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« on: November 27, 2011, 06:20:14 PM »

After reading through the thread on Contraception and the Natural Law, I felt that it was becoming increasingly clear that the discussion was going in circles for the very reason that the Eastern Orthodox posters who object to Natural Law theory have no concept of what Natural Law is. Therefore, I thought it was important, for the sake of moving the conversation forward, to dicuss what Natural Law is not. Once we have removed misconceptions regarding the Natural Law, then we can proceed to discuss what it actually is.

What Natural Law is Not
   When one surveys modern discussion on the ethical theory of Natural Law, one will come across an astounding fact. The concept of Natural Law is grossly misunderstood by many people, including some who are educated concerning philosophical and theological issues. One casual example can be found here at a popular Eastern Orthodox forum: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,21230.225.html

At post 255, one Eastern Orthodox Priest states,
“The 'Natural Law' is a tricky thing. We had a dairy farm and while I never saw either bulls or cows giving one another oral sex, it was not uncommon to see bulls enjoying anal sex with one another. It seems to be part of the Natural Law and certainly I cannot see any way to lecture them on morality and persuade them to see it as evil and contrary to the Natural Law.”


His argument takes the form of a sort of a reductio ad absurdum, where one follows the logic of an argument to a ridiculous conclusion, in order demonstrate the absurdity of the argument. Basically, this priest is suggesting that if one looks to the natural or intended purposes of sexuality, one finds that the oral and anal sex are contrary to such goals. Thus, in animals, if they engage in such things, then they are guilty of morally depraved actions. Of course the conclusion is absurd because animals are never held to be morally responsible for their actions. For this reason, the priest rejects Natural Law theory as a faulty in its foundations.
However, he does not reach this erroneous position because there is a defect in Natural Law theory. Rather, its because his argument contains a an implied premise that is false. That premise is that man and animals relate to God's ordering of reality in the same way. This is incorrect. Animals participate in the Eternal Law of God in a lesser way when compared to man. As Aquinas states, “Now among all others, the rational creature is subject to Divine providence in the most excellent way, in so far as it partakes of a share of providence, by being provident for itself and for others.”, The manner in which man partakes of the Eternal Law of God, is in that he can make rational decisions with regard to such a rule, and thus, his actions take the form of moral acts. As a result, when man acts contrary to this order, he can be said to be guilty of sin or moral defect. Animals, on the other hand, because they do not possess the power of reason, cannot be held responsible for their actions. Thus, everything they do is the result of of instinct for aimed towards survival. True, some actions of animals may not be the result of the direct will of God in through his Eternal Law, and, for this reason might be viewed by man as somewhat distasteful. Yet, such acts might be considered matters of defect in the material order due its limited nature. In any case, the lesson that can be drawn from this matter is that the Natural Law is not simply a teleological code of conduct intended for all created beings. Rather, it is “the rational creature's participation of the eternal law”.

Further on in this conversation, at post number two-hundred sixty five, another Eastern Orthodox posters mocks the philosophy of Natural law, stating, “You're the ones basing your 'morality' on what happens in nature. Not us.” He, thus, charges Natural Law philosophers with holding the particularly grave error that if something happens in nature, then it is “natural”, and what is “natural” is, therefore good. Given this view of Natural Law, just about any grave crime can be justified. For example, it is often suggested that because animals sometimes engage in what appear to be homosexual acts, that they then must be “natural and are morally justified”. Another example is the sexual impulse in man. It can be argued, via this particular view of Natural Law, that sex is “natural” and the desire to have sex with many people is equally “natural”; therefore, one should conclude that fornication and adultery are morally justified acts. As result of such thinking, one would have to adopt the “if it feels good, do it” philosophy. Consequently, the  Eastern Orthodox poster in this forum believes that a Natural Law philosophy is entirely untenable.
However, as in the case of the Priest's reasoning discussed above, this poster is also guilty of faulty thinking. He has engaged in the material fallacy known as “equivocation”. The terms “natural” does not mean the same thing in this posters argument as it does in Thomistic Natural Law theory. In the former case, naturally merely means what comes easily or what happens in the natural world. However, in the case Natural Law, “natural” refers to the fact that the moral law can be know by means of natural reason, apart from supernatural revelation. For this reason, Aquinas calls it “the light of natural reason, whereby we discern what is good and what is evil”. What is more, it is called “natural” because “according to the order of natural inclinations, is the order and precepts of natural law.”Or, in other words, the natural law ethics, which are not determined by the desires that come most easily to man, are determined by the objective inclinations or purposes of man's nature.
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« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2011, 06:29:20 PM »

Maybe horses having anal sex ain't natural law, but is riding a dead horse, you know in a non-sexual way?
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« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2011, 06:30:07 PM »

Maybe horses having anal sex ain't natural law, but is riding a dead horse, you know in a non-sexual way?

 Cheesy well done.
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« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2011, 03:18:28 PM »

Maybe horses having anal sex ain't natural law, but is riding a dead horse, you know in a non-sexual way?

Only if you beat it first  Wink.
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« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2012, 05:21:30 PM »

I was just rereading this, and it sorts of epitomizes what is wrong with Thomist Natural Law theory:
Quote
Article 2. Whether virginity is unlawful?

