of the world, and not anything special about it, which proves the existence of God as its creator. Love, then, shows, is based upon, the plenitude of being as sole source of all value or obligation. It is also, therefore, the source of justice. There is no properly formed justice independent of love. "The quality of mercy is not strange." To believe the contrary is unacceptably to devalue love, which is the response, the union, of being with being. Otherwise we leave unexplained why it is that he or she who loves (and only he or she) fulfils the law. For if the law has an independent existence then why does it coincide so perfectly with love? Justice is ad alterum, towards the other, indeed, but that "towards" already destroys the alterity of the other. Justice, in other words, goes over into love in order to be itself. This is why it must exceed the justice of the scribes and pharisees (those poor whipping boys of the Gospel proclamation), this latter being no true justice. It is not that love without morality has no matter. The rules of morality, rather, describe the contours of love itself as it passes by. They are a memory of it (Cf. I Cor. 13). Love is appreciation of the other, not as other, but as self in the other. It is consequent upon a universal likeness or analogy which we may

call brotherhood, using still another analogy, with the basic human biological group. Brothers do not in fact always love one another, but the relationship in which they stand, of likeness in stemming from a common father or mother, is a primal analogue of love. And yet again, it is itself in reality a living analogy of the true Father, God, of each and every creature. Love is truly the law, the only law. When we speak of the New Law we mean the one and only law as newly revealed. The idea of what is due, the debitum, remains. But what is due is love, just as the will to give what is due, when found simply and without distortion, is also love. Love is the giving of itself. Love is loving. It refuses substantivization (like God who is pure act, esse which is actus essendi). The true praxis transcends morality. This was also the message of Nietzsche as we noted it, as indeed it was of Marx and, differently, of Freud. Love, then, is not simply the will to fulfil the law, viewed as antecedently established, as the expression "man of good will" too easily suggests. At least, if the law is there, then it is there as an established work of love. As St. Paul plainly said, it is charity itself which is kind, thinks no evil, is not puffed up and so on, while without it there is no value to our praxis at all. Where he says love seeks not its own we see the coincidence with justice. The faith and hope he mentions are in some sense faith and hope just in the all-sufficiency of love as the very bond of being.127 Maritain refers to the distinction between the order of specification and the order of exercise, in defence of his wish to equate the conventional moralism of the child with an intuition of the bonum honestum as set above the teleological reduction of morality by philosophers. But one can ask whether this distinction is so useful or so keen as Maritain would have us believe, at least when applied to ethical questions. Maritain equates specification with laws or norms, exercise with ends. This seems to ignore (though Maritain himself does not ignore) that laws are themselves specifications precisely of ends, these themselves being what primarily oblige. For if bonum habet rationem finis, this applies as well to the bonum honestum. Even the latter, in any case, is not a synonym for the moral good, for good human action, but applies more properly, Aquinas claims, to God and beatitudo. If we went along with this distinction we might equate charity or love with mere motivation (amor), pure exercise. Yet it is the very form, is specificatory, of virtuous action. If

**************************************** These first three chapters on natural law with at least a measure of endorsement of Nietzsche might be viewed (in a comparison as far-fetched as it might be thought self-laudatory) as completing a manoeuvre analogous in structure and also in spirit to that accomplished by Beethoven in finally transforming, through over thirty variations, the skittish theme of Diabelli into a form of the sublime arietta theme from his last piano sonata. As he, in many of his last works, wished to show an incredulous public that the skittish and the sublime are not ultimately opposed, so our moral reality demands that we now see that our choice does not lie between Benedict and Nietzsche (neither of whom were of course skittish). MacIntyre's insight failed him when he asserted this, as did mine when I quoted his dictum with approval in previous work. Where Beethoven gave unitary expression, i.e. not by way of compositeness or "composition", to his feeling on the matter he said "Power is the morality of those who stand out from the rest." What seems now to emerge, if we may repeat ourselves a little, is that such a sentiment, as corresponding to its philosophically reasoned equivalent, is not a revolt against but a further deepening of our grasp on the good and great in human life, progressively aspired to in the gropings of an open natural law tradition (i.e. the Tao or ethical tradition as such) and prophetically sketched in a divine teaching to which we are heirs. Honi soit qui mal y pense.

good means (ratio)end then we cannot make primal a doing good or avoiding evil divorced from ends, as meaning only a conformity with what is socially praised or forbidden. The sense, even if statable, is a deformed sense. We may say that, in praxis, in practical knowledge, the specification is of ends, and the later speculative specification (ethics) must acknowledge this. Ends belong with specifically ethical contemplation (and have not been introduce through the accident of Aristotle's having been a biologist). Nor is this just the theological as distinct from the philosophical way (Maritain, op. cit. p.98). Moral obligation is deformed if separated from teleology - such a philosopher confuses separation and distinction, as does talk of these two orders all too easily.

CHAPTER FOUR Consequentialism and Natural Law Having brought out the essential liberality of the Aristotelian Thomistic ethic, we need to consider further its relation to the utilitarian or consequentialist systems put forward in modern times. Points in common are the positing of a general aim to life, be it happiness or beatitude, a refusal to divorce values from natural inclination or to distinguish a moral from a non-moral good. Differences are the weight given to tradition in the older system on the one hand and the secularist ethos of modernity on the other. ********************************** Consequentialism is a wider notion than utilitarianism, as understood by Mill or Sidgwick. For distinctive of utilitarianism is not merely that actions are evaluated in terms of results. This is true also of Aristotelian teleology or mainstream Christian ethics, where precepts are given for a purpose, to achieve a result, to serve life. This purpose, though, specifies the action itself, which is thus not to be exclusively justified post factum, by a result which might be accidentally prevented. Intention of the result is decisive, not the result itself. A utilitarian might accept much of this. What distinguishes his view would be that he considers it wholly in the right of the agent to decide what he will do, under no law but the single rule to "maximize" happiness. Anything else is an unworthy heteronomy, both for rule- and for act-utilitarianism. Yet, in the light of what we have been saying about love as form of the virtues, we can see how a Thomist can in turn accept this, given that he has his or her own views as to how happiness ever can be maximized. Aristotle and Thomas point out that for ethics as a division of intellectual enquiry, as a science, custom supplies the first principles. Even the appeal to happiness is an appeal to customary human thinking.128 For them indeed the ultimate aim of life is intrinsic to any custom or rule one encounters, so it can hardly be a general policy to jettison rules or laws in favour of the Cf. Aristotle, Eth. Nic. I; see Aquinas's Commentary I, lect. ii.

end to which they point. One principle of action, rather, might be discarded as not fitting into the whole existing web of such rules and precepts as make up the expression of our human nature in action. One is not faced with the task of giving sense, from outside them, to a previously senseless set of precepts, though one does need to deepen one's understanding of what a precept or moral principle is. It is at this point that utilitarianism and other moral philosophies take their rise. They are not revolutionary or ideological programmes, but an interpretative wisdom rather. Thus that there is some one ultimate end does not even begin to suggest that there should be no structured or invariant ways of coming at that end. This idea was no more than a reaction to the Kantian revolution in ethics, whereby actions and happiness become unthinkably divorced. In fact there are rules for every successful procedure, and nowhere more so than where the rules partake of the success, as in dancing. The good life, too, is a kind of dance. In a way, then, the utilitarians are less original than they often imagine. What is distinctively modern and rationalist about utilitarianism, despite the resemblance to Aristotelianism, is the maintenance of the divorce, in all heaven and earth, between duty, the dictates of reason, and our natural inclinations, even though on their account what reason dictates is in fact the satisfaction of inclination, predominantly though of what they view as the general inclination of humanity, the aggregate good. So on their method conclusions can be reached which are every bit as hostile to natural inclination as anything in Kant.129 Utilitarian values, that is, are as much values as anything come up with by our modern axiologists in general. But value, we have noted here, is a notion of dubious parentage. The more spontaneous frame of mind suggested by reference to natural inclination is in contrast with that evoked by talk of holding a value. For Aquinas the order of values, of moral duties, depends upon and even is the same as the natural order of our inclinations. This can be seen by perusing the utilitarian literature. See, for example, B. Hooker's "Rule-Consequentialism", Mind 1990, pp.67-79, or J. Fishkin, Limits of Obligation, New Haven 1982, or S. Kagan, "Does Consequentialism Demand Too Much? Recent Work on the Limits of Obligation", Philosophy and Public Affairs 1984, pp.239-254, referred to by Hooker. It is often admitted that these utilitarian ideas can run counter to normal self-interest; in fact they at times give rise to plainly silly statements, though this of course is not uncharacteristic of philosophy generally, I hasten to add.

In an interesting paper,130 to which I have often referred, André de Muralt focussed upon this question of how we grasp how we should act. He considers two contrasting ways of viewing "illumination of will by knowledge". In one, which he attributes to Aristotle and Aquinas, voluntary activity would be specific and autonomous, the good recognized by the intellect being precisely the good that the will seeks as its own real and concrete end, because the will would experience in the reality of its spontaneous appetite the coincidence between the natural exigencies of its potency and the end proposed to it by the intellect. In this case, freedom would be the habitual mode of its operation... But according to a different view of things, which de Muralt finds first appearing in the fifteenth century interpreter of Aquinas, Capreolus, as heralding "the characteristic structure of modern moral philosophy", the will would have no life that is radically its own. Its activity would be that of dictating an end that is recognized as good independently of the natural exigencies of its own potency. The principle of its freedom would then be lacking. The good is indeed identical with being, but it is as good that the will pursues it. It cannot just will being as being because the intellect declares that it should do so. First, at least, such obedience would have to appear to it as good, but then why would not its other inclinations do so too? This is what de Muralt means by saying that a principle of rational order is substituted for the genuine finality of a voluntary act, so that it is no longer a specific act finalized by a principle of its own, i.e. by the real and individual concrete good towards which it tends either in the primary mode of love or in the secondary mode of practical realisation. The good that is its end can no longer be seen as the immanent moving principle that gives the moral act the spiritual quality proper to it. On the contrary, the practical act is governed André de Muralt, "The 'Founded Act' and the Apperception of Others" in The Self and Others, ed. Tymeniecka, Dordrecht 1977.

in an exemplary manner by a universal law that imposes a rational norm on the act, a norm that is incapable of being either internally experienced or absolutely realised in itself - hence an ideal that remains in itself necessarily extrinsic to the act. De Muralt complains of "a rationalization of the moral act... by substitution of a principle of rational order for the final principle of the voluntary moral act." He expresses a confidence in our spontaneous ability, precisely as practical and hence loving beings, not needing extrinsic a priori regulation, to aspire to the good. The virtues, that is, as intrinsic principles of human action, are placed before the law, inclusive of natural law. For it is indeed apparent and striking how in Aquinas's theological thought the extrinsic current of law, whereby God is said to instruct us, culminates in the infused virtues, virtues, that is, extrinsically made to be intrinsic to the graced person. In rational altruism, or nominalistic theology, on the contrary, The practical act of volition is still an activity and it is still practical, it remains an act of will and continues to realise a certain good that is rationally prescribed in the law. But for this very reason it is no longer a specific moral will, as would be the case with a voluntary operation - basically love - in view of the good that answers to the exigencies of its natural potency. Defined by an extrinsic rule, a universal and ideal a priori rule, it is still an act of will; but it is no longer a voluntary act, it has lost the root of its living autonomy, of its freedom. It has lost the intentionality proper to it. We recognize this, in fact, as what happens to people who give themselves up to some ideology or other, such that they become "wooden". This rational dictation to and of the will could only be of an a priori sort, since what is found in experience is what is spontaneously recognized. Thus on this rationalist conception morals or values turn out to be nothing but a correlate to an internal demand for subjective consistency. The alternative, defended by de Muralt, was also brilliantly demonstrated in an early paper by Henry Veatch.131 Far from their being a priori, we grasp the principles of how we should behave, just as we do Henry Veatch, "Concerning the Distinction between Descriptive and Normative Science", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research VI, 1945-46, pp.284-306.

scientific laws, in direct and renewed epagoge, in function of our desire for happiness or bonum in communi, the will's natural object and identified by Aquinas both with God and with happiness (beatitudo). Veatch shows that all sciences, whether normative or descriptive, are alike descriptive, and all the laws, which it is the purpose of these sciences to describe, are alike prescriptive. That is, "the ontological status of both sorts of laws is fundamentally the same." Moral laws, however, have an existence in mensurante, in the mind of man, in our own rather than in some other nature, hence our knowledge of them "must be practical". But this "does not mean that it is not knowledge at all, but mere 'legislation'." For the practical reason... intends only to recognize and to express, in the form of obligatory statements, the fundamental tendencies of human nature.132 There is here expressed a parity of moral with scientific laws, which in no sense compel a thing to act contrary to its nature and will; instead it (law) is simply a statement of what the implications of that thing's own nature are.133 So even before we place virtue above law in the moral scheme, a move in virtue of which we question whether Aquinas was "a natural law ethicist" (Bourke), it is possible to bring out the comparatively open quality not only of Aquinas's virtue ethics but even of his moral theology in so far as this takes in the idea of God as an extrinsic principle of human acts, in contrast to the intrinsic principles of habits and natural potentialities, instructing us by law and grace. We should not talk of a "passage... from inclination to 134 value". The whole point of there being a human nature which

Yves Simon, The Nature and Functions of Authority, Veatch, op. cit. p.304. Cf. J. Finnis, Natural Law and Natural Rights, Oxford




itself, to speak in analogically forensic terms, has the force of law or of the set of human inclinations being themselves laws, directives, to those who know themselves is that there is no such passage. There are not two parallel orders in idle duplication and the existence of our inclinations is one with the existence of the corresponding ius naturae, which reason expresses as a law or propositional precept. The picture of "blind urges" as raw material for moral codification is a false one, just as de Muralt has diagnosed it, robbing our will of its free nature. More convincing is Herbert McCabe's enlistment of D.H. Lawrence's talk about learning to distinguish our deepest desires from trivial desires of the moment, so that we don't "miss the mark". Ethics is entirely concerned with doing what you want, that is to say with being free... breaking the moral law means doing what deeply we do not want to do.135 What nature teaches a rational animal is not likely to be blind, and so a spontaneous human urge is not like that of a dog, although even a dog's urge is naturally thought of as in some relation to canine estimative powers, so not quite blind either. Nor is this to deny the need for education of our urges. If they were blind one could only rationally suppress them. To this picture belongs the teaching that greater virtue means more spontaneous and easy virtuous action, as well as all that is said about the fruits and gifts of the spirit. Anterior to any human urge there is clearly a perception. We spontaneously see (freedom beginning in judgment) that a certain state, such as that of having moved into the sun, would be good. It is the same even with concupiscence. What is meant by the clouding of the reason thereby is that we forget to take into account other goods which may be lost by the beckoning behaviour. What the well brought up and "graced" person needs to save the situation is not a diminution of desire or appreciation (of a soft young bosom or manly physique, say) but an all-conquering urge to his or her overall good. If there is no urge to it then this will not be valued over what one does have an urge to. We will not strive for the higher gifts. We cannot be compelled logically to be moral (R.M. Hare) or to rest all on the claim of a secularized "reason" to obedience (Alan Donagan). Therefore this cannot be the right way of actually being "moral". "Do what you want to do,"

H. McCabe, Law, Love and Language, London 1968,


the song says, and there is no getting round that, for, also, "as a man is, so does the end seem to him," in Aristotle's words. What is important, therefore, is the education of character, of the feelings, as they used to say. But for this a certain optimism about human beings is perforce required. CHAPTER FIVE Creative Options

For many recent moral philosophers136 it has been an ideal to control ethical theory by a morally neutral rule, such as universalizability viewed as a purely logical thesis. Now it is of course true that the laws of logic control reasoning in any field whatever, including the ethical. Also in the tradition of natural law, therefore, the reasoning is controlled by rational principles while, indeed, the whole programme is presented as one of acting according to reason. Here, however, no one imagines that a programme of human life, which, after all, is the only plausible candidate for being the object of ethics, is to be generated out of self-evident (nota per se) logical principles alone. The principles are rather of a type such as that every agent acts for an end or that good is to be pursued, the good for man being identified with the various ends of our nature. Thus based, there was no need for ethics to go in search of "morally neutral" or meta-ethical principles, since the ethical was always rational in its own right. The possibility of acting contrary to reason includes that of violating reason, this being one view of what sin is, reason being here the image of the ultimate mystery. Contrariwise, there can be acts contrary to reason which are not morally wrong, such as humorous or harmlessly absurd behaviour, to say nothing of story-telling or creative fantasy in general. We are prone, we have E.g. R.M. Hare, Freedom and Reason, Oxford 1965; Alan Donagan, The Theory of Morality, Chicago 1977. There is a causally analogical relation between this wish and the subsuming of all ethics under the rubric of obedience to law or duty, a motivation powerfully fuelled by the ideological obsessiveness of a decadent theology dominated by the voluntarist idea of the absolute power of a God who could declare evil good. This idea is the seed-ground of moral nihilism, since it robbed duty itself of all sense.

noted, to reduce the reasonable to the idea of acting according to a law or, more generally, a rule. Yet nothing entitles us to deny that reason itself may require that we engage ourselves in areas for which no such rules are supplied, where creative initiative is called for (just as it may require us to be humorous, to "come off it"). This, after all, is the difference between the defective presentation of the "Golden Rule of the Gospels" offered by several philosophers, who take it as a rule of not doing to others anything which one does not want them to do to ourselves, and the active programme of life urged in the biblical text, viz. Do to others whatever you want others to do to you.137 The negative version simply places a restriction upon established ways of behaviour, while the positive injunction proposes a new programme of living, in that the "whatever" is inexhaustible. This is the morality, or ethic, rather, of love or charity which found its way into philosophy under the notion of active benevolence and which subsists in Anglo-Saxon secular culture as the ideal of kindness. One might see a remote preparation for this expansion of inert moral tradition in the Aristotelian ideal of not merely the right but the beautiful action (to kalon) as what is appropriate to the great-souled man, even though he allows, or even insists, that some action-types are always wrong, as though by a rule derivable from the essential nature of things. But they are only wrong, we might say, because, like cruelty, they can never be beautiful. We have seen in music, in our time, how the highest creativeness can overturn all the rules of harmony, yet certain ideals, certain rules, remain to structure the endeavour, though it may not be easy off-hand to specify them. Speaking of being great-souled, the implication of our citation from Beethoven at the close of our third chapter, surely, is that one ought to stand out from the rest, and this is a purely Christian ideal, of the righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and pharisees, i.e. that taught by official religious leaders even of a religion acknowledged to be of divine origin.138 Again, we have

Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31. Cf. our The Recovery of Purpose, Frankfurt 1993, p.52. The negative version also can be found in the Bible. Our point is that they are not equivalent.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux offered a doctrine for "little souls". It was, however, a doctrine of conspicuous magnanimity in which they were required to believe that they could participate. The ethical attitude (that of the soul)

the narrow gate, admitting just one at a time and setting members of families against one another, for example. Thus N. Berdyaev, in his The Destiny of Man, speaks of an ethics of creativeness succeeding upon an ethics of asceticism, or of law, in the development of the good life, as the word as law was fulfilled in the word as love.139 Connected with this is the idea of personal vocation, emphatically fostered, one should note, in the Catholic natural law tradition. St. Teresa of Avila offers a similar perspective when she mocks those who seek security too exclusively in a well regulated life and thus fail to fulfil their potential. One feels she might almost have approved her English contemporary's notion of conscience as "making cowards of us all": They are eminently reasonable folk! Their love is not yet ardent enough to overwhelm their reason.... How I wish ours [our reason] would make us dissatisfied with this habit of always serving God at a snail's pace. As long as we do that we shall never get to the end of the road... For the love of the Lord let us make a real effort: let us leave our reason and our fears in His hands... Our task is only to journey with good speed so that we may see the Lord.140 The doctrine has a more general application. In her own life, we know, this spirit led her to add to the usual asceticism of the cloister a vast, apparently gratuitous programme of labour in reforming and expanding her Order of Carmelites. We can, however, keep the point general in that we have been speaking of the need for creative initiatives in life, for exertions of love, of power, of energy. Love, of some kind or other, is what gives energy, as the monastic tradition knows well.141 It is surely, as an inner energy, what drives the creative artist. No one need create or exert themselves beyond a certain point, which is why the great artists tended to vex their employers by producing much more than they were asked to do. At the same time, as an ethics of creativeness would imply, everyone has some special task, is distinguished from the accident of natural gifts.

Cf. H. McCabe, Law, Love and Language, London 1968. St. Teresa, III The Interior Castle, ii.



Cf. the chapter on "The wonderful Effects of Divine Love" in the fifteenth century Imitation of Christ, or Louis Bouyer's The Meaning of Monasticism (c.1960). See also our own exposition of John Cassian's doctrine in The Recovery of Purpose, p.73 f.

some shape to give to his life beyond the general rules, i.e. it is a general rule that this should be so, this being also the doctrine of the dominical Parable of the Talents. It is for all these reasons, no doubt, that love, charity, is declared in the Christian scheme as the form of all the virtues, the motive power, so to say. Love, though, is not the following of a rule, even where its matter should happen to be the following of a rule, as in the genuine virtue of obedience. But, this is the point, there is nothing contrary to reason in love. We shall find, rather, in this and the following chapter, that reason requires it. From this perspective, however, the outlook of natural law might seem unduly restricted. Do we, after all, want an ethics of law at all? Or, rather, if we do, then is such law the heart of the matter? It may indeed be an error, even a dishonesty, to claim that genius, say, dispenses one from rules such as that of fidelity, or, worse, of consideration for and justice towards the weak or inconvenient, but should we, even so, be primarily concerned with codifying such inert rules of behaviour? Does not the New Testament rather show the way when it declares, impatiently enough, that all such "commandments" are summed up in this, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself? But again, it is not just that love perfects the will to observe commandments, since they only derive their authenticity from love in the first place. The wind of the spirit is creative, blowing where it wills as the scriptural metaphor has it. Was Elijah concerned about natural law when he slew the false prophets, or Freud when he developed the theory of infant sexuality, or Joyce when he wrote Ulysses, if we can regard any of these, or preachers of revolutions and crusades, as inspired? The giving up of himself by Jesus to a criminal's death stands at the centre of our culture as an example of the prophetic overturning of existing ideas. Now prophecy, to which a section is devoted in the Summa theologiae, can also be considered philosophically, as it was by Plato in the Phaedrus dialogue (but also elsewhere) under the figure of the lover.142 But within the natural law tradition the tendency is to present such creative acts as exceptional forays, depending even upon merely occasional dispensations from law,143 though in so far Cf. Josef Pieper, Begeisterung und Göttliche Wahnsinn, München 1962, a study of this dialogue. It is significant that the author chose this topic for his address at his 90th birthday celebrations in the Münster Town Hall, May 1994.

The story of Abraham and Isaac, or the command to "spoil the Egyptians", was often discussed in this way. It is

as they are related to a more mature wisdom our notion of a superior, more creative ethics (which does not contradict natural law) would seem to follow. Aquinas, for example, writes: we should understand that moral precepts bear upon practical situations which are particular and variable, so that these cannot without further ado be assessed under one common blueprint and rule. Rather, one must at times, in some particular new situation, act in a way that will transcend the common rule. But when something is done beyond the common rule in this way wise people, considering the cause for it, are not disturbed and do not consider what was done unwise. But the indiscreet and less wise, not seeing the cause of such action, are disturbed and consider the unconventional action as folly. For example, there is the command: thou shalt not kill. Sometimes, all the same, it is necessary to kill evil men. And when this is done, then the wise commend it or at least do not condemn it. But fools and heretics condemn it, saying that this was done badly.144 But if we go so far we should perhaps acknowledge that love, from which we should not allow Aquinas's stern example to distract us, takes many forms, since as love, as energy, it is beyond form altogether. One thinks of the great projects of love, which is all too readily assumed to be simply an equivocal concept in its divisions into eros and agape or charity, love of desire and love of friendship. Yet in the tradition there is the idea, often enough expressed as a transport of eroticism, of seeking God, of having no accident that such a concern goes with a blindness to literary form, just as it often creates hostility to traditional fairy tales or, for that matter, Biggles and Enid Blyton. To take another example, it was at one time important to spell out the difference between authentic martyrdom, for which one should be zealous, it was and is thought, and suicide. Yet Jesus did not scruple to say of his life "I lay it down of myself." He chose the time, rather as Nietzsche advocates in his prophetic book. The last action of Captain Oates comes to mind. But if in praising these examples one is not advocating suicide then what is one doing if not to point to a practical response beyond the following of a law and more like being driven from behind or within?

Aquinas, In II Cor. c.11, lect. 1.

great desires, and the Gospel represents this as the pearl of great price which the merchant desired, the kingdom of heaven which is taken by violence. A book such as Louis Bouyer's The Meaning of Monasticism brings this out powerfully, while the classic example of such violent longing, beyond all law, all balancing of one good against another, is of course to be found in St. Augustine's Confessions at the beginning of our era, where he tells of his reaction on first hearing, from Pontitianus, a description of the monastic life.145 It is anyhow obvious that the whole intent of the Gospel story, as indeed of its divine protagonist, come to cast fire upon the earth, is to arouse a passion of love.146 One can, however, consider the force of the erotic more in general, as does Plato, as something piercing the dome of bourgeois life otherwise so tightly screwed down upon us, to borrow Joseph Pieper's imagery.147 The idea is that of sacrificing one's life to love in one way or another, like Ramon Lully, who said that after dedicating the first thirty years of his life to the love of women he would dedicate the rest of it to the love of God. Cases of women pursuing this path of love may be yet more frequent and so again we must ask, why cannot that be according to reason, why need one assume that reason requires a balance of finite goods if something transcending them all is indeed to be had? This something might indeed be immolation in an erotic flame, a notion perhaps big enough to include the fires of charity, whose devotees say, "Our God is a consuming fire." It would be a question of finding out what one most wants, the fool being the man who desires most what is comparatively worthless, while on the other hand those who praise acting according to reason in the narrower sense are obliged to show how this conduces to personal happiness. It is absurd to claim any other motivation for the

Confessions VIII, 6,7.


As Aquinas remarks, should God communicate to us his blessedness, which we desire (eros), then friendship with him (agape, caritas) will be founded upon this, as indeed one should expect friendship (amicitia) to result in the natural way where the erotic longing of human beings for one another finds mutual satisfaction. Cf. Summa theol. IIa-IIae 23, 1. A. Nygren's attempt to separate these two elements from one another, in his Eros and Agape, is a prime example of that rationalism discussed throughout the present work. When St. Ignatius said "My eros is crucified" he did not mean that he denied it. The relation between love and death is richer than that, as even Wagner gropingly understood, but St. John of the Cross much better.

J. Pieper, The Philosophical Act (Was heisst Philosophieren? in Werke, Band 3, Hamburg 1996). See also our own review of this volume appearing in Acta Philosophica, Rome.

pursuit of ethics, and the unity of love must be preserved.148 It is clear that the requirement of creativeness fuses, most obviously under the ideal of personal vocation, with the idea of offering one's life in the pursuit of one thing, the one precious pearl, of making a unity out of the potentialities of one's mutable being. Nor need, nor should this be purely at the level of action. Kierkegaard is too restrictive and therefore strained in saying that purity of heart is to will one thing. It is also to see one thing, as poets such as Blake make plain, To see a world in a grain of sand, as is implied in the analysis of St. John of the Cross when he refers to God as the All.149 The saying of St. Francis, Deus meus et omnia, to which we alluded earlier, was badly translated in the negational French school of spirituality as "My God and my all", as if St. Francis as it were chose to be happy with just God, though he could, so to say, still see other things. What he said was "My God and all things", in perfect agreement with the analysis of St. John of the Cross according to which there is nothing outside of God, a doctrine found in Aquinas when he says that God knows things in his own thought of them150, which is identical with his essence. G.K. Chesterton makes a similar point in his study of Aquinas when he points out that the saint did not say, is not reported as saying, when Christ on the crucifix asked him what he wanted as reward for his writing, "only Thyself", but, rather, "Give me Thyself." The pure heart wills one thing because there is just one thing seen to will. Anything and everything is bearer of the All. To this extent the end of all the various vocations is one and the same, scandalous though this may be to a thoughtless liberal ideology. This returns us to the question of choice, which we do not wish to treat quite as is done by the Existentialists, according to whom one arbitrarily decides, like Kirilov, to offer one's life to this or that cause, just so as to be engaged. We would still wish to ask, Cf. C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves; M.C. D'Arcy S.J., The Mind and Heart of Love.
148 149

For example, cf. Johannes Bendick, "God and World in John of the Cross", Philosophy Today XVI, Winter 1972, pp.281-296. But Bendick is mistaken in thinking "there is nothing of the traditional teaching on the analogy of being to be found in St. John." It is just because of this analogy that created being adds nothing to God (plura entia sed non plus entis), as he quotes John of the Cross as stressing.

Summa theol. Ia 14, 5 c. & ad 3um.

however, as giving voice to a feeling of restriction under the perspective of natural law and its natural ends, this question: can one, may one choose to be mad, to be impassioned? Even: are not the ways to the infinite God who is pinpointed as man's last end in moral theology ultimately so many ways of madness, of passion? Is not this indeed the connection, certainly a pronounced one in Christianity, between love and death, love and laying down one's life? Or does such madness, divine madness as it is called by Socrates in the Phaedrus, lead to the Devil only and destruction, as in the saying, "Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad"? I am of course referring to the way of passion as distinct from that of rational moderation and arguing that the former can be found to be actually more wise and prudent. This does not mean that rational moderation is not to be exercised as a means to safeguarding achievement of this passionately desired end, e.g. as in the Benedictine Rule or in the conduct of any lover. One can suppose, by way of counter-example, the case of a strangler or "serial" killer who may have deliberately chosen to give himself up to what he did, despising ordinary morality and humanity. Probably he felt strong desire, only metaphorically called compulsion. We are not considering, again, the situation of someone just determining to do something perverse, against desire. Another man believes he has a divine mission to kill women. Perhaps it suits him to believe it, and he may indeed himself be responsible for his loss of balance of mind. For one must suppose the balance is indeed lost when such flagrant injustice results. Yet even Anna, the rule-breaker and sinner, appears as somehow wiser than Karenin, though her life was destroyed. She had more truth in her, it is clearly Tolstoy's intention to show, and he succeeds in doing so. One thinks of the Gospel saying, "Her sins are forgiven, because she has loved much".151 One might decide, again, to prefer the world of Tolkien's books to the reality, and from an early age go around acting, thinking and dreaming as if it were true that hobbits or elves might be come across in deserted places. It may indeed come to seem normal to an individual, or to a whole society, to despise and discard ancestral moral laws as found wanting before a subsequent enlightenment. One might one day, again, decide to rule one's subsequent life by the fall of a dice. Clearly, all the same, some decisions, though maybe less

Much effort is made by the conventionally religious to remove the potentially scandalous ambiguity in this saying (cf. the translator's argument from context in the English Jerusalem Bible, NT p. 105, at note j), to which, however, the original speaker may well have been alive.

absurd or extreme than these, have to be freely taken, such as to devote one's life, with hard work, to mastering and practising an art, or to a chosen spouse152 or way of life. But one might equally decide for a single-minded dedication to erotomania, as seeming to have much to commend it, doing it in a way which would include, for example, amassing the wealth necessary for such a life, working out how to create the situations and so on.153 Certainly only a person conscious of great energy would plan for such a course. Equally, many persons, like Browning's grammarian, devote themselves to a given kind of research in a way that leads to what others would dismiss as madness. We might relate this discussion of the possibility, the option, of transcending law in some kind of creativeness to Aquinas's distinction between the prudent and the wise man, between the man who needs to act with deliberation and the man to whom the true way is somehow connatural. This distinction somehow mirrors, at the philosophical level, the theological distinction between the wisdom of this world and the wisdom which is "from above". Certainly the idea of following law is transcended here, but in a very definite, as it were previously determined way, not obviously favourable to erotomania, for example. St. Thomas is clear, rather, as to how just good and evil can and cannot coincide in this transcendence of law, as when he says that verecundia, sexual shame or modesty, is not properly a virtue because it is not universal, lacking not only to the great sinner but also to the saint or person perfected in love. These two, indeed, often confuse themselves with each other in their own estimation. So it is not aurprising that we do not know so much about what a saint's relation to the erotic would be, though it might seem that we know enough to be sure that the Christian tradition is never going to give quite the same outlet to our pro152

The philosophers, as we will note in the chapter following, speak of a "suitable life companion", but this "reasonableness" is emphatically not our ideal, Christian or "post-Christian", of marriage, and so perhaps not really reasonable either. Plato, with his idea of seeking our other half, was nearer the mark, at least on that occasion.

In practice, experience might seem to teach, even such a dedication either finds its fulfilment in the marriage vows or runs into the sand. Here then would be the place to consider more closely how marriage as a creative project transcends the prescriptions of natural law. These set up the conditions for and indeed prescribe marriage as such; but they say nothing as to the exercise of it in particular cases. Here creativeness and artistry must take over, and in art, we will remember, the step which disregards a particular rule can be the sign of the more perfect mastery.

pensities as some varieties of Hinduism, say, have offered. The style, at least, would be different. One should rather say that it aims to transform but yet fulfil those propensities in the fire of charity, which alone can give outlet to all our desire. Psychologists differ as to the plausibility of this claim, which may itself demand revision of some of these differences among the psychologists. The spiritual man, it was said, judges all things. It is a perversion of this "new wine" of the Christians to have dreamed of a transcendence of the ethical, though no doubt a Christian or post-Christian civilization is ever open to this temptation, using liberty for a "cloak of malice", in the Apostle's words. A specific ethics of law is transcended, rather, or at least subsumed, into a higher ethics of creativeness, a category we might propose as more general than the specifically Christian ideal of love which it includes, though it is still likely that it is the Christian ferment which historically opened the possibility of such a creative approach, also exemplified, at the political level, in the idea of a revolutionary movement, of a social transformation which would indeed be creative. Herbert McCabe makes this connection: it seems to me that christianity does not in the first place propose a set of moral principles... I do not think that such principles are out of place in christianity; without them the notion of love may collapse into vagueness and unmeaning... We have not a code of conduct - except in the crudest sense... - we propose a way of life, a way of discovering about the depths of life, out of which decisions about our behaviour will emerge.154 But McCabe also relates his analysis to D.H. Lawrence's ethical insights about the problems of life in general (for Christian and non-Christian alike), the need to identify our deepest desires. Ethics as such is raised from "legislating for an achieved static society" to planning and preparing for a hopefully better future. Apostolic moral exhortation (paranese) is compared to deciding what is best to do during the conduct of a revolutionary struggle. There is no doubt that the "voluntarist" approach of Hare or Sartre has much in common with this, after all, though, unlike them, McCabe preserves unconditional commitment to principles or

McCabe, op. cit. p.172.

laws.155 It is clear, however, that the centre of gravity no longer lies here, and so we can wonder, in accordance also with our own analysis, whether the urging of the valid claims of law, of right and wrong in other words, is sufficient to meet the case, given that the claims of creativeness, of love and of the need to fulfil human life and attain the common good (glimpsed by the utilitarians in their ideal of the maximization of happiness) are equally valid, as indeed natural law theory itself recognizes in its doctrine of the ends of human living.156 CHAPTER SIX Individual and Analogy

The creative ethics outlinedin our previous chapter, in so far as they are contradistinguished against an ethics exclusively of rule, depend upon, are called for and are justified by the primal individuality of each thing, situation and, consequently, human self. Each thing or person is, fully and completely, and being has no parts. In a similar or, we might say, analogous way no animal merely participates in animality. Rather, every animal is fully and completely an animal, the animal, in fact, which it is, horseanimal, cat-animal, rabbit-animal, this-horse-animal, that-horseanimal and so on. It is in fact this feature of being, viz. its simple indivisibility, which can best lead us to appreciate the divine simplicity, such that every divine idea is identical with the divine essence, though the truth of this, all the same, is attainable on other grounds. Each of us exists because he is known in an idea of him or her which is one with the divine essence. It is in this sense that we See a world in a grain of sand, in this sense, not the pantheist's, that God is all things, that each

Thus "we may dismiss certain kinds of behaviour as obviously incompatible with the kingdom." Ibid. p.172. Even Sartre preserves the ideal of authenticity (and one or two others).

We had already urged this, in systematic fashion, in our book The Recovery of Purpose (Frankfurt 1993), e.g. in Chapter Four, pp. 50-51. Now, however, we present it as less tied to our specific Christian experience, while still according Christianity credit as prime cause of this approach to life to which Western man remains committed.

thing is the All.157 Just as nothing, again, exists as God exists, so that no creature adds to his infinity, so no creature's existence is communicable with or to any other creature. This is the analogy of being which is prior to and causative of any analogical use of language. All universals, all univocal linguistic usage, is built upon likenesses between disparate things which often enough derive from a common causal background, as we call whatever is born of a woman human. This background, however, includes formal causality, such as the animality of a rabbit or a dog. Yet rabbit-animality and doganimality do not share a common base to which the specific differences are added, since in reality rabbit-animality is, as such, totally different from dog-animality. Mere common animality does not and cannot exist. Similarly animal-body differs toto caeli from plant-body. We can say then, with Aquinas, that the term "body" is not treated in the same way by the logician as by the metaphysician. What binds things together really is not classmembership, but patterns of likeness, the things themselves severally being merely like or analogical to one another, bound together in a common love, ultimately deriving from the fact that each of them is, that they are all beings, even though there can be no super-class of things which are, since each thing is, has being, in the unique way without which it would not be that thing and no other thing. All that can be common is the proportion of each thing to its own being, not any being in itself. We do not now have to apply this to ourselves, in order to give a ground to our assertions about creative ethics, about the unique vocation of each person, and so on. It will rather emerge in whatever way we choose to approach the matter, if we dare to let things speak, so to say, for themselves, unveil themselves. We could start by observing that every person's Cf. the paradox Charles Williams liked to quote, "This also is thou, neither is this thou." The painter's chair is not, of course, God, but, like God, it is being, which, Parmenides the "giant" (Plato) rightly saw, is one. Cf. F. Inciarte, Forma Formarum, Verlag Karl Alber, Freiburg/Munich 1970, p. 142, on participation in esse as understood by Aquinas: "Das Eigenart dieser Teilname, die sich mit keiner Zerstückelung verträgt... Denn jeder Aspekt dieses Universums ist insofern Totalität, als er von der unteilbaren Totalität des esse durchdrungen ist... Erst wenn der Blick auf das esse inm Ganzen gerichtet wird, leuchtet in jedem Teil das ganze esse und erscheint jeder Teil als die Totalität des esse, die er ist."

experience remains his or her own, has to be that.158 Each use in language of "I", correspondingly, refers to a different being (i.e. when not used again by the same being159). It refers to it, however, not just as referring to an individualized nature, of some type or other, as "man" must refer to some man or other, whether it be myself or another person being an irrelevancy. Rather, "I" always refers to the person, to the being of the person, who utters it. No two men can give "I" the same reference160, as they can with any other term inclusive of pronouns, though there would remain a query about "we". It is therefore not so clear either, as Hegel seemed to think, that different people can use it with the same meaning, since I can never use it to mean just "the speaker". It has to mean "I", this unique individual, whom no one else can mean in the same way ("you" or "he" are very different) and who only happens to be the speaker. It is not even clear that it is as being restricted to that capacity (speaker, thinker) that the term can, so to say, catch me. Here it is important to adhere to the old meaning-theory according to which terms have meanings open to simple apprehension (apprehensio simplex) before eventual use in sentences. This fact, that "I" does not merely refer to the speaker in the way that he might refer to someone else, is brought out especially in some uses of the future tense. I do not know my intentions in separation from intending them in the way that I might know another person's intentions. But nor, when I thus refer to myself, are my intentions (which I do not mention) excluded from the reference, there being no grounds to exclude them. I do not, that is, make myself an object (of reference, of my own consciousness, like any other) when I refer to myself. To do that a For an earlier treatment of this theme, see the author's "Other Problems about the Self", Sophia 24, April 1985, pp.11-20.

