Sunday, January 2, 2011

Charles J. Reid on Brian Tierney Part 3


Hello My Name Is Gratian And I Think I Might Have Something To Add To This Discussion

Hello again American Creation family! I hope you all remember me in that I do not think I have posted here since Summer. This was due to the time consuming re-launching of my real estate business after it turned out that the oil had not ruined the part of the Gulf Coast I live in forever after all.  Anyway, I am going to dive in and pick up right where I left off:  Charles J. Reid's review of Brian Tierney's book, The Idea of Natural Rights: Studies on Natural Rights, Natural Law, and Church Law 1150 to 1625.  Before doing so, I think it wise to summarize where we were in the discussion 4 months ago, the first two parts in this series, and the concept of a "zone of autonomy" being at the core of the Christian argument for natural rights. 

Four months ago we were involved in a debate over my challenge to the idea articulated by Ed Brayton, Gregg Frazer, and Jon Rowe that, "that the Bible nowhere speaks to the concept of unalienable rights, especially an unalienable right to religious and political liberty." I pointed to the work of Brian Tierney and his contention that the pre-Aquinas development of Canon Law heavily impacted the evolution of the Western Legal Tradition which in turn had great influence on our founding era idea of natural rights. Then I followed that general overview of Reid's book review with a post that began to sort through some of the details. I started with Reid's brief summary of the contributions of Justian, Gratian, and the "decretists" as he follows Tieney's account of the evolution of the idea of natural rights.

The "decretists" were the Canonists that sifted through the works of Gratian per Justinian and attempted to address some of the inherent contradictions they saw in his work. In the process they began to articulate a coherent case for natural rights that I think is summed up best by Rufius,

Rufinus began, "'a certain force instilled in every human creature by nature to do good and avoid the opposite.' ' This force, he continued, "'consists in three things, commands, prohibitions, and demonstrations. . . . It cannot be detracted from at all as regards the commands and prohibitions . .. but it can be as regards the demonstrations, which nature not command or forbid but shows to be good."'
The "demonstrations" alluded to above are actions that the Bible neither commands nor prohibits and leaves to each man's own discretion as to whether "nature" shows it to be "good".  It is my contention that our discussions of the differences between "Classically Conservative" vs. "Classically Liberal", "Enlightenment" vs. "Christendom", and "French Revolution" vs. "American Revolution" should all start with the question of, "Liberty" or "License" per Locke via Hooker

Thus, my question to Brayton, Rowe, Frazer, is how we can even begin to have this conversation about the "Christian" idea of rights until we enlarge the historical discussion to include the men I have mentioned above and their contributions to the Western Legal Tradition?

58 comments:

Tom Van Dyke said...

In fairness to the gentlemen you challenge, your "key" quote from Rufius doesn't address "rights" at all. You have left them with nothing to argue for or against.

If you're going to pick up after a long absence, I think you need---in fairness---to restart at the beginning. There is, after all, nothing specifically in the Bible about "natural rights," so you haven't refudiated anything yet.

Oh, and welcome back.

King of Ireland said...

TVD states:


"In fairness to the gentlemen you challenge, your "key" quote from Rufius doesn't address "rights" at all. You have left them with nothing to argue for or against."

This is a deep topic and we are talking about two words:

Natural- naturales in Latin

Rights- ius in Latin

This is a deep concept and hard to unpack let allow follow its evolution all the way to the founding era. So much so that Tierney himself states that so little is known because this history is ignored in the modern world that we are at the tip of the ice berg.

With that stated the contention is nto rights. It on on natural. The statement of Rufius points to the Christian understanding of natural law to include a "right" to a certain amount of autonomy. This is tied into love your neighbor as yourself.

Which is at the heart of the gospel which sums up the general theme of Old Testament.

So no I have not refuted anything yet and to be honest I am not sure that this is the venue to assert or deny truth claims. BUT we can get teh history right so that we have the right context to look back and see What is Enlightenment and What is Christian. With that knowledge then we can look at the Bible and see if a case can be made.

In short, I seek to get the history right then go and look back at the Bible. Then maybe we can have a Romans 13 like discussion where the two general views of Christian thought and how they pertain to the founding are outlined so people can make up their own minds where the founders were coming from.

I hope that makes sense.

King of Ireland said...

TVD stated:

If you're going to pick up after a long absence, I think you need---in fairness---to restart at the beginning. There is, after all, nothing specifically in the Bible about "natural rights," so you haven't refudiated anything yet."


This general summary was my attempt to start over in a brief way that does not have to re-hash many months of posts from all sides on this. If people want to inquire they can click on the links I provided that summarize the debate.

Or we can re-hash it here in the comments section which I prefer.

King of Ireland said...

TVD states:

"Oh, and welcome back."

Thank you. I really never left I have been reading a lot of what has been posted and commenting when I have time. Nonetheless, I need to contribute more for sure when time permits.

King of Ireland said...

"There is, after all, nothing specifically in the Bible about "natural rights," so you haven't refudiated anything yet."

Yea Ed, Gregg, and Jon will set up that straw man and then knock it down all day long until someone that understands the Bible and the breadth of the History of Christendom like me challenges it.

As I have stated numerous times:

1. The Canon Law idea of rights is tied to the golden rule which is in the Bible

2. The Trinity and other theological doctrines are not "specifially" in the Bible either

3. The real question is whether natural rights in a legitimate part of Christian Thought and if this Thought can be backed from biblical concepts such as imago dei?


My issue with Frazer and those like Jon and Ed that quote him is that he narrows the years of his study to those that tend to support some of his arguments as to what thought is Christian and ignore eras that do not support it.