Objection 1. It would seem that virginity is unlawful. For whatever is contrary to a precept of the natural law is unlawful. Now just as the words of Genesis 2:16, "Of every tree" that is in "paradise, thou shalt eat," indicate a precept of the natural law, in reference to the preservation of the individual, so also the words of Genesis 1:28, "Increase and multiply, and fill the earth," express a precept of the natural law, in reference to the preservation of the species. Therefore just as it would be a sin to abstain from all food, as this would be to act counter to the good of the individual, so too it is a sin to abstain altogether from the act of procreation, for this is to act against the good of the species.

Objection 2. Further, whatever declines from the mean of virtue is apparently sinful. Now virginity declines from the mean of virtue, since it abstains from all venereal pleasures: for the Philosopher says (Ethic. ii, 2), that "he who revels in every pleasure, and abstains from not even one, is intemperate: but he who refrains from all is loutish and insensible." Therefore virginity is something sinful.

Objection 3. Further, punishment is not due save for a vice. Now in olden times those were punished who led a celibate life, as Valerius Maximus asserts [Dict. Fact. Mem. ii, 9. Hence according to Augustine (De Vera Relig. iii) Plato "is said to have sacrificed to nature, in order that he might atone for his perpetual continency as though it were a sin." Therefore virginity is a sin.
http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3152.htm

It starts off with an appeal to the authority of revelation, a rather odd (but typical) resort of a system which claims to base itself on reason.  Genesis 1:28 was revealed to us.  Ipso facto, it is not part of the "Natural Law" (although it might agree with it, or rather, vice versa).  According to the OP's Master, "Natural Law is the rational creature's participation of the eternal law," and "Natural Law" is therefore not the believers' obedience to the revealed law.  As such, Genesis 1:28 has no place in any "Natural Law" argument.  Instead Natural Law has to argue, as the Vatican does on the issue of contraception and "natural sex," from reason, and reason alone:
Quote
1956 The natural law, present in the heart of each man and established by reason, is universal in its precepts and its authority extends to all men. It expresses the dignity of the person and determines the basis for his fundamental rights and duties:

For there is a true law: right reason. It is in conformity with nature, is diffused among all men, and is immutable and eternal; its orders summon to duty; its prohibitions turn away from offense .... To replace it with a contrary law is a sacrilege; failure to apply even one of its provisions is forbidden; no one can abrogate it entirely. (Cicero, Rep. III, 22, 33)
http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P6U.HTM
(as I have noted before, it is interesting that the Vatican, in what purports to be a Catechism of the Catholic Christian Faith, has to resort to the authority of a pagan Stoic (but, admittedly, a Latin Roman) for its assertion of it as a basis for Christian morality,ethics and "man's vocation: life in the Spirit").
Quote
Observing the Natural Law

11. The sexual activity, in which husband and wife are intimately and chastely united with one another, through which human life is transmitted, is, as the recent Council recalled, "noble and worthy.''  (See Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World of Today, no. 49: AAS 58 (1966), 1070 [TPS XI, 291-292].) It does not, moreover, cease to be legitimate even when, for reasons independent of their will, it is foreseen to be infertile. For its natural adaptation to the expression and strengthening of the union of husband and wife is not thereby suppressed. The fact is, as experience shows, that new life is not the result of each and every act of sexual intercourse. God has wisely ordered laws of nature and the incidence of fertility in such a way that successive births are already naturally spaced through the inherent operation of these laws. The Church, nevertheless, in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life. (See Pius XI. encyc. letter Casti connubi: AAS 22 (1930), 560; Pius XII, Address to Midwives: AAS 43 (1951), 843.)
Quote
Union and Procreation

12. This particular doctrine, often expounded by the magisterium of the Church, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act.

The reason is that the fundamental nature of the marriage act, while uniting husband and wife in the closest intimacy, also renders them capable of generating new life—and this as a result of laws written into the actual nature of man and of woman. And if each of these essential qualities, the unitive and the procreative, is preserved, the use of marriage fully retains its sense of true mutual love and its ordination to the supreme responsibility of parenthood to which man is called. We believe that our contemporaries are particularly capable of seeing that this teaching is in harmony with human reason.