Here we see the need for a metaphysics of substance, in order to be able to speak of "the same being". Cf. F. Inciarte, "Die Einheit der Aristotelischen Metaphysik", Philosophisches Jahrbuch 1994, pp.1-21. This forms a chapter in the author's forthcoming book in English, First Principles, Substance and Action. Studies in Aristotle and Aristotelianism.

Yet it is not a proper name but signifies, rather, as Hegel remarks, the most general of universals (cf. Encyclopaedia I: Logic, parag. 24). It is only its reference or, better, suppositio, which resembles that of a proper name.

special extra or, rather, different operation would be required, as when I might speak about "the only man in this room with glasses on". But here I do not refer to myself qua myself but to a man who I merely happen to be. What is it to be this I who I alone am? I can of course refer also to you (my reader), who alone are yourself. Indeed, it seems that just as I can ask of myself, and this is my main question, why am I numbered among, why do I find myself among actual consciousnesses, so I can ask it of you. It is good that you exist. You might not have existed. Still, there is a real, an inescapable sense, in which you are, you have become, quite recently perhaps, part of my world, though I know indeed that there is more to you than that. But I, I myself: how is it that the world has become, quite recently, a world for me? It is entirely that, even though I know that it existed before me and, I do not doubt, even now exists apart from me, often all too palpably apart. Why am I just that child born of just those parents at that time and place? It is absolutely clear that another might have done as well, just as, though this might seem less clear to many, I might have had different parents, a different place or time of birth, if it were given (it was not) that I was going to be born at all. I can say, intelligibly enough, of a tree that there just happens to have come to be this tree in this place. Can I similarly say, though, that there just happens to have come to be a consciousness in such and such an ambience such that I am aware of it and it is mine? Is this, could this be so? We have, anyhow, simply shunted the problem of "I" into a subordinate clause. There is, we said, a world apart from the self. One can give the year of one's birth; others will know the year of one's death. Of this world it is legitimate to ask: why is there a world? Each man may, should, ask this, but it is not the same question as each man asks or can ask of himself, what is it to be "I"? Why am just I, again, numbered among those who exist or have existed? I am to myself something which is, but which is not an object of experience. For the same reason I cannot know myself directly, only in some way concomitantly with knowing something else. There is, it seems, if we might speak in Cartesian terms for the moment, a class or species of thinking things. Yet each man can in his own case verify that these thinking things do not collectively constitute an ideal consciousness with which, like any other general notion, philosophy could deal in the good old way, i.e. not exhaustively. Certainly my mind is of the same nature as all other human minds; indeed it is individuated in just the way

that they are. Traditional sexual morality bases itself upon this generic consideration, race taking precedence here over individual and person. But all this could have been so without my being there at all, not just a given individual's not being there but just I. Every actual human being knows that he is part of the spectacle that he beholds, knows both that the world includes his or her awareness of it and that it need not do so. This sense of personal contingency must be the more pronounced in so far as we are clear that there is not, has not been, an infinite multitude of men, as natural history studies have indeed made clear, though we can wonder whether philosophy has assimilated the implications of such research. When the Greeks looked back and imagined human nature endlessly reproducing itself against a static geological background the problem of individual consciousness not merely could have no importance but could not easily arise. For to be one of an infinite number (if that were possible) is not to be at all as we understand it, and the same might apply, mutatis mutandis to this present life, if we had to do with an infinite or eternal series of incarnations of the same individual. Quite simply, there is a clash between the vista of a certain number of human beings, at present or at all times, sitting, standing, making history, living, dying, reproducing, and the inward awareness, as against the vista, not just of "this individual" (he belongs to the vista), but of me, not the universal state of being first person, but me, with my particular name, me not as a condition without which the world cannot be thought or experienced or lived, but me who might not have been, me to be lost or saved, me who is not merely the son or daughter of particular parents, both of whom might seem more astonishingly improbable than even myself, but a me who is alone himself, incommunicably (this is the scholastic mark of personality, though also of all substance), with an ultimate responsibility, though not necessarily with ultimate power, for what he makes of himself (this being, for scholastics and others, peculiar to rational substances). The world too, though, appears as highly fortuitous and finite, as it were besides our own contingency. Why should it ever become conscious of itself, supposing such an idea to have meaning (it is of course an attempt to explain away the separate contingency of the individual from that of the world)? It is really only we men, in our limited numbers, who can become conscious of the world, while the efforts we make seem to presuppose, in

apparent disproportion to our fortuitousness, an ability to attain a knowledge reaching right up to the reality. Nothing less is knowledge, after all. Yet our belief in, our assumption of this ability clashes awkwardly with that awareness of our contingency to which the Greeks, as thinking of an infinite multitude or of an eternal return, hardly attained. There is a kind of providence in this, however, in that if they had attained to it it would have been more difficult for them to reach what is surely a true statement of Plato's, viz. "All nature is akin and the soul has learned everything" (Meno), i.e. is from birth capable of that, and even capable too, therefore, of an understanding of the Darwinian theory which might seem to make it more difficult to account for this capacity, though Aristotle too seems quite at a loss in having to flatly state that the intellect, common or possessed by individuals, "comes from outside".161 One came to be, to exist, gratuitously. That is the in some sense awful truth, which leads us so to despise the hard fates of multitudes of unkown persons in far off places, those "clowns" to whom Hume, for example, in unfavourable comparison with himself, found it absurd to attribute immortality. We lack the capaciousnes of mind to care for "the fall of a sparrow", just as we are prone to assume, without scientific backing, that more people than we can imagine is too many, and this despite our joyous impulse, the fecundity of which we strive to prevent, to breed and breed and breed again. The generative movement indeed forms the basis of all the dancing which crowns our celebrations. There might seem to be a connection, an analogy, between this joyousness inseparable from human generation and the gratuitousness of our being as issuing, we imply, from a divine creation. For the impulse to love, and love again, is inseparable from the uniqueness of each new human face. Each person is as it were a world, potentially the world (quodammodo omnia). Hence the feeling that "there can never be enough" people (Mother Teresa of Calcutta), the deep urge to multiply. It is this that must be reconciled with the demands of personal fidelity, the urge, that is, to a universal unity, spirit achieving what flesh merely prefigures, though, again, this is only possible given the reality of the analogy of being, whereby each person's spouse can truly stand for and mirror the whole, Christ or the Church, can truly be being, which is indivisible into parts. Even here, though, one seems to suggest, as the language compels, that one was there beforehand although lacking this particular gratuitous benefit, of existence; which is

Relinquitur intellectus solus de foris adinvenire. De Gen. Anim. II 3.

plainly false. It is not a matter of a temporal beforehand but of a gift, as it seems, being given to an otherwise non-entity.162 Certainly what has life can receive more life, as, in a context of miracle, what has lost life can be thought of as having it restored. What has lived, after all, is more than a non-entity. A non-entity cannot be a "what" at all. As theologians say, in creation the thing created does not undergo change, is not passive to a divine action. Hence in creation there is no real relation of God to the creature. Aquinas generalizes the idea thus: Not everything accepted is received into a subject; otherwise one could not say that the whole substance of the creature is accepted from God, since there is no subject capable of receiving a whole substance.163 The, so to say, phenomenal situation of creation (of an individual) is captured by Peter Geach in the following terms: There is just one A, and God brought it about that (Ex)(x is an A)164; and for no x did God bring it about that x is an A; and c is an A.165 Geach comments on this that The part of this proposition that expresses the creative act (namely the first three conjuncts) does not mention c, and explicitly denies that in creating God acted upon any individual. I am as contingent as the world itself, yet my contingency cannot be reduced to a function of the world's contingency. Thus the Cf. Aquinas, QD de potentia III, 1 ad 17: Deus simul dans esse producit id quod esse recipit...
162 163

Aquinas, Summa theol. Ia 27, 2 ad 3.


To be read, there is an x such that x is an A. The "for some x" reading seems not to capture what is intended by creation, viz. new being, although, once granted the creation of A, then it certainly follows that something is an A, as truth follows being. But truths do not exist; beings do. This is the ultimate divide between Sylvan's sistology or the possible worlds ontology and Thomism, the divide between truth and being, parallelling the divide we have been emphasising between goodness and being (not a divide between beings and the existence of values which are not beings, a contradiction, but between being itself and being as desired, as truth is being as known).

P.T. Geach, God and the Soul, London 1969, p.83.

above formula makes logically perspicuous what is said when creation is asserted, but it cannot be applied by anyone, without some modification, to himself. To be sure I can substitute "I am" for "c is" and then the formula states that God created me in the same way as I can as well state that I am a chess-player as that Johnny is a chess-player. A pure contingency is scarcely thinkable, though there are coincidences and a man might, one supposes, think himself to be one such. An inability to think this is the sense of vocation. One thinks instead that controlling the coincidences there is One whom they do not surprise. One wonders at being one of a limited number, which is also a chosen number. Thus Augustine: we exist because God is good. It is a small step, however, from this sense of choice, of vocation, of one's special creation, to that awareness of the analogy of being which must indeed be adverted to also in the explanation of the unique vocation of each person, of each being that is conscious of and hence responsible, under the first being, for its own being, as if (quasi, says Aquinas) a providence for itself.166 This analogical character of the set of human beings is central to appreciating the need for what we have been calling a creative ethics, one which, apparently contrary to Kierkegaard's emphasis, is at bottom ruled by an aesthetic canon.167 This canon, however, is as firm or firmer than any law whatever. This, however, in contradistinction to the passivity required by prescriptiveness, can only be seen after the event, after the action, just as the principles of a revolution can only be charted by history when its movement is complete. To a certain extent the dialectic of Nicholas of Cusa and of Hegel as translated into progressive action by the Marxists is relevant here, though ignorance of analogy condemned these movements to insufficiency and a worse legalism of their own. The analogous character of being predestines each person who will explore his creative potential to being an outsider. This is thus a kind of norm, not an exception. It is normal to be exceptional. Since I am not needed by the world, by society, having no reason in myself why I should be present, due to that double contingency mentioned, therefore, by a backward application to the same situation, the laws in operation in that community, constitutive indeed of that shared nature in which I

Cf. the Prologue to the Second Part of the Summa Theologica.


As in the notion, recently popularized, of doing "something beautiful for God". Cf. Theron, Africa, Philosophy and the Western Tradition, Frankfurt 1995, pp. 139-144.

participate, cannot be held in advance to apply automatically. Or rather, the way in which they will apply, if we do hold them, as constitutive, to be invariant, cannot be predicted in advance.168 Abraham, whatever his principle as to killing the innocent had been, knows that he must prepare to kill his son; Elijah has no doubt of his mission, his empowerment and calling, to slay the false prophets; a certain good man and more than a man knows that he has power to lay down his own life; St. Peter foretells but himself seems to take part in the expiry of Ananias and Sapphira. Here in scripture we see people acting in unheard of and, particularly, unclassifiable ways, but in obedience to the highest inspiration only, of the Spirit that "blows where it will", such that we cannot tell its direction. This, too, is what is echoed in all the great love stories of tradition, besides lying behind those acts of political realism which we found Aquinas defending in the case of malefactors, but which must not be confused with the later doctrine of realpolitik. Unlike the cynicism of the latter, these inspired actions, including that of reacting to a perceived necessity never to be attributed to a mere national or personal self-interest as such, are always directed to the fulfilment of the good and therefore never violate the common good. We therefore, if we admit them, have to allow that the common good is at bottom structured by something deeper and freer than the mere outward shell of morality which we have identified with a passive observance of prescriptions. The norm of love, indeed, active love, can never be seen as such a passive following of a prescription, and here again Kierkegaard seems wrong. He interprets the divine commands of love as it were univocally, and then marvels that we can be commanded to love.169 Is it not rather that the nature of love determines that the notion of command here be taken analogically. The Lord as it were tells us to let go, to break the mould of passive observance, sharing rather in his own kind of life, which no man can take from him, no sabbath or tax-ordinance can constrain. One can wonder, finally, why that contingency of being does not equally apply, as Sartre, say, might urge, to the highest being, appeal to which would thus yield no explanation or vocation at all. Here it is necessary to recall, to trouble to see,

Cp. L.E. Palacios, "La analogia de la logica y la prudencia en Juan de Santo Tomas", La Ciencia Tomista 69 (1945), pp. 221-235.

S. Kierkegaard, Works of Love, 1847: "only when love is a duty, only then is love eternally secure." Here there seems no place for creativeness. Or, we might say, the servant had indeed a duty to trade with the talents, but that precisely means a duty to act beyond duty, out of creative love.

rather, that there is also an analogy between the ultimate principles of essence as such and existence as such. They are indeed really distinct, but not so as to constitute a chasm of duality at the foundations of the real, leaving us with a bare first principle of existence, like that at the beginning of the Hegelian dialectic, devoid of all worth or quality. Existence, rather, is the most formal of all things, forma formarum, just as it is the most utterly analogical. This is the truth glimpsed in the Ontological Argument. By this route we go some way towards rejoining the Neoplatonic stream of speculation. The ultimate actuality, actus purus, God, is thereby actual and existent in a different way to his creatures, whom he knows in his idea of them, as (in this idea) more like himself than they are when considered in their own being which is, beside him, nothingness.170 As pure form this actus purus has something in common with an idea, if only an idea could be actual. It is super-existent, in perfect freedom, such as the Neoplatonists tended to equate with unity to the detriment of existence. But, contrary to this Neoplatonist position, also what is super-existent is a being, ipsum esse subsistens in fact. It is this essential formality which gives the First Cause its necessity, its necessary being. If we think of a being which might not have been then we are not thinking of God. That is why we say he is like an idea.171 Ideas abide as possibilities (we should not call them actual possibilities) eternally, though it is the wrong kind of Platonism to postulate an existent (third) realm of ideas. But we could not think that there might be no such idea as that of a so-and-so, and similar we cannot think, if we are thinking God, that there might be no God.172 His esse is pure form, and this means that anything else, as being merely an essence composed with esse, is not really but only analogously formal. We, using a created language, make the cause the analogate, but this is in so far as it is an Cf. Aquinas, Summa theol. Ia 14, 5: "Things other than himself he sees not in themselves but in himself, because his essence contains the likeness of things other than himself." But this essence, Aquinas insists, is pure esse.
170 171

So much is this so that it is in having universal goodness or universal being (ideas are universal) as object that the soul is directly moved by God (it does not, of course, then see God, as the ontologists seemed to claim), who is idem re with bonum universale. Esse, the divine esse, is itself the most formal thing (perfectio perfectionum).

I do not deny the question as to whether such an idea is realised in reality. What I say is that it is an idea of something which cannot but be realised in reality and that this something is in this respect imitated by any idea qua idea.

analogous term, i.e. in language. But what the term173 stands for (supponit pro) renders the whole created world analogous, and shows why analogy theory is a matter, firstly, not of logic but of metaphysics, whether or not we may choose to approach it through logic. Ethics, then, is not to be separated from the search for one's personal vocation. Analogy, however, is not equivocal disparateness, and so the reality of a common end common to all these vocations, as unifying life at one further remove still, so to say, would now present itself for analysis.174

CHAPTER SEVEN Justice: Legal and Moral Debt in Aquinas We conclude our reconsideration of the natural law tradition with an examination of three ethical topics in the light of what we have said so far, these being justice, sexual morality and murder, which might seem to recall us to justice but above all to charity or love as, we found, not merely the full expression of virtue but its original constitutive form. We begin with justice, in fact selecting a particular aspect of Aquinas's own treatment of it, since this brings to light a notion of legal justice which is peculiar to the natural law conception. In addition, an examination of the treatment of the virtue of justice in Aquinas's moral theology can bring us to a closer appreciation of what is meant by the notion, almost the ideal notion, of the unity of the virtues, be that unity relative or absolute. The wider reach of justice is particularly illustrated in the discussion of the so-called potential parts of that virtue. By potential parts of a virtue are meant other, associated (adjunctae) virtues which in some way exemplify, in some way fall short of the main virtue concerned. As less fundamental to it they are to be distinguished both from the integral parts, i.e. the conditions

I.e. this term "cause", for example. Cf. S. Theron, "Analogy and the Divine Being", The Downside Review, April 1998, pp.79-85.

On this topic, see our "Happiness and Transcendent Happiness", Religious Studies 21, 1985, pp.349-367.

necessary for the perfect act of a virtue (on the analogy of the basic parts of a material thing), and from the subjective parts (partes subjectivae) or diverse species of the virtue, each of which will exemplify it in the full sense. In the case of justice the integral parts are given simply as doing good ("general justice", under the aspect of what the law prescribes), as constituting justice, and avoiding evil, as conserving it.175 The subjective parts of justice include commutative, distributive and legal justice (also called justitia generalis), but also epicheia or equity, which is prior to legal justice, St. Thomas says, as directing it by a superior rule. In the discussion, then, of the potential parts of this virtue, justice, i.e. of the virtues adjoined to or associated with justice, one can be surprised to find St. Thomas distinguishing, even within the ethical sphere, between a legal and a moral debt or duty (debitum): The notion of the debt owed in justice can be defectively instantiated inasmuch as there are two sorts of debt, viz. a moral and a legal.176 These two debts can overlap, even coincide. Yet failure to discharge a purely moral debt is only the second of two ways in which behaviour, under the aspect of directedness to the other (justitia est ad alterum177), could fall short of the full meaning of justice. For besides rendering to the other what is due to him as his own, the legal debt of justice consists in rendering it in full.178 Cf. Summa theologica IIa-IIae 79, 1. By contrast there are eight integral parts of prudence, four of fortitude.

Summa Theologica IIa-IIae 80, 1. A ratione vero debiti justitiae defectus potest attendi, secundum quod est duplex debitum, scilicet morale et legale.
176 177

The essential mark of justice among the virtues.

In fact neither more nor less than it should be. This is St. Thomas's concept of equality of proportion, taken from Aristotle X Metaph. 19; NE II 6&7, V 3&4. Hoc autem dicitur esse suum unicuique personae quod ei secundum proportionis aequalitatem debetur (this is called each person's own which is due to him by an equality of proportion). The equality is of thing to person, "equal" being understood as the mean between too much and too little (IIa-IIae 58, 10). This relation, a real relation in reality (medium rei) is the jus, an "equality of proportion",

In this way religion and pietas (to parents), however perfect their exercise may be in a given case, always fall short of justice, the debt which they cannot pay in full being objective and legal in St. Thomas's sense (i.e. not merely moral). A moral debt, on the other hand, is not thus strictly due to the one to whom it is owed. Yet all debt implies some necessity, and in this case (of moral duty which is not strictly due or necessary) the necessity implied is that of whatever is necessary for a good moral character (honestas virtutis). Thus, for Aquinas, even if truthfulness or gratitude or vindicatio (three virtues of giving others what is due to them in this purely moral sense), for example, are not owed to the recipient with the binding force of law, yet they are owed to one's own character (with such binding force), to its beauty we might well say. In this way there is a debt of legal justice to God who imposes the whole moral law.179 We are, so to say, obliged legally to be moral, but the legal obligation is to God as imposing also moral duty. God (legally) obliges us to be moral, just as religion is legally owed to him and piety to parents, in a way that leaves us necessarily debtors.180 Thus God reprobates ungrateful behaviour or even an untoward lack of affability, though these are not due legally, but rather morally, to other human beings. This may not be at such great odds with the present day liberal, who stresses merely that this legal obligation (to God) cannot be enforced, and also that morality as such should not be enforced. Vestiges of the idea of a legal obligation to parents are stronger in some liberal societies than in others, e.g. in Germany, where citizens with means are still compelled to establishing the justum, just action or thing, price etc. The same would apply, mutatis mutandis (nothing is owed toanimals at all), in regard to a duty of showing proper consideration for animals.

It should be noted that the concept of legal justice does not only overshoot the modern notion in the religious domain, since it also covers a relation to parents. We do not only owe it to our own character, or even only to God, to be good to our parents. According to Aquinas we owe it to them, in strict justice, in a debt without limit. This is said by a man who forsook his own parents and dashed all their hopes for him (when he joined the mendicant Dominicans against their violent opposition). The view, however, does show that liberalism is not the only alternative to a public religious posture, since legal ties to parents could well be thought to remain after a given secularization.

pay for their indigent parents. On the other hand there has been a tendency to go further and to evaluate the purely moral ideals, as they are significantly called, as being merely optional (R.M. Hare), which seems prima facie at least to contrast with the Thomistic idea of a divinely enjoined perfection. For it is in this sense, for Aquinas, at least if we take his words at face-value, that we are legally obliged to discharge also our moral debts, an obligation extending, indeed, even to those moral duties or simply desirabilities not needed for honestas morum as such, but only for its greater perfection, such as liberality and affability (IIa-IIae 80, 1). It is in this way that the New Testament command of love181, say, or the command "Be ye perfect", might be understood, though we might still wonder, as I have suggested elsewhere, whether a mystical extrapolation from the situation of human law is not being practiced by Aquinas here, in what Nicholas Berdyaev, writing from outside the long Roman tradition, characterizes as the mentality, ultimately the deception, of sociomorphism. One needs to see, on this view, that the term "command", in the evangelical "new commandment", is better understood as used analogically. God does not really legislate. Just as justice is distinguished from the three other cardinal virtues as being ad alterum, so inclination as such is essentially towards another (Cf. Summa theol. Ia 80, 1). Inclination, however, is the basic movement referred to when explicating will and hence love, obviously extending here to the love of friendship. This emphasises the necessity of appreciating the analogical character of any command to love. It is not just an inclination per accidens, even though we can help to prepare the way for strengthening the inclination (but again, through an inclination, also a love, which we already have). The command, in fact, must itself be a giving of the inclination, a grace, and this is how Aquinas explains the new "law". All original law, in fact, is now seen as the beginning of gift, and hence he says elsewhere that God teaches (i.e. not merely commands) us by his law as he helps us by his grace. Law is the beginning of the grace which perfects it. Law and grace together instantiate God as an external principle (internal principles are the powers of the soul and the virtues) moving us to good (movens ad bonum: op. cit. IaIIae, Prologue to Q90). The use of movens strongly associates law with love, the justice which must exceed that of the scribes, and this is how legal justice can be a general virtue although (i.e. now, because) love is the form of all the virtues.

Otherwise one goes on to argue, with Kant or Kierkegaard, that Christian love, since it is commanded, can have nothing to do with the affections, which leaves little room for liberality, affability and the like. Aquinas, by contrast, saw the Christian life of grace, as it is called, as a process of the refinement of the affections. This might indicate that he was less of a literalist than the two later thinkers, as might seem indeed to emerge from how he characterizes both the eternal law (one with God himself) and the natural law (a reflected light). Such situations or dispensations are hardly law in the literal sense, any more than is the divine law of the new covenant, characterized by Aquinas not merely as being unwritten but, unlike any unwritten law in the usual sense, as being "poured into" the heart. A law is inert (even if it can have an ordering function), not a tonic medicine, and this is indeed the thrust of the Pauline contrast between law ("the law") and Christian freedom and love. But to understand this fundamental conception of justitia legalis one must be clear, all the same, that it is not itself, qua conception, to be understood merely by analogy with some human legal system, even if the idea may have been formed through people's experience of this. Rather, the theory is that civil obligation is itself generated (nascitur) through a prior existence of a debt of legal justice to the divine law-giver in the natural law as it were given to man at his creation as being inseparable from him, just as he himself, or she, is inseparable from his created nature. It is in this way that Aquinas saw it as natural (and hence of natural law) to man to belong to a political state. Analogy here is linked with causality, not the sociomorphic, extrapolating causality frombelow to above but the real causality from above to below of the divine rectitude mirroring itself in our necessary human arrangements made according to reason, this being part of Aquinas's broad definition of law. It would not, however, be either necessary or correct to define legal justice under this theological aspect. Rather, legal justice is said to be a general virtue inasmuch as it orders the acts of the other virtues to their end.182 For it can be shown that for Aquinas it is the end itself (of actions) which is above all (i.e. rather than the action as such) due or obligatory, this being the reason why the theological virtues,

Ibid. IIa-IIae 58, 6.

which have the end itself (ultimately, he thinks, God) for their object, are superior to and more central than justice which merely ordains (the other virtues) to the end. Now the end to which specifically justice orders them is bonum commune (the common good). This, however, in so far as it may be identifiable with bonum in communi (the good in general or absolutely and hence the good for the rational creature both personally and collectively, i.e. also a common good), is itself really one with the finis ultimus.183 So while on the one hand we, or Aquinas, may seem to reduce the talk of divine law to an analogy, on the other he argues for a causal link from above underpinning the reality or, for Aquinas, legality of both positive human legal enactments (but also of the unsatisfiable legal debts to God and parents)and of the various moral obligations to others or to ourselves, however these be identified, as being themselves legally owed to God. God does not literally command, but because of God, of the ultimate spirituality or intellectuality of reality, we are, as free agents, at some points or levels commanded, obliged. This seems to be his mind. If it is to the acts of the virtues, i.e. to moral character, inclusive of course of a readiness to discharge properly legal and just debts, that we are commanded, rather than to some materially specified task or omission, then the field is left open to the acting person as regards the identification of these acts as and when their possibility arises. For if God does not literally or positively command then there are no other divine commands than this, to follow virtue or, more simply, to work in pursuit of the end as loved above all things, in the execution of which even a religious obedience may be perfected. These notions are well illustrated in the discussion of the virtue, adjoined to justice, of truthfulness (veracitas). This is the habit whereby one speaks the truth or truly, and since this is a good act the habit of it is therefore a virtue (IIa-IIae 109, 1), since virtue is what makes its possessor and his work (opus) good. Truthfulness makes him good by duly perfecting the ordering of our exterior words and deeds to reality, sicut signum ad signatum (109, 2). Veracity (art. 3) belongs to justice as being other-directed and as setting up an equality of proportion between signs and existing things. Yet it falls short of justice inasmuch as the Cf. Ia-IIae 10, 1. Et quia ad legem pertinet ordinare in bonum commune (Ia-IIae 90, 2) inde est quod talis justitia praedicto modo generalis dicitur justitia legalis (IIa-IIae 58, 5).

obligation discharged is moral rather than legal, says St. Thomas. His reason for saying this is that one man owes it to another to manifest the truth to him ex honestate rather than as prescribed by law (even if he should owe it more strictly to God, or to the common good, to be thus truthful, for this is to consider veracitas not in itself but ut a justitia legali imperatur, i.e. as it is commanded by legal justice). Honestas is later called by Aquinas, when discussing temperance, spiritual beauty. It is perhaps a defect that this ideal should take second place to the more plain necessity of law, unless of course one can argue that legality, under the aspect of order, rejoins the domain of beauty and that at a higher twist of the spiral, so to say. This was implicit, indeed, in the Anselmian notion, inherited from Augustine, of rectitudo. In further explanation of the above he says first that truthfulness attains the proper meaning (ratio) of debt "in some way" (109, 3 ad 1um), since men naturally owe to one another that without which society cannot be preserved.184 Something more than honestas might be at stake, that is to say, even before we go on to consider, Kant-style, what is owed to our own dignity in not telling lies. Here the necessity (for the end) proper to obligation, of preserving society, appears. The picture receives additional clarification when he goes on to distinguish (from this so to say consequent obligation of truthfulness) acts of truthtelling which really belong in the first instance to obligation and hence require no distinct virtue at all but are particular acts of justice, the habit which obliges one on occasion to manifest the truth, e.g. in a court of law.185 In such cases a man principally intends to give another his due as, it is implied, he does not so intend in normal truth-telling, by which, rather, in life or words, one shows oneself to be as one is (ad 3um), the habit of doing which is associated with but distinct from justice. Here, art. 4, in showing oneself to be as one is, one need not manifest everything good that one possesses, though it is untruthful to show oneself as greater than one is, e.g. by boasting. One can indeed see that the beauty of gratitude, another of these virtues associated with justice, would be largely lost if the There is strong indication here of the ambiguity in Kant's moral theory, inasmuch as he does not distinguish within morals between legal and moral debt, but reduces the former to the latter while yet speaking of the latter as if it were the former ("So act as if you could wish that the maxim.. were a universal law").
184 185

See 109, 3 ad 3um.

man showing it felt himself simply obliged, to and by the other, to manifest it, i.e. if he did not understand, rather, that he owed it to himself in the way we have described. In this connection St. Thomas quotes Seneca: qui invitus debet, ingratus est, i.e. he who is not willing to be in debt or "obliged" (he is too quick in recompensing the gift he has received) is ungrateful, graceless as we say. This would not be the case if we were dealing with a strict legal debt (thus, and by contrast to repayment, only the feeling of gratitude should be immediate, but often not its external expression): a legal obligation should be discharged at once, otherwise the equality of justice would not be preserved if one kept back another's property against his will. But a moral obligation depends on the decency of the one indebted: and therefore such an obligation should be remitted at the proper time demanded by rectitude of virtue (i.e. not necessarily at once).186 Here the "legal" concept of rectitudo, dear to St. Anselm, is mentioned as controlling the discharge of the "moral" debt. The one order is contained within the other. But again we see the pivotal role of honestas, and the place where this quality is analysed in the Summa is found under temperance, of which, together with verecundia, it is said to be an integral part. St. Thomas speaks of it, we noted, as "spiritual beauty". It is connected with honouring virtue for its own sake, rather than exclusively for the end to which legal justice orders us. Certain things are desired both for themselves, inasmuch as they have in themselves some quality of goodness, even if no other good were to come to us through them, and yet they are also at the same time desired for something else, as leading us to a yet more perfect good.187 In this way the virtues somehow resemble or imperfectly participate in God and beatitude, which are still more "honest" than the virtues (Ibid. ad 2um). And so we praise virtue as useful for the end, we honour it for itself. We tend more often to speak of IIa-IIae 106, 4 ad 1um. The parallel with mercifulness, the evangelical duty (owed to God) of giving to the needy or guilty what is not owed to them, is illuminating.
186 187

IIa-IIae 145, 1 ad 1um.

them as "honest", he says, because the virtues are closer to us than God or his beatitudo. This is the source of the temptation to see the morally good as specifically different from goodness in general, giving rise to the notion of a separate universe of values. All the same, virtues having this quality of decor spiritualis (art. 2), but also concerned with what is in some way due to another, are associated with justice as discharging a moral debt to that other. They offer him gratitude, truthfulness, affability and so on. The unity of the virtues is once again illustrated, with temperance extending the reach of justice. In this vision of things we can have to others both a legal and a moral debt, while our moral debts or duties in general are legal, and not merely law-like, in the internal forum (a legal term) of conscience, both because conscience is able to apprehend the true and transcendent divine law and because part of that very law is that we follow conscience even when it fails to do this. The mere fact that conscience is free, that we can make up our own minds, could not of itself lead to any kind of obligation, not even to an obligation to follow conscience, though we might think it more honest or beautiful to do so. We might also then think otherwise, however, considering it cowardly, for example.188


The objection might be raised that this conception of legal justice contradicts our thesis of love as final form of all virtue, which must mean that love is prior and causative of any relation of owing to another. We should remember though that law, as belonging to reason, is originally descriptive, only subsequently prescriptive. It is entirely descriptive as regards the natural laws of creatures generally. It is only in so far as known from within, or practically, in our own case, that it becomes prescriptive. Thus creation flows from the divine love and by nature tends towards, i.e. loves, its origin and exemplar. This is the actual relationship within which there arises the consideration that such love is normal, as it is normal for lions to roar, and hence what we call due within the frame of the divine government or lex aeterna. This metaphorical notion refers to the divine love as circulating through creatures and back to the divine, itself creating our freedom and the formalities of justice which we attach to it. So it is true of justice as such what is said specifically of divine justice: "The work of divine justice always presupposes the work of mercy [sc. misericordia, kindness, love], and is based on it" (in eo fundatur. Summa theol. Ia 21, 4). Cf. IIa-IIae 120, 1 & 2: equity regulates justice and is thus not only better than legal justice (melior quadam justitia, scilicet legali) but, as regulating, prior to it, and in the same way love or mercy is prior to equity, as instigating it for one thing, equity being, it is stressed, a work of execution rather than interpretation, already as it were halfway to love in that.

CHAPTER EIGHT Eros and the Human Good In relating ethics to the purpose of life, in giving a or the central role to personal vocation, to a diversity of inspiration fuelled essentially by love, we have departed from, as transcending, an inert model of law or rule. It may have surprised, however, when we claimed that this move, this transposition, could take place within a theory still calling itself one of natural law. But we should not dispute too much about mere words. It is a fact, we noted, that Aquinas, with whom such a theory is most associated, included in his account of what he called law one component, the New Law, which he said was not written at all. This, however, is also true of natural law which, all the same, consists, according to Aquinas, of precepts. It is thus that lex naturalis is distinguished from ius naturale, which is a relation in reality. The New Law, however, is not even a precept, in any but an analogical sense. The new "commandment" of love, in fact, is actually the grace of the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts by charity. In fact it so parallels ius naturale, rather than lex naturalis, that one can find in the spontaneous liberty of the wise, creative man a genuine basis for the grace and freedom of the New Law, this analogy itself exemplifying the Thomist principle that grace builds on nature.189 It might thus be thought that Aquinas was ill-advised to go on speaking of law here, and so Bourke190, for example, claims that Aquinas is not really a "natural law ethicist" at all, but simply made use of this style of speaking in a given theological context. Law today, after all, is naturally conceived on the rationalist model of a command or order from outside, which might be right or wrong, just or unjust, while still remaining law. If, however, one places the stress rather on "natural", understanding by natural law any theory which derives the goodness of human customs (mores) from the extent to which they are derived from the nature

The duplication is so close that it might be suspected by some of being idle. Grace, its possibility, might then appear itself to be natural, as man is that being naturally called to transcend himself, open himself to what transcends his nature. This situation was reflected in the somewhat inhibited theological debate on "supernatural" life centring around Henri de Lubac's Surnaturel (1947).

V. Bourke, "Is Thomas Aquinas a Natural Law Ethicist?" The Monist 1974, pp. 52-65.

and inclinations proper to men and women, then the vision of Aquinas can legitimately be called the theory of natural law. We can, however, make use of another classification according to which an ethics of law or asceticism is superseded by an ethics of creativeness.191 This corresponds to the spiritualization of law as recorded in the New Testament and, in a reserved kind of way, faithfully documented in the writings of Aquinas. These bring out the dynamic, living role of right reason (recta ratio) and above all of love. We might now see how this approach applies in key areas such as that of the sources or of the value of human life, attending, that is to say, to sexuality on the one hand, as source, and to the preservation of the lives of men, women and children on the other. What determines actions in these spheres as morally good or bad, and why? More positively, what creative patterns might one look for or hope to find inspiration for in these areas? In this chapter we will focus upon sexuality, going on from there to consider questions relating to the preservation of and respect for human life. ************************************** Within the natural law tradition of ethics, for the most part in the hands of moral theologians, we find accordingly that sexual ethics are particularly bound to the letter of traditionally authoritative treatments, among which are included the texts of Aquinas, and that of the Pars Secunda of the Summa Theologica in particular. This is far less so in the treatment of justice and murder, which one can accordingly consider more on its own merits, so to say. Regarding sex, however, it seems particularly useful to proceed by way, initially at least, of a textual dissection. We might begin with contraception, since this has assumed such a peculiar importance, if for largely extrinsic reasons, in Roman Catholic and related academic circles. We are anxious to find whether there is some canon or shibboleth which holds independently of the new law of love, dividing the allegiance as it were, or whether, rather, generally accepted restrictions upon the sexually possible derive immediately, i.e. non-mediately, from the requirement of love, in particular from the "new" commandment, which we have suggested transcends the paradigm of something's being literally commanded. Any command, in any case, in terms of our general analysis, will bear principally upon some human end or good as This, we noted, was explored by Nicholas Berdyaev in his ethical study, The Destiny of Man.

requiring some corresponding action and not primarily upon an action as such. Thus love also, as inner or outer act, in St. John's Gospel and elsewhere, is derived as life-principle, so to say, from the good end of assimilation to God. Thus we find, to begin with, that in the pronouncements of Church or Council contraception is altogether forbidden, absolutely excluded. What we have here seems to be a pronouncement, rational or philosophical in character, having the character of an application of natural law to a special case.192 To this extent it might seem assimilable to Fr. McCabe's analogy with particular decisions taken as required during a revolutionary struggle,193 if it did not look too much like the Suarezian inability to leave commands too general which Westberg mentions. For, if we look at the reasoning employed, contraception is not explicitly classified (by the authorities condemning it) among the vices, among those classes of action seen as impeding the gaining of the end, even if certain general principles are employed in arriving at the condemnation. The nature of contraception is not itself set out. This might tend to suggest that it is a vice all on its own.

On this topic, cf. Daniel Westberg, "Reason, Will and Legalism", New Blackfriars, October 1987, pp.431-437., esp. p.435: "The development of legalistic moral science... can thus be seen to be a characteristic of a Scotist-Suarezian view of human action... Because choice is a matter of the will, the will needs to obey commands, and the commands cannot be left too general (see our discussion of de Muralt's argument above, ch. 4)... St. Thomas, however... could make each individual situation a matter for the reason.. to judge what principle was to apply. This meant that the principles could be left general... help from the Holy Spirit becomes not so much a matter of the desire to obey God's commands... as wisdom to see how the general principles are to be applied." We would rather say, to see what virtue requires. Westberg shows how the professed Thomism of G. Grisez's The Way of the Lord Jesus in does not in fact break free from the voluntarist orbit which we call rationalist, preoccupied with "moral norms". This will lead Grisez to find, for example, that "contraception is morally tantamount to killing" (Persona, verità e morale: Atti del Congresso Morale, Roma, 7-12 aprile 1986; Città Nuova Editrice, Rome 1986, p.293). Paradoxically, this on the face of it absurd moral inflation might remind us of Jesus associating fraternal anger with the prohibition on killing. Of course, if one thinks of Jesus as laying down a positive command, old-style, rather than transcending legalism altogether, then the resemblance ceases to be paradoxical.

This is not to imply that it has not always been with us, and always in the consciousness of the Church even, as J.T. Noonan's monumental study of it (Contraception: a History of its Treatment by the Catholic Theologians and Canonists, Harvard University Press; Cambridge, Mass. 1965) tends to show.

