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Showing posts from March 5, 2017

Conserving America? Essays On Present Discontents, Patrick J. Deneen (IV)

Dr. Deneen continues the discussion of democracy and its underpinnings by citing Santayana to the effect that virtue and virtuous citizens are necessary for the preservation of democracy. But as we have seen, if the division of labor and autonomous "liberty" have severed people from their sources of knowledge and morality, the "virtues" actually inculcated are personal desires, and self-preservation. Indeed, Deneen argues that self-preservation is the motivating force in the liberal political order, if its assumptions about humans in the state of nature are correct. A contradiction is introduced, then, between fidelity to professed virtues such as self-sacrifice, and that which liberalism actually rewards. The occasion of the commemoration of noted Union general Robert Gould Shaw provided William James the opportunity to reflect on the difference between more conspicuous virtue, such as dying in battle, and less conspicuous virtue, in this case, a willingness to b

Conserving America? Essays On Present Discontents, By Patrick J. Deneen (III)

The third essay in Dr. Deneen's collection is called, "Citizenship As A Vocation." (There appears to be some confusion between the essay titles, and the table of contents.) Deneen picks up Tocqueville's contention that democratic man is "restless" or "restive" (depending on translation) and uses that as a starting point, and more like a central hub, to which he returns multiple times from various angles. Tocqueville elaborates that democratic man is flighty, for lack of a better term, inconstant, owing to his fear of death, which even wins out over a desire for contentment. The problem, says the French theorist, is the openness of democratic societies, and democratic man's materialism in a double sense: a belief that most things have a natural explanation--as opposed to a supernatural one--and in the accumulation of things, ostensibly to distract from the fear of death. Before we go on with Dr. Deneen's application of Tocqueville, and

It Couldn't Wait (CCC, 2241)

Here's the Catechism, specifically on immigration. These are a challenging couple of paragraphs. But I understand that by the use of the words "natural right" in the first paragraph that it is ordinarily not morally licit to deny entry to a foreigner, absent evidence of a concrete threat to the common good. That is, the mere fact of being a foreigner does not make one a threat to the common good. Moreover, if all people possess the natural right to emigrate from one place to another, then it cannot be morally licit for a government to forcibly remove an immigrant from its territory, for no other reason than he or she is in a country "illegally." It is morally acceptable or licit to treat citizens and non-citizens unalike, provided that the natural right to move to a new country and make a life is not unduly impeded. I do not make any bold claims that any Catholic who happens to be wrong about this does not love Christ or the Church. But I can say for certai