Faithfulness to God's Design

13. Men rightly observe that a conjugal act imposed on one's partner without regard to his or her condition or personal and reasonable wishes in the matter, is no true act of love, and therefore offends the moral order in its particular application to the intimate relationship of husband and wife. If they further reflect, they must also recognize that an act of mutual love which impairs the capacity to transmit life which God the Creator, through specific laws, has built into it, frustrates His design which constitutes the norm of marriage, and contradicts the will of the Author of life. Hence to use this divine gift while depriving it, even if only partially, of its meaning and purpose, is equally repugnant to the nature of man and of woman, and is consequently in opposition to the plan of God and His holy will. But to experience the gift of married love while respecting the laws of conception is to acknowledge that one is not the master of the sources of life but rather the minister of the design established by the Creator. Just as man does not have unlimited dominion over his body in general, so also, and with more particular reason, he has no such dominion over his specifically sexual faculties, for these are concerned by their very nature with the generation of life, of which God is the source.
"Human life is sacred—all men must recognize that fact," Our predecessor Pope John XXIII recalled. "From its very inception it reveals the creating hand of God." (See encyc. letter Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), 447 [TPS VII, 331]. )
As such, it could, for instance, reason from the fact that every human being normally is born from sex and with a sex to to have sex to reproduce.  As we have seen on the Contraception and Natural Law thread and elsewhere:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,21230.msg504637.html#msg504637
(part of the conversation referenced in the OP)
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,29748.msg472364.html#msg472364
and even argued by the OP:
Neither does coitus interruptus.
Actually, coitus interruptus does violate the natural law. I believe that St. Thomas Aquinas argues quite effectively that the nature of semen is to be ejaculated into the Vagina. In fact, if you read the bible, Onus was killed for his act of coitus interruptus.
According to your patristics, it is an outrage against the nature of sex to indulge during the non-fertile periods.
I am not arguing from patristics at this point, just from reason. But if you want to talk Patristics, the Catholic position is MUCH MUCH MUCH more in line with the spirit of the Fathers than the EO position, which basically ignores them and then pretends like the EO Church has never changed.
How about using "ABC" during the non-fertile periods?
What would be the purpose of using ABC during the non-fertile periods? I don't even see how this is an objection. If anything, I would call it a sophism on your part.
It closes one off from being "open to life."
1. NFP is open to life because it should not be used with a contraceptive mentalilty ("I am only going to have x number of kids and that is it").
2. Did I even use the term "open to life" in my argument?
According to St. Clement, during the non-fertile period.
1. Clarify and quote.
2. You think the Fathers were all around wrong about birth control, so you don't really have a leg to stand on here. At least our position is much closer to the spirit of the Fathers. Perhaps some of them were wrong on some of the particulars of the matter, but the spirit of what they taught, and their consensus is correct. We are in line with that. You are not.
How about "orally consumated sex"?
The penis is obviously not evolved/designed for the mouth, but matches the female anatomy quite impressively. It would be contrary to the natural law to "consumate" orally. Again, St. Thomas Aquinas makes some good arguments about where semen is supposed to end up.
Once it has made its rational argument that semen has as its only end ejaculation into a fertile womb, and for each man and each woman (as Lactantius insisted, quoted in the links above) "the genital [’generating’] part of the body, as the name itself teaches, has been received by us for no other purpose than the generation of offspring," so a penis has as its "natural end" insertion into a vagina, which has no "natural end" other than to receive its sperm and conceive,  Natural Law can then procede to the issue of frustrating those natural ends by refusing to engage in generation, i.e. virginity.

Aquinas' strawman objector then appeals to the authority of the philosophers as he did to revelation.  Philosophical schools tend to cause problems because, having studied the issues, they tend to dogmatize their answers, and the lack of the wall of separation between School and Church under the Vatican allowed Scholasticism to flourish as a religion much as Confucianism or Taoism.  Aristotle and Plato become the peer of Moses and the Apostles.  Rather than "the rational creature's participation of the eternal law," Natural Law means here no more than rational creature suspending his reason and accepting the Philosophers' opinions as revealed dogma, rationalizing with a religious veneer notions not revealed.  Noonan, to return to the example of contraception which spawned this thread, sums this up nicely:
Quote
If one asks, then, where the Christian Fathers derived their notions on marital intercourse—notions which have no express biblical basis — the answer must be, chiefly from the Stoics. In the case of such an early and influential teacher as Clement of Alexandria, the direct descent is obvious; his work on the purposes of marriage is a paraphrase of works of Musonius. In the second century, Origen’s standard for intercourse in pregnancy is clearly Seneca’s. In the third century, Lactantius’ remarks on the obvious purpose of the generative faculties echo Ocellus Lucanus. In the fourth century, Jerome’s most austere remarks are taken from Seneca. It is not a matter of men expressing simply truths which common sense might suggest to anyone with open eyes. It is a matter of a doctrine consciously appropriated [from the Stoics, ephasis added]. The descent is literary, the dependence substantial.
John T. Noonan, Jr., Contraception (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1966), 48.

This continues to crop up as a leitmotiv throughout the Summa, positing the problem: does it use Aristotelian categories to elucidate divine truth into manageable bites, or does it pigeon hole divine truth into such categories so as to make it comport with Aristotelianism?
Orthodoxy should raise the objection that the Scholastics do the latter.  As Noonan notes (p. 46) as to Stoicism "Stoicism was in the air the intellectual converts to Christianity breathed. Half consciously, half unconsciously, they accommodated some Christian beliefs to a Stoic sense."  The adoption of transsubstantiation as a dogma and the conception of the "Immaculate Conception" stem from the same confusion of philosophical speculation for divine revelation.  The "Eternal Law" of God not revealed, but postulated, can not command the same authority as the Tablets of the Law nor the Sermon on the Mount.

To round the objections off, Aquinas makes note of the penalties societies imposed on those whose refused to participate in propagating the society by breeding its next generation.  The ancient world did not offer the option of "not to marry."  It commanded and demanded it of its populations at large.  Hence St. Jerome could excuse marriage because it produced virgins, and the Vatican hierarchy can tolerate its incontinent flock as breeders.  But it does cause a problem for a system that is trying to claim its "Natural Law" "a matter of men expressing simply truths which common sense might suggest to anyone with open eyes" when the conclusion unanimity of societies condemns.