Yet it seems clear that according to the analysis in Aquinas contraception would be found to be a subspecies of the sixth and worst species of lust (luxuria), i.e. it would be one of the unnatural vices (vitia contra naturam).194 It would not, however, be the gravest of these sins against nature, according to Aquinas. Let us now look at his list of them. For him "the sin of impurity (immunditia) holds the lowest place" among these.195 He also calls this vice mollities, softness, and explains it as the procuring of pollutio. This ought to have a wider meaning than the emission of seed (outside the womb) if female masturbation, or, by analogy, uncompleted male masturbation is to be included. The gravest of these sins against nature, on the other hand, is bestiality, as being contrary to the nature of the human species196, and not merely, like the others, against our determinate generic nature (shared with all animals) in so far as these acts are against "the natural order of the venereal act".197 This opposition to our God-given nature, in fact, makes all of these sins worse even than incest, for example, i.e. worse than incest as such (he is not making light of child-abuse and so on, often a conjoined offence to incest pure and simple). For although incest is also directed against something natural, viz. the "natural reverence" which we owe to persons conjoined to us198, yet this is a lesser violation if it is a case of normal sexual intercourse. This is to say that the other sins of lust are not unnatural, even though they can be said, like all sins, to be in some way or other against natural law. They "only bypass what is determined according to right reason."199 These so to say natural or non-perverse sins of lust, in descending order of gravity after incest, are adultery, violation (i.e. of a virgin or more innocent person: both of these being merely aggravated by the violence of rape) and, lastly, simple fornication between unmarried persons (minima inter species luxuriae). Returning to unnatural vice, we find that after bestiality Aquinas places homosexual behaviour as the gravest sin against nature. For this would of course be a matter of homosexual acts,

Aquinas, op. cit. IIa-IIae 154, 1. Ibid. 154, 12 ad 4um. Ibid. 154, 12 ad 3um. Ibid. 154, 11. Ibid. 154, 9. Ibid. Ia-IIae 94, 3.






of which in turn some would be graver than others, so that here too, as in ethics in general, there is a certain overlapping of categorization in so far as one has to look to more than one criterion at the same time. Thus although St. Thomas calls such homosexuality the vitium Sodomiticum he includes under it female concubitus or lying together. Below this, in the scale of sins against nature, he places departure from an assumed natural way of lying together in any other way, i.e. given that a man and a woman are here concerned. This might be, he says, through the use of some unauthorized instrument (what?) or might involve other monstruous or bestial activities (what we somewhat blandly call oral sex, perhaps), but the sin is greater, he says, if the right orifice is not used (si non sit debitum vas), whether at all or for the deposition of sperm is not quite clear. Buggery seems principally meant here, which would thus come out as less grave a sin in itself than homosexual intercourse, even between women, but more grave than the use of vibrators or than oral sex.200 Some of these conclusions are already clearly paradoxical. If one looked for a reason, which Aquinas does not give, for this greater gravity of buggery in comparison with the other failures to observe the due manner (debitus modus) of heterosexual intercourse, then one would have to find it in something analogous to that abuse of natural reverence which he says is what makes incest worse than fornication (or even adultery). Aquinas in fact says here that the gravity of a sin is measured more by the abuse of something than by the omission of its due use. This is his reason for making masturbation (immunditia) the least of the peccata contra naturam or sins against nature, a view which is obscured when the indirect term, self-abuse, is used for masturbation. For in masturbation a person seeks pleasure as he or she generally does in intercourse, but without respecting the natural setting for that pleasure. So it is an abuse of nature and such a sin, like all sin, is harmful to the self, i.e. to the person and soul. Nonetheless, the abuse consists, for Aquinas, in an omission, in the absence of a partner, rather than in an active abuse of self. Excitation and handling of the organs as such, it seems to follow, are not for him unnatural in themselves, as is the junction of penis and anus, even though this be for the same purpose of procuring pleasure, say. It is difficult, all the same, to see why buggery is more

Ibid. 154, 11, 12 ad 4um.

wrong, given that a willing partner be present, absence of which constitutes the evil of immunditia. The special and greater evil is that of a specifically positive abuse of nature. How so? Well, what has been posited here is, firstly, there being a due manner of intercourse (concubitus). More specifically, however, there is, in addition, a due place or vessel (vas) for deposition of the seed, viz. the vagina. One can abuse positively (as distinct from the omission of due use to which we referred) this concubitus, a term meaning simply lying together, with instruments (e.g. dildoes) or in other mostruosos et bestiales modos.201 It would seem to follow that mutual masturbation between man and woman, or husband and wife, is worse than solitary masturbation, as actively abusing the natural situation (rather than just failing to set it up before procuring the pleasure). Such a view would require a sharp distinction from mere foreplay, the difference depending almost entirely upon voluntarily procured emission of seed outside the womb. For the woman, however, it is little more than a difference of expectancy which determines the character of the action upon which she is here engaged, altogether too lightweight a circumstance for such a strong moral difference (between good and evil), one would think. For a banning of foreplay could hardly be envisaged. Nor need it be beyond the resources of an ethics of this type to find reason to be more liberal when considering the many husbands who through age or other cause can only achieve emission in this way (there is certainly no linking of masturbation with murder in the way the sentence quoted from Grisez might have led us to expect). If one takes the clause si non sit debitum vas as implying the use of some other vas, then, by the above argument, emission in anus or mouth would be worse than the other abuses. Yet the clause could have a purely negative meaning, meaning any ejaculation outside the vagina. If so then the other "inordination" could only refer to such things as unseemly positions, reprobated by some Church fathers but not easy to take seriously today. Context, however, seems to make this interpretation improbable, in which case what we have is a statement as to the special gravity of buggery. Following up our hint about "natural reverence" one easily supposes here that buggery is seen as a special abuse of the body. One could only refer this notion to some sort of violation of

This in other respects typically emotive language is rather untypical for Aquinas personally.

intimacy. The Latin word intima means depths. One violates the depths in a way analogous to wounding or stabbing, instead of placing the penis in a place created for it. One could ask, does the evil reside in the depositing of seed in the anus or in penetrating it at all? Would the author condemn spouses for any kind of caressing or rubbing of the anal area during intercourse? Probably these exuberances were all seen as part of the disorder of concupiscence which marriage in general should remedy and excuse. All this, of course, is directly relevant to a consideration of contraceptive intercourse. Setting the latter in this larger context helps, for one thing, to free the matter from a too exclusive concentration upon intention, which, as Aquinas points out, is only one of the circumstances which may or may not happen (accidere) to an actus humanus which is naturally of a certain specific type, even if it be also true that it is intention itself which specifies this type morally (as distinct from naturally). There are types of action, after all, which cannot be redeemed by any intention whatever, as you cannot have loving torture (either it is not real torture or it is not real loving). This must be so, since it is according as they exemplify these primary objective types of action that the intentions themselves, as interior acts, are judged morally. The reason that they specify the outer, objective act is that they proceed from the inward, interior sphere of freedom, i.e. of intellect and consequent will, not so much duplicating the outward act as projecting it in an intentional species. The use of a condom, for example, straightforwardly presents one with one of those acts of mutual masturbation which we have discussed. Whether or not for the sake of pleasure (delectationis causa: strictly speaking a matter of intention and hence second-order) emission is procured outside the body (thus becoming pollutio) and so not in the due place, this being the essential effect of a condom. We do not find Aquinas, needless to say, speaking of what he calls pollutio as being "morally tantamount to killing". Thus he treats male and female homosexuality, where no sperm is involved, as on an equal moral footing. The taking of an ovulation-preventing pill before intercourse is therefore a different type of act (from use of a condom), not in itself easily regarded as unnatural. Hence it is that much of the reasoning in Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae is in terms of the intention. To have intercourse with the intention, as part of this human action (actus humanus) and as shown by one of the things one does, of preventing conception, is

against nature, the nature of this act in particular. Hence such behaviour is judged wrong, an offence against natural law also in the more specific, stronger sense of a peccatum contra naturam. Yet viewed naturally or "physically" (physikos) it seems to be a normal marital act with which we have to deal, at least when considered phenomenally. This is not the case where a condom (instrumentum non debitum) is used. The taking of the pill forcibly creates (sometimes it only guarantees) the condition of infertility which, however, can otherwise occur naturally (and may and often should, according to the same moralists, be taken into account when planning responsible sexual behaviour). It would seem, therefore, difficult, after all, in a Thomistic classification, to place use of the contraceptive pill under the sins of lust or, more specifically, under the sins of unnatural vice, where use of condoms falls. We must, therefore, try to say what kind of sin it might be instead. An Augustinian might see it as a sin of lust in the sense of a seeking of venereal pleasure divorced from the will to procreate. But not only is it probable that St. Thomas (however, for his part, we interpret St. Augustine) did not view the pursuit of this pleasure within marriage as sinful as such, but we have a sure argument against this theory as follows: a person "on the pill" or agreeing to use of the pill might not, at least need not, be seeking precisely pleasure in having such intercourse (he might think it his or her duty to do it once a week, say). Nonetheless he is always, according to Catholic teaching, guilty of a sin if he or she uses contraceptive pills for precisely a contraceptive purpose. So we can forget about pleasure in this context. We notice instead that the sin of contraceptive intercourse is held to be exemplified as it were indifferently where either a pill or a condom is used. Yet in the latter case, it seems, an objective, physical peccatum contra naturam is committed, whereas it is not plausible to say that previous taking of a pill can transform normal intercourse into mutual masturbation. We might, for example, imagine a case where repentance (of the pill-taking) ensued in between but where intercourse was still humanly and hence morally required (it may be for some reason the last opportunity for intercourse), the contraceptive intention meanwhile falling away. These considerations might show why the joke about the Irish boy who would not let the prostitute he visited put a condom on him, because it was a sin, is really no joke at all. Fornication is seen as much less bad than unnatural vice, as violating the order of reason, but not the order of nature. Of course we are prescinding, as does the joke, from non-sexual sins

as involved in many such situations, such as imprudent risking of disease, which where reaching homicidal proportions amounts to a sin against justice yet worse than perhaps any of these unnatural sins. One could even imagine, and one might well judge, that insisting on intercourse with a spouse for whom pregnancy would mean death would be a worse sin than this mutual masturbation. But whether the latter would be worse than a consequently frustrated husband's adultery we can leave to the casuists, or rather, in the light of our preferred principles, to the agent's own creative decision-making, without however setting up some Hare-type calculus for deciding when such decisions are "right" or not, this being the old casuistry in a new guise. This teaching helps to make more understandable the large-scale reluctance of people in Africa and elsewhere (including Europe, actually) to use condoms as security against AIDS. Fornication is part of life, of nature, even if a bit disordered, and is often experienced as joyous. Sterile perversion, on the other hand, can be repellant. If, for that matter, the rubber spoils the experience, spoils the feeling, then it is this same natural feeling that is spoiled. This, rather than greed for the richest sensation, is what is more fundamentally involved. So it is merely distracting to disparage this as the man's point of view. Women, but also men, are afraid of being infected, but this, again, is a different issue, a circumstance which may or not attach to those essentially sexual action-types which we are as such considering. A man or woman who even suspects he or she is transmitting a deadly disease commits a great injustice in risking his or her partner in this way, even, surely, where desire has made the partner willing. We make these points to forestall misunderstanding, but reiterate that as accidental circumstances they do not belong to the more fundamental discussion of sexual morality being conducted here, but rather to disputes about justice. Even the fundamental injustice represented by adultery is first to be treated as a species of lust.202 What is said of condoms would apply equally to coitus interruptus (the sin of Onan) if we follow the teaching of Aquinas here. There is today, of course, and doubtless in the past as well,

One cannot be too categorical here, however. The reasons Aquinas gives for the greater wrongness of adultery over fornication (Summa theol. IIa-IIae 154, 8) all seem to be reasons of justice alone, such as the harm risked to existing legitimate children and so on. The flexibility goes so far that Aquinas can say that he who loves his own wife too ardently (at least as using her dishonourably: inhoneste eo utens) can in some way (aliqualiter) be called adulterous (ad 3um: the phraseology indicates a judgment falling short of the literal, though one typical of medieval sobriety).

a not uncommon feeling that masturbation is perfectly natural in certain situations, concerning which opinions differ on a scale from the young person's self-confident decision to release sexual tension to the sexologist's advice that masturbation helps to brighten up a marriage. It needs to be remembered, therefore, if one is inclined to ridicule papal teaching on and, especially, preoccupation with contraception that this teaching and preoccupation is occurring in a moral and cultural context where, as we have been pointing out, all types of masturbation are very clearly reprobated, as is extra-marital sex. The debate is only about behaviour between marriage partners. Aquinas, however, leaves us with the paradox of something unnatural which is yet, as mollities, very usual and often the lesser evil among the courses open to a person, it would seem. One can easily find it a pity, where one is not convinced by arguments as to masturbation's naturalness (getting to know one's own body and so on), that young people have to begin in this way. Those societies might seem better, more joyous, in this respect at least, where people were married at or around puberty, a specifically sexual introversion being avoided, even if a lighter approach to adultery might come to be implied in what would be a very much longer run. There are, however, figures to suggest that those marrying very young find fidelity easier. The big objection, anyhow, would centre around the supposed incapacity of making an autonomous choice of mate at such an age. Here, however, we find ourselves involved in a kind of circle, requiring an expansion of the topic beyond what is appropriate here, while insofar as one doubts whether masturbation, voyeurism and the rest, to which we take like ducks to water, are so unnatural after all then the topic itself becomes somewhat hypothetical. This, however, it should be clear, would be to give up, or make it impossible to accept, the papal position on contraception as being, in our interpretation, a type of masturbation and therefore wrong203, except in so far as we might say that entering upon the estate of marriage ruled out masturbation henceforth, whatever exactly our view of it was in itself. Sex within marriage is bound to the project of personal union, which must not be divorced from a procreative potentiality. It might seem to us, if we return to our original set of problems, that when Paul VI (in Humanae Vitae) wrote of the inhibition of the natural purpose of sex either before, during or

Cf. our earlier defence of the papal teaching and this interpretation of it in "Natural Law in Humanae Vitae", Acts of the Congress Humanae Vitae: 20 Anni Dopo, held in Rome, November 1988.

after the act he was morally equating the two "methods", viz. pill and condom. In the light of our discussion, however, we can say that it is rather the case that he was abstracting from the specific evil of the use of instrumenta, provided, that is, that the pill taken is not itself viewed as an instrumentum, being an effecting by chemical means not of a barrier between sperm and ovum204 but of non-ovulation. The instrumentation is different, however, since non-ovulation is not in itself unnatural. Hence the same pill, with this effect, is allowable for therapeutical purposes unconnected with a contraceptive intention. By contrast, there does not seem any situation so easily imaginable in which a condom, with its proper effect, is to be used, provided we assumed the illegitimacy, as argued by the Church leadership205, of all "harvesting" of sperm. It is difficult to see, further, and as mentioned already, that the couple would be committing a further sin if they should happen to have intercourse during the time of the pill's effectiveness, for some good reason. They might genuinely repent of having taken the pill and still have loving intercourse at that time for some good reason, e.g. some rare occurrence of mutual emotion due to the shared repentance and which might help the husband overcome a potency problem threatening the marriage. The possibility proves, again, the disparateness between use of condom and pill. In fact it is only with the pill that contraception occurs in its pure state, instead of being achieved through a perverted form of intercourse which is, on the classical view, independently wrong. So contraception is not necessarily achieved through perverted intercourse alone. Thus Paul VI himself mentions abortion, a quite different type of sin, in relation to contraception. Taking a pill, on the other hand, is not in itself a sin at all, this lying entirely in the end-purpose of contraception. This holds, even though one who steals in order to fornicate be more fornicator than thief (Aristotle's example) and thus the pilltaking be assimilated morally to contraception. For contraception

This amounts to a prevention of a union of bodies, not perhaps immediately apparent to an observer.

Cf. the document Donum Vitae. It might seem too simple to say this, bearing in mind at least those cases where use of a condom clearly lessens an existing sin's malice, even, surely, for those who see it as turning the originally purposed fornication into an unnatural act. In our culture, indeed, most young people grow up thinking masturbation is less grave than fornication, but this may be due to a sense, stressed also by Aquinas, of the dangers to others, even those still to be conceived, inherent in fornication. It is not, that is, seen as worse qua sexual; indeed it as "naturally" evokes a certain pride as masturbation often evokes shame, though the naturalness of this shame may in turn be questioned.

is still not the objectum of the pill-taking qua pill-taking, but rather in most cases its end or finis, which, as Aquinas says, is a circumstance of any particular human act, even though it can specify it morally. Again, even though the sin lies in intending contraception during intercourse yet such intercourse may be sinless if the intention changes beforehand. So intercourse after sinfully taking the pill (because of the intention) is not in itself sinful, since an act of intercourse cannot itself be directed to preventing conception, though it may participate in the sinfulness of the whole initiated course of action.206 Thus Paul VI stated that any action "specifically intended to prevent procreation" is "excluded"207 at the same time as he finds it in itself legitimate that one have an "intention to avoid children and mean to make sure that none will be born."208 What is condemned, therefore, is fulfilling this intention by a privative action in relation to intercourse. Fulfilling it by omission of intercourse at certain times is ceteris paribus legitimate. At the same time, we have seen, not all such actions in relation to intercourse make that intercourse perverted in the moral sense. Hence Paul VI, in the passage quoted, does not condemn the related intercourse but the action depriving it of its natural effect. In pointing out some of the paradoxes of listing absolute prohibitions here under the theological rubric of sin we have tried to serve the thesis of the total sovereignty of love, with its consequent freedom. This might seem to bring us closer to utilitarianism. Masturbation, for example, seems to come out as sometimes the best course, and so we can construct the familiar extreme examples, such as that a person might have to judge it best on some occasion to lie with some animal, in order to mollify a tyrant, say, though one could never prove that the stance of absolute a priori refusal might not be better, and in that case our premisses would require one to show that such behaviour was as essentially contradictory of love as we asserted torture to be, King Cong, Bottom, the Frog Prince and so on notwithstanding, not to speak of mermaids, though these, of course, were all more or less rational beasts. But the differences with utilitarianism have been

Much of our discussion depends on recognition of a difference between the natural object of a (type of) act and the more or less supervening moral intention. This is rejected by Alan Donagan (op. cit. p.159). Cf. our "Two Criticisms of Double Effect" (The New Scholasticism, Vol. LVIII,1, Winter 1984, pp.67-83), for discussion of Donagan and Philippa Foot on this topic.

HV 14. Ibid. 16.


specified above. Utilitarian is plainly prepared to sacrifice love and all human dignity on occasion. It is in fact itself an iron and inhuman law. **************************** Here might be a good place to consider erotic attraction in at least some of its aspects. For it is this powerful factor in human life, even the most powerful by some accounts, which makes it impossible, incorrect, to isolate a mere sexuality at the animal and instinctual level of a need of and duty to the species. Sex is never just sex, and although erotic feeling may sometimes coincide with what is judged to be pornographic it is in reality wholly distinct from it. It occurs through personal awareness and is thus more likely to begin, and so to be at its most powerful, as a matter of the eyes, the glance (at times the stare), or, less frequently (unless in association with sight), the hearing than to actually begin with touch, even if this sense later becomes, as Aquinas implies, the matter and focus of sexual temperance. Smell can also play a part in personal awareness, though sight and hearing seem able to convey much more.209 When erotic excitement occurs through such personal awareness but without such eye-contact, say through a sight of a part of the body shown off through recognizably provocative clothing, this is often due to awareness, real or fancied, of an at least implicit invitation. The contrary type of excitement, occurring through the sense of an intimate view obtained against the will of the other, seems rather connected with an initial sense of impotence or even resentment, and so is not purely erotic, if we remember the root meaning of eros as love, understanding love as unitive. Thus understood this impulse to rape or "peep" has its female counterpart in other forms of the wish to dominate or humiliate. The erotic current may pass thus through the eyes, as brought out in a poem such as Donne's "The Ecstasy", Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread Our eyes upon one double string;

It may be felt that the viewpoint here is decidedly male, and recognition of this limitation (as in our study, above, of our sources) should reduce its power for distortion. What is male is also fully human, while the Aristotelian view that gender is not in the soul as forma corporis supports there being a deep unity in the experiences of the two sexes in this most basically human field.

the union thus envisaged, all the same, is accomplished otherwise though this never provides final satisfaction. One might see it as a sign of a future union in love of the souls (and bodies) of the blessed, where through the eyes or the whole body one person is taken into another, a delight foreshadowed in the sexual "tightening" but able there, through a more complete spiritualization, to reach greater intensity without throwing the glorified organism into disharmony. Viewed thus, the opposition between agape and eros is clearly less than absolute. They have always needed one another.210 Eros and its illuminations and delights belong naturally with charity211, as the Christian doctrine of marriage maintains. One might wonder whether such views and expectations commit one to thinking that in a general resurrection men will still, as on earth, seek a more special type of union with women than with other men, and vice versa. Even such a "spiritual" writer as Augustine insists that the sexual difference, as integral to the personality, remains. Alternatively, an erotic dimension in one's feeling for one's own sex, for most people somewhat subdued here on earth, might open up, the intellectual aspects of such unions partaking of the erotic as achieving a richer intimacy than we attain to now. This, after all, is certainly true in the Christian tradition as regards relations with the divinity, conceived of as a unity above the sexual difference (God is maternal as well), even though this divinity condescended to assume just one of the two genders in Jesus Christ.212 There will be no marrying because the general union of all with all is so entire. Jung's doctrine of animus and anima would here find confirmation. Such speculation refers us back to the initial idea that erotic attraction even now is primarily intellectual, of the soul. One experiences a kinship beckoning to an unguessed intimacy, where heart speaks to heart, cor ad cor loquitur, the sexes complementing one another. This phrase was Newman's motto, though we should remember how he objected, in reference to the

Cf. Hans Küng, On Being a Christian, Collins Fount, Glasgow 1974, pp. 260-262. "But when eros and agape are regarded not only as distinct, but as mutually exclusive, this is at the expense of both eros and agape."

This is the burden of Dante's Vita Nuova.


This belief might seem to have implications for the relation of the two genders to one another. A man, anyhow (here Jesus), can be the inner life-principle of any woman. Yet it is surely not just chance, in the tradition, that the Word became Son, not daughter, while it seems difficult convincingly to rest such a weighty matter upon defunct Jewish social attitudes.

poet Coventry Patmore (The Angel in the House), to the "mixing of amorousness and religion". Here, however, our prime object has been rather to distinguish the erotic from a morbid, loveless or purely instinctive sexuality. The transcendental or religious potentialities of the erotic serve mainly as illustrations of this thesis. ********************************* Related to this is the doctrine of concupiscence as being, theologically viewed, one of the four wounds of original sin, together with weakness, ignorance and malice.213 The idea is that erotic arousal is something to be ashamed of as witnessing to the loss of rational control over this passion and, specifically, over the genital organs.214 Aquinas develops this doctrine in a positive spirit, and away from Augustine's original teaching. So he argues that even if, as is claimed, unfallen man retained full rational control over sexual passion,215 yet the delight experienced would, for that very reason, have been greater. This view follows from the thesis that intellect is itself forma corporis, a view also essential to the doctrine of the inclinations as a source of law. The implicit questioning of the Augustinian angle can be carried a shade further, however. Is the shame to which Augustine refers, shame at finding oneself out of control, really the central shame and modesty (verecundia) which we feel about sex? Put differently, is the reason that one cannot easily bring off an act of copulation in the market-place (an example of Augustine's) simply that one knows that one is engaging in a sinful activity? Reflection suggests not. It is rather due to a fear or dislike, such as even animals can feel, of exposing one's intimate vulnerability to public gaze. We can feel exactly the same shyness about our religious actions. In both cases we acknowledge a total dependence upon Aquinas, Summa Theol. Ia-IIae 85, 3. Aquinas takes this list over from Bede, who got it from Augustine.
213 214

Such pessimism is not uncongenial to modern sensibilities either. Thus in a recent film a comedienne (played by Sally Field) claims that it was the first occurrence of sexual feeling, with the corresponding loss of rational control, that destroyed the harmony of Eden, as Adam shouted to his wife, "Stand back! I don't know how big this thing gets."

Here though Aquinas distinguishes between control over the initiation of a process, such as deciding when to take a nap, and control through every moment of the process initiated, not compatible either with napping or with most worthwhile sexual activity.

love. Where this is not so, as in a "gang rape", the incapacitating modesty is also absent, which supports the point. One who loves or adores is vulnerable as exposing his own insufficiency and this is the deeper source of the inhibition against exposing the sex organs (or a religious propensity). They are the organs of love, vulnerable indeed in their very physical, boneless structure. Eros is thus again, pace Newman, associated with religion. If the Church and ancient Israel at times have seemed to fight shy of this, then this is because of the real danger of the erotic taking over, as in the surrounding cults, swamping the divine intellect and spirituality. But in actual intercourse with God, as shown in both Christian and Old Testament mysticism, the continuity with erotic passion is plain to be seen. An overwhelming intuition of the absolute or boundless, or of what is unconditionally desired, is what calls forth the erotic response of a properly helpless longing, as is manifest from the crudest realms of erotica up to the highest flights of mysticism.216 Dante, with his "figure of Beatrice" (Charles Williams) is a central figure for our culture here. The unconditional desire is explained in terms of an image, on the pattern of incarnation, rather than in terms of irrational aberration or enslavement. "This also is thou, neither is this thou." Hence we have the teaching about avoiding the "first movements of sensuality", "occasions" of sin and so on. Arousal, as we saw in the text from St. Teresa, leaves reasonableness behind. There is at least a parallel, between highest and lowest, as we call them, and, as we read even in The Imitation of Christ, "the highest cannot stand without the lowest." We can recall St. Ignatius of Antioch, "my eros is crucified." Love and death, indeed, are constantly related, e.g. in what is called the Gospel "passion", of which Wagnerian Schopenhauerism is a confused echo.217 So if it is true that lack of rational control, vulnerability, causes sexual shame, yet this shame (like the passion of verecundia) is not essentially a sinner's shame, but rather a creature's hushedness before the absolute and at least potentially holy, even if we happen to be sinners. Avoidance of this dimension, in the well-meant rush to convince men of their guilt, was perhaps the first onset of the general forgetfulness of the transcendent which we call secularism. The authors of Genesis wished to deny the divinity of the stars, yet Job saw the divine Cf. the discussions of this in C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy or The Problem of Pain (final chapter).
216 217

On this topic, cf. Denis de Rougement, Passion and Society.

inscrutability in the glory of a creature, a sea-monster, and it was not only Satan who promised Eve that we could be as God but also the Psalmist who declared that we are anyhow his true image. "I have said ye are gods." *********************************** What has been said so far in this chapter can be taken as woven round those two most cherished ideals, love and freedom. Their only competitor might seem to be justice, though this perhaps is valued not so much for ourselves as for the sake of others, or at least equally for their sake. We are indeed afraid that we will not receive justice if we do not give it to others, and this applies also to mercifulness or kindness, which returns us to love. The Socratic insight, anyhow, that the unjust man is to be pitied does not appeal so immediately to us as our desire for love and freedom. These are in many respects valued both together and above all else. To be just may be an indispensable condition for human happiness, but love and freedom are seen as of its essence, while happiness or beatitude itself, we find Aquinas saying, is, like God, more noble and "honest" than even virtue. Even though, as Kant saw, justice cannot be made a means to happiness, yet it is still a condition for happiness and this is what gives justice its value. In that sense it is a means, but not in the sense that it should only be sought for the sake of happiness. One ought rather to believe that renouncing one's own non-essential good in favour of what is due to others is uniquely the way to one's own essential good. Acting justly is in fact a first participation in happiness, this, as we said, being the condition for its own positive and desirable character, what makes it a value. This situation depends upon the fact that we are so made that our happiness will consist in certain personal relations, so that justice is required for the enjoyment of love and freedom.218 We should hope that these relationships which justice presupposes, with God and men, in at least some cases blossom into love219, understood as a mutual well-wishing and delight in one another, whether with our relatives, friends, spouses or lovers. And really none of this is possible without an initial love for

This means, of course, that there could never be a total collision between justice and inclination, i.e. it cannot meaningfully be proposed. One can indeed "hunger and thirst" after it.

We have made clear above that justice not informed and thus originating in love is in itself deformed and hence ultimately unjust.

the ground of our own being, which leads some to delight in the very sand upon which they walk, ground indeed, and which in the end is love of God. There are indeed those who aspire to love with an impatience which excludes justice, obsessed with a desire for union excluding respect for the otherness of the beloved, as if he or she (and not God) had somehow become the ground of their being. This is an illusion with much good in it, but only potentially. If literally followed through it is already a murder of the other, and we might ask how this passion, with its insensate jealousies, could ever have been considered an exalted and even the most exalted form of love. An answer might be that as creatures brought out of nothing we each have a natural need for a union with that ground outside ourselves which will give us all that we lack but which needs nothing from us. Feeling this, we also feel that nature, doing nothing in vain, will provide us with such a love, and so, in the simplicity of youth, we confuse the most worthy images of that beauty and love, our fellow men or women, with that beauty and love itself. Hence one may guess that it is those with high metaphysical sensibility, or so-called religious genius, who are most exposed to this tragic mistake. However, such an experience, the falling in love, prudently handled, can become a way to deeper love of reality, of God we might say, as traced out par excellence by the poet Dante. At the other extreme we have Wagner's Tristan. Both transcend a love-starved world, one in life, the other in death, although it is in Dante himself that we read that death is the gateway to life (mors est janua vitae). One could say much more than we have done about this eroticism which is but a misplaced and hence treacherous eros, about the ready sympathy of our organism with such an absolutist illusion.220 To combat it we need not only the moderation of passion by reason but also the discernment of spirits. We can compare our need for and interest in love with our need for and interest in freedom. There is a sense in which freedom is merely a means, a condition, for doing anything; it is, as Hobbes defines it, the state of not being hindered or constrained. It is apparent, though, that freedom is valued for itself, as if it had a spiritual quality. It is often those who have more of it than they seem to need who most urgently want more This can be conceded while still maintaining the more positive view of concupiscence and the ground of sexual modesty (verecundia, which Aquinas declares lacking to great saints as well as great sinners) outlined above.

of it, not only freedom from impediment but freedom to decide, or to do nothing and remain alone. An absorbing interest in health is often explicable in function of a desire for that kind of freedom, a spiritual and not just a bodily good even where the body be its subject. Yet there is an apparent conflict between freedom and love, surprising in view of what we may take to be the oneness of the human good, if these two are indeed cherished above all else. Hence the typical notion of freedom in current discussion and conversation is one of not being bound, as one is bound if one has a household pet, or if one is committed to someone in what is called an "old" relationship, such that it inhibits one from forming new "relationships". Of course the proponents of this kind of freedom avoid saying that it is love which inhibits freedom. Still there lurks here an unconscious cynicism suggesting a genuine inability to understand which is comparable to an incipient psychopathic tendency. For where what is valued is principally newness of relationship this amounts to rejection of relationship as such and consequent elimination of responsibility. What remains are just surface encounters of the flesh, a halfway stopping-place on a journey of retreat into a sterile solitude, ultimately inimical to erotic or any other fulfilment. If this were freedom it would be freedom to go nowhere, best compared with dropping a man or woman in the middle of Siberia or on the moon, where he or she is imprisoned without need of confinement. Even the specific, very real charm of starting new relationships will not long survive this negative orientation to their continuance, once both parties understand that there is no prospect of or capacity for this. The reason is that if one does not intend to continue with the relationship then one is not starting a new relationship, a truth mirrored in the requirement of an intention of fidelity (till death) for the very validity of a marriage. Without this all encounters will become casual and impersonal, a devitalization reaching well down into the sexual dimension. It may however take a few years for the persons making these rejections to understand them as such. So we need to understand how freedom is to be achieved in a life of relationships, of love, given that the freedom to go nowhere is ipso facto no freedom at all. For freedom of choice cannot exist without the readiness to make a choice, after which the choice is made. Does freedom end here? Or does freedom from unemployment and loneliness now begin? But one need not postulate a previous unemployment and

loneliness. The biblical pattern of leaving father and mother to cleave to the spouse recommends a life of uninterrupted relationship with others (with no bed-sitter interregnum), in any case always with the world of spirits, so that one behaves with modesty and decorum even when humanly alone, like the craftsmen of our cathedrals who did not forsake beauty of form even when working on those parts where no one was likely to look. Before the commitment of vocation, in this perspective, there were always the tasks of the home, the father's workshop for example. Yet the moment of new choice should not be missed if one is not to fall out of this pattern of relationship, in self-exile to a spiritual Siberia. What then is this freedom of choice once made, twin blossom, with love, of our dreams of happiness? Not all choices bring freedom after all, many are commitments to slavery. What could it be about love itself that liberates? We may say that if love is the willing of good to another then it is not separable from our notion of what good is. On St. Teresa's view, for instance, to love our neighbour is to will that he or she love God whole-heartedly, become a fulfilled human being in her terms. On any terms loving someone is willing him or her all that is good. This means that we do not forget him or her, do not, in principle at least, switch off the current of love since we know that it is in itself the greatest good we can bestow. In the end only love counts, this was the insight of St. John of the Cross. So we are, as we say, carrying him or her in our hearts. Spouses, perhaps, or parents, understand this most easily. What this liberates or frees us from is the closed prison of self. To love is to be related to another not just externally but in one's spirit. This setting up of relations is the natural fulfilment of personality. If it were not then it would not be liberating. So freedom from relationships does not fulfil personality and is not liberating. One might as well be free from happiness, or success, or life, any kind of life. An exclusive love, however, might seem at first sight to leave one imprisoned. A man who deliberately only loves his wife or child is not free. For just as when one knows, then one knows that one knows, so when one loves must one also love love itself, and so to love one person must teach one to love others. The good father does not harden his face against other children, the good spouse becomes a loving member of society. Someone might object that by this argument he or she should love other women or men as he loves his wife or she loves her husband. This does not follow. The argument shows, rather,

that a man, say, should love the women to whom he is not married in the way that is appropriate and natural in such a case, just as a mother does not love her child in the way she loves her spouse, but loves both equally nonetheless. This may indeed be a love which is best expressed at times in a certain reserve, as being that which is most compatible with whole-hearted love for his wife. We know these things. From the point of view of these possibilities the desire to possess seems a limited and deformed type of love more than it is an exciting alternative. For the love of love and of loving is a movement out of the possessive self and its saturnine immobility into a literal ec-stasy. I live yet not I. It parallels the old doctrine of knowledge where I intentionally become the other without ceasing to be myself, the remedy for our finitude. Knowledge and love, indeed, are the defining marks of spirit, as love and freedom are twin pillars of happiness. "As having nothing and yet possessing all things." ******************************* Love, we implied, is notoriously difficult to define. Yet the notion speaks to us all, at least under the aspect of something desired, something which we want to receive rather than to give. We do not at first understand St. Francis's saying "It is in loving that we are loved" or St. John's "We love God because he first loved us." The latter statement indeed confirms the initial legitimacy of wanting to be loved. The difficulty, of definition for example, seems to stem from the fact that love as such is not to be found in this temporal and spatial world. What we see and hope for are mere signs of it (which can however help to establish and strengthen it), embraces, hugs, spoken or written assertions of it, directly or indirectly conveyed by style or manner. All these things can deceive, in the hands of either a Judas or a romantic who lacks self-knowledge. The same, of course, might be said of anger or the other passions or virtues of the soul. But love, unlike many of these, we wish to remain as a permanent possession or atmosphere. Otherwise it is no use to us. We may also wish the virtues to remain with us, though we can never be sure that we possess them. The virtue of love also we cannot be sure that we possess. But for the satisfaction of being loved we must be sure that we have it, sure of being loved. So what is it, of which the temporal and spatial signs can never suffice? The desire for love always goes beyond them, and

can thus be truly termed insatiable. Love, in a word, seeks union, even identification, the abolition of inside and outside inseparable from material nature. Hence we read, "I in them and they in me," impossible in terms of a spatial relationship. "What the spiritual man seeks is contact," writes a Carthusian author. He should know. A connection here suggests itself between the desire for love, surely foundation for peace and the other goods which the world needs, and a spiritual reality such as satisfaction of this desire requires, since material reality does not allow us to transcend a separate existence which we find lonely. But even if we grant to one another a spiritual dimension there might seem little likelihood that two or more souls would unite with one another for more than certain privileged episodes, even as mother and child tend either to grow apart with the years or, at best, bear with one another's shortcomings, from the point of view of the love desired, gracefully. Even those blessed with a more enduring love can feel this, more rather than less, mutual forgiveness moving to the centre of the stage in the way that the Gospel seems to envisage. What the longing for love requires, then, is a contact with the person, even an adoption into itself by some higher being possessing the first prerequisite for this. This prerequisite can only be that that being in any case has always lain at the source of one's movements, free action and selfhood, though not as the explicit friend we here envisage, one "closer to me than I am to myself." The active virtue of love as envisaged by St. Francis might only be possible as the mirror image of such an adoption. To realise our need for this being, infinite, a spirit, Love himself, should lead to our progressively withdrawing our hope from all that is temporal or spatial, all the "things which are seen", to become, in all the exactness of the traditional phrase, an interior soul. This corresponds, as giving the meaning, to that natural process of detachment and calm coming with age and identified often with wisdom. It can free people to take greater, not less responsibility. *********************************** The development proposed here might be described as a progress from love of the law to the law of love. Here we have done little more than list the traditional precepts in sexual matters, although we have not scrupled to point to contradictions and improbabilities, and not merely "hard cases", which seem to arise.

Many might prefer to read them as a generalized description of the way of love and fidelity in sexual relations, and one can indeed argue that moral law is as much descriptive as is biological or physical law. It is only the epistemological conditions for its apprehension by the subject that are different, presenting him with a course of behaviour to be followed or refused. We would stress the aesthetic element; Aristotle contrasted art, where a law consciously broken can be a sign of greater mastery, with virtuous prudence, where ignorance or accident lessens the offence. The wisest prudence, however, may at times, and even frequently, appear to the foolish to be simply failing in propriety when it is in fact following a higher principle hardly able to be called law any more since it is a veritable hurricane of the spirit. Law, after all, we noted, is an enunciation of certain proportions (ius) to be found in reality. It is to be expected that a just response to these proportions, always between individual things, will at times require a finer net than enunciative law, its pedagogic purpose outlived, will be capable of providing. It is here, with the beautiful action, unable to be provided for in advance, that the area of the aesthetic is seen in its true extent, as indeed the noblest and most natural setting for the ethical. Nor need this be confined to the heroic, the unforseeable act of heroic forgiveness, of solidarity with the disgraced and so on. It can be a graceful response to an unexpected claim of one's own nature, whether in a love frowned upon by the generality or in a perceived need to "let one's hair down", or even upon that special day when a child or young person is first astonished and overwhelmed by the previously unguessed presence of a pillar of fire, a source of power, demanding actuation, within his or her own body. And so, just as there seem to be found the most not always self-evidently perspicuous laws in the sexual sphere, so here there might seem to be the more scope for what we have called a creative ethic, at times apparently setting aside one or other traditional inhibition but which, where it is indeed creative, fulfils without destroying. One could, indeed, in the other direction, regard religious or eschatological celibacy as a creative response of this type.Appendix. The sexual ethics of Aquinas, of the tradition we might well say, deserved to be looked at more systematically than we did here, where we began with the topical question of contraception, going on to make some selected remarks on concupiscence viewed theologically as a wound of original sin. The clearest presentation of the relevant ideas of Aquinas for our project are perhaps found in QD de malo XV, "de luxuria". In his initial response (art. 1) he first isolates lust as a "capital"

vice (this term is explained in article 4). This vice, one of intemperance, is clearly distinguished from the separate acts of injustice, i.e. of what is materially unlawful (they are of course still classed under intemperance as against the precepts of temperance), which it may or may not lead us to commit. We explored this distinction in our chapter on justice. Lust is the vice opposed to temperance in the latter's capacity as moderating the pleasures of sexual or venereal touch. It is opposed by "superabundance" (there is a separate vice of deficiency or "diminutio", cf. art. 1 ad 9). Aquinas here follows Augustine, whom he quotes to clinch his case. "lust is not a vice attaching to beautiful and sweet bodies, but to the soul perversely loving physical pleasures to the neglect of temperance by which we choose the spiritually more beautiful, the incorruptibly more sweet" (from Civitas Dei - Aquinas quotes a somewhat corrupted text, and his own text here seems incomplete, having only one member of a vel... vel construction). This distinction between inward and outward sin or disorder (inordinatio) is even more of a duality in the case of lust than in the case of some other vices. Aquinas's first analogy or example of it is illiberality, the disordered love of and desire for money, which exists in its pure state where the money is due to someone anyway, although it can easily lead to acts of theft or dishonesty inordinata secundum se (art. 1) as having materiam caritati repugnantem (2 ad 6). Another example is gluttony. One can have a gluttonous mind where no food is available; still, the acts of over-eating it leads to are not, he says, sinful secundum se, i.e. apart from one's dispositions (one might overeat as part of an experiment). So in the case of lust the inner act of the vice can exist alone or it can underlie a natural (or "lawful") act of sex in which one neglects temperance as directing to one's ultimate end in that no command of God would stop one, either if one found it was not one's wife or because one is already desiring another woman at the same time.221 Yet this sin of desiring one's own wife "superabundantly" can remain at the venial level if one would still be ready to abstain rather than break God's commandment.222 Messenger point out that Aquinas refers these sins principally to the way in which an act is initiated rather than to what happens within the act itself (as in drunken driving, we might say).

