What this Lecture Is A deliberately provocative title Is Roman Catholic Political Philosophy a contradiction, like a square circle? This lecture is a reflection upon political things from within the Roman Catholic tradition
What is the Question? Why should the politician (or anyone?) be interested in what Catholics have to say? More negatively, why should the politician not kill the philosopher?
Grace Builds Upon Nature Because the secular world can only arrive at the truth it seeks if it allows itself to be open the to truths of Revelation as offered by theology.
What is Political Philosophy? Today, political philosophy is one of the few areas in which all things come together and must be sorted out. To understand political things we need to understand history, religion, ethics, science, manners, and all pertinent aspects of culture. Yet, politics looks at what is to be done but done for a good. – Fr. James Schall S. J., Zenit interview 2005-09-10
What is Political Philosophy? Political philosophy is one of the fundamental paths that the human intellect can begin to take to a knowledge of all that is
Classical Political Philosophy As long as Aristotle and the Judeo-Christian tradition dominated the thought of the West, the place of politics was limited….Politics did not construct man, but accepted him from nature as something already formed. Politics strove to make man good, not to make man as such, or at least it tried to prevent the worst, which it could at least understand. – Fr. James Schall S. J., Reason, Revelation, and the Foundations of Political Philosophy p 129
The Death of Christ and the Death of Socrates Both Socrates and Christ were killed by the best existing states of their time.
Modernity: What Is It? Philosophy gets into enormous difficulty when it claims that the wholeness of reality is itself coterminous with what it actually knows by its own methods. The two founders of modern philosophy are Machiavelli and Descartes. The essence lies in the claim that man is himself, both in morals and metaphysics, autonomous. Modernity is a will-centered autonomy that has no criterion except itself.
Modern Political Philosophy Modern politics has taken tasks upon itself that it cannot possibly complete The Definition of Man Eternal Justice
What is Man? At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. – Justice Stevens If our culture defines what is human not from what we ought to do but what we do do or what we might do with no limits on ourselves, from whence might we acquire standards with which we might criticize the way we live as inhuman. – Fr. James Schall S. J.
Justitia Fiat, Ruat Coelum Let justice be done even though the heavens fall No Roman ever said this
The Decline of Ancient Philosophy Stoics were the most popular philosophers of the ancient world Justice is too terrible a virtue to be faced squarely Pietas suggested that there are some debts that can never be repaid
The Decline of the West …Western civilization, the civilization with universal purpose, must directly come under attack if an alternate structure of man, rooted in the denial of any claim to a right order of human things, is to exist. – Fr. James Schall S. J.
What does Revelation offer to Modernity? The New Testament is not a book of economic or political theory, or if it is, it is a very poor one. Revelation evidently was initially intended to instruct men on what they could not know by themselves, not what they could. – Fr. James Schall S. J.
What does Revelation offer to Modernity? Neither politics, religion, or morality make man to be man. Seek first the Kingdom, and these things will be added unto you – Matthew 6:33 The New Testament is not the Law, but the Word made Flesh Government is not a necessary evil – Romans 13:1-7 Two Swords – Luke 22:38
A Little Perspective The fate of nations, however exciting and capable of being made to seem more important than it is, is not the central focus of political philosophy which points through the city to what transcends it. It points to beings capable of being saved or damned, to beings capable of praise, of responding to the glory that man did not make. – Fr. James Schall, S. J. If man were the highest being, politics would be the highest science - Aristotle Politics 1141a20-22
Let Politics be Politics Since Catholicism is not a political movement, it frees political things to be political things. It does not encourage them, as so often happens in modernity, to be confused with religion or metaphysics, or become, in effect, substitutes for them. – Fr. James Schall S. J., Zenit interview 2005-09-10
Eschatological Politics The rejection of chiliasm (Joachim of Flora, the idea that history will produce a Kingdom of God on earth) means that the Church repudiated the idea of a definitive intra-historical fulfillment, an inner, intrinsic perfectibility of history. The Christian hope knows no idea of an inner fulfillment of history. On the contrary, it affirms the impossibility of an inner fulfillment of the world….It is healthy for politics to learn that its own content is not eschatological. The setting asunder of eschatology and politics is one of the fundamental tasks of Christian theology. -Pope Benedict XVI, Eschatology
The Peoples of the Book Both the Muslims and the Jews share a revelation that is first and foremost the Law Only in Christianity is Revelation primarily a Person
You would have no authority over Me… Indeed, Christianity requires that the Roman Empire be legitimate. The central doctrine of Christianity is that Christ was punished for the sin of Adam. If the magistrate who sentenced Jesus was not an appropriate judge, then the suffering of Jesus was not a punishment, and we are not saved. Only the representative of the government of the whole world could have had the authority to inflict punishment on He Who suffered for the whole world. – John Reilly
Pope v. Emperor Investiture Controversy Public funding of religious schools
We must not follow those who advise us, being men, to think of human things, and being mortal, of mortal things, but must, so far as we can, make ourselves immortal, and strain every nerve to live in accordance with the best thing in us; for even if it be small in bulk, much more does it in power and worth surpass everything. - Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics 1177b31- 78a2