It might be objected that these are objections, not Aquinas' position.  True, but that just reiterates that Aquinas is rationalizing conclusions he had predetermined, and set up an army of strawmen for a veneer of reasoned discourse.  In "the rational creature's participation of the eternal law" neither revelation, nor acceptance of the speculation of others, nor the norms set by the customs of societies have any place, and hence should not even come up in either side of the discussion.

But on to Aquinas' predetermined conclusion, given to him by revelation but which he feels he must rationalize to accept it:
Quote
I answer that, In human acts, those are sinful which are against right reason. Now right reason requires that things directed to an end should be used in a measure proportionate to that end. Again, man's good is threefold as stated in Ethic. i, 8; one consisting in external things, for instance riches; another, consisting in bodily goods; the third, consisting in the goods of the soul among which the goods of the contemplative life take precedence of the goods of the active life, as the Philosopher shows (Ethic. x, 7), and as our Lord declared (Luke 10:42), "Mary hath chosen the better part." Of these goods those that are external are directed to those which belong to the body, and those which belong to the body are directed to those which belong to the soul; and furthermore those which belong to the active life are directed to those which belong to the life of contemplation. Accordingly, right reason dictates that one use external goods in a measure proportionate to the body, and in like manner as regards the rest. Wherefore if a man refrain from possessing certain things (which otherwise it were good for him to possess), for the sake of his body's good, or of the contemplation of truth, this is not sinful, but in accord with right reason. On like manner if a man abstain from bodily pleasures, in order more freely to give himself to the contemplation of truth, this is in accordance with the rectitude of reason. Now holy virginity refrains from all venereal pleasure in order more freely to have leisure for Divine contemplation: for the Apostle says (1 Corinthians 7:34): "The unmarried woman and the virgin thinketh on the things of the Lord: that she may be holy in both body and in spirit. But she that is married thinketh on the things of the world, how she may please her husband." Therefore it follows that virginity instead of being sinful is worthy of praise.
Just as his objectors, Aquinas appeals to the authority of revelation (Our Lord in Luke) and to the authority of the philosopher (Aristotle's Ethics), rather to the reason of his reader.  Ironically, even his only rational argument he picks out of revelation, and he has to depend on an appeal to authority-Christ's and Aristotle's in equal measure-to argue "the end" "right reason" "dictates," because reason fails him in his defense of monasticism.

IOW, he fails to deliever on his claims:
Quote
Now among all others, the rational creature is subject to Divine providence in the most excellent way, in so far as it partakes of a share of providence, by being provident both for itself and for others. Wherefore it has a share of the Eternal Reason, whereby it has a natural inclination to its proper act and end: and this participation of the eternal law in the rational creature is called the natural law...Every act of reason and will in us is based on that which is according to nature...for every act of reasoning is based on principles that are known naturally, and every act of appetite in respect of the means is derived from the natural appetite in respect of the last end. Accordingly the first direction of our acts to their end must needs be in virtue of the natural law...the rational creature partakes thereof in an intellectual and rational manner, therefore the participation of the eternal law in the rational creature is properly called a law, since a law is something pertaining to reason...Law is a rule and measure of acts, whereby man is induced to act or is restrained from acting: for "lex" [law] is derived from "ligare" [to bind], because it binds one to act. Now the rule and measure of human acts is the reason, which is the first principle of human acts, as is evident from what has been stated above (1, 1, ad 3); since it belongs to the reason to direct to the end, which is the first principle in all matters of action, according to the Philosopher (Phys. ii). Now that which is the principle in any genus, is the rule and measure of that genus: for instance, unity in the genus of numbers, and the first movement in the genus of movements. Consequently it follows that law is something pertaining to reason...The natural law is promulgated by the very fact that God instilled it into man's mind so as to be known by him naturally.
http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2091.htm
http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2090.htm

IOW, what Natural Law is not: It is not "present in the heart of each man and established by reason."
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« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2012, 12:20:50 PM »

This continues to crop up as a leitmotiv throughout the Summa, positing the problem: does it use Aristotelian categories to elucidate divine truth into manageable bites, or does it pigeon hole divine truth into such categories so as to make it comport with Aristotelianism?
Orthodoxy should raise the objection that the Scholastics do the latter.  As Noonan notes (p. 46) as to Stoicism "Stoicism was in the air the intellectual converts to Christianity breathed. Half consciously, half unconsciously, they accommodated some Christian beliefs to a Stoic sense."  The adoption of transsubstantiation as a dogma and the conception of the "Immaculate Conception" stem from the same confusion of philosophical speculation for divine revelation.  The "Eternal Law" of God not revealed, but postulated, can not command the same authority as the Tablets of the Law nor the Sermon on the Mount.
I had recalled that I had made this point before:
Yesterday this came up in our priest's talk on the Infant Jesus and Divine Omniscience.  He was saying that the Infant Jesus, due to the Incarnation, didn't know anything.  He admitted that that presupposed an Aristotelean idea of the acquisition of knowledge, rather than Platonism, in which knowledge is already ingrained. This, on the heels of a conversation I had with parisioners who teach philosophy and patristics, where I brought up that it seems philosophical schools bear more resemblance to religions than to, say, the branchs of mathmatics. It seems the philosophical schools do more than supply methodologies: they supply (or impose) some of the answers as well.
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« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2012, 02:42:16 PM »