Pope John Paul II caused a stir in the Italian media a few years ago by warning men against looking at their wives

Aquinas here expresses himself in a way that seems to resist our general attempt to go behind the idea of a divine commandment (not to "reduce" it). But it can be shown that Aquinas might express himself differently on his own principles, as we see already in the case of temperance as such, only "commanded" in the sense that we cannot love our true good and still be happy without it. We pass then to acts of lust inordinata secundum se in what is in fact the more precise sense of having undue (here injustice arises) matter repugnant to charity. We have found that we can see any wrong as repugnant to charity, indeed only this repugnance (charity being the form of all virtue) is undue, so this is a definition here of what is inordinate223, not an addition. Charity, as caring for the good of man, in the first place here of children, requires all sexual commerce between men and women to be ordered by marriage to one another. Such commerce must however be proportionate not only to the education of children but to their generation. Thus, Aquinas argues, outward sins are those in general which harm man's life, firstly by taking it away (murder), or even by taking away goods needed for it (theft) or, he goes on, taking away what is potential to it, viz. semen. All inordinatio about this, therefore, is against charity and as such distinct already224 from the sin of lust giving rise to it. It appears, furthermore, that all voluntary acts of emission of semen not in themselves potentially generative are thus inordinate (age, sterility or weakness frustrate this potentiality propter aliquod particulare accidens. It remains a real potency in such cases secundum communem speciem actus so here there is no sin. Because of this aspect of the common good at which his language hints Aquinas argues that use of the generative organs is matter for the "legislator" as eating is not225. But law considers acts only lustfully. Perhaps he had been looking over these passages. It seems a pity he did not supply more of the rationale offered if the subject was to be broached at all. Even Aquinas's ordo amoris is itself constituted by the intrinsic requirements of charity itself. One would hurt love itself by preferring a stranger to one's mother who bore one, and this is presupposed when Christ appears to transcend this ("Who are my mother and my brethren etc.").

There can also be sins as distinct from lust as theft on occasion arising from it, he points out.
224 225

Cf. art. 2 ad 12.

in themselves and generally: this might cut both ways). Two comments: Aquinas's view of emission of semen seems to depend on its being homo in potentia, and if he saw sperm as homunculi then this refers to a more actualized potentiality than what we now know of sperm can grant. Sperm is potentially man in the same sense as the ovum held back by "the pill", no more and no less (though this be still "more" potentially human than a piece of bread or even a quantity of transfused blood or, probably, a transplanted heart). This weakens, at least as making less direct, the force of this argument against voluntary seminal emission outside of a generative purpose. Might it not apply equally, or not apply, to voluntary retention of sperm due to celibacy? So much sperm comes out anyway. Secondly, this would mean that female masturbation, alone or in a group (where not inciting men to emission), was not a direct offence against charity of the same kind, i.e. even if the sperm is not a homunculus, since injustice refers the evil of these acts to injustice via sperm. Nor does female masturbation affect the ovum. At article 3, however, Aquinas introduces a "vice against nature" equated with acts proceeding from a previous lust and from which no generation could proceed, irrespective of semen. It would follow then that these acts do not exemplify the vitium contra naturam if they are ever performed without the inordination of lust. But probably Aquinas means that they are identified as acts of the generative organs, and this would include female acts of this kind.226 It is easy today to be dismissive of much of this reasoning, but a feeling of its general soundness remains, insofar as sexual preoccupation is indeed intemperance; we cannot attribute it to those lives fulfilled in intense charity227, even if we want to say, in "pastoral" spirit, "something must be allowed to youth" (and indeed to all stages of life, as Freud allowed it to infants). Here the ideals of virginity and celibacy become intelligible. As Aquinas says, vehement application of the mind to a lower power debilitates the higher powers (art. 4), and sex that

One can still wonder what makes intercourse with a sheep, say, worse than masturbation or not just a form of masturbation. Would the evil of the act be lessened if performed with a condom, for example (we prescind from hygiene and health here), or if the sheep were dead. Would that still be "bestiality"? Probably not.

Rasputin might be urges as counter-example to this statement.

is not vehement is not of much interest to anyone.228 If, finally, these arguments or at least their general drift are in the main acceptable they point to a life only partially and at times attained by most people, Christian or otherwise. "The just man falls seven times a day." So it is not surprising that a positive religious teaching and appeal to "law" is needed to back it up, plus perhaps a tendency to rely too categorically upon questionable arguments (unless we think that there are implicit premisses to be brought out which would much strengthen these arguments). In so far as we can see such a situation obtaining (as we see the daily nastinesses that occur between people in general) we should be the more open to the traditional way of going on whereby people accuse and berate themselves over acts which it is likely they are shortly going to commit again and try to live with the humiliation of this and a naturally arising hope of deliverance from this, to which religion claims to offer an answer. CHAPTER NINE Morality and Murder

In our discussion of sexuality in the previous chapter we had occasion to somewhat loosen certain traditional negative attitudes to this area of life, while in the main approving the imperatives and prohibitions associated with the Christian outlook. Coming now to the matter of having a care to protect and preserve the life of any who are weak, helpless or, as it is often insensitively claimed, a burden to others, we shall find that a tightening rather than a loosening approach is called for. Here one cannot yield to the pressure to relax our responsibilities for one another if, as will be confirmed, it is the human well-being of each one of us that is concerned and just therefore the right to life which belongs to the common good. In the field of sexuality, on the other hand, the pressure for relaxation derives from the more legitimate pressure to accept ourselves in our more complete humanity, as the Christian would say he is accepted in Christ, who Again one might argue that such periodic vehemence (like the unconsciousness of sleep) might be beneficial to human nature as a whole and hence to the higher powers, as again there is "a time to love and a time to die, a time to embrace and a time to shun the embrace".

made man's well-being his own divine cause and project. The idea that sexuality as we know it is outside God's original plan for man is all too suggestive of an ideological re-description of reality for purposes either of manipulation or of avoiding the necessary reckoning with one's own problems and fears. The tradition of the lex fomitis, of the "law of our members" extrinsically constraining us, which we find in the canonical writings even of St. Paul, can thus be taken into account only after the naturalness of human sexuality as we know it is established. One may suspect, indeed, that this may leave the doctrine, and that about concupiscence, in a similar situation to that of nulla salus extra ecclesiam among today's theologians. The language will be preserved, if it is, but not its plain (or at least previous) meaning, as understood by a majority of people. If sexuality has to do with the sources of life, the avoidance of murder which we more positively call respect for life has to do with life as a reality in place, in being. It has to do, that it is to say, with a certain type of being, human being, and is thus an ontological matter. That of course applies to most matters such as we have been discussing. The reason it needs here to be made explicit is that we are faced, in ethical reflections upon the human condition and situation, with an anti-ontological stance such as is virtually normative for our post-Enlightenment culture. But such a stance, we shall see, renders it impossible to demonstrate the necessity in attitude and behaviour of that respect for life upon which we instinctively feel our common well-being and good depend. The anti-ontological stance, which may also be called the voluntarist stance, actually stems from an earlier period than that of the European Enlightenment, but it was systematized by Descartes and Kant and the Enlightenment in general. For especially they placed the study of what exists at a second remove from us, making of thought a study of thought's own relations with itself, "the connections of our representations with one another" as Frege's mentor, Rudolf Lotze, put it. With Hegel a sovereign dialectic was outlined in which (Hume's phrase) "whatever is conceivable is possible"229 and all points of view give way in time to their opposites, an approach prefigured in the Renaissance thinker, Nicholas of Cusa. Thus the men of this period, transitional to our own, began by imagining that they philosophized in a traditionless vacuum but ended by surrendering totally to historical relativism. As far as ethics is concerned the anti-ontological or

Cf. Duns Scotus's distinctio formalis a parte rei.

voluntarist stance is connected with that particular notion of ethical autonomy which comes to its full flower in the Nietzschean will to power, the chaos Alasdair MacIntyre so effectively described,230 faithfully reflected in the chit-chat of today's media where all say what they "feel", all "have a right" to their own opinion, but without being obliged, it seems, to have a care that their opinion should be right.231 A well-known example of this stance is the Kantian "So act that you can will that the maxim of your action become a universal law." This is an "as if" stance; act as if something were a law. It is never able to enunciate or decree an actual law. On a similar view, again, we are told to prescribe for others what we would prescribe for ourselves. On such views there are no truths of ethics; only truths (or falsehoods) about ethics as an undeniable human activity. There are no truths of praxis, such that murder is not to be committed, is wrong. Certain meta-ethical truths, as they are called, are offered to the individual for use in his practical reasoning; that is all. Ethical theory as such is dead, i.e. is here abandoned. All of this follows quite simply from the anti-ontological stance, since it is quite clear that what must be done or avoided can only be derived from how man is, a derivation traditionally called the natural law. The assertion that there is a "naturalistic fallacy" simply is the assertion, therefore, that there cannot be such a natural law. It is thus a self-contradiction to try to conflate this Humean doctrine with a revised theory of natural law, as do G. Grisez, J. Finnis and their followers. We need, thinking of Kant's challenge in particular, to consider the will. Now this will can be considered in two ways. In one way it is a real faculty of an existing human nature, as when Aquinas says that we call men good when their wills are good, because will determines the use to which everything is put, this being a physical or natural truth about the will as a faculty or "power of the soul", not an "analytic" truth concerning the meaning of a term. Alternatively, will can be considered in itself and absolutely, i.e. as a concept (at "second level", again) voluntas ut voluntas, will as will. In this case we move to the antiontological viewpoint, giving will as such a role similar to that

A.C. MacIntyre, After Virtue, London 1981. Nietzsche personally would of course have loathed this situation.


which Kant gives to pure reason in his sphere of necessity. For reason here, like duty in Kant's ethics, is considered apart from any anchorage it may have in biological reality. The source of the constraining categories which Kant postulates may be biological, indeed it must be, and that is the source of the kinship between Kantianism and materialism. However, and as a sort of consequential opposite to this, reason is considered as a purely formal operational system, setting up relations according to its own laws and not in any sort of natural interchange with reality and being, just as the will, for its part, is here naturally bound by nothing. This "pure" way of considering our human faculties had earlier enabled Descartes to establish reason or the individual intellect as totally separate (not merely separable) from the body, a separate reality corresponding to a clearly distinguished idea since, again, whatever is conceivable is possible, i.e. possible just as it is conceived, reality parallelling every distinction the mind may make. As far, then, as the will is concerned what are excluded from consideration are the biological conditions for the will's exercise, or any notion that the will might have a natural object which it cannot but will (for Aquinas such an object, bonum in universali, specifies it as rational). This was denied also by Scotus and most of the late medievals, thus preparing the soil for that voluntarism plausibly seen as modern culture's defining characteristic. It is interesting that the occasion of the rise of this voluntarism was a theological reaction, mis-called Augustinian, against an Aristotelianism with which Aquinas was all too facilely identified (the episcopal condemnations of 1277). The idea of the absolute power of God, as against Greek necessitarianism, was exalted so as to exclude any natural willing by God, even of himself, this becoming reflected in man, his image, as the liberty of indifference, e.g. as between willing good or evil. But whether there can be a will with no natural object is highly doubtful. The nature of freedom as itself rooted in the rationality of a world of stable natures has been missed here. Thus a God who could choose not to exist is scarcely a God, neither is a God who might reenact the laws of logic or morality, since these, if they are anything, are his own reflection in the world. As with Cartesian scepticism, there is no way back from these positions, once they are taken as seriously acceptable. Kant, for example, seems to have believed that the categorical imperative gave people a method for arriving at the traditional moral truths, not by means of the heteronomy of conformity but autonomously, being both laws unto themselves and yet

conforming to the antecedent law. But, it might be objected, a person with certain desires might well wish, as de Sade had suggested, that it be a law that we have absolute rights over one another's bodies, finding the risks to himself preferable to the constraints of virtue.232 This happens all the time, since not every evil-doer is a fool, but often a consistent autonomist. Besides his mistake here, Kant's anti-ontological attempt to base human dignity, needed for respect for life, upon an indifferent openness to every kind of choice equally fails, as Sartre has well shown, comparing Kantian freedom to a not especially dignified hole in being, as in a cheese. One hole, of course, might flatter another to bolster its self-esteem, as in Andersen's story of the pot and the kettle. So set are people upon the voluntarist course that such counter-examples often carry as little weight for them as does the existence of fanatics unmoved by Golden Rule considerations for R.M. Hare, with his crass mis-observation that "fanatics will always be few". Sartre himself was not deterred from voluntarism by his own insight into its moral bankruptcy, preferring to jettison morality instead. Regarding murder, then, people too hastily assert as sufficient argument against it that one does not wish to be thus killed oneself. How would you like it? They forget that it is just absence or weakness of this anxiety which typifies the murdering fanatic, and what murderer is not a fanatic? The argument fails, as Hare admitted, with the only people against whom it is needed. Nobody else needs an argument. It is not merely that he cannot persuade fanatics. He cannot establish, as we have seen with the Kantian argument for human dignity, that their moral premisses (the end justifies the means, humans are expendable as means etc.) are false. But this is precisely the conviction of the fanatics themselves, and as at least negatively sharing it (he cannot rebut it even to himself, but hopes merely that not too many people will care enough about anything to take such a position) the metaethical liberal is in some way assimilated to them as having somehow lost the good of reason. For it is this, and not his enthusiasm, which makes the fanatic to be a fanatic. The error here, also discernible in Hannah Arendt's analysis of totalitarian criminals, is not to see the kinship in humanity between the fanatic and ourselves, that he or she, as we, is bound to know and abide by the same moral truths. It is as if such writers concede the intellectual case to the criminals (please let them be few) and

This would not be an advance along the line of that creative ethics explored in previous chapters, insofar as it is clearly impossible to view it as at some time or place an embodiment of love or spirit.

merely add that this is so much the worse for intellect, as if it were a totally depraved faculty on the old Lutheran model. Fanatics apart, this ad hominem appeal to the agent's own wants also leaves one with no argument against murder by consent of the victim. This might not much trouble those who claim a right to terminate their own lives, but it ought to trouble them if they reflect how one can move from this position to justifying murdering many people without their consent, if one might oneself rather die than descend to the situations in which one's victims, one's "patients", find themselves. This might have been the reasoning of the killer specialized in bumping off deformed women, or of the murderers of Brazilian street children. There will be even less security for those victims who are not only caught in an unenviable situation and are henced deemed murderable but whom one can expect to kill without their feeling distress, pain or any other frustration of wishes, either for themselves or their relatives and friends. Sheer existence, after all, is not a quality of which one deprives an existing individual since it is only as long as he exists that he can be deprived of anything at all, that he can even wish to go on living, though we are supposing this wish absent. We will return to this point. One asks, meanwhile, whether these findings need be matter for concern. Can we not simply attune outselves to the anti-ontological stance, as we prepare ourselves to "liquidate" the unfit, the aged, unwanted or handicapped infants, born or unborn, excess female children, lingering AIDS victims? Would this not be a natural field for that creative ethics of which we have been speaking? Evidence that such an attunement can be fairly smoothly managed is suggested by the development of corresponding fashions in humour, or by the ease with which society adapts to the removal of severe penalties for at least some murderous activities. These penalties clear fulfilled a teaching, and not just a deterrent role in communicating horror of the behaviour judged to deserve them. Yet we can see how easily sizeable minorities of populations in concerned areas seem to learn how to commit or accept with equanimity actions reckoned monstrous in more peaceful periods. Murder is all too common, as is, therefore, the requisite attunement to it. Croats, Jews, the unborn, the hostage, the Ulsterman, the terminally ill, all come to seem "fair game" as, for the utilitarian "humanist", do all those no longer deemed a paying proposition. Media men and women parrot the term "ethnic cleansing" without batting an eyelid. We do not perhaps believe literally in a progress by

negations as envisaged by Hegel or Marx. But our culture remains dominated by voluntarism, by a freedom of opinion seen more as a right of will, that is to say, than as an intrinsic property of intellect. In such a climate any natural determinism, of human nature or of things generally, is almost hysterically resisted, e.g. in sexual matters. Where will is thus divorced from intellect, furthermore, one can expect that every thesis once accepted will be negated after some time. Consciousness of this parameter must then lead to nihilism (misnamed relativism), as consequence of the anti-ontological stance. A society thus open to any ethical point of view would gain, for a while at least, a unique versatility, given up to an almost comical veneration of pure change. Ethical constraints upon technical progress would be progressively removed, the ethical dimension of progress itself getting lost to view. But in so far as this is a mistake, the separation of the ethical from the physical as knowable by intellect, nature will tend to revenge itself, with dustbowls or psychotic children and ruined family happiness, for example, or financial disasters consequent upon unrestrained currency speculations stifling all sense of a need for productive work. Such a voluntarist society would not long be bound by the traditional prohibition upon all forms of murder. This was enforced during these twenty centuries by the Christian movement upon societies long inured to murders of convenience. So we do not yet have today a society totally blinded to that permanent, so to say legislative order which is reality; we never could have it so long as men remain men. Nevertheless the process of denaturing, of rejection, depending upon the anti-ontological stance of freedom from essence, a principle, with esse, of any being whatever, is already far advanced. As doctors in Sweden (1997) and elsewhere clamour to experiment upon fetuses even before they are aborted we are not warning merely against something which might happen. We are not, that is, drawing a Brave New World233 or The Abolition of Man234 scenario, while we are well past 1984.235 We might consider instead some products of the mid-century British cinema, such as Kind Hearts and Coronets or Chaplin's Monsieur Verdoux. In the former we are invited, indeed caused to laugh as

A novel by Aldous Huxley (1932).


A set of three lectures delivered at Durham University by C.S. Lewis (1943).

1984, a novel by George Orwell (1949).

Alec Guiness, in a variety of characters, is repeatedly murdered without, however, having much idea of what is happening to him. This facilitates the mirth and equanimity in the face of evil deeds thus not felt to be evil, but at most "naughty", as is behaviour transgressing a traditional standard which is no longer respected. It is cathartic, one might think, of our more lethal repressions. All the same, it is different from such representations in Hollywood cartoons or in fairy stories involving purely evil figures, or, of course, from tragedies where we sympathize with the victims or applaud the evil-doer's just punishment. There seems in fact no parallel to this brand of humour, as it were an imaginative condoning of murder, in Shakespeare or Chaucer, though we can find in them some rather hard-hearted mockery of tiresome husbands, we might think. Where the cuckolding extends to murder the actor loses our and the author's sympathy. In our time, however, we are offered tales such as Doktor Glass236, where the young doctor benevolently poisons the over-demanding husband of one of his young patients, thereby showing himself to be a liberated existentialist philosopher. We have, if nothing else, grown more heartless. I do not urge that such works be banned, merely that they portray, but also betray, a weakened sensibility, as would a return to entertainments of the type of the old Roman circus.237 Thus in Monsieur Verdoux the old rogue238 is on trial for the murder of several hapless and defrauded wives, whom, however, he treats with kindness to the last, so that they die without rancour or sorrow. He excites only our sympathy, plus a few belly-laughs, as, in the accents of a gentleman, he makes his last speech from the dock, morally berating those preparing to condemn him, for all the world like Jesus addressing the pharisees. One might call this, again, the freedom to go nowhere. As freedom it attracts, and this is the appeal of such creations, until we see that it is the freedom of having given up, not of having moved out of and above a too constricting moral frame. The humour may still of course be unreflectively enjoyed. One might argue, for example, that these are exercises in

Hjalmar Söderberg, Doktor Glas, Stockholm 1905.

The test, going by what we said in earlier chapters, would be that of whether the young doctor could be seen as performing a work of love towards both the young woman and her importunate husband. But he is more likely to say with Meursault, in Camus' L'étranger, "it doesn't matter".
237 238

The story is based on the case of Henri Landru, earlier in the century.

elegant moral paradox, comparable to De Quincy's essay on murder as a fine art or the "Heartless Rhymes for Heartless Homes" of almost as long ago now, and there might indeed be a continuity. We did say that the process was well advanced. G.K. Chesterton in his day, for example, though by no means humourless or narrow-minded as regards creative liberty among artists, found distaste appropriate in reacting to this kind of thing, as is recorded both of his conversation and of his reaction to jingles such as Why does she walk through the field without gloves, The fat white lady who nobody loves?239 Regarding the films, someone fresh from Belsen would understand at once that here was no paradox, but mere regression. The incongruity at the basis of the humour lies in the gentlemanly character of the murderers, which is more than just the pose of the really cruel as often portrayed in films. The gentleman class is generally perceived as bearer of our moral standards, which is why the middle-class Nazi movement seemed a more insidious moral treason than that of the uncouth Bosheviks. Monsieur Verdoux, it is worth noting, is guillotined, while the British murderer of Kind Hearts escapes the noose. For British audiences, at least, it would remain difficult to dissociate from infamy even an innocent victim of hanging, whereas the guillotine was itself rather more discredited through its past role of eliminating aristocrats and gentlemen in particular. Many older people may recall how hanging for murder, in a country such as England where the law then enjoyed great respect, confirmed the shame and horror of this crime. This can be reduced where the punishment, together with sympathy for the victims of this enormous injustice, becomes less. It would follow that the life which murder destroys is devalued in estimation as well. So punishment, again, can have a teaching as well as a deterrent function, or perhaps the deterrence is partly by way of teaching. Nor need one accept any statistic as overturning the self-evident proposition that a threat of infliction of death has a deterrent tendency, even as it has such an intention.240 These

See G.K. Chesterton, "The Fat White Woman Speaks", in Works (Wordsworth Poetical Library), Ware 1995, p.32.

To this argument from self-evidence (no statistics could ever be advanced to disprove that jumping from high places produces broken limbs: if they did not then we would assume that other, preventive causes were operating) we can add that in any period without capital punishment,

considerations, anyhow, are distinct from the question, to which, however, they are very material, as to whether a state has the right, to be tempered by mercy, of protecting itself in this way.241 The urgent disgust, anyhow, the imperative, animating police and people, to hunt down like a beast one who has thus brought shame to the humanity which he or she shares with us, is not with us as it once was, something not solely explicable by appeal to that new and mysterious lack of "resources", an appeal made all too readily in connection also with those needing a more special health care. Babies, for example, may be left to starve to death, though many far poorer societies would never take that course. The anti-ontological stance is thus bound to foster heartlessness in so far as it makes it impossible rationally to oppose all forms of murder. It is no coincidence that the stance goes hand in hand with a reluctance to find anyone personally guilty of those murders which are still opposed. One who does such things, it is claimed, must be ill, not responsible. Rather than say that he may not, is forbidden to will what he has willed we try to suggest that he only willed it as part of some functional disturbance, requiring treatment or preventive detention. What is harmful or inconvenient is thus, as a notion, separated from what is morally bad, and this is in itself a confusion facilitated by the divorce of the ethical from the dictates of physical reality, of value from being. Yet there is no value, there is nothing at all, without being. The truth that the ethical is itself, virtually by definition, what will teleologically perfect man and society in their proper being (so that the unethical or morally evil is ipso facto harmful) has been quite lost from view. In fact we cannot in the end so easily adapt to the situation described, where we may murder when, according to these values, we may reasonably wish to do so, as a heathen Anglo-Saxon might murder if he paid the wergeld, i.e. the manmoney. We must then find something wrong with this stance, these values, to which we cannot adapt. So we will have to return to finding the wrongness of murder signalled in some physical or natural truths about how man is in himself. That is, we must overcome our attachment to the doctrine of the naturalistic fallacy. The fact that I can conceive "ought" apart from "is", in an
whether the murder rate is greater than at an earlier period (it is) or not, no one can know how many murders would have been committed in that same period but with capital punishment as the rule. One cannot make the controlled experiment that would be required. At the most obvious level we can say that the non-executed murderer is able to kill again, as the executed one is not, surely a statistic.

See our remarks on this at the end of ch. 1.

ontological vacuum indeed proper to thought, to ideas as such, by no means entails that our real duties must exist in such a vacuum. Since the laws of human behaviour parallel the teleological laws of all other things, as a tree needs water and sunlight and to avoid herbicides, so our duties cannot be divorced from our needs. So what has to be shown is that for the common good it is needed that we stop treating one another as units disposable under certain conditions, evaluable by ad hominem, intra-subjective criteria. The argument against the adequacy of such ad hominem ethics is well set out by Robert Spaemann: All attempts to understand men as ends-in-themselves only in the sense that man is for men the highest earthly being fail to approach the specific concept of human dignity. Such a view can understand principles of mutual respect and so on only in relation to the rest of the world.242 There is nothing absolute established here about such a dignity, in other words. Man seen thus is only a value for himself, not a value in himself, apart from his own subjective interests. The jump to being an end in himself, like God, is not justified. But if a person were only a value for himself, yet not having a value in himself, then, Spaemann continues, the painless murder of a man without relatives (or friends) would be justified and all trust would be lost. The reason is that if this subject, for whom alone the life had value, is no longer there, then nothing is lost and no values, thus defined, diminished. These had depended exclusively upon the subject and his willing. Existence, again, is not a property through the loss of which one becomes poorer. For one's life, one's personal being (one has no other), to have a value in itself of an absolute kind, giving that inalienable right to life of which some constitutions speak, so that it is inviolable or "untouchable" (German unantastbar), it must in some sense be considered sacred. This word, however, means consecrated, made over to something or someone, set apart, from the cluster of perishable beings any of which we can one day have sufficient reason to destroy, whether a plant, an animal or, sometimes, an arrangement such as a lake or meadow. For what we require is not just that man be a value in himself but that this value has such a dignity that it is not to be sacrificed (it is already sacred) to some other. This could only be, it would seem from the

Robert Spaemann, "Über den Begriff der Menschenwürde", Scheidewege 15, 1985-6, p.25ff. (my translation).

argumentation, through some kind of correlation (through being sacred to) with some non-perishable or eternal being of at least a much higher value than things temporal, such as we generally call God. Hence it is that Horkheimer and Adorno claim in their writings that there is only a religious argument against murder, the concept of such a dignity being essentially sacral. So we certainly need to put man back into the forefront of today's ecological considerations. If forests or endangered species have intrinsic value and demand ontological respect, unaffected by what they can will, viz. nothing,then the being of the rational creature, as such a being, and not just in virtue of individual subjective desires, demands a respect such that we cannot make him or her a means to ends of our own, as we do when we kill him or refuse to help him in his extremity. Nor is this to deny that God can take back his life. God, after all, cannot be thought of as respecting some value outside of himself. So if it is only men who put value upon other men, or upon themselves, then there is no independent ground upon which to establish man's value and dignity. A claim for unconditional respect can no longer be made. It then lies in the logic of things that one claim to autonomy will clash with another, one man making another a means to his ends, as aged relatives needing costly medical attention or simply much personal patience are pushed aside (or under a pillow), infants or the unborn are drowned in a bucket (the favoured method in poorer countries) or aborted, and so on. The pains of pity are also too hastily, if understandably, quenched, without the brake of a worshipful respect for one another, as in the easy euthanasia portrayed in films such as Betty Blue or One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, while the life-affirming reasons forbidding a right to suicide are no longer understood.243 Men and women, this is to say, take it upon themselves to decide who is and who is not a person, as a grim praxis submerges all theoria. But effectively, under such circumstances, no one is a person, there is no respect for persons, and each is to count for one and none for more than one, as Bentham put it. The unconditional respect for personality, as biologically founded and upon which alone the prohibition of murder can be founded, If these cases be compared with our criterion of love, then we have to ask whose well-being we are considering when we solve our more agonizing problems in these drastic ways. It is a peculiarity of the wish for extinction, after all, that one can never satisfy it, the recipient being no longer there to be satisfied.

however, demands that each is to count for all and none for less than all. This is what is meant by the common good, as distinct from, prior to and superior to the aggregate good.244 There can, in other words, be no question of our deciding who is a person and who not. Personality, indeed, is something of which each of us is conscious, but as known and not as a mere concomitant to consciousness itself. We know that we have it while we sleep, for however long, as the mother knows it of her sleeping child. Rip van Winkle or the Sleeping Beauty are correctly portrayed as sleeping persons. We cannot, again, be just coopted (by the others) to the human community, allowed to remain in it merely by the will of other human beings. Such a conception is the polar and essential opposite of the very idea of human rights. But this is a true idea. Pascal was wrong, for once, in saying that "We never love the person, but only his qualities." What we love (if and when we do) is the existing human being, the failure of whose "qualities" can thus grieve us, and it is this act of being or of subsistentia which makes a person to be such. Hence there are no merely possible persons, a concept quite different from that of an existing person's potentialities. Every individual possessed of our common rational nature has ipso facto the inherent potentiality to be free, to take charge of his own existence. He has this purely and simply as a member of the human species genetically defined, a spiritual being in the old, often misunderstood terminology, i.e. one capable by nature of a scientific grasp of the whole of reality and thus free, not determined within a fixed cognitional and sensory environment. Head, hand and sense cooperate in devising ways to overcome the finitude of these natural endowments themselves, a variant perhaps of being capax Dei.245 In effect, if it is laid in the hands of a majority to decide who becomes, or when, a member of the human community, then human rights have already been abolished. The idea of such rights presupposes that one, everyone, has already a right to membership of that community, and that can only be through biologically belonging to the species. There is no real question as to who is a person, who not. Even in Christology, if Christ be not a created human person it is only because he is a divine person. The dignity of personality thus outstrips that of merely being

Cf., again, Sullivan & Atkinson, "Benevolence and Absolute Prohibitions", International Philosophical Quarterly, September 1985.

There is no Pelagian implication here. It is because man is naturally open to the transcendent that the transcendent can itself reach down to him.

human, in Christian thought at least, something countering the charge of "speciesism". Talk of animal rights, however, obscures the issue. For if we are of more value than many sparrows this is not a matter of respecting our species simply because it is ours. The antiontological stance consistently pursued, on the other hand, respects no species at all and the furor over animal rights is best seen as a back-handed confirmation of that. Yet the friends of the furry, like those of the earth, might be saying that if people do respect our species then this has to be part of a wider ontological stance in which all things are good, i.e. have a value. It is true, indeed, that a consistent "ontological stance"246 is one respecting all reality. Even a domestic pet or a glass of beer resemble God as having a value in themselves and not just for us (contrary to what we found the voluntarists holding even about human beings). The idea of anything having value just for us is in the end incoherent. Even the beer, just because it is so good for us, attains an authentically high worth in itself, so that we reprobate its wastage.247 Anything good for human beings is to that extent already good in itself, since we exist. This does not imply that that same entity would not be good did we not exist. The whole ethos of our attachment to or delight in animals depends upon an appreciation of the value and beauty which these creatures have in themselves, more apparently in some than in others. Even the arachnophobe cannot deny the beauty and grace of the tarantula's to us ghastly movements, its webspinning activities and so on. So even at this low level the ideologists, in so far as they make things pure means in a social struggle, fall short of philosophy and of religious or ecological reverence, while experience teaches, against the animal rights lobby, that one can love what one eventually eats, a possible argument, it might seem, for cannibalism which, however, for reasons sufficiently stated above, could never carry the weight required. The point about beer, cats and this whole material world is not that they have no ontological worth but that they have a limited or finite worth, so that they may on occasion be destroyed to preserve or enhance a being of greater value.248 Beer found in

The expression is constructed on the analogy of an anti-ontological stance. But it is not a literal stance but simply the natural attitude.

This view as to beer is contested by many, but on the ground that they do not consider beer good for us and can see no further use for it. So there is no counter-argument here.

This would not apply to matter as such if, with Aquinas, we consider

the hands of an alcoholic may be poured down the sink, animals may be killed for human food or clothing, parts of the human body removed and so on. We thus condemn wastefulness as destroying goods without need, cruelty to sentient beings as injuring them wantonly, i.e. without sufficient reason,249 such behaviour being insulting to our own rationality and consequent diginity. So when we come to human beings the fault of the antiontological, exploitative stance just becomes more glaring. People are prepared to treat others as they wouldn't treat a dog, i.e. as merely disposable. It is this that horrifies the average Westerner when he comes upon the indifference shown by many (not all) other peoples to the condition of their animals, when they are not worshipping them. Closer contact with such people can even show that they practise such things as human infanticide, as a group, without losing any sleep over it. What is to be concluded from these negative phenomena in other cultures, or our own, is not that ethical standards are relative or subject to cancellation in changed conditions, which means that they are never mandatory. To adopt such an attitude to them is to refuse to acknowledge real value in anything. Where there is an indifference to the theoretical, a reckless cult of one's own individual or collective satisfaction beyond all justice, one has simply to register and deprecate this. It is genuinely philosophical to condemn indifference to being, truth and beauty; thereby one avoids nihilistic relativism. "You have not dealt thus with other nations; you have not taught them your decrees," we read in the Psalms of David, and this might encourage one to an impossible theological positivism in the voluntarist mode. The thought expressed might rather be, however, that the "people of the Book" have uniquely activated potentialities common as natural to all human beings in all cultures. Thus, for example, when the missionaries came to China or, for that matter, to Scandinavia the resentment of those peoples against the missionaries' condemnation of their truly murderous inhumanity to children and the helpless found no argument to keep it alive, though these things tend to resurface as and when the tide of Christianity, with its moral pressure, its affirmation of and care for human wellbeing, recedes. It seems, in fact, that the anti-ontological, voluntarist stance reduces to a purely practical stance. Murderers can be the
it a "necessary" being or one that, once created, must, like the human soul, always be.

Harming and hurting equally deprive an animal of a good, be it bodily integrity or the feeling of well-being.

most practical people; nothing must hinder a goal once proposed. We become, anyhow, locked into that system of merely apportioning value to one another, while it falls to those ready to sacrifice their own lives "for the revolution", Marxist, religious, ecological or what, to expose this pretence in its empty circularity. One can opt out of this system of apportionment, and then it becomes logical to see the class-enemy as "insects", to speak only of liquidating undesirable "elements" (which we do not value or will to exist), not of killing persons. Our life thus depends on the desire of others, who may or may not co-opt us into that closed system which they have preferred to life and being, with a power that is no longer "the morality of those who stand out from the rest", but which "grows out of the barrel of a gun," also a way, if all else fails, of distinguishing oneself, notoriety compensating for an unachieved fame or glory. What is destroyed here is precisely the common good. Men can no longer put an absolute value upon one another, or promise each other loyalty, support, kindness, respect, protection, "for richer or poorer", "in sickness and in health", "till death us do part", they themselves being too ready to play the role of death, no longer a dread messenger from outside, for one another. The very meaning of love becomes unintelligible here. Some of us are sick to death of murderers getting away with it. We're sick to death of people in high places who let them get away with it... People who instead of giving us more men and more power, dream up new ways to make our job more difficult... The point now is - whose side are you on?... Governments mess about with the law,... They abolish the cat and the noose. They make prison a home from home. They give more and more power to the headshrinkers and social workers, who are all Communists anyway. They bring in suspended sentences, and what villain's frightened of that? They bring in parole, so there's always a chance the bastards won't have to serve their full sentences anyway. They make our job more difficult in every way possible...250 Spoken by an exasperated policeman in John Braine's novel, Finger of Fire, London 1977, pp.111-112. The anger conveys a sense of the good that is lost and of the corresponding need for a remedy, whether or not what this character seems to desire harmonizes with our views as outlined here. A beginning might be to stop the tasteless patronization of those bereaved by crime on television.

CHAPTER TEN Ultimate Happiness

We have stressed the uniqueness of each human being and, consequently, of the vocation of each human being. Such a conception is so far from contradicting the presence of the natural law that it belongs to its content, evoking a need in the human person for corresponding virtues both of discernment and of execution, but above all for the supreme virtue of love, ever active, creative and spiritual, i.e. not enslaved to the letter. It is all the more necessary to unveil now the factor unifying these different beings and their destinies, that as they have a common cause, so they have a common last end or goal in which they find the fulfilment they were born desiring. No one chooses such an end, for it is natural and from it, therefore, there flows the first precept of the natural law, viz. the precept that good, bonum, which, as Aquinas confirms, is one with the finis ultimus or Last End, is to be pursued and evil, in consequence, to be avoided. All the same, one can choose, more or less, to cooperate with one's natural inclination, to let go, to care for one's own soul, to trouble to discriminate, for example, between central and superficial needs and desires. For this task, the perfection of one's being as lying in one's own hand, virtue, both moral and intellectual, is required. Thus, in the Aristotelian democracy, there is no class of intellectuals distinct from or smaller than the class of human beings, just as morality too can never be made the privilege of the few, since it charts the pattern of all conceivable human activity. ************************************** The finis ultimus is less often considered as such in contemporary non-Thomist philosophy than it is considered in consequence of a broaching of topics such as happiness and "the meaning of life". Happiness, indeed, as beatitudo but also felicitas, is identified by Aquinas with the ultimate end of life,251 the "getting whatever it is

As a concept (or in communi) the ultimate end or goal is distinct from happiness, but the getting of this final end (i.e. of the res aimed at) is what we mean by happiness (Summa theol. Ia-IIae, 1, 8 ad objecta: beatitudo nominat adeptionem ultimi finis).

that one wants and finding it worthwhile when one gets it."252 Discussions of this topic, however, are often couched in terms of plans of life, of inclusive versus dominant goals, chunks of time and so on. Theories of "transcendent happiness", as it (what?) is called, tend to be dismissed as not relevant to "contemporary theorizing",253 a perhaps surprising judgment as being itself when uttered contemporary with that best-selling praise of inwardness, Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance. The professionals go their own way, however, and more often than not a programme of moderation is set forth as a way of getting the most out of what the world has to offer.254 Mention of the world, though, can set off those scriptural resonances with which we are all more or less familiar: What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul? This certainly contains a theory of happiness, but loss of the soul perhaps falls under that transcendence which has been set aside. Yet the theory played a or the formative role in our culture and theories of happiness do belong to cultural philosophy. Of course, to consider the reference, a man cannot anyhow gain the whole world, even if, by knowledge, he might somehow be the whole world, as microcosm or, as they say, intentionally, and thus gain it in a certain way, the soul, again, being quodammodo omnia. But the programmes which we mentioned first counsel rather as to how to gain the maximum possible, at the price, often, of moderation in all things. Happiness, that is, is assumed to be a matter of quantitative satisfaction, at least for the most part, though this is not necessarily a crass endorsement of the craving for external goods, to the neglect of all else. Internal goods are considered too, and a sort of balance or concursus is struck. Thus we must have the enjoyable sense of having a cultivated mind, they say, and we must have a suitable "life-companion". This anaemic term sounds like the old lady's companion, a most mild asset, falling short of friendship but without much erotic compensation. One surely wants at least a "worthy bed-fellow", in Thomas More's phrase, but perhaps "suitable" discreetly includes that. Whether it does or not,

T. Benditt, "Happiness", Philosophical Studies XXV (1974), pp. 1-20.


Cf. Douglas den Uyl & Tibor R. Machan, "Recent Work on the Concept of Happiness", American Philosophical Quarterly (April1983).