Lot to get to here.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, keep in mind I already know where your argument is going, Joe. IMO, I think it's difficult for anyone else to follow it. Just as an outside observer.

Now that you've revealed your strategy and method, I don't agree with it thus: I think "natural rights" theory [via natural law] grew more out of reason, and then was double-checked against scripture to see if it was in conflict.

Not that that's a defective method according to natural law theory, or even Locke [see his letter to the bishop who was hassling him]. "Right reason" is used to discern the natural law, and it's confirmed as "right reason" by not conflicting with scripture.

This is how they proceeded, their method, whether it was the canon lawyers, Aquinas, the Calvinist "resistance theory" dudes, or Locke.

So when folks like our pal OFT claim that "rights" and liberty and all that stuff have their origins in scripture, that's not exactly the fact, or else liberal democratic constitutional republicanism wouldn't have had to wait 1700-odd years for the American Founding.

I do see your point---now that you've explained it---about "demonstrations" per Rufius,

"the demonstrations, which nature not command or forbid but shows to be good"

but that needs a lot more foreplay before the wham bam part.

It does seem to me that even Rufius, via "shown to be good" is saying that these things are demonstrated, meaning they are not a priori, self-evident precepts [whether by reason or scripture].

He seems to be saying that this "zone of autonomy" has been proven by experience to be good, if I follow your argument correctly.

Again, nothing in conflict with natural law theory, that what we observe and adjudge to be good [a posteriori] also fits into "right reason."


As you can see, it needs a lot of fleshing out---if even I didn't follow your argument, who am familiar with it already---it's not fair to expect a newbie to, or especially anyone who is hostile to your viewpoint. So just take your time, start at the beginning---or work back from the end---and take a fresh clean bite on this. I happen to think Tierney's is a viable argument, and few have had the patience to examine it, preferring hand grenades and culture wars.

King of Ireland said...

TVD stated:

"So when folks like our pal OFT claim that "rights" and liberty and all that stuff have their
origins in scripture, that's not exactly the fact, or else liberal democratic constitutional republicanism wouldn't have had to wait 1700-odd years for the American Founding"

Origins impossible to prove. Foundations of Med Evil thoughts on the topic of rights I would say so. Two different questions.

I say yes to the second in that they started from scripture with commandments and prohibitions and from there commented on "demonstrations".

Gratian himself (quoted in part 2 of the series) starts with loving your neighbor as yourself based on imago dei and then works out from there.

In short the question for this venue and the one that Ed really is asking is:

What are the origins of the discussion of the natural rights discussed in the DOI and are the Christian or not?

I would say yes. Biblical or not? Another discussion. One I think you sum up well when you say that "right reason" does not contradict scripture. Which is a simple way of explaining commandments, prohibitions, and demonstrations.

I think license is throwing the first two out and thus forsaking God. Perhaps the difference between a Classical Conservative and a Classic Liberal? Very germane to the current split in the Tea Party movement as well :-)

As far as my argument being difficult to follow. I agree and hope back and forth like this in the comments section cleans it up or let's me know what does need to be re-hashed and what does not.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Authoritarianism was not the ground that our "more perfect union" was grounded in :). So, neither Church, not State has the answer.

Ayn Rand says that alturism is the foundation of totaltalirianism. And each side, whether religious claims to "the Golden Rule", or statist claims to "humanitarian goals", undermine personal and individual liberties.

I recognize that both the Catholic Church and humanists are interested in educating the Islamic terrorists, but one must be certain that such attempts are productive, and even if that can't be known, that those who commit to such an endeavor are willing to go there and do that....

King of Ireland said...

TVD stated:

"I happen to think Tierney's is a viable argument, and few have had the patience to examine it, preferring hand grenades and culture wars."

My challenge is an attempt to steer away from those "wars" and toward a genuinely intellectual discussion.

King of Ireland said...

Angie states:

"Ayn Rand says that alturism is the foundation of totaltalirianism. And each side, whether religious claims to "the Golden Rule", or statist claims to "humanitarian goals", undermine personal and individual liberties.

This type of argument in my mind is License not Liberty which is fine but let's be honest it is not the founding era case for rights and in no way consistent with the Christian influence Western Legal Tradition which upholds scripture as described in its commandments and prohibitions.

I personally am scared to death of a society that is based on license because that is the basis or anarchy. This is exactly what Romans 13 is hitting on and those that interpret it the same as Locke, Aquinas, and the "Resistance Theory" Calvinists
were in no way sympathetic to totalitarians but had more disdain for anarchy because it always leads to worse oppression. See French Revolution for proof.

King of Ireland said...

TVD stated:

"It does seem to me that even Rufius, via "shown to be good" is saying that these things are demonstrated, meaning they are not a priori, self-evident precepts [whether by reason or scripture]."

I think that life, liberty, and property/happiness we seen to be self-evident(innate)and clearly fall in line with clear commandments and prohibtions in the Bible. I think that is the general foundation of the Christian Western Legal Tradition. The devil is in the details and I think that is the "zone of autonomy" spoken of and is based on individual experience.

In others words, it is clear that the Bible states that I cannot murder my neighbor. What is not clear is what constitutes murder. Is it murder to kill in war? Different people have different views. I think it comes down to conscience and individual discernment most of the time.

I hope my line of reasoning is clearing up as we flesh this out.

Tom Van Dyke said...


Origins impossible to prove. Foundations of Med Evil [medieval] thoughts on the topic of rights I would say so. Two different questions.