Btw, just came across this link:
50 Questions on the Natural Law: What It Is and Why We Need It
 By Charles E. Rice
http://books.google.com/books?id=s_GZR0IY198C&pg=PA51&lpg=PA51&dq=%22which+is+the+function+of+the+natural+law,+is+nothing+else+than+an+imprint+on+us+of+%22&source=bl&ots=za8bz-ywao&sig=Aw7kU3vS1H8eT-3bUO9gG1TV-eM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=mszIUIb0EIPi2gW8soDoDw&ved=0CD0Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=%22which%20is%20the%20function%20of%20the%20natural%20law%2C%20is%20nothing%20else%20than%20an%20imprint%20on%20us%20of%20%22&f=false
I found it interesting. I wonder how the supporters of "Natural Law" find it.  I'm afraid it more or less just confirmed my thoughts on the matter, especially given the angle of American jurisprudence it opens with.
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« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2012, 04:24:09 PM »

Btw, just came across this link:
50 Questions on the Natural Law: What It Is and Why We Need It
 By Charles E. Rice
http://books.google.com/books?id=s_GZR0IY198C&pg=PA51&lpg=PA51&dq=%22which+is+the+function+of+the+natural+law,+is+nothing+else+than+an+imprint+on+us+of+%22&source=bl&ots=za8bz-ywao&sig=Aw7kU3vS1H8eT-3bUO9gG1TV-eM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=mszIUIb0EIPi2gW8soDoDw&ved=0CD0Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=%22which%20is%20the%20function%20of%20the%20natural%20law%2C%20is%20nothing%20else%20than%20an%20imprint%20on%20us%20of%20%22&f=false
I found it interesting. I wonder how the supporters of "Natural Law" find it.  I'm afraid it more or less just confirmed my thoughts on the matter, especially given the angle of American jurisprudence it opens with.
It's a pretty good book. But since you are reading it through the lense of the straw man of natual Law, which you have created, I'm not sure anything would help you to understand what Catholics mean by natural. You have already decided that thomists are Platonists even though we reject Plato's theory of ideas. You have already decided that Catholics believe in some kind of "law of the jungle" form of natural law, even though you are clearly equivicating on the word "natural". By nature, we mean form or essence, as it is directed toward its proper end, as per the the theories of Aquinas and Aristotle. But for some reason, it doesn't matter what we mean, you will continue to falsely characterize our belief on this.
It's not that I am saying you must agree with us on Natural Law Theory. But if you are to argue against it, it's best that you argue against what it really is, and refrain from beating a straw man to death.
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« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2012, 05:10:42 PM »

So it is with all objections against things Rome-ish: "If you REALLY understood it..." Who hasn't heard that a million times from people who just can't bear the idea that their tenets are wrong, and it's not a matter of finding an agreeable explanation? Roll Eyes (Because of course there isn't one for everything that Orthodox and Catholics disagree on.)

Not a criticism against you personally, Papist, but also not a very good argument when anyone can make it about any thing. If you can't get a grip on what Catholics think about natural law by reading Catholic authors writing on natural law, then I would think that the responsibility for making yourselves understood by those who do not share your viewpoints and propositions would fall mostly on their shoulders, rather than being the fault of others for the "misunderstanding".

Maybe, just maybe, Isa understands the passage under consideration and just finds it to be wrong. A wrong idea, rather than a strawman made of a correct idea.
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« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2012, 06:09:23 PM »

Btw, just came across this link:
50 Questions on the Natural Law: What It Is and Why We Need It
 By Charles E. Rice
http://books.google.com/books?id=s_GZR0IY198C&pg=PA51&lpg=PA51&dq=%22which+is+the+function+of+the+natural+law,+is+nothing+else+than+an+imprint+on+us+of+%22&source=bl&ots=za8bz-ywao&sig=Aw7kU3vS1H8eT-3bUO9gG1TV-eM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=mszIUIb0EIPi2gW8soDoDw&ved=0CD0Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=%22which%20is%20the%20function%20of%20the%20natural%20law%2C%20is%20nothing%20else%20than%20an%20imprint%20on%20us%20of%20%22&f=false
I found it interesting. I wonder how the supporters of "Natural Law" find it.  I'm afraid it more or less just confirmed my thoughts on the matter, especially given the angle of American jurisprudence it opens with.
It's a pretty good book. But since you are reading it through the lense of the straw man of natual Law, which you have created, I'm not sure anything would help you to understand what Catholics mean by natural.
I know what we mean by natural.

As for the Vatican, whatever its supreme pontiff says.  Of course, that then involves that the problem of the undefined definition of "ex cathedra."

You have already decided that thomists are Platonists even though we reject Plato's theory of ideas.
You hide it well.