E.g. by John Kekes, "Happiness", Mind XCI (1982).

however, we must, to be happy, be free of that poverty which might sour the relationship. We further require, such philosophers go on to specify, a relative freedom from fear of loss of these things through disease, war, infidelity or inflation. From these requirements, their type, it would seem to follow, so that one must not be thought merely sarcastic for saying so, that it would also help if we could be placed, with our life-companion of course, on an island where the sound of the misery of others would not reach us, unless that sound might perchance add to our sense of good fortune, given the fundamental individualism assumed in such enquiries. A weakness in this calculation is that it ignores the potential for contradiction and conflict should, for example, passion enter the picture. If someone's work, studies or creative zeal take hold of him to the extent that family (if he has chosen a fertile life-companion) and finances suffer, where then is such happiness, where the sober balance promising a greater return of the goods of life than through surrender to any one particular? Or to fall in love, what havoc that would work with this "plan of life"! The will to happiness along these lines, indeed, seems allied with a will to mediocrity, since great creativeness or great love are excluded. Love necessarily costs, as the "suitable life companion" is not seen as doing. We note with reverence the sufferings of the great, how they were rejected, misunderstood and so on, but do we not also often envy them, wish that we too had an extraordinary gift, whatever its potential for tragedy? They seem often, indeed, to show us up as not being happy, since most would rather be Hamlet than Rosencrantz, or even G.E. Moore than his pig. Tolstoy even goes so far as, on the first page of Anna Karenin, to say that happiness is of little interest since it has no history. Yet everyone wants to be happy and so one can think of Wittgenstein's exclamation at the end of his intense, ostensibly tortured life that it had been "wonderful", an adjective scarcely applicable to the successful completion of the life-plan outlined above. It is as if this dying thinker possessed all his "wonder" up to the end. But if that "philosophical" mode of happiness, as they invite us to call it, does not carry credibility, if it is just too heartless for such a name, then either happiness is not, after all, a matter of such quantitative satisfaction but something else or it is impossible. Our natural tendency, after some experience of pain, is indeed to draw up a plan for happiness identified or confused with a plan to exclude all pain. Yet the two projects are not identical,

but indeed two. Thus even if we take into account the great pain of being without happiness yet the quieting of that pain can conceivably be achieved without the cessation of all pain whatever. It is possible, then, that eagerness to exclude all pain has prevented us from allowing non-chimerical approaches to happiness which might include a measure of pain. Resentment can cloud vision, as if we had never heard, for example, about the massive popular cult of glorified and hence happy martyrs (witnesses) to divine truth displaying the instruments of their sufferings. What they witness too, however, is of course extremely "transcendent", since they have to die first. Yet this, after all, is an example of how happiness can be achieved under conditions of temporality, granted that we do not start out from but travel255 towards happiness, and the prime image and symbol of this would be the stresses and strains of adolescence, which have to be sustained by hope and not seen as diseases snatching one from an infantile joy which left nothing to be desired. Even those, like Wordsworth or Vaughan, who stress the negative aspects of this development, the accumulating "shades of the prison house", see the childhood which they perhaps idealize as a type of something eternal, to be returned to, perhaps, but at a higher remove. There is, in other words, a process of growth involving at least some openness to pain, which is why courage, defined as a readiness to face death, along with hope, is a virtue needed for the attainment of happiness. We might consider one of those states which we listed as excluded from the rationalist plan of life model, not the unusual plight of genius but the near universal experience, in our culture at least, of love, falling in love, at its strongest as something felt by the sufferer as closely connected with happiness in the phenomenon of "first love", typically of a boy for a girl, a girl for a boy, this consideration (of what is typical) again associating the sexual impulse with the divine or "transcendent" beckoning of our ultimate goal. We have already noted in an earlier chapter a connection between a comprehensive inclination and directive to love and the creative fulfilment of vocation upon which life's satisfaction will depend. Such a lover, then, may be still a child, or an adolescent,

The analogy of life with a journey seems unavoidable. But one must not forget that this is no more than an image, that life cannot be a journey since all journeys are events within life consisting in local movement or changes of place. Time, on the other hand, is a measurement of change in general. We cannot travel through time with H.G. Wells because we do not even travel through our own lives. Each life is whole in each moment and it is there alone, as actual, that happiness can be sought.

or any age at all. He or she becomes, it only seems unaccountably,256 transfixed by another person, even by some aspect of that person, in ways ranging from the noble to the ridiculous.257 It seems that thenceforward this is all that matters to him, and the this may be variously interpreted as merely the liberty to think about that person all day long, write poems, or perhaps just be with him or her. It is like a light that has arisen in the mind making all else darkness, of no life or interest. It is here alone, in the eyes of the beloved, that the immortal is reflected, as Dante saw it long ago and as Plato explained it before him.258 This is the point, that the young lover, typically young at least, now feels, to revert to our cited text, that the whole world is truly not worth gaining, that in this pain (which may also be ecstasy) he has discovered his own soul, the unique key to his particular lock, or lock for his key perhaps. At a stroke he is delivered from ambition, envy and all the rest of it.259 He feels nausea, distaste, for his previous carefree life, at most a sham happiness, before he knew love, and pities the crowd who cannot feel as he feels as he looks in at the casement of beauty, beauty itself as far as he is concerned. Once again this is only explicable as being the natural way by reliance upon the ontology (of the indivisibilityof being) sketched earlier. Otherwise it has to be explained away or dismissed as morbid sickness, though such a dismissal is, we know, difficult to carry through and, much of our literature would attest, wrong-headed.260 The state, of being in love in this way is not, in its entirety, likely to last. No human being, we want to say, can be more than the temporary bearer of such a vision. Such worshipful eros, anyhow, seems a different matter from the project of sharing a life together, and so such lovers are generally regarded as doomed. Society hopes for at least a compromise, such as even

One must account for it in the way sketched earlier, according to which each thing, each being, is just that, being, which cannot be parcelled out or divided.

This was the theme of Resnais's film, Le genou de Claire. The idea of fetichism would not exhaust all that was mooted in this scenario.

Cf. Josef Pieper, op. cit.


Jealousy, indeed, may enter in, but only through a negative development of the process.

It would take us too far afield, even if one were competent, to attempt to specify how the experience might differ, if at all, for men and women respectively. I am, however, considering the experience as vision, in separation from the urge to find a mate.

the course of nature itself seems to urge should the sharing of a bed become internal to the experience, love producing the lovechild, with his or her distinct rights and needs. In romantic and latter-day Christian tradition an attempt has been made to portray and also live out the state of marriage as natural fulfilment, and so not a compromise, of such an experience. In that case the sense of doom which witnessed to the opposition between the everyday or "bourgeois" and the serious search for human fulfilment is at least softened, while at best a corresponding splendour might be attributed to at least these kinds of marriages qua marriages. The lover, anyhow, knows that he has found that261 which his soul seeks. All else is dust and ashes, and love is to be fed by withdrawing in ever greater contempt from this dust and ashes. Such is the mentality, apparently irrational, of passion. Awareness of analogy, however, can lessen conviction as to its irrationality, since, as we have said, if each being is unique before being cast as member of a class (just one more human being) then just one person might conceivably be the key to life's riddle, as in the myth of the severed androgyns. This passion, anyhow, is so absorbed by what it hopes for that it typically forgets to be urgent in attaining it. Happiness has thus in a way already begun, whatever misery is to follow, and in the years ahead the memory of it may seem like time spent in another world: There long ago we played By the greencut sky, And the sun shone from your face. ******************************************* Love is indeed a fascinating and important topic in itself. Our purpose in introducing it, however, in sketching the state of the lover, was, firstly, to open a more natural, less elective alternative to the "plan of life" model, even to point up the unsuitability of the latter. We find instead, to generalize, the "model" of a search among a series of indifferent objects making up a world, until the unique pearl (of great price) is found. Love, once experienced, urges that that is how one should always have seen things, as one seeking a worthy master. One blames one's earlier superficiality, and in some religious variants of the experience even weeps for it in a lifelong self-disgust, called repentance.

He or she has found her or him, says the Song of Songs, in itself a suggestive title.

If one began with such a picture then the plan of life paradigm would not begin to engage at all with one's view of things. One would dismiss it with as much disgust as Socrates in the Phaedrus dismisses Lysias's praise of the non-lover. For the lover is quite certain that happiness is not achieved through a plan of life facilitating the heaping up of the greatest amount and variety of goods. It is closer, rather, to the attainment of some kind of union, such as vision, knowledge or a compenetration of touch, with a beloved, commonly personal substance, in whose company one may as it were swing the whole world as a cheap trinket at one's wrist, a liberty which the prophet Isaiah would reserve for Yahweh. Something at least of this intense experience can last, and thus one might press the claims of amicitia more forcefully than has lately been done as needed for happiness, after the example of Aristotle (and Cicero). This indeed, as calling for fidelity, the for richer or poorer, better or worse, in sickness or health till death us do part of the old English marriage vows, makes short work of the inclusive plan of life idea.262 To press our point, however, we need to justify such a view of the world independently of any particular lover's experience, it might seem: the view of the world, that is, as a collection of goods from which we do not choose procedures in a state of "ontological subjectivity"263, but in which we find or are found by something bearing no proportion to the rest, the "pearl of great price" or even the personal vocation of which we have been speaking. The state of mind is exemplified in the account of Edith Stein as reading the autobiography of St. Teresa and thereupon exclaiming, "This is the truth", i.e. not merely this is what I want (omitting the question of why one might want it), or what will suit me. The lover, to be such, believes in the sovereign truth and beauty of the beloved, and this is the indispensable basis for the vows essential to love (one is not merely referring to the marriage vows). A wrong choice, an unworthy love, is clearly conceivable, as one can back the wrong horse; our point would stand, though, that the inherent logic of the notion, necessary to us, of happiness imposes a behaviour of search rather than of calculation, if only because before we are happy we have not found what we are looking for.

One may note an analogy between what is negatively viewed as being "stuck" with a partner and the more inward view of happiness as consequent upon having taken possession of one's own being, having "become the path". In both cases a certain fragility, a certain anxiety, is left behind.

Kekes, op. cit.

One who calculates, by contrast, has all his options present to him. The "plan of life" man, universally moderate, will want to object that the world, in fact, is all that we have. Many Platonic texts would rebut this, but the worldly philosopher will isolate them as "a Platonic way of speaking".264 Certainly Plato speaks in his own way and Aristotle was at one with him on this. For he too speaks of the lover of wisdom as practising a kind of death (athanatizein), siding with the immortal part of himself against the more ordinary human concerns, looking past, as we have said, much of what is to be had in the world. We even find word of a lover, after all, in the very name philosophy. A lover or friend of wisdom, typically falling down wells with Thales, designated as one who wonders, is the last type of person to seek happiness in that plan of life which nonetheless he perhaps, more in error than wisely, enjoys outlining. Wanting just one thing excites disapproval. People regret that Aristotle seems to have understood the dialectic of ends thus, and try to soften the scandal by a distinguishing between "inclusive" and "dominant" ends. In today's spiritual climate one is not willing to think that it could be reasonable to stake all on the unum necessarium. Anyone who does so must be confused, and wanting just one thing is even assumed to be a vice in itself rather than because of the insufficiency of most objects thus idolized. This, however, contradicts the whole Jewish and Christian tradition, from the first commandment of the Decalogue, viz. to love God with one's whole soul, to St. Paul's saying "I count all things dung that I may win Christ." What is missing is an argument to the effect that there is no such summum bonum. One might question also the lack of symmetry between a plurality of goods and the unity of consciousness, or between unitary second-order and multiple first-order satisfactions, as Kekes, again, has it, following the idea of the search for happiness as the one aim of getting the many things that one wants. But there is something distasteful, all the same, about this cold heaping up of delights, exciting that age-old animus against "the many". May it not be that a man who would win through to happiness, if any can, would be one who disdained such a calculation, beholding a single object of which he judges, "This alone is desirable for itself"?265 This would have to be argued as, historically, it has been. But first we would need to distinguish happiness from

R.M. Hare, Freedom and Reason (Oxford 1963), p.147. Augustine of Hippo, speaking of contemplation.


bewitchment. For a man may feel happy without being happy. That, after all, is the principle a sure possession of which alone allows our societies conviction in the fight against drugs. But the distinction which it makes, in which it consists, depends upon a theory of the object as cause of happiness, in the absence of which happiness is only a semblance of itself. One can hardly be more objectual than that. If there were no such object then there could be no distinction between happiness, as human fulfilment, and a drugged ecstasy able to last up to life's final moment. Such a cause cannot be merely the inward consistency of achievement with plan of life. The latter is itself subject to the criterion of the object, since perpetual self-narcosis is one plan of life amongst others, is itself an object. What, though, will explain the necessary connection of happiness with this one object unless we can invoke some kind of identity of the two? We speak indeed both of being happy and of possessing happiness, just as we explain happiness as a state of getting what we want yet also say, quite naturally, that happiness itself is what we want most of all, without any consciousness of switching to a supposed second-order discourse. But this is to anticipate the argument, to which we now turn.266 ***************************** The argument is most conveniently studied as it is presented by Thomas Aquinas, most schematically in his Summa Theologica IaIIae, I, 4-6. This is claimed to be a demonstration, a proof, that the structure of human purposeful activity requires and hence shows that just one thing, called happiness, is aimed at all the time. Happiness (beatitudo) here, however, is not reducible to the socalled second order state of getting all (else) that one wants267 but is just one thing to which all else is a means. Obviously getting a plurality of things could not be just a means to a uniquely desired state of having got all of them, unless one implies that each several thing is first wanted for its own sake, which the argument aims at denying. It is because of the argument's conclusion that Aquinas is able to say that moral evil, comprehensively, is not ultimately explicable as a matter of disobedience to law but of "unsuitability of action to end", missing the mark, hamartia.268 There is a widespread impression that this argumentation

See, however, Theron, The Recovery of Purpose, Frankfurt 1993, ch. 7, on teleological explanation as applied to human life.

Not even felicitas is just this. Aquinas, Comm. in Sent. P. Lombardi, bk. 4, d.33, q.1, art. 1c.


has somehow been discredited. Aristotle, whom the Thomistic argument is too easily assumed merely to repeat, is accused of a "clearly fallacious transition", called the quantifier shift fallacy269, when he argues as follows: If then, there is some end of the things we do, which we desire for its own sake (everything else being desired for the sake of this), and if we do not choose everything for the sake of something else (for at that rate the process would go on to infinity, so that our desire would be empty and vain), clearly this must be the good and the chief good.270 The fallacious transition in question is formalized by Anscombe as a transition from For all x, if x is a chain of means to ends, there is a y such that y is a final end and x terminates in y to There is a y such that y is a final end, and for all x, if x is a chain of means to ends, x terminates in y.271 One might well agree with Anthony Kenny that pointing to the fallacy of such a transition is an Aunt Sally and even an ignoratio elenchi as not being directed at Aristotle's argument in the quoted passage, since he presupposes "some end of the things we do". That is, he does not make this transition. Kenny, however, goes on to say that the fallacy of which he finds Aristotle guiltless entrapped some of his followers, notably Aquinas (S.T. Ia-IIae, I, 46).272 Let us see if this judgment is correct, at the same time as we expound and comment upon the argumentation as found in Aquinas. We begin with the fourth article of the first quaestio of the

Cf. P.T. Geach, "History of a Fallacy", Logic Matters, Oxford 1972. Aristotle, Nicomachaean Ethics 1094a 18 (tr. Ross).



G.E.M. Anscombe, An Introduction to Wittgenstein's Tractatus, London (HUL) 1971, p.16.

A. Kenny, The Anatomy of the Soul, Oxford 1973, p.52.

Second Part of the Summa Theologica273, which is also the first quaestio of the short treatise (five questions) on the last end, prefacing the much longer part (two hundred and ninety eight questions) on "those things which are ordained to the end". St. Thomas does not, that is, speak baldly of means to the end here. Article Four is entitled Utrum sit aliquis ultimus finis humanae vitae, whether there is some last end to human life274, which misleadingly suggests that the main point is going to be settled here. Article Five, however, asks whether there can be several ultimate ends for one man, which would be a superfluous question if it had already been settled that there was one ultimate end of human life in general, while Article Seven asks whether there is one last end for all men, which seems scarcely to differ from asking whether there is some last end to human life, as at Article Four. Yet what Article Four really addresses itself to, as is clear from the body of the article, is the question whether there can be an infinite means-end series. It is the negative answer to this that leads on to Five, whether one man can have several last ends. Since he or she can only have one, it is concluded, Article Six next asks whether a man wills all that he wills on account of that one last end. Finally it is asked, at Article Seven, as we noted, whether all men have the same ultimate end, i.e. whether there is one ultimate end of all action. We should note that in Aquinas's text this whole nest of arguments is kept separate from the explicit treatment of beatitudo, being concerned rather with a final end as such. It is not therefore possible to neutralize the force of the arguments by applying them to a "second order" end consisting in satisfaction at gaining a plurality of first order ends. These will not ultimately be ends at all if it can be proved that only one thing can be ultimately aimed at, which by the same token could not then be reduced to satisfaction at getting the other things. So the chain of argumentation goes like this: a) an infinite means-end series is impossible; b) any one person can only have one ultimate purpose; c) he wills all that he wills for the sake of that; d) this ultimate purpose is common to all human beings. If these points were established they would dispose of the idea either of an ethical freedom from the ends of human nature (the soil of the plan of life project) or of calculation over a plurality

This Second Part of the Summa Theologica treats of man as using his freedom of choice, according as he has God for his last end and through free actions can come to that end or fall back from it.... (cf. Prologue to Ia-IIae).

Construing the last two words as a dative of advantage seems preferable to the possessive genitive.

of desired goods as being the rational or viable path to happiness. They thus seem to commit one to a certain inwardness in one's approach to life, inasmuch as the one ultimate good of beatitudo does not depend on an acquisition of other goods and yet is not identifiable with any visible or material thing. Even our example of being totally in love with a concrete human being was only meant analogically, to show how native to us is the psychic structure involved, of a search for one priceless pearl. It is true that Aquinas defers at some points to the Aristotelian concept of active happiness (felicitas), but this is clearly not man's last or ultimate end275, which he is here arguing is sought not only as a quasitemporal (in the sense of post-temporal) crown to life's activities but also from moment to moment, i.e. in any action whatsoever as being its ultimate motive power. It is thus truly our life's passion or what we most deeply want. Hence the urgency of knowing what it is, as he goes on to ask in a following question. Hence also his disagreement with Aristotle in stating that it is necessary for man, for his or her living well, to know what the ultimate end of life is.276 We should try then, as he does, to discover this, since it seems this is ultimately an effort at self-discovery. But at the stage of argumentation we are now examining what this beatitudo consists in has not been disclosed and ceteris paribus it might seem that a person could accept these arguments and go on to conclude, as a genuine absurdity, that man is necessarily driven by an end natural to him but which cannot be attained since its existence is impossible. Aquinas's own discussion appears to assume the success of the arguments for the existence of a perfect and infinite good, God, at the beginning of his magnum opus. At this stage, however (Ia-IIae Q1), one might still identify the necessary ultimate end of action with pleasure or riches, say, or several different individual ends if one rejected the argument of Article Seven that there is a common last end for all men. Question Two, however, if accepted, would show negatively that the ultimate end cannot consist in these things and even that men are not in fact

One must distinguish carefully in this treatise between imperfect or "active" happiness, as conceived by Aristotle, and the imperfect participation in beatitudo or happiness properly speaking which is all that can be had in this life (Ia-IIae 5, 3 ad 1um) and which is treated as such at Question 69: De Beatitudinibus, cf. art. 1: Dicitur enim aliquis jam finem habere propter spem finis obtinendi: someone is said to possess the end through hope of getting it, this hope arising through approaching the end by action of the type specified in the Dominical beatitudes of Scripture ("Sermon on the Mount"). This is theological confirmation of our philosophical thesis that hope is internal to virtue.

Aquinas, Sententiae Libri Ethicorum, Rome 1969, Bk. 1, lesson 2, p. 8 ll.52-71.

driven by these ends which they falsely propose to themselves, a conclusion which would then lead to an acceptance of Question Three, Article Eight, that happiness as here conceived could only consist in the vision of the divine essence, even on the part of one rejecting the existence of such a thing. This is to say that the soundness of Aquinas's arguments here do not depend upon the theological project which he himself employs them to work out. They demonstrate, if valid, the tragedy of unbelief, since they demonstrate that motivation by an at least ideal infinite and yet unitary good is naturally necessary to man. Article Four in itself is not very controversial. It concludes that per se loquendo, impossibile est in finibus procedere in infinitum ex quacumque parte, i.e. it is properly speaking impossible to move towards an end through an endless number of steps. This conclusion, we may note, is the premise of the fallacious argument set up by Anscombe and Geach. Every chain of purposes has a last number. This turns out to be an "analytical" point. Having settled it Aquinas goes on to ask (Article Five) whether a man or woman can have more than one ultimate purpose, concluding that it is impossible that the will of one man be directed to a simultaneous plurality of ultimate ends (impossibile est quod voluntas unius hominis se habeat ad diversa sicut ad ultimos fines). The language is quasi-physical rather than psychological, as being directed at a spiritual substance rather than at a supervenient state of mind. Aquinas offers three arguments. The first argument: since the ultimate purpose of anything is a fulfilment leaving nothing further to be desired, then if something further is desired (as an end) it cannot be a question of the ultimate purpose. The second argument: The source (principium) of any willing, that which elicits an act of will, is that which is naturally desired, but natura non tendit nisi ad unum (i.e. any one nature essentially embodies one characterizing tendency), and this one thing (unum) is the ultimate end (of that nature). The third argument: voluntary acts are specified by their ends. So the ultimate end of any given means-end chain specifies

all the acts of that chain as being to that end (e.g. as thieving or adulterous but not both equally). But since all willed or willable acts are as such of one kind or species therefore the last end which specifies them as one genus (viz. that of voluntary acts, directed to satisfying the will) must itself be one. Of these three arguments the third approaches closest to the core of the matter and, if valid, could stand alone. The quantifier shift fallacy is not to be found, it seems, in these arguments. The last two arguments, for example, depend on premises (natura non tendit nisi ad unum and voluntary action is specified by its end) which would make the fallacy impossible to commit here. These arguments, we noted, occur in a context of moral theology. This, though, is a humanistic context. For it is man's creation in the divine image which entails his too being free and having power over his own actions.277 Hence Aquinas asks after our ultimate purpose, which he says is taken (ponitur) to be happiness. The idea that this ultimate purpose might itself be determinable by our freedom, issuing in plans of life, is not considered. Nor was it by Aristotle. As our determinate physical structure witnesses, we are creatures of a certain kind, a truth not likely to stop at our physical make-up alone.278 The notion of finis as such would repay further examination. The background to Article Four, for example, is to be found in Aristotle's Physics.279 Aquinas argues that if there were no final end nothing would be desired nor any course of action terminated, giving as his reason that in practical thinking the final purpose is the first in intention. We might note here, thinking of the charge of a quantifier shift fallacy, that the notion attributed to these thinkers of an initial disconnected plurality of means-ends series seems just not to arise at the level at which Aquinas's thought is moving, as if he might start to reason from it. He seems from the start, rather, to conceive of human living (vita humana), or of a person's life, as a chain, one chain, of means to an end, somewhat parallel (but not identical) to the conception of it as a unilinear chain of temporal moments leading up to the "ultimate conclusion" or finish of this chain. Purely as temporal this series might be one of means to an end only per accidens, and in such case, according to him, the series could be infinite (in length). Hence he allows a possibility of

Cf. Prologue to Ia-IIae. For further reasons for this, cf. Ia-IIae 10, 1. At VIII,5.



the temporal infinity of the world, the First Cause, like the first intention or the finis ultimus, being present and active now. This distinction neutralizes the charge of a gross equivocation upon finis, although viewed in this way the finish of human life is or might be the purpose, insofar as death might indeed be the perfection of life, the supreme moment for which we are preparing, able to yield entry to immortal beatitudo. This, however, is conditional upon the series of intentions and the actions following thereon, including our responses to the other causes which impinge upon our personal history, which are thus in themselves only a per accidens causal sequence, finishing at death which the good man, inspired by fortitude and charity, makes it his first intention to accomplish worthily, whatever the unforeseen circumstances. In Augustine's clear speech: when we now speak of the Final Good we do not mean the end of good whereby good is finished so that it does not exist, but the end whereby it is brought to final perfection and fulfilment.280 These writers are not so easily fooled by mere ambiguities of language. Thus in Article Four Aquinas is considering any and every means-end chain, of which the living of a human life as a whole (i.e. as a series of intentions) is just one, in order to show that no such chain can be infinite. The objection is often raised, nonetheless, that the final purpose of many activities, such as dancing, is not achieved uniquely at the end. The theory places no obstacle against granting this, although it will go on to argue that the ultimate end of human life is not an end of this kind, since we never quite achieve it. Through time we can only move towards it, so that meanwhile a condition merely of hope, not of beatitude, is possible.281 What we might call the Christian theory, at least, seems decisively to reject the treating of one's terrestrial life as a prolongued dance, and the rich man in the parable who arranged optimal comfort and security for himself (the philosophical prescription discussed above) was called a fool, just for the reason that that night, as on any night, his soul might be required of him.

City of God, XIX,1.


For a vivid example of how hope can include real participation in the final delight one need only consider the life-giving act of sexual intercourse, intoxicatingly pleasurable from the first moment but still unambiguously directed to climax, in default of which disappointment is experienced. For the joy is precisely a joy that it, the finis, is coming, as we say.

We do not have the security of possession which present happiness would require. At the same time a happier life even now is promised, as it were incidentally, to those who place their happiness elsewhere, and in that way, also on the Christian view, life can become like a dance, based now on the surer foundation of confidence and hope. Hope, anyhow, is ineradicable even on the most earthbound views of happiness, since man is always tied to a future, be it long or short. In regard to the three arguments of Article Five, the first argument begs no question in saying that my purpose is not my final purpose if it is not my whole purpose. Russell, however, would object that it satisfies us not to be satisfied: To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.282 If this were so, however, it would itself come under the list of things wanted, as (I want) to be without some things that I want, and not (I want to be without) some things I want, which Russell felt able to offer as a counter-example to the claim that there is one sole thing ultimately wanted, the getting of which gives final, unquenchable happiness. It thus becomes a back-handed way of asserting that one might be not just making the best of it but optimally happy in the shifting conditions of this life. We need to consider this at greater length. If one wanted incompatible things then one could not satisfy all one's wants, and this state of mind does not become the less sad through being felt to be inescapable, evoking a wise policy of general moderation, for example, as against "crying for the moon". Less wise, if more plausible to more urgent spirits, might be this argument of Russell and others that a state of happiness itself requires that there be some wants not yet satisfied, some satisfactions to look forward to. A formulation such as It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive,

B. Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

however, would almost seem to give the game away, since it is certainly better to arrive. Plausibility, anyhow, is commonly associated with deception, and if these satisfactions are looked forward to then they must be hoped for. But to hope for something entails wanting it to be had. If I say I will be less happy having got it than when I aspire to it then I deny that I am hoping for it. We cannot desire a diminution of happiness, this being the fulfilment of desire. It will be rejoined that what is required for happiness is that as wants are satisfied other wants should arise. How, though, do we distinguish this from the treadmill of unhappiness with which we are familiar. One is reminded of the old Punch cartoon of one man scowling at everything the other man finds funny. We might then just say that dissatisfaction following on the heels of satisfaction is the common pattern of life, discouraging to the pessimist but evoking perpetual hope in the breast of the optimist. Since the pessimist concedes the objection to the Russellian view the optimist needs to show that this hope can be maintained as a constituent of happiness even if it is not seen to have a term. Is not a hope that is known to be unfulfillable a cause of certain unhappiness, in so far as we steadily contemplate that knowledge, as we should? For to ignore what one knows is a prime cause of neurotic silliness. The optimist replies that this is not his case. He is talking of a series of distinct hopes, each of which is fulfilled as it arises. The question is, is this enough? It partly depends upon how much a hope is specified as a hope by its object. This seems not to be the case283 but what we have, rather, is a situation in which men suffer a generalized state of being in hope, less or more confident, which not only is to be resolved by a general attainment but which is saved from becoming despair, its contrary, by the belief that such an attainment is possible. We seem to be saying that the things which we desire are significant to us, evoke hope, not because they are whatever they are but because we desire them, even if what is desired is necessarily the res and not possibly the mere having of the res in separation from what kind of thing it might be. I desire a thing because of what it is, but what it is would not signify for me if I did not desire it. Is there not a contradiction here?284 What resolves

It is rather the case that hopes are all specified as hope by being hope of the good, which is thus, again, the last end, as Aquinas says (e.g. in his third argument here) about acts of the will generically considered.

For more detailed treatment of this question, cf. our The Recovery of Purpose, Frankfurt 1993, Chapter Seven.

the contradiction is the concept, or rather the reality, of the good, bonum, which, although an ens rationis insofar as the term signifies a being (ens), is still, as related to the will and by the same token, a being. Hence Aquinas says that the possession of money is only a good because money itself is a good (non enim possessio pecuniae est bona, nisi propter bonum pecuniae).285 It is always a being which initiates desire, which elicits an act of will, but a being seen as a good. Aquinas says it is manifest that the ultimate end is the thing itself (res ipsa), even if this can be presented in the mind as one's having of that thing. For it is also true, as he says, that "the miser only seeks money so that he can have it." It is the end as res that is instigator and cause (causam vel objectum) of practical reasoning. So whisky gives no satisfaction, is not hoped for, by someone who dislikes it, for whom it is not a good, a bonum delectabile. From this point of view whether what arouses desire and hope in a person be a string of disparate objects or a uniform quantity of some one thing over a period of time might seem a non-signifying difference with respect to happiness. What signifies is whether or not the person is in a state of fulfilment of his desires. This is why it was important to distinguish what we most deeply desire, which we claim here is natural and not a matter of election. But what does also signify is whether getting to that state is conceivable in either of these cases. Can the optimist claim a happiness compatible with the endless occurrence of new wants, of want, since he is never satisfied? He has to claim that he is satisfied with this very condition of never being satisfied, as we found Russell indicating. It is not, after all, a contradiction, since one is not satisfied and dissatisfied in the same respect. The same applies to the saint, who does not love suffering as such, an impossibility, but who can nonetheless love to suffer, love the privilege of enduring what he

Aquinas, Summa theol. Ia-IIae 16, 3. In fact it is the intellectual inclination (it is only possible to an intellect) to the whole of being, which thus becomes the good in general, which itself constitutes a will. Thus what we desire, by our very constitution, is premissed in advance as a good, which is why formalistic rationalist programmes (such as that of D. von Hildebrand in Christian Ethics, London 1953) which attempt to establish "values" to which desire is irrelevant are misconceived. We should rather attend to what we most deeply want and need, the divine sovereignty indeed having no more fundamental interest in us than that, as the simile of bearing fruit (fruit nourishes) ought to show to those pressing a religious suit.

does not love, for some end known to saints. The (Russellian) optimist, indeed, is a sort of caricature of such a saint. For a cheap price he has bought a sham happiness which, as doing violence to his rational nature (travelling hopefully without hope of arrival), cannot last. It is essential to being happy that one knows that one will always be happy, a Boethian proposition which one might say is nota per se, even if we should feel that this makes happiness impossible. We cannot cut our coat according to our cloth in this matter. It is with happiness as with the state of being germ-free; this state is what it is, even if no creature were or could be germfree. The saint can adduce extraneous theological reasons as to why he loves being without what he loves. But the optimist has no reason to be satisfied with never being satisfied, given that this description encompasses the whole of his psychic life, if, unlike the saint, he is not enduring this state as a dissatisfaction for the sake of some other, transcendent good. He is clinging to that variety of goods which we have argued to be non-significant, since it is in their common character as goods, and not in their variety, that things satisfy (even if one were to make of variety itself such a good, thus reinforcing the point). It is the graph of fulfilment which is significant, and here the constant replacement of old wants by new ones entails that each satisfaction, qua satisfaction, withers in proportion as it is had, at least under its aspect of ending the state of desire (as contrasted with desire for just that thing). The heart, Blake said, is a bottomless gorge. We should add here, though, insofar as our last remark might appear one-sidedly incomplete, that the fact that not all satisfactions wither as they are grasped, even in this life, itself argues for a final fulfilment as goal of human activity. The good of marriage resides precisely in its relative permanence, and its delightfulness does not consist essentially in looking forward to future as yet inexperienced satisfactions within the marriage (as would seem to be necessary on Russell's theory) but merely in present happiness understood as continuing and, through the promises of fidelity, as relatively assured in the way stressed by Boethius. It is the uncertainties, risks, and eventual finitude of marriage, however, that prompts people, whether married or not, to aim beyond marriage. Where they do not it will be threatened from within by jealousies, uxoriousness and neurotic denial of the general mutability of life. Other family relationships can also be cited as examples of this relative permanence, as can the secure placement in a profession and all that is abiding in life. But none of these can be made the final end of human living, nor, analo-

gously, can a generalized state of passing from one satisfaction to the next, as if grief itself were no more than momentary. What the optimist enjoys is living through the series as a whole rather than the particular successes within it. His general mood, therefore, surmounts the failures. He only needs these successes insofar as they are needed to make the series itself one of this type (viz. a series of satisfactions). So he represents his life to himself as being like a piece of music, unable to stop at any of its moments, but completely satisfying as a whole. He is thus suffering from a kind of transcendental illusion, thinking of his life analogously to how one might think of an episode within one's life, such as listening to a symphony. Yet he is nothing more than his life. He cannot stand outside or over and above his life in the same way as with the symphony. If his life progresses to its end like the music he will never have been satisfied, any more than the conductor will have stopped beating time throughout the piece, and if it goes on for ever his condition will be still worse, for he will never rest in satisfaction, as we do relative to the end of a good musical performance. This analogy is therefore false on the crucial point (relative versus absolute satisfaction), unlike our analogy of marriage, where delight in permanence leads to an appetite or at least dream of a more absolute permanence. The optimist's situation is Sisyphean. One can, in any present moment, aspire to full satisfaction, such as our optimist confessedly does not find. Yet he cannot lay claim to a superior, second-order type of satisfaction based on the fictitious construal of his life as a contemplated object. But if it makes him happy, as we say? If he feels happy with it, then is he not in truth happy? We have already distinguished happiness from bewitchment or narcosis. Such selfdeception does violence to the man's rational nature, just as, for example, does a similarly absorbing fanaticism in other cases. The murdering fanatic wants no other kind of life, but the good of his humanity is deeply impaired. Nothing, anyhow, can remain indefinitely in a violent state, i.e. a state contrary to such a thing's nature, in this case human nature. Hence such a caricature of the good life does not confer happiness. Novels such as Waugh's The Loved One or Huxley's Brave New World attempted to bring out the deception involved in at least some brands of American, or Americanist, optimism. The soul, the cleaving to the finis ultimus, is there lost, but neither is the whole world gained. One might just as well compare the satisfying of each want as it arises to the continual taking of aspirins for a perpetual headache. We are in want, but can live in hope. The optimist,

anyhow, needs to top his plea with some argument dealing with the problem of death. Even if he pleads, somewhat sophistically, that no man experiences his own death (Wittgenstein), yet we still experience the knowledge and first breath of it, the "dark wind blowing from the future" (Camus). ******************************************* Aquinas's second and third arguments, in Article Five, for any person's only having one ultimate purpose motivating him to act or live at all, are closely related to one another. The ground covered in the second argument by a method belonging to the philosophy of nature or physis is covered again in the third at the level of conceptual analysis. It, the second argument, brings out how we start exercising our wills, both as a temporal beginning and by way of causality (principium includes both notions), only because something is naturally desired, thus leading us to desire the things we choose, as we cannot choose what is by nature.286 But the fundamental tendency of a unitary, definite nature is a unitary and definite tendency, i.e. it is to just one thing. Therefore whatever is naturally desired is subsumable under one intentional object of will. Not only that, but the principium of willing, because of the structure of practical reasoning, is its ultimate purpose (cf. Article Four), so there is just one of these for any individualized human nature. Assessing this argument properly would involve one in assessing just about the whole philosophical tradition up to Aquinas, but it certainly includes too much in its premises to give play to a quantifier shift fallacy. Its virtue lies, rather, in the perspicuous setting out of these premises. The third argument might seem to be more telling. If voluntary acts are specified by their ends (Article Three), then there is one end, ultimately, which specifies the class of voluntary actions as one unitary class (a fine ultimo, qui est communis, sortiantur rationem generis). Of course what specifies a particular voluntary act, for example a surgical operation, as being that of a healer is the intention or end of healing, while what is said here is that what makes it voluntary at all (in the first place) is some one Cf. Dewan, op. cit., p.579 and note 49: "the elective movement of the will is the effect of the ontological wealth of the natural movement (cf. ST 1.60.2...). The natural movement cannot be brushed aside as though it were not yet true willing, as though true willing only came on the scene with the advent of election."

essential feature, viz. that it has an end at all. This, as proceeding to some one end which all voluntary acts have, might look like the quantifier shift fallacy. But what Aquinas can be seen to be meaning, in a compressed way, is that common to all these particular aims is the aim of the agent to achieve his aims; it is this aim which has to be present for an act to be voluntary, not stipulatively but as a logically necessary condition, given that we understand the meaning of "voluntary". To will something implies willing the satisfaction of one's willing, formally or as such as well as materially. This indeed is the second-order satisfaction which as an account of happiness we rejected above. It belongs instead here, as necessary foundation of the unity of human striving. One might make the further objection that it does not follow from voluntary acts being severally specified by their ends that an act be specified just as voluntary by a concrete or particular end in the same way. But what the argument most directly claims is that what specifies this genus (voluntary acts) must be one and what else could this one thing be but an end, given that any act at all, on a teleological account of nature, is specified by its end? One can remark here on the prominence Aquinas gives to the formal element in willing which we have just highlighted, following his argument. Aristotle, placing happiness in the exercise of man's highest or spiritual faculty, nonetheless gave it particular or material content, thus incidentally making it available only to the leisured class. For Aquinas, however, the ultimate real aim of man is in fact also the formal aim of all willing as such, which means in turn that his theory of happiness is not separable from, is even a formal guiding element in, his theory of human reason as such, in particular of practical reason. He has no truck, we need to remember, with any theories of the will as being somehow independent of the reason. Voluntas sequitur intellectum and a free nature is ipso facto a rational nature (and vice versa). Aquinas is thus able to account for what is otherwise inexplicable, that the concept of happiness is ambiguous over form and content, it is at once a blank cheque and a real, naturally determinate object. In his theory all the satisfactions we strive after are the strivings of our nature, of natural inclination and not merely of an abstractly "right" reason. This striving, all the same, is determined in part by our intellectual universalizing consciousness, since this too is part of our nature. The intellect, however, is determined to happiness as the stilling of all wanting, indeed of all want, the bonum in universali. Such a stilling is not compatible

with desire for goods not possessed, with the very principle of desire. Delectatio, however, remains, since goodness not savoured is not possessed. So happiness formally considered is, as liberals say, getting what one wants, yet the theory implies that until one comes to understand what one wants one will not get it. This want, however, is one for all, as common and generic. The evil-doer mistakes his end in some particular. His action is not suited to it, and whether or not he knows or can know this is, from the point of view of the present enquiry, a subsidiary question. Hence Grisez was right in formally interpreting the "synderesis rule", bonum est persequendum, as simply meaning that we are to act purposefully.287 Any conceivable end is ordered to that ultimate end which is here identified with God, who must be conceived as one with his happiness, in which we, like any conceivable rational creature, are born desiring to participate, since God alone is infinite, and so existentially proportioned to bonum in universali. The truth of this is not impaired by the necessary corollary that of our own nature we are impotent to achieve this participation. The paradox of created rationality parallels the better known paradox of created freedom.288 Article Six, where it is claimed that all that a man desires he necessarily desires for the sake of the last end, brings us to the hub of this matter. Aquinas offers two arguments for the thesis, one from the formal nature of an object of desire as such, the other from that of desiring. Whatever is desired, firstly, falls under the notion "good". So it is either the perfect good, satiating all desire, or it tends towards it. So a man's satisfaction in having eaten takes form either in going to sleep or in feeling that now he can get on with the other things which he wants to do. Thus hunger (like sleep) is an obstacle to be got out of the way on our march towards happiness. The second argument pinpoints the matter further. Aquinas premises again that the ultimate end is first mover of appetite (here he takes it as established that human living has one ultimate end). But secondary movers of appetite do not, since they are secondary, take effect independently of the first. Therefore this initiates all desire and moves all appetite. All appetition is for its sake. I cannot want to dance or eat a bun unless under the aspect of their each being what I want.