I auditioned for a band called Med-Evil once. Black Sabbath sort of thing. Didn't get the gig.

I think you're saying the same thing, that "rights" as we know them today began to develop as a result of reason as the 2nd millennium of Christianity hit. That means the direct Bible talk can be tabled and left for the fundies.

Although that Christian thought double-checked back with the Bible is not to be ignored. That was the fashion, that was the method. And by the time Calvinist "resistance theory" got done with Romans 13, it was an offense against God NOT to revolt against tyranny!

The larger point being, and I think you're arguing---at least I am---that John Locke and the Enlightenment didn't just drop in from Mars one day in the 1600s and invent human rights and liberal democracy. It was a train that was already leaving and they just jumped aboard.

One of the first "modern" theorists of the Enlightenment was Thomas Hobbes, who saw no problem with a unified church and state, in fact, he found it desirable, for the preservation of order.

Heh.

King of Ireland said...

I do not think the Bible talk should be completely tabled in that Jon asks a fair question as to whether as case for rights can be found in the Bible? I am just not so sure if that is the question that is going to get us any closer to the stated purpose of this blog.

What will is asking if there is a case for natural rights found in Christendom pre-Enlightment and how it compares and contrast to the Enlightenment case for natural rights? All in trying flesh out the foundations of these ideas and whether they fall into the Christendom Column, the Enlightenment column or both?

In short, I do not think that the radicals like Paine and Jefferson have that much in common with Rand. Or at least Rand as interpreted by Angie.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Ayn Rand isn't taken seriously by philosophers, even libertarian ones like Murray Rothbard. So don't get distracted.

Jon asks a fair question as to whether as case for rights can be found in the Bible

As I just argued, only via back-checking. "Rights" are compatible---not in conflict---with the Bible. Well, many "rights," anyway. Not all.

In short, I do not think that the radicals like Paine and Jefferson have that much in common...

Exactly. Because the liberty and freedom Rand enjoyed in America was unimaginable in 1776. Unless you were Henry VIII. Or Caligula. She took everything for granted, especially the lack of anarchy---the precarious balance of liberty and order---for which so manymany men died to establish.

Parasite.

King of Ireland said...

Tom,

How do you really feel about Rand? :-)

More importantly, have I cleared out where I am going with this series of posts on Tierney's work?

Thanks for the way you always challenge me to get it right. I think Jon and I are the only ones that get that about you. That you want everyone to bring their A game. Others are needlessly offended and blow off legitimate cracks in their thinking.

TVD for President

Tom Van Dyke said...

I think you can see your way, Joe. It's the road less traveled, with a lot of potholes and no guardrails.

I'm not gonna be president or a congressman or Rush or Keith or any of those guys. I can't tell people enough of what they want to hear and tell them too much of what they don't. I'm never going to have much of a following, but if a couple of people get it, that's plenty. Pass the hemlock, brother.

All I wanted to tell Chris is that I'm not the big bad wolf, I'm more a catcher in the rye, I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff — I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day...

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I got the information on Ayn Rand via the 'horse's mouth" on a video of Phil Donahue. She suffered under the Russian regime and you might call her parasitic, but then, we all are, as most of us haven't died for the freedoms we enjoy! I am no expert on Rand, but what I have read, I have "enjoyed".

As to your concern about license, "license" is only considered license to those that want to control another's choice. The fear of anarchy isn't a concern for civilized governments, such as ours, is it, as we are a nation of law, and not of men.

Govenment, yes, is a "good", but it can also be evil, if it is left to be a Leviathan, where the individual ceases to exist apart from "the general will" of the Church or the State. The Church and the State are to be granted the right over the individual through personal choice. Where one chooses to worship, what one does in regards to the State's interests, are personal decisions in our free society. This is not license, but liberty of conscience!
Determinism is the problem with so many of the scientific theories being applied to the "whole of reality"....the "human" dissolves into a symbiotic enmeshment of nature, where there really is no choice, other than what has been decided by the "philosophes"....which is deterministic to the core...totaltalitarian, that is...

If you ask most Christians (biblical) you wouldn't find that most of them believe in "rights", because one is to be obedient to "God's will" or Purpose, be a servant, be willing to die for Christ, etc....The rich young ruler was an illustration that Jesus used to illustrate what happens when you love the material, more than the spiritual. Therefore, if one chooses to "not go the route" of their interpretation, then, one can go, but at "great costs", loosing one's "soul". This is justification for embracing vows of poverty (for the church), because one must be willing to go through the 'eye of a needle"...be willing to give all your material goods...sell all you have and feed the poor, etc. etc. No "rights" there...only demands, duties, responsibilities...

The right in Scripture was granted to those in authority, such as government. But, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely *Lord Acton*, as Daniel challenged the King, as Luther challenged Roman Church,as Martin Luther King, jr, challenged the 'white folk', American Revolutionaries challenged the British Crown, as with all social reform, or movements of change. Conventional "wisdom" has its strength in guarding the gates of "tradition", but "tradition" can resist and oppress, when evidence demands change. Change happens over time. This is a fact, and aren't we overall "better for it"?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I got the information on Ayn Rand via the 'horse's mouth" on a video of Phil Donahue. She suffered under the Russian regime and you might call her parasitic, but then, we all are, as most of us haven't died for the freedoms we enjoy! I am no expert on Rand, but what I have read, I have "enjoyed".

As to your concern about license, "license" is only considered license to those that want to control another's choice. The fear of anarchy isn't a concern for civilized governments, such as ours, is it, as we are a nation of law, and not of men.