Aquinas was much a Platonist, largely without knowing it:
Quote
The influences of Plato, and of the wide variety of ancient, Arabic, and medieval Platonisms, on Aquinas must be distinguished from what he knows about them. The first are pervasive, persistent, and ever increasing. The second change markedly as he reads more of the commentaries and treatises of the Hellenic Neo-Platonists and Peripatetics during the last decade of his work.   Exemplary of these is William of Moerbeke’s translation of Proclus’ Elements of Theology finished in 1268. It enabled Aquinas to discern that the Liber de causis was not—as had been supposed by medieval Latin Peripatetics, including himself—the cap of the Aristotelian system, describing the emanations from the First Principle. Rather, he learned, it was composed of excerpts from the Elements—and, unknown to Aquinas, from Plotinus—modified to conform to the needs of Islamic monotheism, just as the Dionysian Corpus had modified its Neo-Platonic sources in Christian directions. The Corpus, with its quasi-Apostolic origin for Aquinas, was his most authoritative and influential source of Neo-Platonism—a character intensified when conveyed in Paris interlarded with unattributed glosses from Eriugena.  The Elements confirmed what Aquinas discerned to be Dionysius’ Platonic style and way of thinking, when he had explicated The Divine Names (1265-1268); his earliest view had been that the Areopagite “mostly followed Aristotle”.   Expositing the Liber in 1272, involved comparing the Elements, the Dionysian Corpus, and the Liber and reinforced his conviction that the latter agreed on fundamental matters—a similarity partly explained by knowledge of the Corpus in the Arabic circles where the Liber was confected.  In the Arab Peripatetic tradition, where Aquinas’ understanding of Aristotle was formed, the Philosopher had absorbed Plotinus and Proclus.  In judging Aquinas’ Platonism, we must remember how Neo-Platonic his Aristotle was because Aquinas inherited the reconciliation of Plato and Aristotle at which the Neo-Platonists and Arabic Peripatetics aimed. Even what are taken to be his most characteristically Aristotelian positions, e.g. intellection by way of abstraction from the sensible, are given their character in that concordance.
http://www.findthatpdf.com/search-44229573-hPDF/download-documents-aquinas-plato-and-neo-platonism-for-oxford-pdf.htm
"Aquinas, Plato, and Neo-Platonism" by Wayne J. Hankey, The Oxford Handbook to Aquinas edited by Brian Davies and Eleonore Stump

You have already decided that Catholics believe in some kind of "law of the jungle" form of natural law

now who's fighting a straw man?

even though you are clearly equivicating on the word "natural".
You mean like this?
Quote
I answer that, As Boethius says (De Duabus Nat.) and the Philosopher also (Metaph. v, 4) the word "nature" is used in a manifold sense. For sometimes it stands for the intrinsic principle in movable things. In this sense nature is either matter or the material form, as stated in Phys. ii, 1. In another sense nature stands for any substance, or even for any being. And in this sense, that is said to be natural to a thing which befits it in respect of its substance. And this is that which of itself is in a thing. Now all things that do not of themselves belong to the thing in which they are, are reduced to something which belongs of itself to that thing, as to their principle. Wherefore, taking nature in this sense, it is necessary that the principle of whatever belongs to a thing, be a natural principle. This is evident in regard to the intellect: for the principles of intellectual knowledge are naturally known. In like manner the principle of voluntary movements must be something naturally willed.

Now this is good in general, to which the will tends naturally, as does each power to its object; and again it is the last end, which stands in the same relation to things appetible, as the first principles of demonstrations to things intelligible: and, speaking generally, it is all those things which belong to the willer according to his nature. For it is not only things pertaining to the will that the will desires, but also that which pertains to each power, and to the entire man. Wherefore man wills naturally not only the object of the will, but also other things that are appropriate to the other powers; such as the knowledge of truth, which befits the intellect; and to be and to live and other like things which regard the natural well-being; all of which are included in the object of the will, as so many particular goods.
http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2010.htm
Quote
Since, however, good has the nature of an end, and evil, the nature of a contrary, hence it is that all those things to which man has a natural inclination, are naturally apprehended by reason as being good, and consequently as objects of pursuit, and their contraries as evil, and objects of avoidance. Wherefore according to the order of natural inclinations, is the order of the precepts of the natural law. Because in man there is first of all an inclination to good in accordance with the nature which he has in common with all substances: inasmuch as every substance seeks the preservation of its own being, according to its nature: and by reason of this inclination, whatever is a means of preserving human life, and of warding off its obstacles, belongs to the natural law. Secondly, there is in man an inclination to things that pertain to him more specially, according to that nature which he has in common with other animals: and in virtue of this inclination, those things are said to belong to the natural law, "which nature has taught to all animals" [Pandect. Just. I, tit. i], such as sexual intercourse, education of offspring and so forth. Thirdly, there is in man an inclination to good, according to the nature of his reason, which nature is proper to him: thus man has a natural inclination to know the truth about God, and to live in society: and in this respect, whatever pertains to this inclination belongs to the natural law; for instance, to shun ignorance, to avoid offending those among whom one has to live, and other such things regarding the above inclination.
http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2094.htm

Btw, among the ancient Greeks, "Natural Law" would be an oximoron.  Even more so for the ancient Hebrews.  Or rather, in the case of the latter, the opposite of what they believed, as good Voluntarists, "Legal Nature."
By nature, we mean form or essence, as it is directed toward its proper end, as per the the theories of Aquinas and Aristotle. But for some reason, it doesn't matter what we mean, you will continue to falsely characterize our belief on this.