G. Grisez, "The First Principle of Practical Reason" in Aquinas, ed. Kenny, London 1969.

Cf. Dewan, p.581: "willing is an intrinsically infinite action, because it has the good as its object" (referring to Ia 54, 2 and associated texts in the Summa).

It is not necessary for having an ultimate end, Aquinas explains, that one always think of (cogitare) it. What has been shown, rather, is that it is the power or virtue of the first intention, i.e. of the ultimate end, which is decisively present (manet) in any desire (for anything) which is able to maintain itself in act. One does not stop walking on the road when one ceases to think of each step, a pertinent analogy since this part of the Summa has as subject homo viator. Here also there is no sign of the quantifier shift fallacy. Article Seven, we note, concedes that not all agree on what the last end is, so that not all desire it expressly. The real last end is that desired by those with well (bene) disposed affections, as good follows being. Such affections will be in accordance with reality as disclosed by the foregoing analysis. Satisfaction will not be achieved elsewhere. It is the formal nature of the Thomist concept of happiness as that which initiates and gives point to willing as such which enables us to dispose of problems posed by certain altruistic theories. A unified account of ethical values is presented within the context of human living. Yet it is only because Aquinas identifies happiness with God, at once real and ideal, that he is able to explain happiness as being both a formal notion as first principle of action and yet full of particular content. But this is just the bipolar nature of the term in daily life too. ********************************** The argumentation suggests that what we might call the maximal concept of happiness is incompatible with temporal existence. The most one might imagine is a situation, different from our own but still temporal, in which security of possession is absolutely guaranteed and in which there is certainty, not just hope and its attendant fear, of things getting better all the time. This, however, is less than that maximum which, it has been argued, we principally desire as intellectual beings. Even a guaranteed unfolding of joys could not still all desire towards the future. Patience, a virtue of coping with difficulties, would be required. It is true that desire without fear of loss is often seen as pleasurable anticipation, as we noted above, but this is merely by contrast with our habitual deprivation and hunger. Contrasted with the joy of possession it is a lack. Yet one might argue that the expectancy of what is to follow is to be distinguished from desire and might be an element of a present maximal state. Is this not the ideal experience of

hearing a piece of music? It is an apotheosis of time, rather than its suspension by the eternal. The music forms a perfect whole, like a clean concept. It is only with respect to the material sound that it unfolds successively what we behold formally neither in parts nor in an instant, but in some third way, best corresponding to a sentence, cursive as the corresponding thought is not, even though the aim of meaningfulness requires that the cursiveness be disregarded. It is typical of music that we know how it will end, and certainly that it will end. Of an eternally unfolding life we would never know the end nor, hence, how to assess what has unfolded. Against this limitation on happiness, implied by any call for patience, a bold spirit at some time might in principle exclaim "I want it all now", a clear case of discord.289 If one takes these conclusions seriously then one is bound to explore, even with a certain practical concern, the possibilities concerning non-transitory goals, which the argument shows that one is anyhow pursuing. One starts out, in such case, from the datum that human life itself is apparently transitory. On one view, let us call it communalistic, this restriction is overcome by correlating the goal of happiness with an enduring human community rather than with the transitory individual. In our non-Aristotelian world, however, prefaced by human emergence from the nonhuman, the human community itself could as well be as transitory as the individual. It is itself an individual. We would have to open ourselves, again, to the possibility of eternal life beyond the bounds of the whole age of history, as in the Christian, Jewish and Islamic traditions, though they see history's meaning as being the preparation of this. The Marxist view, however, gets no grip on happiness as analysed here, though the communal dimension highlighted in such sociology may well belong to it. For any person, as subject of such happiness, is essentially related to his community, as the bonum in communi which he is born desiring is the same in the end, as constitutive of it, as the common good or bonum commune.290 Since we do die we must think in terms of our essential personality surviving death, if happiness is necessarily a property of John or Mary and if we find the desire for it natural and hence

This might appear Satanic, but the fall of Satan is conceived of as occurring before establishment in final happiness, since this excludes in its idea all chance of revolt and loss.

It was a fatal error of the utilitarians to reduce this to some kind of aggregate good. Cf. Sullivan & Atkinson, "Benevolence and Absolute Prohibitions", International Philosophical Quarterly, September 1985, pp.247-259.

capable of fulfilment.291 There are in fact various arguments for the immortality of "the soul" and these need not depend upon the Platonic anthropology. The main arguments of this type are compatible with the soul's not being the whole man, with the body's being essential to our humanity, since they depend upon the substantive spirituality of even the human intellect, upon the insight that universal conceptual knowledge, however much we may depend upon our senses and internal organs in general for the operation of such a capacity, cannot in itself derive from or be essentially bound to a material body of any kind. If this is so, however, then a reason for expecting a reversal of death by divine act (no other could suffice) offers itself on the basis of the premise that nature leaves nothing in a violent state, such as that in which a surviving human soul would, on a non-dualist anthropology, find itself. There are of course alternative attempts to get to grips with the spirituality of mind, such as the view according to which one's thoughts are not one's own, as in Averroes, Frege or even Hegel, against which Aquinas penned his hard-hitting opusculum, "On a Common Intellect". Happiness, anyhow, has to be "transcendent". This is not some special type of happiness which philosophical discussion can bypass.292 The transcendence issues from the internal requirements of the concept of happiness. It does not follow from this fact that the notion is incoherent, even if one should think that there is no hope of attaining happiness. For what is required to say of a person that he is happy? This is, of course, a misleading, Oxford-style way of approaching the matter. We are not to be stopped in our tracks by portentous observations about how we "generally use the word". Yet some words, more than others, connote an ideal state. To be called rich, or cold, only a certain amount of money or absence of heat is required, after which one can be more or less rich or cold. But being healthy, say, is a less clear case. If I am less healthy than another then my health is questionable, whether or not we generally accept with resignation a measure of ill health, which leaves us healthy enough, as we say. Still the idea of being healthy is the idea of being in perfect, ideal order, whereas the idea of being cold has little in common with the absolute zero. This remains so even when we might seem critical of someone as

The underlying premise here is that of basic trust in reality, of which Hans Küng speaks in his On Being a Christian (Collins, Fount, London 1978, esp. pp.70-79). Perhaps unlike Küng, the Thomist would claim that there are rational grounds for this basic trust and for the act of faith which it elicits.

Cf. Den Uyl and Machan, op. cit., for an attempt at this.

"disgustingly" healthy, just as we might find someone indecently happy. It still belongs to our happiness that we become absolutely happy, in the way indicated by Boethius, a way not realizable in the life we live now, a temporal life. We are bound to desire to have all we want, simultaneously, without risk of loss. This could only occur, though, in a state free of the restrictions of the temporal, an eternal state, whether such a state is realisable or not.

CHAPTER ELEVEN The Beatitudes as our Natural Plan of Life The crisis of ethics in our time calls for a synoptic view capable of kindling confident teleological motivation, in persons and societies. It is futile to search for the "clear and distinct idea" in a field of such universal importance as ethics, for which the ordinary discourse of humanity is well suited. Rather, our notions must be open, open to the analogies in things and situations, and open too to the real human situation in all its depth and breadth, such things as the desires of the human heart, the burdens of finitude, misfortune and death, the polarization of the sexes, the insights and traditions of religion, the exigences of politics, the compelling witness of the arts and of literature. The reason for this universal importance, such that a field of discourse considered especially intractable or even (by J.L. Mackie) "queer" cannot be isolated as if somehow less scientific and hence inherently problematical or "emotive", was clearly stated by Aristotle when founding this science, this theoria of praxis. It is that ethics is concerned with the nature and end of man, with man, that is, in view of his characteristic action or praxis. That is to say, in view of what we said earlier, it is the science of human happiness, of how to be happy. But this is the object of all human endeavour without exception. Hence, if a content to happiness were ever to be identified, e.g. as the knowledge, vision or attainment of God as, it might be, of some analogue of friendship with this infinite being, then it would follow that this content is the ultimate aim of all our civil and social

arrangements, a conclusion that St. Thomas unhesitatingly draws293 but which can at once arouse our fears regarding civil and religious toleration. But there is no reason why what has been achieved in this field cannot be integrated with a programme of following the Thomistic insights, a work already outlined in More's Utopia and one in fact deriving from Aquinas's own principles, even though he lived under more restrictive regimes himself.294 Such an identification, however, of our desire, before it would explain the hidden motor of society externally considered, would more proximately explain ourselves to ourselves. And so the young person reading for the first time the treatise on beatitudo in the Summa theologica is led within himself to that state of mind so habitual to, say, St. Augustine, when he wrote You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee. There are any number of phrases from the Psalms of David (or the poems of Wordsworth or Emily Bronte, or the writings of those rather misleadingly called mystics) which suggest the same thing. For what is here logically and metaphysically grounded by St. Thomas is actually the most natural of our inclinations, whereby we are not merely open to the transcendent but crying out for it, so that the eye looks on at the passing show of this world forever unsatisfied. The most natural of our inclinations is to the supernatural, from the side of which we long for an initiative, if only we might hope for such a thing. There is no ultimate human beatitude short of that, and hence it is that when we read the touching pages of Aquinas, somewhat constrained by a literalist theological tradition we might think, about the fate of infants who have died unbaptized, i.e. in "original sin" and without supernatural grace or "baptism of desire" on the dominant traditional view, we find that the purely natural felicity which he there attributes to them (they do not share the divine life) is

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra gentiles , III 37.

See Maritain's True Humanism for suggestions and insights in this regard. It would indeed be unfair not to mention that such ideas are frequently embodied not only in documents of the modern Roman Catholic Church and other specifically Christian bodies, but even in less specific documents including, in a measure, the constitutions of some states, whether, Islamic, secular or of some third variety, as well as some other international documents.

ultimately a species of hell, i.e. of deprivation of the fundamental human hope, though these one-time infants are unaware of this. But to speak of the most natural of our inclinations is to concede that we have a plurality of inclinations, among which, however, there has to be a certain order, both because order itself is something to which we are clearly inclined and because that inclination to universal good (bonum in commune) which we have already picked out, identifying such a good or end both with that end which in fact specifies the human will in its being as a will and with the vision of God, is already sufficient to order the rest. We might ask how it is that we can have this plurality of inclinations if inclinations are to perceived goods and "good" has the meaning of "end", if there be just one ultimate end not only of all human life but even, we have found in our previous chapter, of each and every human action. Here already, I believe, is the place to introduce the essential notion of participation. Human beings are so situated that there are a variety of ways of participating, of taking part in, the universal goodness of beings, whether in the order of learning or in the order of desire, use and enjoyment. The basic realities of birth and education to maturity are sufficient evidence of this. Before one even asks the question why do I live, how shall I be happy, not to speak of answering it, one has lived some years with one's energies bent upon nourishment, play, the search for love, or whatever it may be. This is why we quoted the scripture, saying that there is "a time to love and a time to die... a time to embrace and a time to shun the embrace." Again, after those first, typically adolescent days of spiritual enlightenment in which, it may be, one discovers one's eternal destiny and the dignity of one's own soul as a necessary being, after those intense days of conversion the exhausted spirit will be forced to remember its continuing need for, and hence inclination, at least at some level of its nature, towards those finite goods which in its ardour it had forgotten, a recurring pattern to which we must not forget to add the need for healing and forgiveness of our own wounded being. In all these ways we can participate in the ultimate good which draws us to itself like a force of gravity, pondus meus, and so it is only good for us to use these other goods when they do, in the particular circumstances as evaluated by the virtue of prudence, constitute such a participation. Hence we are advised never to seek fulfilment in them on their own, and even that such a desire defiles the soul. It is possible, however, to abstract such goods in the mind for separate consideration as to what is or is not to be done with respect to each, assuming the circumstances

are otherwise right, and hence we arrive at those formalities of justice which are enunciated as laws. It is indeed characteristic of the legal mode that it be analytic, considering each element on its own. Nor is there anything wrong with such a mode. Hence if it be said that there is a law such that adultery is forbidden, then, as law, this will hold without respect to circumstances of place or person. The example is Aristotle's295, and we may say that the whole thrust of the Kantian ethic, for example, arises from Kant's insistence upon viewing matters of behaviour exclusively in the legal mode, this of course being in pronounced tension with his wish to deny any real role to an external legislator, so as to secure "autonomy". The tension is pronounced because it is this external reference that specifies the legal mode itself, and which is the reason why, as we said, laws, whether moral or societal, do not in themselves reflect consideration of the total situation or intrinsic aims of those subject to these laws, this being the very ground, in fact, upon which Kant praised the dignity of duty. It cannot be denied that this is the mode under which morality is often presented to us in scripture, at least to begin with, precisely in consideration of the infinite dignity of the lawgiver. Even if we see the wisdom of a given commandment and how it will help us to attain our ultimate end, yet that is not the reason why we are to obey it in so far as we are religious. Justice though the heavens fall, we are inclined to say (the deeper truth being, however, that justice is itself necessary for attainment of the end). In this perspective the doctrine of natural law faces in both directions at once, preserving that complete reality which is deformed in one way or its opposite by the positivist theologian and philosopher of duty or by the consequentialist humanist respectively. We have stressed the doctrine's analogical character as a legal theory. Yet the claim stands that our inclinations really promulgate to us laws (of nature), as arising from the reflected divine light in our immortal souls, whether or not it be through the weakness of our minds and not because of some positive openended quality, of at least the more specific or "material" laws themselves, that we for the most part do not, prior to metaphysical analysis, perceive them as laws. "What is in fact law is only inferentially grasped by us as law"296. We simply grasp,

Aristotle, EN 1107a16.

Cf. L. Dewan, "St. Thomas, Our Natural Lights, and the Moral Order", Angelicum , LXVII (1990), p. 304. It would be a

straight off, the goodness of being, a seed in the mind which the mind, after some labour according to its own laws, will come to see as the law of loving God more than oneself, something which we in fact do without realising it in that initial grasping of the goodness of being. And so with the other laws in their proper order. An angel, says Dewan, would know from the first that these are laws, and we can add to that the Aristotelean (and Thomistic) caveats regarding the variability of the matter with which such laws are concerned, this indeed tying in with the teaching on love as a higher justice (even higher than equity), "covering" all things. No doubt these angels know that too. The strength of natural law doctrine, however, lies precisely in this internal derivation of law from inclination, since, as we have explained, law is superficially the opposite of inclination, as what comes from outside is opposed to what comes from inside. The claim is that in coming to know our own inclinations, and there is no human inclination that is not a known and indeed willed inclination, we are having the creator's law promulgated to us. We are not just using our inclinations as a way of working out what ought to be done. In fact what Kant and St. Thomas have in common, as philosophers in the Christian tradition, is just this insight both that law must be preserved in all its dignity ("not one jot or one tittle shall pass away") and that it must and can be internalized ("I will plant my law within their hearts"). Now Kant's solution internalizes law by the simple expedient of transferring the alienation experienced by the subject of positive law into the depths of the human soul itself. So it seems, at any rate, to most interpreters, this being the effect of proposing a nobler end than human happiness to the point of an absolute altruism divorced from all inclination. It is clear though that no other consistent outcome can be expected once one has accepted the Suarezian definition of law as something proceeding essentially from will, as a compulsion from outside (which can then only be quasi -internalized in all its externality, so that reason itself becomes the heteronomous enemy of any natural appetite). If, however, law be understood as a principle of rational order, intrinsic to reason in the first place, reason as in its own intellectual nature being the cause of the very faculty of will, then it becomes possible to understand the Dominican and Augustinian view according to which the New Law of the Gospel is not written down but poured into the depths of mistake to interpret this as support for moral absolutism (moralism) of the kind we have been criticizing throughout.

our own hearts severally by the Holy Spirit. We can then understand, furthermore, in virtue of this, how, in the very being of man himself prior to this infusion of divine law, there is implanted a law which is nothing other than a reflected divine light in our souls whereby we know good from evil just as participants in the eternal law which is God himself creating and governing his creation. It is the view of the nobility of intellect and of its potentially directive role which is paramount. Nor is this in any sense part of a project of reducing the majesty, the uncompromising demand in particular of divine law, in general of any law. Despite what we have said one should not feel bound to view natural law as an analogy in the restrictive sense of a mere way of speaking, so that we might describe natural law, with Vasquez, as lex indicans only. Analogy, indeed, rightly understood, extends to all things, and what is called natural law is lex praecipiens ; it consists of precepts and even, says St. Thomas, of enunciations, corresponding, for example, to the Ten Commandments. He adds, however, that it belongs to the very ratio or essence of a precept that it be given for some end297, and this, as much as anything else, is a doctrine of God, that God is wise, good and loving, and not evil, stupid and indifferent. Indeed one might say that this is the only intelligent doctrine of God as promulgating any kind of law and that any other view, as history has demonstrated, is simply a camouflage of the loss of God under a cloud of theological or even merely legal language. Thus, in his discussion of the nature of law, which includes the eternal law which is God himself, St. Thomas, clearly thinking of God himself as preceptor and law-giver, writes: Ex hoc enim quod aliquis vult finem, ratio imperat de his quae sunt ad finem , adding to this that alioquin voluntas principis magis esset iniquitas quam lex .298 The giving of law, then, derives from God's eternal willing of himself just as universal good, in virtue of his nature as universal being, ipsum esse subsistens . A God who does not will good, not

Summa theologica Ia-IIae, 99, 1.

Ibid . 90, 1 ad 3um. I.e. where an end is sought it is reason that lays down the means for attaining it... Otherwise a prince's will would be more iniquity than law.

as set above him but as grounded in his very nature as end of all things, is not even a possible being. This, indeed, is the only possible solution. Kant would seem to have enthroned law to the exclusion of God and hence of that happiness which is ultimately founded in the divine being. He could see no other way to preserve its majesty, due to the voluntarist conception of law just referred to. But then law loses the very majesty which he is emphasising, being now immanent in a human reason which stands alone, no longer reflecting the divine, and which seeks to exalt itself as an absolute end in virtue of a purely negative freedom from even the first determinations of a thing's nature. Aquinas, by contrast, had stressed that just because intellect is open to all being, able to have the form of the other as other, it needs, since it is a nature, and a very exalted nature, to have, like God himself, its own natural inclination, from which proceeds the faculty of will as such and, indeed, all the inclinations of our nature.299 Before we go on to examine more closely the nature and role of the inclinations, however, it is desirable to remove a few remaining doubts and ambiguities. It was perhaps the fear of Kant and his predecessors that the law, in Aristotelian and Thomist perspective, had been made the servant of the inclinations and of happiness in utilitarian and consequentialist fashion. There is a certain imputation of guilt by association here but in fact, and whatever the tendencies of Aristotle in this regard, St. Thomas, guided, we may suppose, by the light of revelation, is perfectly free of them, as may be seen, for example, in the different emphases in the doctrine of epieicheia as presented by the two thinkers, or in the way that St. Thomas stresses, in contrast to Aristotle, that to live well it is necessary to know what it is in which man's ultimate end consists.300 St. Thomas, again, is more definite about man's natural inclinations and their role, thus resolving Aristotle's circular Cf. St. Thomas, QD de veritate 22, 10 ad 4um; Summa theologica Ia-IIae 9, 1 ad 2um; 49, 4 ad 2um.

Cf. St. Thomas, Sententia libri Ethicorum, Rome 1969, Book I, lesson 2, p. 8, ll. 52-71. See also L. Elders, "St. Thomas Aquinas' Commentary on the Nichomachaean Ethics ", Autour de saint Thomas d'Aquin , Tome I, Editions Tabor, Paris 1987, esp. pp. 78-79. See also Theron, "St. Thomas Aquinas and Epieicheia", Lex et Libertas (ed. Elders & Hedwig), Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Rome 1987, pp.171-182.

definitions of right reason and right appetite in terms of each other merely.301 These inclinations, consequently, are presented as a real, majestic and all-demanding law, to which, however, man is inclined in the depths of his own nature in its noblest aspect, viz. its aspect as a reflection and image of the eternal law, under which aspect, specifically, man is called upon to be a providence for himself in the freedom of individual personality.302 On this view of law as proceeding from the divine goodness happiness, in the sense of living well, flourishing, personal fulfilment, is in fact the highest development of life according to law, of morality, and the fulfilment of all the virtues. Hence St. Thomas will describe charity as the end of all precepts and moral life. It is a question not of being for or against the relevance of happiness in a moral context but of what view one holds of happiness, that is to say, of motivation, without which there can be no meaningful consideration of law in the first place, if law is given to agents and if indeed it is a physical truth that every agent acts for an end. Practical reason as practical is inseparable from the question of motivation. For practical reason as reason takes part in decision-making, as law itself belongs to reason. Hence in this field, again, specification is not wholly separable from exercise. Now Aquinas, inspired by the Gospels, holds the very highest view of happiness. To accuse him of an instrumentalist eudemonism is to miss all that he has to say about that participatio which we mentioned earlier. He is quite uncompromising in saying that beatitudo is not to be had in its perfection in this life, not even in the practice of virtue. One of the virtues, in sign of this, and indeed it is a theological virtue of the highest dignity, is hope, hope indeed of a praemium , a reward. This reward, however, is intrinsic to virtue in so far as virtue, as we know it on earth, is already an initial participation in this reward which it thus genuinely merits, as a light growing ever stronger, or rather as a sick body recovering vigour in such a way that each new access of strength is itself used to develop more of the same, the compound interest principle so to say. Such is St. Thomas's perspective on the beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount, to which we referred in our previous chapter and which, with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, hold a central

St. Thomas, ibid. Book VI, lesson 2, p. 337, ll. 109Cf. St. Thomas, Summa theologica, Pars secunda,



place in the Pars prima secundae , the first part of the book of man as on the way to that same beatitude. For St. Thomas, in fact, takes his conceptions of happiness from this most Christian source, the beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount. Once we have realised this then the strictures upon his teaching as unworthily eudemonistic appear misplaced and even uninformed. For what we are presented with is an exact replica of the Gospel teaching upon human blessedness303, that same Gospel which Kant (like J.S. Mill or R.M. Hare) had claimed to translate into philosophical terms, but with lamentable effect. St. Thomas claims, in sober truth, that they are happy who are poor, meek, merciful, pure in heart, who mourn over their sins and hunger and thirst for justice, who seek to make peace and who are persecuted and reviled by the generality of men. This last characteristic, in fact, shows that it is an aristocratic account of happiness, correlate with the view that pauci sunt salvandi , at least in the sense that each person must detach himself from the crowd and enter by the narrow gate, this move being in itself, however, natural to the dignity of personality and not peculiar to the Christian dispensation in any particularist sense, a sense, anyway, under which Christianity, of which Catholicism, viewed by de Lubac as "religion itself"304, claims to be the normal form, should perhaps never be viewed. If it seems paradoxical that these categories, in various ways categories of suffering or at least of painful effort, are the categories of happiness here on earth, then this is so in proportion as it is stressed that beatitude, in which they participate, lies outside the world, simply because it lies in God, whom no man may see and live, in the kingdom of heaven, to be peopled by those who shall inherit the earth, who shall be comforted, who shall obtain mercy, who shall be filled with justice, who shall see God and be called his children and who now rejoice in being persecuted like the prophets before them as a sign, they may hope, of their predestination. In St. Thomas's conception this Christian vision follows as it were naturally upon consideration of the greatness of God in comparison to the creature, of eternity in comparison to time, considerations which of course this teaching in turn fortifies and confirms. The idea that the purity of virtue is somehow compromised by its association with these hopes springs from

Ibid. Q 69, esp. art. 2.

Henri de Lubac, Catholicism , Universe Books, London 1950, p.157.

that same failure to see that they are internal to virtuous living, as good and the end are internal to law. Hence indifference to hope, like despair, is a sin, a vice, sloth perhaps. Indeed, if the patristic doctrine common to St. Augustine, St. Gregory and St. Anselm, that to live according to the rule of rectitudo voluntatis propter se servata is just to live secundum Deum , a doctrine which St. Thomas's endorsement of the eternal law shows that he too teaches, besides his explicit affirmations of it, then indeed the blessedness of divinity cannot be other than intrinsic to the moral effort, to the arrow aimed at the unseen glory above the clouds not merely at the same time but inasmuch as it is aimed at that visible point which is purity of heart. For this aim of its nature participates in the other, as was the doctrine of Cassian and St. Benedict and indeed of St. John the Apostle when he said that a man who loves God cannot be other than a man who loves his brother, whom he has seen, as well. Since he cites love of the brethren as proof of love of God305 he cannot mean, as is sometimes supposed, that the former, love of the brethren, could be the foundation. That desire for God is intrinsic to moral rectitude means that the latter must be understood as religious, as participating in the transcendent, or else become a form of spiritual vice. This vice indeed is present where one seeks to misrepresent these texts as primitive foreshadowings of secularist altruism in the manner of Feuerbach. Thus St. Gregory the Great explicitly denies that there can be a rule of right which abstracts from the law, cult and love of the true God306 while, conversely, St. Augustine states, in tune with St. Thomas's endorsement of the beatitudes, that those are happy who have wished, not merely to be happy, as do all men, but to live recte, hoc est secundum Deum, quod mali nolunt.307 This is why Aquinas says, as we noted, in correction of Aristotle, that to live well it is necessary to know in what our ultimate end consists. And this, incidentally, explains those Gospel paradoxes about losing one's life as a condition for finding it; not, be it noted, as a means to finding it since that would be the seeking to find or save it which we are told will fail, but as a participation in the new life by losing the old, something only to

I John, 3:14 et passim. Gregory, Moralia 5, 37.


Rightly, i.e. according to God, as bad persons do not wish to do. St. Augustine, De libero arbitrio I, 14, Civitas Dei XIV, 9. Cf. St. Anselm, Ep. 156, p. 20, 86-86: quae in Deo fiunt, secundum Deum, id est, recte fiunt.

be explained by what God is, the total good to which one can only give oneself totally, as being the secret of one's own being ("closer to me than I am to myself"), and what we are, viz. images, reflections, of that supreme good, who find our fulfilment in the return to our common exemplar. The Gospel, that is, never fails to promise a reward to those who live in this way and it is indeed this reward, like Christ's own resurrection, which is the essential justification of virtue, the proof that the wicked were mistaken in despising it. This reward, however, is itself, in the divine wisdom, the intrinsic flowering of the virtues, a doctrine which in some form the virtuous man is required to believe, at least through some commitment to the beauty of virtue, beauty of life being unintelligible except as some form of participation in blessedness, in that which pleases. But any such concession to fides implicita should in no way be confused with making of the religious or transcendent dimension of ethics an optional superstructure. Our position, rather, is that the Patristic era was in historical and cultural continuity with the insights of Plato and Aristotle and others in the classical tradition. This depends on our view that the idea or even the reality of grace, of revelation, as something to be looked for from a transcendent being, can be treated philosophically, since what is taught as coming from outside is always open to rational consideration upon its own merits. It was the error of rationalism that it did not acknowledge this. Much of the philosophy of the Enlightenment, furthermore, rests tacitly upon the Patristic advances and is unthinkable without them, as, consequently, is the contemporary philosophy
of human rights or certain aspects of the "scientific" mentality in general.308

CHAPTER TWELVE Natural Inclinations and their Order

We drew a parallel, earlier on, between laws and inclinations. So just as there is one form of all the virtues, and hence one basic law, viz. love, so there should be one controlling inclination, determinative of our ethical nature, i.e. of our nature as agents. Cf. Theron, Africa, Philosophy and the Western Tradition, Frankfurt 1995.

Charity, we have stressed, is the form, the originator, motive power and orderer of virtue. Forma dat esse, says Aquinas. Love fulfils the law to the point that law and behaviour are deformed without it. We affirm, again, that what are called the precepts of natural law correspond, to the point of identity as regards their order at least, to the settled inclinations of our nature. Now as regards these inclinations, the first or controlling inclination, we saw, is that to the last or ultimate end, for the sake of the attainment of which anything whatever that is done is done. We have found Aquinas calling this end variously happiness, the good generally considered (bonum in communi) or God. This first inclination, then, is clearly one with the inclination of love, and as man seeks the good which Aquinas identifies with God as his ultimate end and first mover of his or her actions, so this ultimate inclination is one with that first controlling precept of the natural law which is the love of God, as we find Aquinas interpreting this Old Testament command, viz. it is a and even the precept of natural law, which can be so to say secularized to mean the pursuing of the good in general, bonum in communi. Good is to be pursued and evil avoided. This precept, at least on a religious or even correctly metaphysical view of reality, is one with the command to love God. Thus it was given in the Old Testament without any connection with the later developments of the offer to share in the divine life, although we have interpreted this transcendence as fulfilling the ultimate aspirations of our nature, which extend as it were naturally beyond what can be hoped for as owed by right while, conversely, this "supernatural" fulfilment is foreshadowed in Jewish (and other) tradition from the beginning.309 So it is these inclinations which dictate the direction, the energy, the passion and the virtue of love, itself the prime inclination, for the passion of amor becomes the virtue of caritas to the extent that it is rightly (recte) ordered, i.e. to the extent that it follows the order of the natural inclinations, the total love of God being, again, a natural norm.310 Cf. Aquinas, Summa theol. Ia-IIae 100, 3 ad 1: the two commands of love and neighbour "are the first, general precepts of natural law" (sunt prima et communia praecepta legis naturae, quae sunt per se nota rationi humanae vel per naturam). He adds vel per fidem, supporting our general contention. Cf. also Ia-IIae 44, 1.

Theological disputes have obscured this, but we cannot turn aside here to contribute further to such

If these are indeed the premisses of Aquinas's argument, his vision, if, moreover, they are demonstrably true, then we should be able to show, and to find in his text, that our human inclinations are indeed structured in this way, that this is our nature. This will follow in turn, as it were physically (phusikos), from the intellectuality of that nature, from the truth, with which Aquinas was identified to the point of scandal but which was accepted after his death by the official Christian community (Council of Vienne, 1317), that this intellectual soul, and it alone, is the form of the human body (forma corporis). Aquinas finds that the Aristotelian principles, which he considers sound, permit no other conclusion, whatever difficulties they may cause for theology. It has been claimed311 that St. Thomas's treatise on the Last End is not well integrated with his treatise on law; in particular it is felt to be not well integrated with what he has to say about the natural inclinations as having an order which gives the order of the precepts of natural law. So it is important to show how this integrated unity reaches right down to the metaphysical core of his conception. We find, accordingly, that in the Summa theologica, at IaIIae 94, 2, a table of inclinations is set forth which many interpret as proceeding from a basic tendency to individual selfpreservation, through the inclinations to sexual intercourse and founding a family, to what is most specific to man, viz. the intellectual tendencies to such things as knowing the truth about God and living in society. This, however, does not seem to fit in very neatly with the questions on the Last End of man, where it is argued that the vision of God, universal goodness, alone fulfils human nature.312 It even seems to positively contradict what we have found Aquinas saying about the order of charity. If by nature we love, and should love, God more than ourselves,313 then how can our first and foundational inclination be to individual selfpreservation? Again, there are arguments in the Prima Pars to show that we, as rational beings, naturally love more what is common in us than what is individual.314 disputes. By G. Grisez, writing in the New Catholic Encyclopaedia (McGraw Hill) on our last end.
311 312

Ia-IIae 3, 8. IIa-IIae 26, 3.


The quasi-Hobbesian interpretation of Ia-IIae 94, 2,315 supported without question by the formidable authority of Joseph Gredt, has not gone unchallenged.316 It may even be that there are graduated levels of meaning in the text, not all of which need to be brought into play for all purposes. Gredt, for instance, cites a passage from the earlier Commentary on the Sentences which suggests a tendency to keep the idea of natural law at the level of "that which nature teaches all animals", which certainly would give prominence to individual selfpreservation.317 There, however, where St. Thomas is discussing polygamy318, he certainly goes on to introduce rational considerations pertaining to man specifically, such as the need for education, avoiding quarrel in the household and so on. In any case it is quite clear in the treatment of natural law in the Summa theologica that we are dealing with the first precepts of the law as recognized by practical reason as true, nota per se. That they are thus true, and hence constitute a law, is guaranteed by the explicit consideration that such an apprehension of the first notions, corresponding to seminal realities319, is made possible by the divine reason's reflecting itself in our own nature. So here there is no possibility of somehow restricting natural law to the lower reaches of ethical theory. It orders our nature as a whole, in its practical aspect, which, qua nature, tends to what is good, i.e. to its end. A pointer to what may not be more than the insufficiency of what I have been calling the Hobbesian interpretation of the first of the three sets of inclinations in 94.2, besides the clash with parallel treatments of charity and of the last end which I have mentioned, is that it makes it impossible to see the argumentation of this long article as forming a coherent whole. Hence J. Finnis320 refers to the table of inclinations as an irrelevant speculative

Ia 60, 5. Cf. Th. Hobbes, Leviathan I, xiv.


Cf. Lawrence Dewan, "St. Thomas, Our Natural Lights, and the Moral Order", Angelicum LXVII (1990), pp. 285-308.

J. Gredt, Elementa Philosophiae AristotelicoThomisticae, 3rd edn., Freiburg 1929, 939.2, 940.
317 318

IV Sent., dist. 33, q., art. 1 et seq. Cf. Ia-IIae 51,1; Ia 115, 2. Natural Law and Natural Rights, Oxford 1980.



appendage, which would certainly be unusual in St. Thomas's works, concerned as he was for order. And, in fact, up to the point where the schematization of inclinations is introduced we seem to have a most ordered presentation and a progression of a type with which the notion of individual self-preservation as the basic inclination clearly clashes. Thus, in the article, Aquinas declares the precepts of natural law to be the principles of practical reason as per se nota, and by this alone we can see that these precepts of natural law are themselves, together with the first principles of reason as such (i.e. of both the knowable and the knowable as do-able), certain seminal principles of the intellectual and moral virtues, inasmuch as there is in the will a certain natural appetite for good, which is according to reason.321 I.e., practical reason moves the will from the start by conceiving the good, sicut praesentans ei objectum suum, i.e. precisely as presenting to it its object, which means that it presents the good as a being , since nothing is otherwise intelligible (than as a being). It is quite wrong to make natural law consist in those precepts which human reason devises, taking the inclinations as mere "starting-points". We can see here that the precepts of natural law, clearly meant to be taken as a whole, are identified with those first principles which are naturally known to all, and this is precisely why St. Thomas states in the next article that not all virtuous acts belong to the natural law: For many things are done according to virtue to which nature does not at first incline us; but through rational investigation men discover them as useful for living well.322 So for the precepts of natural law we must look for what is in us as per se nota :

Ia-IIae 63, 1: [Q]uaedam seminaria intellectualium virtutum et moralium, in quantum in voluntate inest quidam naturalis appetitus boni, quod est secundum rationem.

Ia-IIae 94, 3: Multa enim secundum virtutem fiunt ad quae natura non primo inclinat; sed per rationis inquisitionem ea homines adinvenerunt quasi utilia ad bene vivendum.

virtue is natural to man according to a certain incomplete beginning: according indeed to the nature of the species, inasmuch as there are naturally in man's reason certain naturally known principles of both knowable and do-able things.323 For St. Thomas indeed such natural principles are needed in rational beings to balance the, so to say, self-transcending powers of cognition and rational will: But just as in active things the principles of action are of necessity the forms themselves, from which the characteristic operations go forth as fitting to the end, so in these things which participate in cognition the principles of activity are cognition and appetite. Whence there must be in the cognitive power some natural conception, and in the appetitive power some natural inclination, by which the operation suited to the genus or species may be rendered competent to its end.324 Thus there is this clear sense of natural law as what is naturally known to us in a way contra-distinguished against what reason has especially found out or devised. We see it in St. Thomas's treatment of religious sacrifice: in any age, and with whatever human nations, there was always some offering of sacrifices. But what is found everywhere seems to be natural. Therefore even the offering of sacrifices belongs to the natural law.325 Dewan comments that the argument means that offering sacrifice is not one of reason's extensions of the natural, but is a manifestation of our very nature and the natural order of things.326 Ia-IIae 63, 1: virtus est homini naturalis secundum quamdam inchoationem: secundum quidem naturam speciei, in quantum in ratione hominis insunt naturaliter quaedam principia naturaliter cognita tam scibilium quam agendorum. Cf. 51, 1.
323 324

IV Sent., dist. 33, 1, 1. IIa-IIae 85, 1, sed contra; cf. Contra gentes III 38.


The same distinction is applied in the treatment of the peccata contra naturam, as their name would indicate, and there is little doubt that this sense, whether or not we find it personally appropriate, is intended by the Popes in their repeated condemnation of contraception as unnatural. They are not just saying that it is unreasonable; they are giving a reason for saying this. Natural law, in general then, is in the reason rather than being a construction of reason. It is our own conception of the ends and first movements (inclinations) of our nature, and this is its justice, being ius before it is lex. The whole discussion of Ia-IIae 94, 2 should thus be seen as controlled by this statement at its beginning concerning the nota per se or foundational character of the precepts of natural law, i.e. all of them, as distinct from conclusions drawn from them.327 This statement, in turn, should be related to the statement at Ia-IIae 10, 1 that there are three types of thing from which, as naturally willed, voluntary movement arises: The principle of motions of the will needs to be something naturally willed. But this is universal good (the good in common), to which the will naturally tends... and also the last end itself... and universally all those things which are suited to the one willing according to his or her nature. As we know, the first two of these will be found to be idem re, the same in reality.328 The third is due to the fact that the other faculties of man, who is volens, the one willing, besides the will itself, which has bonum in communi as its own natural object, have their own natural objects which are thus equally the objects of the man as a whole. For we do not only desire through the will what is proper to the faculty of will itself, but also what is proper to the other powers and to the whole man.

Op. cit. p.299.

Thus article 4 of the same question cites acting according to reason as one of the common principles equally known to all, and acting according to reason is taken from the third level of the principles of practical reason in 94.2. For such a commitment of course exists prior to any deliberate following of what reason may decide.

St. Thomas speaks of "universal good, which is not found in anything created, but only in God." Ia-IIae 2, 8.