Govenment, yes, is a "good", but it can also be evil, if it is left to be a Leviathan, where the individual ceases to exist apart from "the general will" of the Church or the State. The Church and the State are to be granted the right over the individual through personal choice. Where one chooses to worship, what one does in regards to the State's interests, are personal decisions in our free society. This is not license, but liberty of conscience!
Determinism is the problem with so many of the scientific theories being applied to the "whole of reality"....the "human" dissolves into a symbiotic enmeshment of nature, where there really is no choice, other than what has been decided by the "philosophes"....which is deterministic to the core...totaltalitarian, that is...

If you ask most Christians (biblical) you wouldn't find that most of them believe in "rights", because one is to be obedient to "God's will" or Purpose, be a servant, be willing to die for Christ, etc....The rich young ruler was an illustration that Jesus used to illustrate what happens when you love the material, more than the spiritual. Therefore, if one chooses to "not go the route" of their interpretation, then, one can go, but at "great costs", loosing one's "soul". This is justification for embracing vows of poverty (for the church), because one must be willing to go through the 'eye of a needle"...be willing to give all your material goods...sell all you have and feed the poor, etc. etc. No "rights" there...only demands, duties, responsibilities...

The right in Scripture was granted to those in authority, such as government. But, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely *Lord Acton*, as Daniel challenged the King, as Luther challenged Roman Church,as Martin Luther King, jr, challenged the 'white folk', American Revolutionaries challenged the British Crown, as with all social reform, or movements of change. Conventional "wisdom" has its strength in guarding the gates of "tradition", but "tradition" can resist and oppress, when evidence demands change. Change happens over time. This is a fact, and aren't we overall "better for it"?

Tom Van Dyke said...

Angie, you are not participating in the discussion, you are overriding it. Please. Ayn Rand is out, irrelevant. So are the fundies. You must take a big long bong hit, or a pill. Or something. Read some Brian Tierney.

King of Ireland said...

Angie,

Go back and read what I have written about the "zone of autonomy" and it undermines the straw man you continue to put forth that the church has always supported authoritarian tyranny. Some branches have and others fought it.

I also have to agree that you are overidding the discussion not adding to it. The topic here is political theory and the middle ages. Ayn Rand really has nothing to do with it.

I think you have something to add but high jacking the threads to spout personal philosophical views that are more often than not tied to any historical context related to the theme of the blog is not helping your points to get through.

I hope you take this as Tom and I trying to help you and not hurt you in that him and I actually respond to you more than anyone which I think is proof that we value what you say. Just tweak it for relevance to the blog and theme of the specific post.

To be honest. OFT was banned for doing the same thing you are doing long ago. Since he is religious right it gets termed as un-wanted evangelism. But I see no difference between that and continuously using this blog to spout off personal truth claims from a philosophical point of view.

King of Ireland said...

Angie stated:

"As to your concern about license, "license" is only considered license to those that want to control another's choice."

A thought that taken to its logical conclusion supports Hitler's right to kill the jews if we take all discussion of the common good or morality out of the equation. Extreme relativism sans some sort of obligation to my neighbor, i.e. Morality, is catalyst to pure evil.

History teaches us this.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Because we are a nation of law and NOT of men, then we should not fear tyranny. We can appeal to the courts for a re-dress of grievances. Those that want to control others, usually do so, by breaking the law. And those that want absolute power, above the law, also do injustice. This was Hitler's case.

Laws protect citizen rights. The question then becomes, are all men to be given rights, irrespective of citizenship? why or why not? or is there a "middle ground"?

What is "license" according to international law? If you ask a Msulim, it is blasphemy laws, that protect Allah.

Jason_Pappas said...

KoI, (Joe?) I’m looking forward to your description and explanation of the state of “rights” during the early Middle Ages (i.e. pre-Aquinas). Of course the influence of Roman Law never completely disappeared and was codified under Justinian. I would have expected that there was some notion of “rights” even in rudimentary form. How far did it go? Was it only dissident scholars? What was the Bible’s role in your opinion?

TVD, I still think we have to have some broad discussion of the Bible if we are to address its influence in American politics. But this should be religion as the Founding Fathers (and their predecessors) saw it.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

The Constitution protects citizens, and those that are elected to be our public servants are to protect such rights, this is their oath of office, to uphold the Constitution.

We don't see that leaders, for the most part, are wanting to protect its citzenry, when interests lie outside our borders in contractual agreements with other nations, that benefit their monetary interests, particularly.


The Founders were interested in balancing and separating power. I imagine this is what the "vision" is fot the globe. And those at the top will be answerable to "who"? Beauracracy doesn't lend itself to open government, but abuses of power. And nation states that have vastly different interests than ours, cannot be allowed "equal footing" if we want to remain free. We have been discriminated against at the U.N., so, I don't see this organization as beneficial to further "good". Americans have power because we are a nation of laws that protect citizens property, and given incentive for citizens to work, produce, invent, innovate, ETC. The bleeding hearts love to play on our emotions so a false sense of guilt and responsibility will bring our complance. The "poor" are just as useful as the "Christians"....

King of Ireland said...

section to un-pack. I have hit on some of this in the past though. When I first came to the blog I went and read old posts on the topics that interested me to get up to speed on a discussion I was new too. It helped me a lot to see where all the contributors are coming from.

And of course I will be hitting on this theme in several more posts. I welcome questions to help me focus and feedback as I muddle through hoping to learn.

@Angie

I guess it all comes down to what kind of society people want. It seems our ancestors wanted a tolerant Christian one where they aspire to obey God's clear commands and prohibitions but still leave room for a zone of autonomy based on subjective rights to reject the evil and cling to good.