As it is not as well thought out as it is made out to be.
It's not that I am saying you must agree with us on Natural Law Theory. But if you are to argue against it, it's best that you argue against what it really is, and refrain from beating a straw man to death.
That is a deep philosophical question: what something that doesn't exist in reality "really is."  Sort of like asking what is "true Islam," or the "Orthodox Caesaropapism."
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« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2012, 07:43:00 PM »

So it is with all objections against things Rome-ish: "If you REALLY understood it..." Who hasn't heard that a million times from people who just can't bear the idea that their tenets are wrong, and it's not a matter of finding an agreeable explanation? Roll Eyes (Because of course there isn't one for everything that Orthodox and Catholics disagree on.)

Not a criticism against you personally, Papist, but also not a very good argument when anyone can make it about any thing. If you can't get a grip on what Catholics think about natural law by reading Catholic authors writing on natural law, then I would think that the responsibility for making yourselves understood by those who do not share your viewpoints and propositions would fall mostly on their shoulders, rather than being the fault of others for the "misunderstanding".

Maybe, just maybe, Isa understands the passage under consideration and just finds it to be wrong. A wrong idea, rather than a strawman made of a correct idea.
This would nice and all, except for the fact that Isa has been told multiple times on this that Thomists are not Platonists, and reject Plato's theory of forms. He refuses to let that sink in. I think he's doing it on purpose.
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« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2012, 07:50:26 PM »

Izzy, of course Aquinas was influenced by Plato, becaue Plato influenced Aristotle. But that does not not mean Aquinas was a platonist. ONCE AGAIN: ARISTOTLE, AND WITH HIM, AQUINAS, REJECTED PLATO'S THEORY OF FORMS.

Here is an instance of Aquinas rejecting Plato's theory in favor of Aristotle's view:

"I answer that, According to the opinion of Plato, there is no need for an active intellect in order to make things actually intelligible; but perhaps in order to provide intellectual light to the intellect, as will be explained farther on (4). For Plato supposed that the forms of natural things subsisted apart from matter, and consequently that they are intelligible: since a thing is actually intelligible from the very fact that it is immaterial. And he called such forms "species or ideas"; from a participation of which, he said that even corporeal matter was formed, in order that individuals might be naturally established in their proper genera and species: and that our intellect was formed by such participation in order to have knowledge of the genera and species of things. But since Aristotle did not allow that forms of natural things exist apart from matter, and as forms existing in matter are not actually intelligible; it follows that the natures of forms of the sensible things which we understand are not actually intelligible. Now nothing is reduced from potentiality to act except by something in act; as the senses as made actual by what is actually sensible. We must therefore assign on the part of the intellect some power to make things actually intelligible, by abstraction of the species from material conditions. And such is the necessity for an active intellect." - ST, I, Q. 79, A. 3
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« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2012, 07:53:02 PM »

Another Rejection of Plato in favor of Aristotle
"I answer that, There have been various opinions with regard to the number of the separate substances. Plato contended that the separate substances are the species of sensible things; as if we were to maintain that human nature is a separate substance of itself: and according to this view it would have to be maintained that the number of the separate substances is the number of the species of sensible things. Aristotle, however, rejects this view (Metaph. i, text 31) because matter is of the very nature of the species of sensible things. Consequently the separate substances cannot be the exemplar species of these sensible things; but have their own fixed natures, which are higher than the natures of sensible things. Nevertheless Aristotle held (Metaph. xi, text 43) that those more perfect natures bear relation to these sensible things, as that of mover and end; and therefore he strove to find out the number of the separate substances according to the number of the first movements." ST, I, Q. 50, A. 3

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« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2012, 08:08:01 PM »

Here is what I am talking about. Plato believed that the forms or ideas had independent substantial existence of there own. For example, in Plato's view, there is some non-material ideal man that has independent existence. According to Plato, all men would be men, insofar as they participate in, or mimic this "ideal man."
However, Aristotle argues that the independent existence of universals is impossible for several reasons. First, Aristotle points out that "substance" is what is individual about a thing. What is individual about a thing cannot be predicated of the many, for then it would lose its individuality. Hence, there can be no substantial Ideas. Second, he argues that the because all men are called men insofar as they are similar to the ideal man, one would still have to account for the similarity between the Ideal man, and individual material men. This would seem to call for another Ideal man above the Ideal man and the individual man, in which they all participate. This problem would regress ad infinitum.

Aquinas, in his Commentary on Metaphyiscs, and throughout the Summa, seems to agree with this position. His only difference with Aristotle on the matter is that he seems to believe that the Ideas can and must have a potential existence in the mind of God, as a sort of eternal plan for creation. However, he is in complete disagreement with Plato about the substantial, independent existence of Ideas.
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« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2012, 08:32:25 PM »

Papist,

      You might want to take a look at the article by Wayne Hankey (himself something of a neo-Platonist Thomist) that Isa linked to-- Aquinas' protests against 'Platonism' have to be contextualized historically, because in many places he opposed what he saw as being Plato while simultaneously taking very neo-Platonic viewpoints. After all, he was coming out of an intellectual world where belief in the harmony of Plato and Aristotle was taken for granted-- his own realization that the Liber de Causis was not authentically Aristotle was the first, very tentative step away from this position.

