Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Baseness for the Base

From Dr. Esolen:
It is hard to see how any genuine society or culture can be built up out of the atoms of self-will, since the friendship and the piety it demands and fosters depends upon human beings who see themselves as fulfilled not by gratifying their peculiar desires, but by love; not by consuming, but by being given away.  But there is a strange and telling analogy between a people who measure their worth by how much wealth they amass and those who measure their "happiness" by how many desires they gratify.  Both of those peoples misconstrue liberty.  They see it as something extrinsic to their persons.  It is a state-sanctioned empty field.  It is defined, or rather undefined, by what the State cannot tell you that you cannot do.

It should strike us with a shock that this view of law has a pretty meager heritage.  The Greeks and Romans knew nothing of it.  The Jewish prophets and scribes knew nothing of it.  The Christian jurists of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance knew nothing of it.  Even as late as the nineteenth century, despite the state-of-nature fantasies of Hobbes and Locke, most people assumed that one of the purposes of law, if not the principal purpose, was to be a teacher:  to help make men good.  They knew, too, that goodness was more than a superficial affability.  Goodness required the exercise of the virtues, and virtues are hard-won. (Read more.)

1 comment:

julygirl said...

It is a growing and frightening trend that our political climate is being nourished by greedy self interest. Nobility and virtue are qualities whose value has been buried by the trampling feet of individual corporate wealth.