I would say that love of neighbor would have them realize just because they aspire to it does not mean everyone is on board and thus repsect differences in opinion that do the public no harm.

What that means in detail is a good debate. One that the Tea Party/Libertarian movement are having right now.
Nonetheless, you ignored my point about license and Hitler and once again are overriding the discussion in my view. If you cannot flow with the thread I will have to start just ignoring you and like I said I think you have something to offer so I do not want to.

Tom Van Dyke said...

TVD, I still think we have to have some broad discussion of the Bible if we are to address its influence in American politics. But this should be religion as the Founding Fathers (and their predecessors) saw it.

Perhaps it could be productive. My take is that the Bible was in the air they breathed. It's difficult for us to perceive that zeitgeist, spirit of the times.

I was struck by how much of Paine's Common Sense was biblical---we certainly don't expect that from the anti-biblical deist Thomas Paine.

http://americancreation.blogspot.com/2010/04/thomas-paines-common-sense-as-heard-by.html

But he knew his audience.

On the other hand, the Reformation's rejection of the Roman church's "Magisterium," the divine authority to interpret scripture, led to a proliferation of nearly uncountable Protestant sects. Scriptural authority gave way to "Judeo-Christian concepts."

Still, anything political that directly contradicted the Bible was unacceptable by most everybody, and did not find its way into law.

And let's remember that the Puritans wanted a scripturally governed "New Israel." But by the time of the Founding, they'd discovered that didn't exactly work, and the scriptural notion gave way to "governments are instituted by men," albeit still subject to natural law and noncontradiction of the scriptures, that noncontradiction being what I called in another thread "the biblical minimum." America was not going to be a quasi-theocratic New Israel, but neither was it going to become Babylon if they could help it.

But a New Israel wasn't in the cards. The first one didn't work out all that great either.

Jason_Pappas said...

Yes, you’re right it would be too difficult and contentious to explore the influences of Christianity in total. The zeitgeist is often taken for granted and left unexpressed by the people of the times.

Still, I think we’re taking an intelligent approach of dealing with the actual words of the Founders. Personally, I’m always more interested with how the Founders were inspired by Classical sources, Biblical sources, and contemporary sources than whether they were exactly right in their interpretations. It’s the Founders, after all, that I’m trying to understand.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

There is a difference istn't there between government and it development in classical/bibilical law and philosophy and the Christian nation 'idea"?

As to the zone of autonomy, this is important to defend, otherwise, domination and oppression wins over the society, whether that is "the fittest", or the "leader".

Tom Van Dyke said...

Angie, I think the first substantive "zone of autonomy" they came up with was being this kind of Protestant or that, this interpretation of a Biblical passage vs. that one.

The outstanding question in our discussions has been, how did this religious liberty, "freedom of conscience," translate into political liberty, "rights" and all that?

The possible answer is the Catholic [pre-Reformation-pre-1500s, actually, canon law, Aquinas, etc.] parallel tradition.

England and the English Civil Wars of the 1600s had both currents---Protestant [Calvinist, mostly Scottish] but also Catholic [Anglicanism, which in the US is now known as "Episcopal"], which was Roman Catholicism and "Catholic" thought with a change of management, Henry VIII instead of the Pope.

If Brian Tierney is right, this "canon law" thing is the "missing link." Britain used canon law in developing English "common law," which is what America started with.

And thank you for your sharp question and contribution to the discussion. I hadn't thought of it exactly this way before. I think JP will like it too. It was England alone that held Calvinism and Catholic thought in such even balance. Then it played out in America, with no pope to interfere.

Tom Van Dyke said...

And Jason, I completely agree with your approach. There is scholarly disagreement even today about the "real" John Locke, radical or Christian?

But the question that matters is how the Founders understood Locke, because that's what created our nation as we know it. The "real" Locke is a scholarly and academic discussion. The Founders' Locke is all that matters to historians, and to us, really.

King of Ireland said...

@Jason

The first truncated quote up top was in response to you the part that got cut off was thanking you for your good questions and stating that some of this ground has been covered here, some of that as Tpm stated need to be repeated, and some will get fleshed out more as we get into this.

Angie stated:

"There is a difference istn't there between government and it development in classical/bibilical law and philosophy and the Christian nation 'idea"?"

I tend to think so depending on what we label the Christian Nation Idea. Even Barton himself does not contend for at very least half of what people say he does when your read him.

I refer back to the secular straw-man post I did las t summer.

But with that said Angie there is a huge difference as far as the more Fundementalist CN versions go.

OFT and I would agree on some things and have to part ways on others. I think both sentiments can be found out the Founding as well.

I think you are finally getting where I am coming from.
@Tom

It seems that the founding generation consulted scripture(Revelation or clear commandments and prohibitions if you will) and reason (natural law or demostrations if you will)

The rub is Kant's and Aquinas belief in two types of reason, one given from God at creation and the other pure reason, and if Locke believed this as well. Amos makes a good case he does.

We are no where done with the reason vs. revelation idea here and it is because it is so central to understanding the founders and in my mind demonstrating where they would have seen someone like Rand or modern Libertarians that promote license and even anarchy as subversive to ordered liberty.

Tim Polack said...

I've been following along and thinking how can we get at how the Bible influenced the founders? I'm familiar with how evangelicals and fundamentalists read it today. And I'm familiar with how Catholics view it today as well as some past periods. But the founders lived in a time and place where the breadth of Protestant Christianity that covered the colonies and nation at that time was somewhat diverse. From the Anglican south to the more Calvinist north.