Hence it is that man, in and through these other powers, inclines to these objects as well as to bonum in communi and the finis ultimus, and this is the situation reflected in the table of inclinations at 94.2, but provided for with perfect consistency here in question 10, article 1, where the natural movement of the will, as distinct from the natural inclinations of man as such, is discussed: Whence man naturally wills not only the object of the will qua will, but also the other things which belong to the other powers; such as knowledge of truth, which belongs to intellect; and to be and to live, and other things of this kind which look to natural perdurance; all of which things may be comprehended under the object of the will, as certain particular goods. So what we are discussing primarily is what man naturally wills, even though, as St. Thomas declares elsewhere, it is will in man which determines the use to which everything else is put, so that a good man is a man with a good will but, even so, a good man is more and other than a good will. This distinction is essential to a doctrine of the precepts of natural law as hierarchically based upon the natural inclinations. Hence it is that these inclinations listed, as we can now see, correspond strictly to the natural objects of the various faculties, and so give rise solely, but in their entirety, to the primary, nota per se precepts of natural law and not to extensions imposed or devised by reason. The order of natural law lies in the ordered set of the inclinations themselves, which of course includes the inclination of the rational will to override anything hindering its pursuit of man's ultimate end. For this phrase indeed reminds us that if the ends of the other faculties may be spoken of as ends of the will, indirectly as it were, yet the will's proper ultimate end is truly the end of man as a whole, as the pagan philosopher well understood when he said that even a little of this highest good is better than all the rest put together. St. Thomas goes on, in question 94 article 2, to which we now return, to treat of different senses of notum per se, and here he makes us aware of the priority of an understanding of terms over an understanding of principles or of sentences as enunciating principles, as abstraction is prior to judgment. This position would seem to separate St. Thomas entirely from the Anglo-American analysts of today, with their espousal of the "contextual theory of

meaning" (M. Dummett, L. Wittgenstein), that words only have meaning in a context, such as a language or a sentence, or even a form of life; yet St. Thomas's theory of meaning is also relational in so far as it is based upon the definition, this being a process of giving meaning to terms (not sentences) by relating them to a wider category, the genus, and to species.329 Of certain terms, however, such as "being", ens, there can be no definition, since being is in no genus and itself forms no genus, being analogical. Yet being must be understood before anything (we cannot say before anything else of course) can be understood, even, or especially, the principle of non-contradiction, of which being forms the subject. The understanding of being, St. Thomas repeats here, is included in the understanding of anything whatever, as, in any and every act of apprehension, primum quod cadit in apprehensione simpliciter, simply the first thing that falls into the understanding. Hence it is that it is included also in the apprehension of "good" as the foundational notion of practical reason. The object of this particular article, all the same, remains precepts, enunciations, rather than notions, terms or concepts. Yet goods and their contraries are to be pursued or avoided (or, where the good happens to be an action, performed), in accordance with the first precept, precisely because, as goods, they are fines, ends. For when we are acting for the sake of our end, as indeed is proper to agency as such, then we are relating to bonum, that first practical concept. Hence it is that actions which fall under these precepts of natural law as "to be done or avoided" have as their ends just those things "which reason naturally apprehends to be human goods". One should stress, again, naturaliter ("naturally"). These things are just what our nature inclines to in the inclinations as listed, and they are objects of inclination just because goods are ends (bonum habet rationem finis). Now the fact that reason naturally apprehends these things as goods, i.e. they are truly such, means that the inclinations are rational. They stand in no need of order from without, and indeed the order of precepts is "according to the order of the natural inclinations" (secundum ordinem inclinationum naturalium). Thus, there is an order of the inclinations which supplies the order of the precepts, and not vice versa. Hence it is that the principle that "good is to be done and Cf. Theron, "Meaning in a Realist Perspective", The Thomist 55 no. 1, January 1991.

pursued, and evil avoided" is not only the first precept of the law (and no mere preliminary to it), but it is upon this that all the others are founded, as St. Thomas clearly states. Bonum, that is, is included in the practical understanding of anything, as is ens, more generally, in any kind of understanding of anything at all. At this point, if we are to understand anything , we must ask why it is that "it is good which all things desire" (bonum est quod omnia appetunt). If, as is sometimes fancied, this were a simple "analytic" statement then it would not bear the weight being put upon it, nor would anyone have been tempted thus to apply it. Such a view, one feels, betrays complete metaphysical blindness, plus a lack of feeling for the Thomistic corpus as a whole. Bonum, as we said, has to be viewed as a being in order to be understood at all by any intellect. It flows from the concept of being, just as, and even in the moment that, will flows from intellect and just as, again, intellect itself, a power, has flown causally from the substance of the soul, from its immateriality and purely formal character. Hence it is that practical reason is essentially related to will, the appetitive faculty, but as preceding, not as reflexively succeeding it. It presents the will with its own object, the good. For ratio enim boni in hoc consistit quod aliquid sit appetibile (the meaning of good consists in something's being desirable), we read in the Pars prima , question five. Anything, he continues, is "desirable according as it is perfect; for all things seek their perfection", i.e. all the time, as finis ultimus. But to the extent that anything is actual it is perfect. Whence it is manifest that to the extent that something is being it is good (in tantum est perfectum unumquodque, in quantum est in actu. Unde manifestum est quod in tantum est aliquid bonum, in quantum est ens), from which it follows that "good and being are the same in reality" (bonum et ens sunt idem secundum rem). So good is explained in terms of being and in terms of act, or being in act, under the aspect of a thing's perfection as giving the ratio of appetition. For appetition is for what completes one's being. Therefore it is with this aspect of being, and not with some irreducible logical difference of the practical such that good is its absolutely first concept, that we are dealing when we say that it is upon bonum that the first foundational precept, upon which all the others are founded, is built. Fundare is used twice in the text.

We are perceiving being as appetible, which we convert into the ens rationis of bonum, whereby the intellect (and not merely the blind will) becomes practical. Everything then is first founded not upon a precept but upon a term used in the precept but first grasped, in the human case, by abstractio. A term such as ens (and, mutatis mutandis, bonum), however, is grasped as a seed of all the sciences, pondered and penetrated by the intellectual virtue of sapientia, which is more noble (nobilius), because more fundamental, than is intellectus, i.e. the virtue of the understanding of principles, because sapientia judges of the terms of these.330 This is why St. Thomas speaks of the habitus or habit of intellectual understanding, synderesis in regard to practical principles, as only partly inborn, inborn as an inchoate habit.331 We have to get to know ens and hence, in the light of the above, bonum, as first conceptions of the intellect, which immediately by the light of the agent intellect are known through species abstracted from sensible things.332 It is these "incomplex" notions that the intellect immediately apprehends. St. Thomas here remained faithful to the account of Aristotle's given in the last chapter of the Posterior Analytics. The virtue of wisdom, embracing knowledge of being and of the good, is more noble in us than the other virtues precisely because it functions as the principle whereby we build up other knowledge and virtue. In this way the agent acts on himself, building up virtues by means of the seminal, nota per se precepts of natural law founded in turn upon this original sapiential seed: certain seeds of the acquired virtues, as principles according to nature, preexist in us.333 Why does it belong to wisdom, the most noble virtue, to consider ens as such? Simply because ens commune is the proper effect of God as subsistent being itself (ipsum esse subsistens). Ens itself is Cf. QD de veritate XI, 1; Summa theol. Ia-IIae 51, 1 & 2, esp. ad 2um; 63, 2 ad 3um; 66, 5 ad 4um.
330 331

Ia-IIae 51, 1. De veritate XI, 1. Ia-IIae 63, 2 ad 3um.



the ultimate seed of wisdom, and it is in this way too that God moves the will as being immediately ordered to him, as in every inferior nature there is movement by something superior to it.334 The very sign of this immediacy (to divine motion) is the will's, as the intellect's, attaining to something universal or formal, the ratio entis (or notion of being) being the most universal and formal of all: The created rational nature has an immediate order to God: because other creatures do not attain to anything universal... inasmuch as it knows the universal meaning of good and of being it has an immediate ordination to the universal principle of being. Elsewhere St. Thomas makes clear that the inclination of the intellect to this universal good, to bonum in communi, actually constitutes the will as a power flowing, emanating, from the intellect, something further illuminated here as the very divine creative ordering of the will as such. Now this central, weighty vision can be no mere side aspect of that sapiential Thomistic vision of the ethical realm for which the contemplation of natural law strives. We are speaking of the central, constitutive inclination of the human will, and that cannot be forgotten in a text where St. Thomas tells us that all those things to which man has a natural inclination, reason naturally apprehends as goods, and in consequence as things to be pursued, the while their contraries are to be avoided as evils.335 The first, main inclination, as we have seen, is to ens in communi, thus, qua object of inclination, become bonum, and this is indeed the finis ultimus336 from which, together with all to which the other parts of human nature are naturally inclined, movement of the will naturally, i.e. natural movement of the rational will, arises. Hence it is that at the head of the table of natural inclinations337, giving the order of the precepts of the law, we would expect to find mention of universal good. Indeed the logic

Cf. Ia-IIae 9, 6; IIa-IIae 2, 3. Ia-IIae 94, 2. As we saw above, from Ia-IIae 10, 1. Last paragraph of the body of art. 94, 2 of Ia-IIae.




of the paragraph suggests this, since we move from what is common to all substances, bearing in mind that all things seek the good, down through the generic nature of the human substance to the specific quality of rationality. Now, as has been mentioned previously, the first item listed here is often taken to refer to an inclination to individual good, as the text on its own might indeed suggest. But there are, all the same, many reasons not to accept this interpretation. Not least there is man's natural inclination, following immediately from all that we have been discussing and affirmed by St. Thomas many times over, to love God more than himself: each thing is inclined not merely to conserve its own individual substance, but also its own species. And much more does each thing have a natural inclination towards that which is the unqualified universal good.338 If this were not so, says St. Thomas, in the body of the same article, then natural love would be perverse, and hence not perfectible by charity, which would rather destroy it. This last, strong statement suggests that it might not even have occurred to St. Thomas that someone might take him as positing conservation of individual corporeal existence as the first precept of law, which, on the contrary, is always focussed upon universal good, to the point that the life of man is by law to be preserved in common, as pointing to the whole destiny of the rational creation: nothing is solidly performed through practical reason unless through ordination to the ultimate purpose of life, which is the common good. But what is ordained in this way is an exemplification of law.339 The reference here to all substances (in qua communicat cum omnibus substantiis) can rather be seen as linking everything in a communion of inclination to the finis ultimus, "in existing merely... in living and in knowing individual things," or, in the case of rational natures, such as we are, through and through, in an "immediate ordering to the universal principle of being" Ia 60, 5 ad 3um. See also what we found him saying about prudence as, in perfecting individual nature, having always to be also "political" or looking to the common good.
338 339

Ia-IIae 90, 2 ad 3um.

(immediate ordinem ad universale essendi principium). This indeed has been stressed in this very article (94, 2) as establishing the first foundational precept as we have investigated it here. But it is not the intention of the table of inclinations to leave that out, since that is what is primo, i.e. foundational. The first inclination is the inclination of the will as such , before we come to the inclinations of the other faculties achieved by its means, where St. Thomas is for once prepared to place intellect after the generic inclinations, simply because he is following an ontological order from the universal to the particular. Thus it is clear that under intellect he intends to treat of something very specific. He speaks of knowing the truth about God, living in society, and so on, rather than of the achievement of the finis ultimus. That is included rather under "the inclination to good according to his nature in which he communicates with all substances" (i.e. at the first level of the table of the inclinations given in 94, 2), since under "the conservation of his being according to his own nature" (conservationem sui esse secundum suam naturam) is included that perfectibility connoted by bonum and, we saw, sought by all, although in the rational nature it requires possession of bonum in communi as constitutive object of the will. Certainly conservation of one's own being would be included in this perspective, bearing in mind that man according to his nature is primarily a spiritual being, and this indeed accords with St. Thomas's teaching that although man by nature loves God more than himself yet he loves himself more than other men, since they are not above him in the order of substance. Thus in the order of spiritual good he might be led to sacrifice his own body, but never his own spiritual good, for others. The latter, and hence his spiritual being, is indeed enhanced by the former type of action. Again, it is quite in order for St. Thomas to indicate here the lower reaches of this universality. The highest does not stand without the lowest and the inclination to bonum in communi as ultimate end can be thought of without violence as including preservation of that being for which one is most immediately responsible, out of a rational consideration presupposed to any inclination qualifiable as human. The idea of inclination, after all, presupposes the idea of truth, the bonum apprehensum in mente, then sought in reality. And again, we have to do here with

natural appetite, or love, an inclination which nevertheless (i.e. despite being natural) is found differently in different natures... in intellectual natures it is found according to the will.340 Man, of course, for St. Thomas, is an intellectual nature, since his unitary intellectual soul is his form. But we have to do specifically with how this appetite (for the good) is found in the intellectual soul or form of man, which form reaches right down to that in which man "communicates with all substances",in accordance, again, with the doctrine of the unicity of the substantial form. All I am saying here is that this first level of inclination, as universal, should not be restricted to this lowest, so to say distributive application, after the manner of Hobbes, since this is manifestly contrary to St. Thomas's constant doctrine and, specifically, quite distorts the structure of this article (94, 2), which is otherwise seen to be most perfect. There is, we might conclude this chapter by noting, an interesting parallel between the hierarchy of inclination, as St. Thomas presents it, and the hierarchy of the four forms of law in this treatise. In the order of inclinations we move from what is most universal, just as, in the parallel order of precepts, we started with the apprehensio of being and good. This universality, that is, derives most immediately from the highest apprehensions of the mind, in a zone of inclination which links everything whatever in a communion: in man, such an inclination is present in the mode called "willing" and in the mode of the intellectual nature... The deepest level of natural law is that whereby we are in communion with the principle of all being and goodness, naturally in our own mode, which is according to intellect and will.341 From here we move to a more special level of inclination, corresponding to the generic animal life which man shares, again in his own rational mode, with all animals, coming finally to what is proper to man and which thus seems to reverse the descent in dignity from the first to the second level, if we understand the first

Ia 60, 1.

L. Dewan, "Jacques Maritain and the Philosophy of Cooperation", L'alterité, vivre ensemble différents (ed. Gourgues & Mailhiot), Montreal & Paris 1986, p.116.

level as interpreted here. We go from man as being to man as animal to man as rational animal. Similarly the four types of law, forming a set which is surely in itself analogous, begin with that most universal of all laws, the lex aeterna or eternal law, embracing all creation from highest to lowest. We then pass to that law proper to man in all his aspects, the natural law, before passing to the particular aspect of law in societies (human law), spoken of in places as an addition to natural law, before rounding off the list (in some sense a circular one therefore) with what is at least equal in nobility to the first but which is in a way the most particular law of all342, the lex divina or divine law proceeding from Israel, ultimately uniquely personified in Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ. We can thus recognize that a hierarchy having a kind of dual or even spiral direction, such as we seem to be finding in the table of the inclinations, was congenial to the mind of St. Thomas. What is a consciously universal communion and selftranscendence in the rational creature is in inanimate beings also a participation in the divine, at which all things aim, but solely in essendo, this being the reason that things don't immediately fall apart. Bonum, like esse, is at once the highest and most perfect in all things and yet, by the same consideration almost, that which each and everything must have at the basic level of existence. Even bread must be good. Yet here this aspect of universality is clearly implied by what has gone before. For if the order of the precepts is according to the order of the inclinations and the first precept is "good is to be pursued" then the first inclination is to the good, as explained above. The inclinations in question are never "brute urges", and in so far as man is subject to these he falls away from the integrity of (his) nature. For it has been contended here that ethics in contemporary life, so attuned to analysis, will only be conserved if this whole perspective of man's nature and destiny be taken into It is particular in not being the law of nations, but the law of one nation. One could, however, urge a distinction between the form and content of the divine law as it has in fact been given (as very particular by divine choice) and the category of divine law, of revelation, in itself, as in fact lex divina is generally treated in the earlier Summa contra gentes of St. Thomas. But even granted this distinction it would seem that a law of revelation would be essentially more particular than the other three types (cp. Theron, Africa, Philosophy and the Western Tradition, final chapter).

account, a perspective which saves us from viewing the final paragraph of Ia-IIae 94, 2, in the Summa theologica, as an irrelevant "speculative appendage" and hence saves the particular precepts of natural law from being presented as a disordered set of restrictions upon human spontaneity imposed by a "reason" which is rationalistically alienated from man's most natural and hence most noble aspirations. But rationality characterizes man as such, the whole man.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN Natural Law and Physical Reality Substantial form, last end, charity, this book has served to depict the analogy between these three in philosophical anthropology, action theory and ethics respectively. It is the ultimate or specific difference which perfects or accounts for all that is in man, such as his animal or sensitive nature or anything else. It is the ultimate end of action which accounts for and sets in motion any action at all. It is the new and ultimate law of love, the "good wine", which perfects and frees from deformity or falsity any

previous ideal of justice or any other virtue. Our purpose, however, was the application of these metaphysical goods, as I may call them, to the existing tradition of natural law and our thinking about it. I believe this has been done. It may help, however, if we here single out three of the topics already treated for further consideration on their own. There follows, accordingly, a critique of certain theories of autonomous value and, in particular, of attempts to harmonize them with Thomism, a discussion, secondly, of the relation of human reason to human nature as a whole while, thirdly, some further reflection upon the role and nature of the end or telos seems appropriate. These three topics are internally related to a high degree and upon their combined resolution the possibility of any properly ethical knowledge seems to depend. **************************** The confusion reigning in modern moral philosophy has not only been exposed343; it has also been analysed in a cultural and historical perspective344 in a way which has provoked extensive debate over the past decade. It is by now clear that this confusion is linked to the unworkable simplicities of Cartesian dualism and, more generally, to the replacement of teleology by mechanism, whether in human physiology or in any other field. Thus MacIntyre judges it as quite certain, prior to the collapse of the tradition into incomprehensibility due to an over-running of the field by late mediaeval and Reformation (inclusive of Jansenist) theologies, that the "general form of the moral scheme" was, as analysed by Aristotle, threefold in its presuppositions, viz. "some account of potentiality and act, some account of the essence of man as a rational animal and above all some account of the human telos ."345 This scheme, the essential pre-condition for any doctrine of natural law, was "added to but not essentially altered"346 when placed within the framework of one or other of the main theistic . G.E.M. Anscombe, "Modern Moral Philosophy", Philosophy , 33, 1958.
343 344

. A. MacIntyre, After Virtue , London 1981. . MacIntyre, op. cit. p.50. . Ibid. p.51.



beliefs. The theological premises rendering it irrelevant were those early modern notions affirming the total depravity of human nature and the consequent arbitrariness of any conception of a divine being as conceived from within that nature. Human reason thus conceived can say nothing of value about ends347, and this became the favoured, even the canonized position, in natural science. We can add to the above diagnosis the phenomenon of voluntarism, which has roots in earlier post-Thomist speculation on the absolute power of God. Such voluntarism, denying any natural end to the rational will, has made it impossible to understand the nature of practical reason in particular, though this is necessary for any scientific theory of ethics since this must base itself upon a correct theory of human action.348 Symptomatic of this dualism is the gradual disappearance of rational psychology, of the study of mentality as a form of life. The contemporary philosophy of mind has instead tended to reduce the mental to a closed network of relations349 abstracted from all biological basis. Again, the renewed interest of many philosophers in the implications of neuro-physiology may be heralding the decline of this attitude. For Thomas Aquinas one could not investigate intellectual life without relating it to sensitive and vegetative life since man, and hence his principle of life or form (forma) is one. It is indeed identically the individualized form of humanity by which a man is a man which is also his intellect350 or, in other words, his capacity himself to have the form of the other (any other) as other, i.e. to know things as they are. But this is to say that knowledge is explained in terms of being, whereby the mind (i.e. the man himself formally considered) intentionally becomes "in a way" (quodammodo) whatever is intelligible in other things. All thinking, indeed all language, where theoretical, is for the sake of this knowledge, which is explained as the act of being of object and

. Ibid. p.52.

. On voluntarism, cf. G.M. Manser, Das Naturrecht in Thomistischer Beleuchtung , Freiburg in der Schweiz, 1944.

. "It is never anything but the connections of our representations that constitute the subject matter of our investigations." Lotze, Logik, 2nd edn. 1880, p. 491.

This is true even if, strictly speaking, intellect or understanding (intellectus) is a power of the soul rather than the soul itself.

knower in union. It is only those substantial forms most immersed in matter which do not have this natural capacity to have the other forms as other, to unite with them in this "intentional" way, a view of things later echoed in Leibniz's at first sight fantastic metaphysics. Now the contemporary philosophy of value, this term being defined by its divorce from the factual as the Cartesian mind is divorced from the machine-body, is clearly linked to the absolute dualism between thinking and being which Thomas rejects, since anything not a being is not anything, if being is the most universally general concept of reality, transcending all particular categories. All other transcendentals, St. Thomas accordingly makes clear, such as truth or (our present concern) goodness, are mere beings of reason (entia rationis), modalities of being in so far as being itself, any being, is presented to the intellect or will respectively. Something is added to being according to reason only (secundum rationem tantum), and this is a relation supplied by our thought to one or other of these two faculties which are naturally referred to reality in general. This universal reference is what makes truth and goodness, like unity, to be transcendental concepts.351 It is thus an error to see goodness as competing with being on its own level. It leads to a devaluation of the significance of being, as we cited Marcel as saying earlier, and indeed destroys the spontaneous liberty of human ethical life in typical rationalist fashion352, duty no longer being derived from how man and the world are. Recently some writers imbued with rationalist principles have tried to recast St. Thomas's thought in a way allowing for these supposed new insights (the fact-value dichotomy, no "ought" from an "is")353. But no compromise is possible, since to say that no "ought" is derivable from an "is" just means that there is no natural law, that human nature cannot be a law. The same applies to the attempt, from within the logic of Frege and Russell, . Aquinas, De Potentia 9, 7 ad 6. Cf. S. Theron, "Ens Rationis I: Medieval Theories", Handbook of Metaphysics and Ontology, Munich 1991, Vol. I, pp. 245-246.

. Cf. A. de Muralt, "The 'Founded Act' and the Apperception of Others", The Self and Others (ed. Tymeniecka), Dordrecht 1977, referred to above, ch.4.

I refer to the work of John Finnis, Germain Grisez and their followers. One prescinds here from much that is of value in their impressive output.

to re-explain teleology as propositional or "intentional"354, since for natural law there has to be a real object exerting final causality by way of natural inclination, whether in animal or in intellectual nature. Thus St. Thomas speaks of ipsae naturales inclinationes rerum in proprios fines, quas dicimus esse naturales leges... consoni naturali appetitui effectus (the natural inclinations themselves of things to their own ends, which we say are natural laws... effects consonant with natural appetite).355 There is no question of Thomists confusing ethics with physical biology or with metaphysics. For that human or some other nature, how man is, dictates the conclusions of ethics does not submerge ethics within biology, if only because ethics is a theoria about praxis, which entails freedom, and not about the determinate natures of substances. Aristotle had claimed that ethics was a practical science ordained to producing good actions. So Aquinas can claim to follow his true mind when he rejects Aristotle's view that the determination of man's last end is probable rather than certain, depending on each man's character356, and states that knowledge of one's last end is necessary for living as one ought.357 Again, he modifes Aristotle's dictum that the purpose of ethics is not knowledge but actions, merely claiming that ethics does not only aim at knowledge, i.e. he asserts that it does so aim.358 That is, he distinguishes more clearly between the theoretical science of ethics and practical prudence. So whereas ethics is not an art, yet neither is it the philosophy of nature (or psychology), which studies the order present in the universe (and in the soul), as logic studies the order 12. P.T. Geach, "Teleological Explanation", Explanation (ed. S. Körner), Oxford 1975.

Aquinas, Expositio Dionysii de divinis nominibus, cap. x, lect. 1.
355 356

Ibid. 1094a 22.

St. Thomas, Sententia libri Ethicorum, Rome 1969 (Leonine edn.), I, 2, 8, 52-71.
357 358

Ibid. I, 3, 12, 144; II, 2, 80, 25.

in the acts of the intellect (in second intention), but it directs man's free acts, i.e. it orders them to his end. This, however, is a scientific knowledge, like any other, about a certain order, and "it is a feeble argument indeed to infer that because the ultimate purpose of normative science is to order certain things to be done, therefore, it is impossible in normative science ever to attain any such thing as a real knowledge of what ought to be done or ought not to be done."359 St. Thomas, in agreement with St. Augustine, claims that man can and even must discover that he is made for the enjoyment of God, the transcendent and infinite, even if he cannot know much about this final goal.360 Hence he repeatedly characterizes the happiness outlined by Aristotle as imperfect, and hence not proper happiness according to the received definition of it by Boethius as a perfect possession. Whereas ethics as, in the above sense, a practical science belongs to reason alone prudence as a virtue involves the will as making use of a knowledge of ethics. St. Thomas points out that Aristotle's remarks about the results of ethics being subject to change apply more truly to individual actions as left to one's own prudence.361 Again, the apparent circularity of Aristotle's view that while the practical intellect is true when it agrees with right desire yet the latter is only right when it follows right reason362 is overcome by St. Thomas's pointing out that what is desired is determined by nature, just the point so contested by modern voluntarism. It is not open to reason, as determining means to the end, to determine what the end shall be, the empty pretence of Sartrian or Nietzschean existentialism. Such choices, where perverse, satisfy rather the natural, and hence pre-determined, inclination to indulge one's own will, albeit beyond due measure. Hence they will not attain the end. The desire of the last end, for Aquinas, must be natural and hence involuntary, and here he claims to be true to Aristotle. Henry Veatch, "Concerning the Distinction between Descriptive and Normative Science", Journal of Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. VI, No. 2, December 1945. Cf. pp. 293-294.
359 360

Ibid. I, 9, 31, 50; 16,60, 222. Ibid. I, 2, 81, 71-78. Aristotle, NE 1130a 23ff.



Even if all men can know that happiness is the ultimate purpose of living, this being what drives even the professed altruist as the very name of motivation (he prefers not to betray his ideal), yet not all know in what it consists. They make mistakes about it. So whereas Aristotle might, with Vasquez, have spoken of natural law as lex indicans, yet for St. Thomas it is lex praecipiens, and here he thinks of the constant intention of the divine legislator (lex naturalis being defined as the reflection of the lex aeterna in the rational creature363) in a way brought out in his treatment, contrasting with Aristotle's, of epieicheia or equity. Whereas Aristotle considers human actions as variable materia preventing there being a uniform law for all times, places and persons St. Thomas will only grant this as applying to positive laws not including the legislator's intention, which is truly universal, and so he prefers to understand material variability not of actions but of incidental deformities of intellect or nature, due to matter in the literal sense.364 But all this is related to his emphasis on the just thing (iustum) in reality as that of which the law (lex) in the reason, as intentional, is truly and only a sign (signum formale), this just thing as universal in rebus being mentally apprehended by repeated acts of epagoge in (sense-) experience: lex non est ipsum jus, proprie loquendo, sed aliqualis ratio juris.365 Social and educational factors, for their part, are no more than instances of this empirical information. Hence the quasiinnateness of synderesis is offset by the claim that it can be no more than an inchoate habit (secundum inchoationem).366 *************************************

Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Ia-IIae, 91, 2.

Aquinas, In III Sent. 37, 4 ad 1um, ad 2um; cf. Theron, "St. Thomas Aquinas and epieicheia", Lex et Libertas (ed. L.J. Elders & K. Hedwig), Vatican City 1987. On either view the individuality and creativity discussed earlier will remain the crown of ethical endeavour.

Aquinas, Ibid. IIa-IIae, 57, 1 ad 2um. The law is not that which is right in itself, properly speaking, but a certain rational statement of it.
365 366

Ibid. Ia-IIae, 51, 1: Utrum aliquis habitus sit a natura.

Lex naturalis, in the context of Thomistic thought, is the lex humanae naturae. This nature carries authority precisely because it is a reflected divine light, i.e. because human nature images divine nature. How man is sets the standard because he (she) reflects how God is, which in relation to his governing the world is the lex aeterna, ordering all things to their end.367 If anyone should ask why how God is should be the ultimate standard (expressed in scripture as the precept of total love of God, later to be explicated in terms of imitating Him) then the only possible reply is that God, as First Cause, is the end, exemplar and controlling reality of all things, intimate key to our own otherwise opaque personalities.368 It is significant that the definition quoted above says that natural law reflects eternal law in the rational creature. It does not say that it is reflected in reason alone, as on the rationalist and implicitly dualist interpretation. All the same, law qua law is primarily in the reason, but this is because the intellect is itself the form of our human nature, i.e. it is the substantial form of the substance man, through which unformed matter is shaped into the human body with all of a man's bodily powers. This body does not exist as a separate entity (with its own forma corporis) upon which a purely rationalist system can then impose truly violent demands, and this, conversely, is why natural law is also present in man's generic and animal nature, creating the possibility of the peccata contra naturam, but also, more positively, giving that nature its iconic dignity. It is not therefore a question of an imposition of a rational order from without. Reason indeed sets up an order, sicut ordo rationis rectae est ab homine, ita ordo naturae est ab ipso Deo,369 but only so as to cater to reason's specific manner of apprehending reality as it is. There is no ethical order divorced from a natural order dependent upon the human essence with its natural inclinations. Hence St. Thomas states that it is sufficient for an act's rightness that it proceed from a power of our nature

Aquinas, Summa Theologica Ia, 103 & 104.

Cf. S. Theron, "A Necessary Condition for the Truth of Moral and Other Judgments", The Thomist, 55, 2, April 1991.

As the order of right reason is from man, so the order of nature is from God himself. Aquinas, Ibid. IIa-IIae, 154, 12 ad 1um.

according to natural inclination: Quando ergo actus procedit a virtute naturali secundum naturalem inclinationem in finem tunc servatur rectitudo in actu (When therefore an action proceeds from a natural capability in accordance with a natural inclination to some end then this behaviour is in itself all right).370 He adds in qualification that in voluntary actions regula proxima est ratio humana; regula autem suprema est lex aeterna (the proximate rule is human reason, but the supreme canon is the eternal law). It is clear from context, however, that it is reason's business, as mention of the eternal law as ordering nature makes doubly clear, to order things according to the ends supplied to it by nature in the inclinations, which indeed include an inclination to do this very thing371. In other words, voluntary agents are a species of those agents he has just mentioned which act according to nature and not a contrast to them: quae quidem regula in his quae secundum naturam agunt, est ipsa virtus naturae, quae inclinat in talem finem (which rule indeed is in these things which act according to their nature the drive of their nature itself which inclines them to such and such an end).372 Hence under this general case he can include the voluntary sinner, writing quando autem a rectitudine tali actus aliquis recedit, tunc incidit ratio peccati (but when someone falls away from such naturalness or uprightness in a given act, then sinfulness is ipso facto incurred), before going on in the same article to consider voluntary acts specifically (In his vero quae aguntur per voluntatem). Unfortunately it is nonetheless easy to suppose that what

Ibid. Ia-IIae, 21, 1.

Ibid. 94, 2: inest homini inclinatio ad bonum secundum naturam rationis, quae est sibi propria:
371 372

Summa theol. Ia-IIae 21, 1.

is enunciated by reason (aliquid ratione constitutum) must be something very different from what is found in reality. This however is to forget that St. Thomas was an epistemological realist. His view is that the very same being (ens) which exists in the world with esse naturale exists in the mind with esse intentionale. What the mind constitutes are intentiones, i.e. intentions of real things. So although the mind cannot do other than set up an intentional order, yet the point and value of intellect is precisely due to its not being this order itself of which the subject first has knowledge, but, rather, that which it intends, viz. the reality considered just as it is, which he knows through it (id quo, not id quod373), without, in the first instance, knowing the mental constructs at all. He only knows these by a reflection, a second intention (though here again he depends utterly upon a first intention precisely of these second intentions, so that such knowledge is no surer or more immediate than any other). Hence this rational order which man sets up does not get in the way. Hence the rational precepts of natural law manifest the human essence with its inclinations (operatio sequitur esse), just as it is. These precepts are judgments or enunciations (reason's second act) but a judgment, for St. Thomas, just like a concept, is a verbum cordis, an id quo or that by which the res, in this case the ius or iustum, is known.374 Although not a conceptus (got by apprehensio, reason's first act) it is a conceptio. Hence it is that the inclinations must not be seen as mere raw material presented to reason to be ordered, in the sense that reason alters or does violence to what it apprehends. Such a view would ignore that, as we noted, in St. Thomas's list of the inclinations which make up natural law (in Ia-IIae 94, 2) there are found inclinations to know the truth about God, or to live peaceably and reasonably in society, i.e. certain principles of order are presupposed among the inclinations themselves. They are not blind urges, since man is a unity. It is the inclinations themselves which include the work of reason as the specific difference of our nature. To this extent it is not a critical reason set above our nature in the manner of a rationalist methodology. So nature and natural ends are presupposed to making sense of the work of reason. Hence there is a clear sense, for St. Thomas, in which sins of unnatural vice are not merely wrong in consequence of being contrary to reason and its order, but by

Ibid. Ia 85, 2.

Cf. Summa Theologica Ia 85, 5; QD de veritate 4, 2c; de potentia 9, 5.

directly violating the more immediately God-given order (by the lex aeterna) of our generic nature.375 What specifically violates reason as a natural faculty, by contrast, is the sin of lying. To lie is not just to act against reason, as with theft, say. It is to violate reason, a faculty or power of the soul. Related to this is the Thomist empiricism whereby we do not start off with a knowledge, presumably innate, of principles or laws but have first to understand the terms (termini) of these enunciations in apprehensio, the first of the three acts of the understanding enumerated by Aristotle in his Peri Hermeneias. Hence cognitio principiorum provenit nobis ex sensu.376 The concrete data of our nature are thus prior to ratiocination about them and whereas, as St. Anselm says, all lies contain some truth in order to say even something false, i.e. they are not gibberish, yet it is possible to pervert the real qualities of our nature themselves, e.g. the generative organs or the tongue. It follows from this account that to say something is against natural law is more than just a way of saying that it is morally wrong (the rationalist mis-interpretation). It says that it is If this is so then, by our principles as elaborated in earlier chapters, it would be up to love to find this out. Otherwise Thomism appears, in today's climate particularly, as a kind of sterile rationalism maintained against all vital liberty and spontaneity, since it is indeed easy to feel that the argument here from teleology is fallacious (cf. P.T. The Virtues, p.138), or at least not the last word. Yet in the Summa texts on these matters Aquinas considers our generic nature in the light of a sacred trust from God, i.e. he considers it theologically, himself exercising and inviting in us an impulse of response to the love of God qua our creator. Whether this same love might prompt to superficially deviant behaviour on occasion (e.g. propter defectum materiae) is a separate question. All the same, in so far as the texts are interpretative of love, including therefore any "human" love (of self or neighbour) in a total vision, they cannot without distortion be seen as essentially opposing or limiting it (see chapter 8 above).

Aristotle, Post. An. II, 19, and quoted with approval and supporting argumentation at Summa Theol. Ia-IIae 51, 1.

acting against how man is, in a way which is most directly seen at the biological or generic level, where such acts are deformed or perverse in a double sense (specialis ratio deformitatis... dupliciter). They are not only repugnant to right reason but to the natural order itself377, thus injuring God himself as its creator (iniuria ipsi Deo ordinatori naturae). If this is so, then it is all the more incumbent upon society to create conditions where love between men and women can flourish without bitterness, leading to family and pre-family atmospheres less likely to encourage obsessive or settled behaviour here termed unnatural. Insofar, however, as homosexuality, for example, might be found to have a genetic basis the problem would lie deeper, though the consideration that also male infidelity finds genetic support might tend to neutralize the objection. Genes don't set the standard, as genetic inheritance of what are unambiguously diseases makes plain. Genes, that is, are not nature in the sense discussed here, even if they might seem to many to be its ultimate building blocks. Nature, that is, is a form in the philosophical sense, more determining than determined by genes. The idea of making a lie out of nature, it is interesting to recall, was just that used by St. Paul in defining idolatry as making a lie of the divine nature378, this wilful religious ignorance then causing one to pervert one's own nature. For our purposes what is noteworthy about these perspectives being found in St. Thomas (apart from its witness to the coherence of the tradition) is that they are a direct consequence of his freedom from dualism, his view of intellect as a form of being (intentionally being the other while remaining oneself) and living not separable from human living in general. ************************************ St. Thomas states that it is the ends of actions which oblige primarily and per se; actions themselves oblige only propter aliud, with these ends in view. At the same time, we found, the end is itself part of the actus humanus as morally specifying it as what it is. So the obligatory necessity of a given precept arises from the necessity of the end in question, whatever it is, for man. Alia autem est necessitas ex obligatione praecepti, sive ex repugnat ipsi ordini naturali venerei actus, Summa Theol. IIa-IIae 154, 11.
377 378

Romans 1.

necessitate finis, quando scilicet aliquis non potest consequi finem virtutis, nisi hoc faciat (It is otherwise with the necessity arising from an obligation of precept, or from the necessity of the end, when namely someone cannot obtain the end of virtue unless he does this).379 Here obligation is introduced to show that the necessity of justice is not a necessity of compulsion, and hence that it can be meritorious and thus a virtue despite such necessity. The end, virtue, is here thus a habit, not a precept or anything propositional or "intentional", but a real quality corresponding to that perfection of nature to which a thing's form, in this case the soul of man, naturally impels it. Hence St. Thomas explains moral evil not primarily as disobedience (one species of it) but as "unsuitability of action to end".380 It is realities which both actuate and oblige human acts whether morally or physically (sc. practically) considered. Praeceptum importat rationem debiti.381 Debitum, which we translate as duty, actually means thing owed, as in "debt". But again, something is owed per se or propter aliud. Per se quidem debitum est in unoquoque negotio id quod est finis, quia habet rationem per se boni (What is due per se in any transaction is the achievement of its purpose or end, for this is what it means for it to be well done). This end, however, as intrinsically specifying the moral act,382 is not something extrinsic to which the action is hypothetically directed, as in utilitarianism. This helps to explain why St. Thomas teaches the necessity of knowing the end. Although all actions are to be done so as to attain our natural end, i.e. on the hypothesis of the desire of this, yet this desire is not negotiable. It draws even those who don't know what it is, though they be more vulnerable to error and sin on that account. Yet this does not make the necessity of the ultimus finis a necessity of compulsion, since it is of the ratio of compulsion to come from without, whereas the natural desire of the rational will is intrinsic and, in fact, corresponds to a necessity of obligation, as expressed in the first,


Comm. in Sent. IV, 33, 1, 1. Ibid. IIa-IIae 44, 1. Ibid. Ia-IIae 1, 3 ad 3um; IIa-IIae 64, 7.



controlling precept of the natural law, bonum est persequendum. Even this precept has its end, bonum, towards which and for the sake of which est persequendum states that there is an obligation, viz. of pursuit. Hence, again, it cannot be this pursuit itself to which we are primarily obliged, but the good which we pursue. St. Thomas implies that calling the ultimus finis an action (usus vel adeptio) cannot be literally true, whatever we say of beatitudo: manifestum est quod, simpliciter loquendo, ultimus finis est ipsa res; non enim possessio pecuniae est bona, nisi propter bonum pecuniae.383 Again, if all action is for the sake of an end, then the last end cannot be an action or, if it were, then that action too is for the sake of an end.384 What is to be enjoyed cannot be that enjoyment over again. A further reason for this is that in any real final causality the end as cause has to be an unambiguously real thing and not some ens rationis. An intentional object desired in the mind is caused by some perception of a real object, thus functioning also as causa efficiens. In this sense it is claimed there is a First Cause of all desire and consequent action, which is also the final aim, i.e. thing sought by that action, knowingly or unknowingly, as is seen in the case of non-rational creatures, quia Deus est ultimus finis hominis, et omnium aliarum rerum... in quantum participant aliquam similitudinem Dei, secundum quod sunt, vel vivunt, vel etiam cognoscunt.385 St. Thomas's ethics thus emerge as essentially theistic. He does not admit an independent realm of value or of the sittlich, but only because the transcendental beatitude of divine contemplation to which our nature is ordained, whether or not special help (gratia) be needed for this, is itself the final perfection of morality, höchste Entfaltung der Sittlichkeit.386 Hence for Aquinas human life is not ultimately or violently

Ibid. Ia-IIae 16, 3. Ibid. Ia-IIae 1, 1 ad 2um. Ibid. Ia-IIae 1, 8. M. Grabmann, Thomas von Aquin, Munich 1959,





subject to law as such but is a spontaneous pursual of what man freely loves, a law of nature in other words which all other law serves ("this do and thou shalt live", he would quote the scripture as saying). Hence it is fundamental that he defines law as essentially belonging to reason and not to will.387 Ex hoc enim quod aliquis vult finem, ratio imperat de his quae sunt ad finem (Willing the end entails reason's commanding whatever is needed to that end). And it is by this biologically integrated reason that the will, where it is exerted, must be regulated, alioquin voluntas principis magis esset iniquitas quam lex (otherwise a prince's will is more iniquity than law). This, essentially, would be Aquinas's answer to the nominalist theologies of the potentia absoluta Dei, able to change the laws of morals or even of logic. The example of St. Thomas as analysed here should serve, one hopes, to show the importance of metaphysics and related enquiries for ethical theory.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN Natural Inclinations Broadcast

Much of our discussion has centred upon human inclination, as giving proof and expression in reality of what counts for us human beings, once the fog and babble of our imperfect conceptions have dispersed. Not long ago the leader, head or chief "shepherd" of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II, who as Karol Wojtyla spent much of his earlier life philosophizing, published a document, chiefly on morals, called Veritatis Splendor.388 It is interesting, indeed heartening, to see that the doctrine concerning the inclinations and their role in ethics which is there presented appears in the main to be the same as what has been argued for

Ibid. Ia-IIae 90, 1, especially ad 3um.
Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, Rome 1993.


here, though I hope this admission will not lessen the interest of my contribution. The explanation might be that the present author and the Pope share an admiration for the pure doctrine of Thomas Aquinas, by no means universally grasped, still less approved, by a majority of those claiming to follow Aquinas. One would prefer to think, however, that what is shared is rather a care for the true good of man and an ability, in greater or smaller measure, to penetrate to it, while it just so happens that the least flawed account historically of this matter is to be found in the pages of just Aquinas. Here, therefore, I want to point to the sureness of touch with which the one-time Professor Wojtyla sets out these matters, albeit in a style suited to a wider perusal than the academic. He says most of what he has to say on the inclinations and on natural law in general in paragraphs 47 to 51 of his monograph where, for example, he endorses the statement of his predecessor Leo XIII, also once an academic, that "the natural law is itself the eternal law."389 In theology, after all, one may assume what we have been labouring so hard to demonstrate philosophically, that man is made to the divine image, something compatible with at least an orthogenetic account of evolution. The identification, the identity, of natural and eternal law is the cause of the rational judgments of conscience being also "magisterial dictates".390 Where that much is agreed ethical then theory must next focus upon the relation of reason to nature or, the Pope's preferred stress (in line with our own), of freedom to nature. He sets out his exposition of this in a context of the objections against the reality of natural law which allege that it masks an unacceptable physicalism or naturalism (or "biologism"), presenting merely biological laws as moral laws.391 Behind this allegation lies an implicit acceptance of the positivist position that law is predicated in both physical and moral, i.e. descriptive and prescriptive contexts only equivocally.392 The Pope notes that many writers believe that the official Church teaching (of the "magisterium") is itself involved in this invalid "biologistic"

Leo XIII, Praestantissimum, Rome 1889, 219. See J.H. Newman, A Grammar of Assent, V, 1.