Tom, I only partially agree that it was in the air. It certainly was part of the fabric of culture, but the strength of rationalist and Whig thought at that time became quite heavy as well. Any suggestions on books that may illuminate this? Bailyn touches on it some in his Ideological Origins, but not enough I don't think for this discussion.

Enjoying the thread and also agree with the idea that tying the medieval thought into the founders understanding of things like natural law is important to a fuller understanding.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Tom,
Ludwig von Mises Institute is giving on online course on Libertarian legal theory beginning the end of January.

I believe that America was founded not just for religious conscience, but "GOLD" (the religious forgot the "L" :))...political liberty to pursue one's dreams for "private property" motivates and stimulates individuals to further their own interests, which ultimately benefits society. This is what political freedom is about.

So, reason (egoism, personal interests) as well as conscience (revelation via instpiration, or ideals) was what underwrote our Republican values.

Joe Winpisinger said...

Angie,

Much of property law came from Canon Law. Like or not it started from imago dei and worked itself from there. Tierney follows this evolution. I suggest reading the book review at very least and perhaps buying and reading the book. The first part is free on google books.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Joe,

This is a good series of posts. I will look for something by Robert Kraynak that responds to Tierney and post on the main page.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Tom, I only partially agree that it was in the air. It certainly was part of the fabric of culture, but the strength of rationalist and Whig thought at that time became quite heavy as well.

Well, the first thing is the question "Which Enlightenment?" It all gets lumped together, Hume, Voltaire and Rousseau along with Locke, Sidney, and the Thomist and Calvinist political theologies. For instance, the Calvinist clergyman and political theologian John Ponet, of whose work John Adams wrote:

"[it] contains all the essential principles of liberty, which were afterwards dilated on by Sidney and Locke..."

As a starting point, Gertrude Himmelfarb, perhaps. You need not agree, but her argument should have a place at the table.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/mar/09/politics.society

Angie Van De Merwe said...

@ Joe,
Thanks for the recommendation.

@ Tom,
Thanks for the reference and summery.

I am not arguing that reason is some sort of "lone ranger" objective ideal, but that reason is a person's reasoning within his givennes (innate nature, and personality). So, while every human has a "mind", each mind is different. And these differences, are NOT just cultural, environmental differences (Blank Slate), but are diffferent in kind.
How else can two people who grow up in the same family, differ so vastly? It is genetic determination.

But, I don't think reason within the context of genetics is determinative, either, as I do believe that we do become what we are exposed to...therefore, I did NOT say that inpsiration ccmes from revelation, BUT, that revelation cames from inspiration!

The fundies or evangelical types are those that believe that texts are revelation and that the "holy spirit" speaks through the text or that the "holy spirit' has spoken through the text...

I believe that revelation (education about oneself) comes through inspiration (encouragment and environmental).

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Jon,
I would be interested in reading a post on Robert Kraynack...if it differs from Tierny...

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Does anyone correlate the "Tea Party" movement with the conservatism of the Founding Fathers? And is the "Tea Party" a revolution of the "masses" for being disrespected regarding some important issues of national and personal interests? If so, then haven't the intellectual elite been guilty of creating our "culture wars"?

Tom Van Dyke said...

Angie, the fundies of 2010 aren't really relevant.

I suppose we need to revisit the Founding era's distrust of "pure" reason. Not only did the Calvinists see man's reason as "fallen" but if you take a look at David Hume, who was pretty much atheistic, you see that he saw reason as a slave to man's passions as well.

On this subject, all POVs were in rough agreement. We've popped through a number of Founder quotes like John Adams', but I admit I forget where they are at the moment. But we gotta think 18th century, not the 21st.

Jonathan Rowe said...

I suppose we need to revisit the Founding era's distrust of "pure" reason. Not only did the Calvinists see man's reason as "fallen" but if you take a look at David Hume, who was pretty much atheistic, you see that he saw reason as a slave to man's passions as well.

On this subject, all POVs were in rough agreement. We've popped through a number of Founder quotes like John Adams', but I admit I forget where they are at the moment. But we gotta think 18th century, not the 21st.


I don't think this is right and I think I've been letting you get away with saying something like this for too long.

"Pure reason" creates a straw man. The FFs most certainly DID NOT, as a consensus, view man's mental faculties as "totally deprived" like the Calvinists did either.

As per James Wilson, they saw, "reason," "the senses" and "revelation" all working together. And "revelation" was not qualified, as some would have it, as an inerrant, infallible biblical canon. God spoke to man, thru Nature and, perhaps through an errant, fallible, incomplete Bible, with reason, guided thru common sense, as his guide.

That's as much as I'd give you for Wilson to speak on behalf of the FFs as a "consensus."

But this moderate Enlightenment view placed a great deal MORE confidence in man's reasons (and "the senses") to figure things out than the Calvinists "total depravity" did.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Jon, I'm not claiming the Calvinist view was normative. It was not.

And neither does the Calvinist "total depravity" amount to a negation of reason. Max Calvinist preacher Jonathan Edwards was one of the most reasonable, sophisticated, and well-read men of the pre-Founding era!

I'm quite willing to stick with Hume, John Adams, etc. They're on record with their distrust of "pure" human reason.

Jon, the "natural law" argument is impossible without the use of reason. No one is arguing that scripture alone holds truth.

Madison in Federalist 10:

"As long as the reason of man continues to be fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed..."

And from Federalist 55, on virtue [and depravity]:


As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust, so there are other qualities in human nature which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be, that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self-government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another.

Actually, as Peter Lawler argues, the confluence of the Enlightenment's adoration of reason and the Calvinst's utter distrust of it led to a synthesis that amounted to a Thomistic ["Catholic"] semi-Pelagianism!

http://patrickdeneen.blogspot.com/2008/09/peter-lawlers-america-rightly.html

Angie Van De Merwe said...

No one answered my questions about the "Tea Party". Because government leaders were acting as if the American people did not know what was best for them, there has been an uprising. Is this because of "passion"? or egoism/identity issues? or a sense of being duped and used? For whatever the real reason is, the American people have woken up, and they are sick and tired of government not acting accountable to the people/as representative.

Paternalistic government acting as if its "reason", as to social issues, is beyond reproach, and yet, unethical in their dealing with the American people as a whole, are not to be trusted in public office. Government is also to be accountable by tranparency, not obstruction, confiscation, and manipulating the population through propaganda, limited information, and black-balling/black-mailing those that don't go along with their "goals".

It seems that there is real concern on this blog about 'virtue". Virtue must first be seen in our public servants, so the they set an example of honesty, integrity, and overal ethical behavior, otherwise, they don't need to pretend they will influence America "for the good".

Reason, as I am using it, is according to one's interest, whether that is to intelletucal commitments, or personal commitments. Is this a passion, mis-directed? Or is man to not have liberty in these regards?

Men always have passion about their interests, and the liberty to pursue those 'ends' is what our country values in liberty of conscience. We all will not be interested in the same things. That is to be expected.

Depravity or deprivity is the argument that is being posed. Didn't the Founders for the most part believe that man was not to be trusted with absolute power? This was there purpose in balancing power? Self-governance isn't to be trusted? Why? If we are not self-governing, then who is to be our authority? Isn't this the definition of tyranny?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Sorry to have another entry, but it may be pertinent to why I can't "read" what others are really meaning.

Whenever virtue is discuess, I find myself withdrawing,as there must a defined definition that is agree upon. I think Joe referred to this as "the good".

I have been a part of groups where the leaders had the 'idea in mind' about what virtue was, but had not overtly presented their view. These assumptions, though common and frequent, were the basis of much misunderstanding and conflict.

As people do change their views, or come to change their values during the "seasons of life", there can also be a limitation to understanding this change, or allowing enough room for people to come to different outcomes and commitments than expected, etc.

Perhaps, because of these experiences, I don't appreciate the talk about virtue. Virtue always smacks of another's judgment, which ends up being another's vision or purpose being imposed. Many parents can be so controlling of their child's development. And it hinders the child from finding their own way, and limits their ability to struggle with themselves, and those they respect, as they grow toward adulthood and into their own person.

Autonomy has been dismissed as "wrong". Though there are limitations to autonomy, in that humans do need society to function in, different groups to meet different needs, values or passions, autonomy is not an absolute in one sense. But, autonomy is absolute in another sense of the human right to be a "person" that has come into his own, not another's image.

Anonymous said...

The book looks interesting, I'll check it out.

Seems like this fairly new book would be good to look more closely at how the Bible "was in the air"? Though it doesn't cover the critical Constitutional period.
http://www.amazon.com/God-Liberty-Religious-American-Revolution/dp/0465002358/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1294287383&sr=1-1

Tim Polack said...

I clicked off the wrong radio button...

Tom Van Dyke said...

No one answered my questions about the "Tea Party".

And I don't think we should, or will, Angie.

The informal rule at this blog---which contributors and commenters alike honor---is NO current politics.

It makes everything turn into shit in a bigtime hurry, and sets everybody at each other's throats. Sarah Palin and President Obama are OUT!

[Mostly.]

________________

Anonymous, God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution by Thomas S. Kidd sounds interesting.

Dr. Kidd is a professor at Baylor, which although sort of religious/Christian, is still seen as a legitimate scholarly institute, and so is Kidd.

I've caught him on various media [print, TV], and think he's ace, and neither has the "scholarly academy" dismissed him yet. In fact, I featured one of his essays here:

http://americancreation.blogspot.com/2010/11/tom-kidd-on-elections-baptists.html

All in due time, in due time. And this blog regularly gives our mainpage over to guest bloggers, so if you have a review of the Kidd book, just contact one of us and if it's semi-literate, we'll put you out.

Tim Polack said...

Thanks Tom. I'm not sure if I'll read that next or not; I’ll let you know if I do. I did just get done reading "The Founders and the Classics" by Carl J. Richard, which was in response to John Pappas' question in his post on Oct. 18, "There still the nagging question: what exactly did the Founding Fathers learn from reading Cicero? What can Cicero’s works tell us about the Founding generation?"
I'm not so sure the book can effectively answer those questions as much as I'd hoped, but it helped me with a topic I'm fairly new to.
As for the purpose of this post, Mark Noll has a short but valuable summary of the topic of "The Contingencies of Christian Republicanism" as a response (alternative account) to Michael Zuckert's "Protestantism and the American Founding." I read it in hopes of shedding more light on the Bible/religion's role in the founding. While Noll states how “a number of impressive studies have begun to make the case for how that religious influence actually worked,” he doesn’t actually go into detail elucidating any of these mechanisms…he does provide full list of references though.
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CBgQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.luc.edu%2Fpoliticalscience%2Fengeman%2Fnoll.doc&rct=j&q=the%20contingencies%20of%20christian%20republicanism%20noll&ei=oA8mTcazNtSNnQeOg7DwAQ&usg=AFQjCNEYCYme2SSlUsxqCBYFo9qWLg6naQ&sig2=4CtRPKjEBZVfT00pVHwBtQ&cad=rja

King of Ireland said...