Veritatis Splendor 47. Cf. S. Theron, "Natural Law and Physical Reality in the Thought of Saint Thomas Aquinas", Proceedings of the IXth Congress of Medieval Philosophy, Ottawa 1992.

Cf. Henry Veatch, Op. cit.

reasoning, as they conceive of it. They claim, he says, that the natural inclinations "cannot determine the moral assessment." Against this he objects to the view of the human body (and its inclinations) as "a raw datum", mere material upon which an absolute freedom goes to work. Here the finalities of the natural inclinations are seen as merely "physical", i.e. non-moral goods, "pre-moral" in the current jargon.393 In this way, as he summarizes it, the tension between freedom and a nature conceived of in a reductive way is resolved by a division within man himself. This will mean that what we spontaneously want can never derive moral value from this spontaneity, a position we found de Muralt reprobating and which we ourselves have repeatedly attacked. Such a view, the Pope categorically states, does not correspond to the truth about man and his freedom. It contradicts the Church's teaching on the unity of the human person, whose rational soul is per se et essentialiter the form of his body. Certainly in philosophy today there is little interest in a soul which would not be that. The unity of the human person appeals as a thesis not only to a wider ethical and humanitarian circle than that of the Church. In addition it is presupposed to any research of a scientific character today which might have man for its object. Nor did Wojtyla himself express the matter better in earlier days. Reason and free will, the Pope goes on, "are linked with all the bodily and sense faculties," so that goods to which the person is naturally inclined possess, and possess thereby, "specific moral value". Thus it is that, considering in the converse direction this person himself in the unity of soul and body, in the unity of his spiritual and biological inclinations and of all the other specific characteristics necessary for the pursuit of his end,394


Veritatis splendor, paragraph 48. John Paul II, op. cit. 50.


the Pope cautions that natural inclinations take on relevance only insofar as they refer to the human person and his authentic fulfilment. His main point though, against the dualists and rationalists, is that the inclinations do so refer. Although biological they are not biological cum praecisione, i.e. in speaking of them we do not prescind from man's rational and spiritual nature (just as in considering that rational nature we do not prescind from his bodily and animal nature). For the same reason they, the inclinations, are not to be confused with the passions, being propria of human nature. In illustration of his account the Pope takes the somewhat general, but very topical example, of "respect for human life". Context suggests that he has Article Two of Question Ninety Four of the Pars Prima Secundae of the Summa Theologica of Aquinas in mind. Thus he cites this article in his following, fifty-first section, where St. Thomas refers to a prime inclination to the conservation of one's own being according to that nature in which it communicates with all substances (secundum naturam in qua communicat cum omnibus substantiis), i.e. not just as an individual.395 The Pope says here that the foundation for this duty of self-preservation is to be found in the dignity proper to the person and not simply in the natural inclination to preserve one's own physical life. To this statement, if we bear in mind that Aquinas defines person in terms of our rational nature(endorsing Boethius), correspond the responses to the "objections" (of 94, 2) where Aquinas states that all the precepts of natural law, and hence by implication all our natural inclinations, are referred (referuntur) or carried back to one first precept (bonum est persequendum: the good is to be pursued), itself resting upon the fundamental inclination of the rational will to ens in communi. Hence natural

In interpreting this passage one should recall Aquinas's constant teaching that "each thing is inclined not merely to conserve its own individual substance, but also its own species. And much more does each thing have a natural inclination towards that which is the unqualified universal good" (Summa Theol. Ia 60, 5 ad 3um). Otherwise, he says, natural love would be perverse and not perfectible by charity.

law is one, all the inclinations of the various parts of human nature being naturally regulated by reason.396 Thus Aquinas states that the law comprises397 all those things which practical reason naturally apprehends as human goods. Now clearly we can each of us be said to have a purely animal inclination to preserve our own lives. This though, the Pope says, is not the type of inclination which generates natural law. For such inclinations (i.e. of the latter type) "refer to the human person and his authentic fulfilment," i.e. they are inclinations of the person as person. What is meant is a distinction between inclinations merely to objects good in themselves, without regard to one's personal circumstances, and inclinations founded upon the person's first, defining inclination to his fulfilment or perfection or overall good.398 For upon this first inclination, to bonum in communi and the finis ultimus, is in turn founded the fundamental and constitutive precept of the law, viz. bonum est persequendum et malum evitandum. Not only this, but it is natural to man to order his inclinations in this way, it being in virtue of this ordering that they are natural, i.e. human, inclinations. Thus, in the example, the inclination to preserve one's life is always there, in the mind and animal fibres even of a martyr. But it is overridden by the inclination to one's proper human fulfilment, which the man refusing martyrdom (like St. Peter in the Gospel) would miss or postpone. This "transcendental" fulfilment, furthermore, is most likely included in Aquinas's conception of vita hominis, the life of man, when he cites this inclination (to preserve this vita).399 In speaking of the unity of spiritual and biological inclinations the Pope makes the same point, that the rational soul, as principle of unity, makes every "biological" inclination a human

Cf. Ia-IIae 94, 2 ad 2um.


In the sense in which we have noted previously that it is the ends of the precepts which are of primary obligation, this being the only explanation of the existence of a virtue such as epieicheia or equity, for example.

Here one can see that it is not merely a debasement which we might ethically deprecate but a straight confusion to equate the personal with the private. One's personal circumstances are rather the totality of circumstances from which one may judge what will serve one's total (not one's "private") good here and now.

For further confirmation of this interpretation, implicit anyhow in Wojtyla's own account, cf. Lawrence Dewan O.P., "St. Thomas, Our Natural Lights and the Moral Order", Angelicum LXVII (1990), pp. 285-308. See also chapter 12, above.

or rational inclination. Thus the specifically human inclination is not the indiscriminate, generic inclination to venereal pleasure, but the more specific programme of permanent mating and the raising of a family, which of course includes and is in a sense founded upon this pleasure. And it is this same inclination (and not some "heteronomous" law) which can hold one back from destructive indulgence in this field400, this being the law "written on the heart" of which St. Paul wrote. That is, it is a law of the person and nature, of how he is and hence of how he operates, what he inclines to, and thus far it is entirely descriptive, like any other "scientific" law. What indeed would be the sense of "prescribing" for any being behaviour which did not accord with the nature of that being, with what will fulfil or perfect it? The inclination itself constitutes a law with which one's own being is in deep autonomous harmony, for the obvious reason that it is a law of one's own being.401 So it is important to grasp the essence of natural law as being not other than a "natural teleology", what is natural to man never being purely biological in the animal or vegetable sense. The rational animal is rational through and through, saturated as we might say. Those who feel constrained at the thought of having a natural teleology simply fail to understand the nature of freedom. Freedom does not begin where nature leaves off, but is rather its crowning aspect as being of the essence of rationality itself, will flowing from intellect as intellect itself flows from the substance of the soul.402 Thus freedom to sin, to act contrary to nature, is not what defines freedom, since it can in no way lead to our overall fulfilment, this being a fulfilment of nature and hence of the person. There is a certain coincidence here, as we noted also above, with some ideas of D.H. Lawrence as urging us, in that It can also, as Jacques Maritain suggests, lead one to exercise a political rather than a despotic control upon these more generic impulses, this being less likely to backfire in the progress of one's personal history. I.e. it is the more natural, less violent way (it being an old principle of physics that nothing can continue indefinitely in a violent state), secundum inclinationem naturalem.
400 401

That it is also, we have seen, a "magisterial dictate", is precisely the pledge of the dignity of that being, as made in the divine image.

A rational being is free in virtue of its rational nature, i.e. by a natural necessity. This finding needs to be taken more into account when adopting the concept of artificial intelligence into serious scientific discourse.

striving for happiness which is of the essence of morality, to identify our deepest and truest desires (concerning which, however, Lawrence's own views were not as differentiated as one might wish).403 It is in this sense that rationalist moralism can be seen as a subtle enemy of the religious, as of the poetic, spirit, creative of "a division within man himself", in the Pope's words. One can only admire how he avoids the post-Kantian fashion of speaking of reason as an extrinsic, heteronomous404 arbiter opposing man's spontaneous and natural wishes which arise from within the heart of his own being. Instead, for Wojtyla, reason, or intellect, more properly speaking, is soul, our deepest self, seeking the overall good of the person, of what we are. For dualist rationalism and the accompanying alienation arise precisely where it is denied that it is the intellectual soul itself which is the form of the body. On the view defended, on the other hand, one sees how the activity of reason, and hence of freedom, is essentially supplementary, extending the natural law, i.e. the law of what is ontologically determinate or given.405 Conversely the sins of unnatural vice, though not against the intellectual part, are yet against an essentially intellectual or rational nature, with corresponding inclinations to the common good (an essential mark of law), even at that generic level. Such inclinations are not those irrational egotistic urges which, as the Pope intimates, are irrelevant to the project in hand. The wrong view envisages a rationalist or rationalizing corrective to the inclinations, which are regarded as morally neutral or "ambiguous". The right view sees these inclinations and their natural order as themselves legislative, because of the dignity of that human nature which they themselves define, and hence of the human person. They need no corrective, since an order is already present among them as existing in the harmonious arrangement of all that it needs to be human, just as when a man eats he eats knowingly. So human inclinations, as human, are always to known goods. They are not, again, those "blind urges" which we may encounter in the lower reaches of our nature, but not only in faculties uncontrolled by reason. An indiscriminate curiosity or "nosiness" is equally a failure of nature (of the inclination,

Cf. the work of H. McCabe O.P., referred to above. Kant only calls it autonomous.



Cf. Summa Theol. Ia-IIae 94, 3; IIa-IIae 66, 2 ad 1um; 85, 1; Summa Contra Gentes III, 38.

perhaps, to live in harmony with our neighbours). These inclinations refer, in fact, to what man as man, the person, naturally wills. Hence John Paul's protest against treating free will and nature as fundamentally opposed. The will is a crowning part of nature, has itself a nature according to which its freedom is exercised: but just as in things which function according to a natural necessity the principles of their behaviour are their various natures themselves, from which their own behaviour proceeds as perfecting them, so in these things which have a measure of cognition the principles of action are cognition and appetite. Hence there should be some natural conception in the cognitive power, and a natural inclination in the appetitive power, through which those operations typical of the genus or species remain suited to the nature and purpose of these.406 So man's first inclination is that of his will as such, to bonum in communi (equivalent, says Aquinas, to the finis ultimus). To this inclination, again, corresponds the first, foundational precept, bonum est persequendum, perfective of the being in question, viz. man. The will, however, as human, is also naturally moved by all those other things to which the person who wills is by nature inclined, and not only by its own end qua will: For we do not desire through the will only those things which pertain to the power of will, but also those things which pertain to each of the respective powers and to the whole man.407 Hence it is that man, in and through these other powers, inclines to these ends as well as to bonum in communi or the finis ultimus, and this is the situation reflected in the scheme of inclinations at Ia-IIae 94, 2, to which the Pope refers. Wherefore man naturally wills not only the will's proper object as such, but also other things which belong to the other powers; such as knowledge of truth, which belongs to the intellect; and to be and to live, and other things of this

Aquinas, IV Sent. 33, 1, 1 (author,s translation). Aquinas, Summa Theol. Ia-IIae 10, 1 (author's translation).


kind, which are required for the integrity of our nature; all of which things will be comprehended together under the object of the will, just as are certain particular goods.408 Nothing shows more clearly that in this doctrine a good man is more than a good will, fundamental as that is. The will is part of a larger unity. The distinction is essential to a doctrine of the precepts of natural law as hierarchically based upon the natural inclinations which, precisely as natural, like the end of the will itself, are not subject to choice. Thus John Paul's understanding of those inclinations which are knowingly referred to integral personal fulfilment as being the source of the moral law is utterly faithful to Thomism and indeed supplies a corrective to certain rationalizing interpretations. The renewed stress on the soul, so neglected of late, is most welcome. It is just because the intellectual soul is forma corporis that nothing human is "purely biological".

CHAPTER FIFTEEN The Central Role of Creativity One insight to which we have drawn attention here is that of the sovereignly determinative role of the ultimate specific difference. Aristotle applied this to the metaphysics of substance.409 Perhaps he rather thought that it was a truth about substances specifically. We, however, have found it to apply to at least three areas indifferently. One is indeed that of the human constitution, of the substance which is man: the intellectual soul is determinative. Another is that of the structure of ethical virtues and principles: the highest perfection, love, is the form of all the virtues. A third area, though intrinsically related to the second (as both are to the substance which is man), is that of the anatomy of human behaviour: its initiating fount and motor is that which is ultimately sought, the last end. What the insight accounts for in the first case, for

Ibid., eodem loco.


Cf. F. Inciarte, op. cit.

example, that of man, is that the rational intellective soul itself marks and forms human sensitive, i.e. generic animal nature. It is therefore that this nature is, as Aquinas says, more "noble" than that of the brutes,410 i.e. just because for us it is not the ultimate and hence determinative form. Thus our music surpasses the cries of bats, even though their auditive range may be more extensive, our discriminative world of colour transcends all animal sight, as do our sexual refinements all animal coupling, i.e. in their proper sensuality (hence the fifty-seven varieties Geach humorously mentions411, their "exquisiteness", must be distinguished from the mere lustfulness they may on occasion serve). The formative power of this ultimate difference, itself even steered by an ultimate individuality of personality, reaches down into the autonomic vegetative system, inclusive of patterns of brain activity, and bears upon the sheer matter of our being, the sheen of our skin, the dignity of our hands, so much more than prehensile claws in their infinitely docile adaptability, a potentiality we have learned to venerate just as potentiality in the more than animal, quasi-divine helplessness of a baby, that new human beginning of which Geach speaks. The human genetic code with its far-reaching determinative powers is accordingly itself to be viewed as determined in this way, whatever form it possesses on its own being subsumed into the higher. This, after all, is no more than we mean by speaking of our human freedom. So, again, it is the ultimate perfection of love which straightens out and perfects earlier ethical postures and constrictions. As it was said, "In thy light shall we see light." Here, in this book, we have allied love to creativity, referring, as we should, to the superior wisdom of an ultimately supernatural prudence and to the "higher justice", as being a justitia quaedam existens, potior and melior than "legal justice", which is epieicheia or equity.412 Such justice is informed by love, being in its perfection The choice of this term is significant. It originally had the sense of "knowable", as in the older form gnobilis.

Geach, The Virtues, p.148. Yet Geach himself says, "It is not a matter of lower animal appetites, shared with ancestral apes, that overcome a weak will; the radical perversion or misdirection of the will is what deforms animal appetite." Our point, however, is that in human nature animal appetite, quite apart from original sin, is manifested with more "nobility" (which will then also of course give an opening for greater perversion) than among apes, say.
411 412

Epieicheia directs legal or general justice. Cf. IIa-IIae

impossible without it. Similarly, by this principle of the sovereignty of the ultimate and "directing" difference, this highest or best justice cannot be an occasional justice. It is the "superior rule" of all human actions. Now in the same way creativity cannot be an occasional or side-effect of love. Love is predicated per prius of creativity, since this is its superior rule, its "wonderful effect".413 It is, so to say, quintessential love, as epieicheia is quintessential justice, the proper justice which has regard to the intention of the legislator. Two cases of fidelity may look the same, but they differ depending on whether or not they are informed by epieicheia and ultimately by love, in a way that will sooner or later show, as the unprofitableness of the man who buried his talent, or the human and moral deficiencies of the spiritless idler Osmond in Henry James's Portrait of a Lady, ultimately showed. This was the meaning of the proposition agreed on by C.S. Lewis and his group of friends that creative artists, especially when creating worlds of fantasy414, more closely show forth the image of God as creator of the world, an idea wrongly dismissed by John Wain in his autobiography Sprightly Running as silly. But it is not only the fantasy writers who are creative. Any attempting of great or original things, even or especially in a small but continuous way, any imaginative entering into the worlds and needs of others, any joyful shouldering of the daily task, any readiness to think, to be kind, to make the best of things, to bring good out of evil, to redeem failure, to forgive, in short, as we stressed in an earlier chapter, all this belongs to the creativeness which is, so to say, the sign and flower of love. Of this, too, Aristotle might have said that a little of it is worth all the rest, as St. Paul said it was the greatest and sole enduring virtue, as St. Peter said it covers a multitude of sins. It goes beyond not doing what we would not like others to do to actually doing whatever we would like them to do to or for us, and it is just such originative action which requires imagination, the envisaging of an end in fantasy which we wish to realise. 120, 2 ad 2um. Cf. the chapter in The Imitation of Christ (the fifteenth century classic by Thomas à Kempis) entitled "On the wonderful effects of Divine Love" ("Love walks, runs and leaps for joy... attempts great things etc.").

Of course only God creates being. Fantasy worlds are "beings of reason", as are of course the "possible worlds" of "sistology".

Indeed the coincidence with Aristotelian contemplation is not fortuitous. Thus Aquinas speaks, with tradition, of the active and contemplative lives. Strikingly, it is only to the former that moral life properly belongs, since the vita contemplativa is really proper to the life to come, where the need for effort is no more. Mary is not troubled, like Martha. This is the final reach of the law of our nature, höchste Entfaltung der Sittlichkeit (M. Grabmann) indeed, but ipso facto no longer itself Sittlichkeit. Again, honi soit qui mal y pense; it is like that. Is thine eye evil because I am good, asks the landowner in the parable. Again we remember Screwtape: "he's a hedonist at heart." The laughing buddha says as much. But we here might remember Rembrandt's blind but laughing Homer, beside sighted but solemn Aristotle, not to slight the latter but to see him fulfilled beyond himself in creativity, in the self-fulfilling prophecy of unshakeable joy. There is indeed no argument against joy. Joy has no time, indeed, for thought, yet it cannot be thoughtless, as can the false hilarity of a mere enchantment which, as a violence done to nature, will not endure. Such thoughts, paradoxically, are sobering for a philosopher. Yet, as Aristotle, again, insists, no man is a philosopher, i.e. the quality is not proper to any human being qua human. So we all have to "come off it" sometimes, one day for ever, perhaps (though by the same token we will then be more truly "on it". Creativeness is indeed the analogue and sign of the contemplative life under conditions of change and development, here below as we say. This is the true significance of the development in ascetic theology, in thought about the spiritual life, noted by the modern Jesuit Hans Urs von Balthasar, writing in his book Thérèse of Lisieux, when he says that patristic and medieval spirituality, influenced by classical conceptions, takes eternal happiness, the contemplation of God, as man's goal; consequently the supernatural end of human nature can serve, under the elevating influence of grace, as man's sure compass throughout his spiritual journey... The emphasis shifts as soon as Ignatius [of Loyola] fixes on the "praise, reverence and service of God" as man's end, and subordinates everything else, the contemplation of God and one's own happiness, to this end (p.225). A shift of emphasis, of course, is not much more than a question of style, though it is certainly true that we want to be caught up into a life rather than just be found looking at something. It is,

nonetheless, precisely in terms of such a being caught up that the visio beatifica is classically explained. Still, we did explain creativity, this life of good works taking its rise in the imagination, as the analogue and sign of contemplation, since it is an understanding response, and this already implies a certain widening of the notion of contemplation, as the doctrine of the analogy of being must widen our notion of God in relation to his creation. I am the life. What is emerging here is the unseparated character of what is called the moral life. It is distinct as a conception only. In reality it is taken up into love and contemplation. Of its nature it serves the spiritual life and destiny of man (as the pure in heart shall see God), and it is immoral, therefore, to drive a wedge between the two. Again, the ultimate or crowning difference, contemplation, which is the fulfilment of love (which is creativity), determines the rest. The type of being, the virtue, we are pleading for, might be expressed, mutatis mutandis, as follows: a characteristic thematic inventiveness that springs straight from the source of all inspiration, without intellectual distortions, without second thoughts of critical listeners or third thoughts about the need for seductive persuasion; an incorruptible urge towards a breadth of conception that is prepared to risk the failure of detail, prepared to leave things undeveloped which should be developed... and last, but first, a calm, stable and humble belief in the artist's metaphysical mission.415 The central role of creativity, therefore, is highlighted. Earlier we related this to election, freedom, the working out of our personal vocation. This is true enough, but too general, but also too particular, as answering the often no more than moralistic question, what ought I to do? The idea of vocation itself has rather to be brought to its ultimate specific difference, if it is not to be watered down and conventionalized to a purely passive, inert following of God's will which one fears to mistake, in the "rationalist" manner of which de Muralt complained. "You've got a vocation," the priest tells the young person, and he or she runs to the cloister in mere fear of disobeying the call, like Aeneas driven by Hermes to Rome (Italiam non sponte sequor), with ruinous later consequences. This kind of system was bound to break down. We refer often here to imagination. We have to be people Hans Keller on Anton Bruckner. The Sunday Times, London 1964.

of imagination to accomplish things, imagination being also the organ of fantasy, phantasia, without which, Aquinas argues, human thinking at any given moment is impossible. The case is clearest for those who are specifically artists, from composers down to great footballers, where the imaginative is equated with the quick-thinking, often with "lateral" thinking. But we apply it to and require it for great leadership also, here too the ultimate, the "greatest", supplying the model, the ideal determining the whole genre, as leaders themselves are patterns for human greatness in general (hence they lead), for any man or woman's becoming great, as we are all called to be if greatness of soul (magnanimitas) is a virtue universally required (the desire for great honours or "glory") and if the last shall be first. I shall be a great saint, declared the so-called patroness of "little souls", but even comparing herself to a "little dove". Thus the meek inherit the earth, the love which is the way for all of itself attempting great things without strain. We praise the imagination of John XXIII, of the gesture-filled lives of Francis or Joan of Arc, of military commanders and chess-players, of mothers with high aspirations for their children or of actively understanding wives and husbands. And so we are led to consider more closely the reality of fantasy in human life. It belongs to the life and strength of fantasy that it strives and wants to be real, today's imaginations being tomorrow's realities. "Spiritual" writers, blundering, have often deprecated imagination as a most unruly faculty (like the Holy Spirit in that) and even one to be left behind, as meditation succeeds to contemplation, or even "forced acts of the will". Certainly love opposes mere idle indulgence of the imagination. We must imagine goals and imagine the means to achieve them. To this end though we want to say not merely that the vision must be good. What we are insisting upon, more radically, is that since creativity is the ultimate determining difference of love itself, as love itself determines justice, therefore the goodness, the good effect, must come from the properly creative imaginative vision, reaching down from there (and not, contrariwise, being a superior yardstick or control of the vision) into everyday "moral" life. Thus theology gives life and direction, as religion inspires to love, as "without vision the people perish". This ethics of creation is for everyone, pedagogical necessities apart. As baptism is the sacrament of an otherwise general membership of the human race (not of the Church: it is membership of the Church416) so the creative artist is the type and

I owe this insight to Fr. Herbert McCabe O.P.

guarantee of a general human greatness for which we all must aristocratically strive. Their role is analogous to that of prophecy in the biblical system, something of which T.S. Eliot once complained, wishing to restore a sacral society, but a Christian society, or for that matter a human society (if the Christian is the sacrament of the human), is not essentially sacral if it is of itself open to the transcendent hand reached down. So the artist is not some monster, as the term "genius" dangerously suggests, so that a Kierkegaard can actually oppose it to the ethical as a deficient pathology, as the merely aesthetic falling short of, being blind to, the ethical. But we have rather argued that it is understanding of the beautiful which first discloses anything properly ethical.417 We should rather think of genius as defined as a capacity for taking infinite pains, creativity as apotheosis of the ethical, virtue being ad ardua, directed to difficult things which love, like habit, makes easy, love itself being the supreme habit. Thus the complexity, the pains, of language itself serve the goal of simplicity, of unity, as subject and predicate in general are identified by the copula, reuniting the mind's necessary abstractions. Fantasy strives to be real, to impose itself upon and replace a previous reality. This is essential to it, since it is not more or other than the structure of our ceaseless striving after our not yet attained end, needing, however, to exist in the imagination, in our "dream", if it is to move us. It swirls mistily in the mind, in the fantasy, so that we strive to realise it, like the melody striving to break out triumphant at the end of the music, but the form of which in the composer's mind has determined all the preceding phraseology and demurring interplay. The last end attained will replace the world. The dream will have become reality and so we believe in the "life of the world to come" (vitam venturi saeculi). This, our practical reasoning, is thus a quasidivine way of knowing since, says Aquinas, God knows things, and us, not as they are in themselves but in his thought of them, in his imagination as we would say in human terms. Oscar Brown speaks of obligation's "aesthetic anchorage in the spontaneously self-compelling character of the kalon: the immediately attractive beauty and proportion of perfected practical rationality in particulari casu" (Natural Rectitude and Divine Law in Aquinas, Toronto 1981, p.20). Aquinas's category of the honestum says as much: "something is called honestum... in as much as a certain beauty (decorem) accrues to it from reason's ordaining of it" (Summa theol. IIa-IIae 145, 3).

Leoncavallo's Pagliacci gives us a type of this. The main protagonist, a clown by profession, really kills his unfaithful wife in the course of a presentation on the stage, causing confusion to those who had otherwise been merely spectators. The theme is touched on in The Phantom of the Opera. Of course Pagliacci itself remains a story. Still, the impulse to such a story can lead us to question the assertion that opera must be understood as play, contradistinguished against reality, if it is to be properly itself and enjoyed in a discriminating, non-vicious way, the aesthetic not trampling upon the ethical. The opposite is Wagnerian hubris, leading to the making of newsreels showing planes flying to bomb a city to the music of the Ride of the Valkyries, the turning of the propellors being attuned to the rhythm of their unearthly cries. The hubris, however, lies more in the matter than the mode, the latter serving to fool us as regards the matter, such a dodge being of the essence of this propaganda. For the total project which the Nazis strove to impose upon society was not aesthetic, this being merely used to impose the unaesthetic, the ugly project of that most total moral abdication which is murder. Their unspoken premise, in which their critics at times concur, was that the beautiful, the aesthetic, in no way coincides, since it is rather above it, with the good, the moral, which it does not fulfil but replace and destroy, as something contemptible. But this, we have found reason enough to observe, is bad metaphysics, the natural nemesis of a moralism which has not truly broken free from itself. Common, after all, both to the classical ideal of beauty and to ethical theory is the general idea of order, just to begin with. But if goodness must ultimately be beautiful, beauty must ultimately be good, as in the song of Sylvia (or the "grace and truth" of Schubert's music as a whole418), and so it is discrimination within imagination itself, its own aesthetical nobility, which leads it (i.e. it does not merely require it) to coincide, intrinsically and from its own resources, with what belongs to virtue and goodness, with all that is conducive to and puts us upon the straight (recta) road to our Last End and which is thus, like Anselmian and Augustinian rectitudo itself, secundum Deum, according to God, as type and source of beauty, being Of the Rose of Tralee it is sung that she won the singer not by her beauty alone, but rather by that plus "the truth in her eye ever dawning." We would rather say that that quality was the ultimate difference precisely of her beauty, bringing it to its own perfection as what it was to be (quod erat esse).

indeed that summa regula of our consciences which Gregory the Great said (in Magna Moralia) we go wrong if we neglect. That is, we don't go wrong just by not listening to the priests, though Gregory certainly thought and taught that. We go wrong if our ethics be not an ethics of creativity, where any not doing is but a function of the doing. We might compare the Gesamtkunstwerke of two tales of a Ring, Tolkien's and Wagner's. We might ask which is more beautiful in the sense of "moving", a fairy-tale by Grimm or a Japanese novella of ritual or aesthetic murder. What is this state of being "moved"? It has the sense, again, of the effect of something noble, an ideal which a Kant could turn against a too easy idea, as lacking respect, of happiness. Nobility, respect, all that the masses lack, e.g. in the analysis of Ortega y Gasset; one is moved as an individual person. The power of beauty to move, though, is the proof of its link with the moral. One is moved as if to action, and hence distressed if one does not know what to do about it. Dante wrote his poem; Greeks commit suicide when overcome by the beauty of their country; Irish monks launch themselves on the ocean in rudderless boats; an Avicenna or a Wittgenstein give away their fortune. Never man spoke like this man, people exclaimed, and being struck to the heart they asked what must we do. Here I do not muddle ideas together that should be distinct; rather, I try to show the unity in being of ideas which the mechanism of abstraction is forced to make distinct. I do this because this unity is my idea here. It is necessary and not vicious or idle because ethics as a science exists for the sake of praxis, and good praxis demands full humanity and mature adequacy of vision. Tolkien appeared to despise Wagnerism, at least the Ring libretto. His own work, all the same, is the closest in English to that operatic attempt to replace reality (and hence give it a total direction ad finem), inventing a language, a geography, a history way beyond the tale itself, coats of arms, poetry, enormous pains being taken to create a consistency and varied multifariousness as of a world. Tolkien deprecated the way some readers identified with his story, yet he himself suggested it as a "mythology for England", analogous, if one consider, to the Bayreuth project. Like the latter it prompts to imitation, even to re-production, from mere re-reading to styles of living, furnishing and so on, or even, with Samwise, to a lifelong search for elves or something equivalent to them. What is mythology? It is not an escape and this is not escapist literature. One does not cease to breathe that air of

earnestness simply by putting the book down. It is a reflection, giving because showing meaning, a meaning. It is even a reflection of that most central mandala of our culture, the Gospel, centred on the humility of Frodo as principle of salvation, the Silmarillion standing as a kind of old Testament. Living by imagination in such a world, become for a brief while a refracted finis ultimus, a world the order of which is necessarily less vast and problematical than that of reality, one is helped to discern the contours of goodness as at once the contours of beauty, as in Augustine's justly celebrated exclamation or as the prophet unwillingly exclaimed, "Oh Israel, how lovely are thy tents." The tents of the people of the law are ipso facto lovely, that is beautiful. But as far as reflecting the Gospel is concerned, one might find something of this also in Wagner's tale, as we claimed above to discern it in the ideals of a Nietzsche, whatever others have found there. What is undeniable is that the Last End, from which law and much else takes its rise, as we have argued here and previously419, is not as such realised, whether we place it at the end of time or in the midst of the present moment in which alone, insists the seventeenth century ascetical master de Caussade, reality, and hence the divine, can be apprehended. So it is something of which we dream, an intention. Hence its realisation will be the victory of the dream over reality, the less ultimate reality or "world" for which Christ did not pray. The structure behind Martin Luther King's project was none other. He had a dream, he said. Such a dream is a guiding dynamic hope, essential source of any action. Even the action of despair hopes, paradoxically, to quiet a pain. The dream, anyway, is the ultimate reality and end, and this was the true meaning of Poe's aesthetics. He was only not visionary enough to see the strength of his dream over reality, clinging rather to his dream just as dream, though as preferable even to "higher Heaven".420 The dream has indeed its casualties, since the road, as corresponding to the high stakes, is perilous. Our point though is that moralism fails more radically by refusing the search itself. This lies behind the idea that those who find the way after being lost on the road cause more joy in heaven than those appearing more faultless, unless indeed the grace of the journey is already with them. Hence the saints see themselves as metaphysically sinners, upheld by grace alone. In this way they hope also to

See our The End of the Law, Louvain 1999. See our Philosophy or Dialectic? p.202.


cause this greater heavenly joy, incomprehensible except on this premiss of a venture, after the pearl of great price, as we said. For the line of thought helps also to explain the power of erotic fantasy, as we need to do. People dream in this area, alone or together, while procuring for themselves a more than imagined satisfaction, though the setting of fantasy is often needed for this end. They thus feel they are in the imagined world with their real minds and bodies, as the young swimmer experiences the joy of entering another element, again at best in an enchanted or bewitching setting, such as a deep pool in the mountains, or as does anyone who weeps or laughs in response to something imagined. In so far as sexual acts are commonly performed in a state of high and concentrated fantasy, a situation corroborated by the structure of dream-life, commonly accompanied by sexual excitement, the paradoxical naturalness of what is likely to be called perversion, fetichism and so on seems obvious. It can seem unnatural or even brutish to repress fantasy where one's life engages one to sexual activity, and it might well lead one to fail in one's plain duty. It follows that the sadistic or criminal variants of this operatic or dream aspect to life are actually due to a weakness or, which is the same, one-sidedness of fantasy, a failure to see it as bearer of life, hope and all that is good. Ugly fantasy is fantasy that lacks something, like the poor draughtsmanship of many comic-books. What happens here, rather, is that the aspect of play belonging to the art-work or show but only superficially, in so far as we become a merely passive audience, is then, as a negative or limiting characteristic carried over into real life as cruel irresponsibility. Thus the movement against audience passivity is so far justified. All play is earnest, as children know and as ritual proves, or at least expresses. But when ritual becomes ritualism, as morality can become moralism, then this is a morally negative phenomenon accounting, among other things, for the insufficiency or even evil of mere voyeurism when it is a replacement for sexual involvement. This is not a point against fantasy though it may seem to call, at least for the most part, for a sharing of it. But even if one remain convinced of the total evil of sexual fantasy it still would illustrate our thesis of the structure of human action as such, which in turn explains the pull of erotic fantasy, materially so close to this central area of love and, even more clearly, creativity. One can hardly abstract from this when one considers the statement of Aquinas that the beauty of the bodies of the redeemed will render superfluous any resurrection of animals and plants. This, as Lewis pointed out, is trans-sexual, even super-

sexual we might say, not a-sexual. Instead of particular organs, whole bodies and hence persons pass into one another, as in Milton's vision, or, more centrally and simply, "I in them and they in me". It is an unimaginative timidity which two-dimensionally restricts this (or any other saying of the speaker) to a purely moral interpretation, as in a unity of will and purpose. "I am the vine, you are the branches... my meat is meat indeed... taste and see." It is just here that the ideal of virginity takes its rise, as crown of a creative ethics seeking the enthronement of a vision, known as realised only in the groping imagination, which none of the necessary restrictions and caveats of negative, apophatic theology can suppress, functioning as a guide and target of action. To be moved, again, by great music, for example, is precisely to feel that it has taken up into it (as indeed it takes us) something of one's life and its direction (or that of another being with whom we feel a sympathy). Being moved just is the interaction of art and life at this point, the passing beyond play. No doubt this can even interfere with the just appreciation of art on its own terms. Yet it is music itself, when most intensely itself, as coming to birth out of an initial silence, or when the strings cry out in child-like wonder and joy at the simultaneously solemn expression of peace in the brass (close of Bruckner's Fourth Symphony), which most directly achieves this. In The Great Divorce C.S. Lewis presented a picture of the final end-dream of human life as a kind of park where the blessed wander naked and "drink deep of Christ", possessing a solidity and agility denied to outsiders. A certain what we might call erotic intensity, in comparison with the mystics or with Aquinas as we cited him, is missed in so far as animal life and scenery, giving a note of calm and even relaxation, are not otiose here. Lewis's contrast, rather, is between the lizard of lust perched chattering on the young man's shoulders and delivering to him intense but restricted dreams which keep him from the heaven around him, and the glorious horse on which he himself rather mounts, so as to gallop to the mountains after consenting to the killing of the lizard, so central to his old self. Submit to death as gateway to salvation is Lewis's classically Christian message, and a believer may find that our philosophical equivalent really participates in it. What we have tried to show though is that such a submission is way beyond a purely obediential submission to a set of inert moral rules. It is rather an openness and an opening to creative winds, to all reality (in the end the All of St. John of the Cross or St. Francis), the reality of others included. It is a viewing of what we

experience under the aspect of the whole, without restriction, sub specie aeternitatis indeed. It is a willingness not to see one's path, to be led by what is revered above self. In a word it is love, not merely the love which is loyalty, but identification, outgoing to the other to the point of death, this indeed giving rise to all virtue (as we hope we can see without having personally achieved it), not by showing itself in agreement with virtues already in place, but by creating new virtue which, all the same, fulfils what was best in the old. Ecce omnia nova facio, again and again, in ceaseless revolution (Mao), or as passing through one chamber to another until, if we could, we reach the palace's centre (Teresa of Avila). Enlightened by this love we will indeed be enabled to describe, to descry, to exercise all the virtues making up the image of human goodness in its fullest beauty. Our life is no dream, but it should and will perhaps become one (Novalis).

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