Jon stated:

"Joe,

This is a good series of posts. I will look for something by Robert Kraynak that responds to Tierney and post on the main page."

Thanks for the compliment. Look forward to the post on Kraynak.

King of Ireland said...

Jon,

As I objected before when Fea's book was previewed here: Total Depravity and Fallen can be considered two totally different things in some fairly main stream Christian thought.

I think Fea has the most damaging challenge to the Secular Enlightment Founding idea when he states that the seeing man in at least some sort of fallen state goes completely against the Enlightenment idea of man's innate goodness.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, King. Man's "innate goodness" is Rousseau, his "noble savage," that "society" somehow perverts.

The Founding was not Rousseauean, it was from the Scottish Common Sense Enlightenment via Dr. John Witherspoon, the clergyman, head of what is now Princeton, and the teacher of many Founders including Madison. Witherspoon was also a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

And as I just learned today, Scottish Enlightenment "common sense" was tied to the idea of an "innate moral sense," a topic and concept we have not discussed, but in which virtually all the Founders believed.

Locke and Hume would disagree with an innate moral sense, but the Founding era did not. You can find it as a thread running through the Founding era literature. It was "in the air," and I would say it was a given. [It's a corollary of "natural law" theory, per Romans 1.]

Joe Winpisinger said...

"Locke and Hume would disagree with an innate moral sense, but the Founding era did not."

Amos hits on this and makes a compelling case that this is simply not the case and is a misreading of Locke because of the ignorance of Canon Law theology. He quotes Tierney a lot and since Amos is a hot button I just started with Tierney but will get to this at some point. In short, the idea is that Locke believed in two types of reason. When he said that we were a blank slate some think he was talking about practical reason not God stamping the natural law on our hearts at Creation reason or whatever people want to call it.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Joe,
Today, we understand that neuroscience affirms that the brain is "encoded with memory". Therefore, one's environment affects one's understanding, or "frame".

But, also, there must be some sort of "category" or concept that fits universal words, which differ as to language. Categories are universal, if there is to be communication, the understanding of these concepts and the importance of them differ from culture to culture, due to language.

How did different languages develop? How did different emphasis' develop...due to "needs of survival", "environmental differences", etc.? Linguistics has the answer, I would assume.

Angie Van De Merwe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
secularsquare said...

The promised philosophical aside:

I believe that natural rights can be more firmly established on the commands of natural law to seek good rather than on those “demonstrations” that natural law neither commands nor forbids. According to natural law, I have a duty to seek that which is good for me in order to fulfill my human nature. Because I seek my natural needs, this can serve as the basis for making a “rights claim” against others not to interfere with my pursuit of my natural needs and for the government to protect or create conditions under which I can pursue those needs. Those things which are good for me, because they fulfill my species specific needs, also are good for every other human being. They, too, have a duty to pursue their needs and possess claim rights against me not to obstruct their efforts. In this way, natural rights are universalized to apply to all.

Consequently, the commands of natural law appear to be a much surer foundation for establishing natural rights than the “demonstrations,” or neutral sphere of personal choice “(p.445).

Basing natural rights on “neutral sphere” I believe leads to Mill's utilitarianism. In this instance, a person claims the right to choose whatever leads to personal happiness in the sense of the psychological state that comes from getting whatever it is he wants. This kind of happiness differs, of course, from happiness in the Aristotelian ethical sense of getting what he needs.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

The right to what is "good" for the individual is "what"? Is this "good" a universal "good", or a personal character development "good"? Who is to define the "good"? one's family who needs that individual's good, or some "other authority" or anyone has a claim on another? If so, then who is to say that another has a claim, if one is not legally bound?
When people have equal "right" to not be obstructed in seeking to pursue their "need", is that need a universal need or a specified need? And is that "need" defined only as a survival need, or any need, such as emotional, social, etc.? Who is to determine whether they indeed have that need, or not? If one is not to obstruct that "need" then, is it a negative "right" and not a "positive demand" of "duty", or obligation? If it is a "duty", then who is to enforce such duty? Does every human have the right, then, to demand that all their needs be met, by Maslow's hierarchy of needs?
If so, then one benefits at the costs of the other, it seems to me.

What is your opinion of Ayn Rand's view of self-interst as a beneficial system that maintains the tension between parties, benefitting both parties? Your analysis seems to demand "duty" to another, that I don't find to be especially formible. People choose thier relationships, unless one believes in "Planned Relationships". Such would be the case of the woman in Islamic society to marry the chosen "mate". It is her duty to marry the one chosen. They each have a natural right to have thier needs met. This sounds like co-ercive means of relating to another, which in our society isn't "kosher".

secularsquare said...

Wow. Not sure how to answer all those question.
Natural law commands that we seek the good and that reason identifies the particular goods sought. Maybe life, liberty,and pursuit of happiness? The latter phrase is an Aristotelian term "eudaimonia" which means "thriving" or "flourishing." That means seeking those things which are good for us. Human beings share the shame general biological and psychological goods or needs. Some basics include food, clothing shelter, education, and friendships. These are negative rights in that society is bound NOT to deprive people of their pursuit of these goods. They are NOT positive rights that require others to provide them for each individual.

Ayn Rand . . . never read her.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Thanks, secular square. That relieves me. You're not a "communist" :-).

Of course, any humane person want to live in a society that does not prevent them from seeking and finding the "good". That is why I love this country. I think we take too much for granted.