In any case, there's been quite a lot of ink spilled about Aquinas' understanding of form and its relationship to Platonic form. There's a huge number of rabbit holes you could go down chasing after this, though.....
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« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2012, 08:51:30 PM »

Papist,

      You might want to take a look at the article by Wayne Hankey (himself something of a neo-Platonist Thomist) that Isa linked to-- Aquinas' protests against 'Platonism' have to be contextualized historically, because in many places he opposed what he saw as being Plato while simultaneously taking very neo-Platonic viewpoints. After all, he was coming out of an intellectual world where belief in the harmony of Plato and Aristotle was taken for granted-- his own realization that the Liber de Causis was not authentically Aristotle was the first, very tentative step away from this position.

In any case, there's been quite a lot of ink spilled about Aquinas' understanding of form and its relationship to Platonic form. There's a huge number of rabbit holes you could go down chasing after this, though.....
Regardless, Aquinas clearly rejected the idea that there are some indepently existing Ideas.
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« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2012, 09:03:30 PM »

Well, it's a bit more complicated than that, especially when you get to how he treats immaterial essences, for example-- a lot of commentators see them acting pretty well like Platonic ideas.....  Also, one of the most famous aporias in Aristotle is whether primary substances are really primary, since he contradicts himself on this point, in addition to contradicting Plato.

In any case, the discussion of Plato is a bit of a rabbit hole, since, when we're talking about natural law, which I'm no fan of as a practical notion, Orthodox should be wary of taking Isa's tack here and opposing 'Platonism', lest this opposition be so broad as to fall into nominalism and deny universals like 'human nature' or 'divinity'. Moreover, it's possible to set aside the details of each philosophical system and say that the 'forms' that Papist is talking about are analogous, in their very broad function here, to what the 'logoi' of things are to Maximus the Confessor, himself someone with a relationship to Platonic thought at least as interesting as Thomas Aquinas'....

So, I don't think anyone, Catholic or Orthodox, would  deny that God has a specific way that He created the world to be. The issue over natural law is-- to what degree can reason be used to discern this? Orthodox tend towards a position that leans toward revelation as being the chief way we know God's will and participating in grace (however one wants to term this) as the way that one, once purified of the passions, comes to understand the true logoi of things... A hard natural law position would argue that any moral law that we know from revelation could also be discerned through the proper use of reason, regardless of divine illumination.

Now, I find it hard to argue that sometimes someones using reason (and here I'll sidestep the question of if, in an Orthodox understanding, any sort of 'pure nature' or reason completely existing apart from grace exists) won't hit on a proper understanding of how moral law should be. But, I find it equally unfeasible-- both notionally and in experience-- that this is always the case. So, for example, we can see how Roman Catholic moral teaching regarding sex has recently shifted, either in emphasis or in substance, by the introduction of the 'theology of the body', by shifting what the telos of sexual relations was, from a purely reproductive function to a unitive one as well.... It becomes very hard to argue in a firm way for why the nature of something requires it to be one way or another... and very often, in practice, this regress winds up with an appeal to authority of one kind or another.
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« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2012, 09:06:57 PM »

A second, perhaps weaker, objection to natural law is that the notion of 'human flourishing' that natural law bases its morality on is not on its face necessarily compatible with the kind of self-sacrificial ethics presented in the Gospel.
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« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2012, 11:01:46 PM »

Well, it's a bit more complicated than that, especially when you get to how he treats immaterial essences, for example-- a lot of commentators see them acting pretty well like Platonic ideas.....  Also, one of the most famous aporias in Aristotle is whether primary substances are really primary, since he contradicts himself on this point, in addition to contradicting Plato.

In any case, the discussion of Plato is a bit of a rabbit hole, since, when we're talking about natural law, which I'm no fan of as a practical notion, Orthodox should be wary of taking Isa's tack here and opposing 'Platonism', lest this opposition be so broad as to fall into nominalism and deny universals like 'human nature' or 'divinity'. Moreover, it's possible to set aside the details of each philosophical system and say that the 'forms' that Papist is talking about are analogous, in their very broad function here, to what the 'logoi' of things are to Maximus the Confessor, himself someone with a relationship to Platonic thought at least as interesting as Thomas Aquinas'....

So, I don't think anyone, Catholic or Orthodox, would  deny that God has a specific way that He created the world to be. The issue over natural law is-- to what degree can reason be used to discern this? Orthodox tend towards a position that leans toward revelation as being the chief way we know God's will and participating in grace (however one wants to term this) as the way that one, once purified of the passions, comes to understand the true logoi of things... A hard natural law position would argue that any moral law that we know from revelation could also be discerned through the proper use of reason, regardless of divine illumination.

Now, I find it hard to argue that sometimes someones using reason (and here I'll sidestep the question of if, in an Orthodox understanding, any sort of 'pure nature' or reason completely existing apart from grace exists) won't hit on a proper understanding of how moral law should be. But, I find it equally unfeasible-- both notionally and in experience-- that this is always the case. So, for example, we can see how Roman Catholic moral teaching regarding sex has recently shifted, either in emphasis or in substance, by the introduction of the 'theology of the body', by shifting what the telos of sexual relations was, from a purely reproductive function to a unitive one as well.... It becomes very hard to argue in a firm way for why the nature of something requires it to be one way or another... and very often, in practice, this regress winds up with an appeal to authority of one kind or another.

I agree with this.
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« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2012, 11:33:57 PM »

Well, it's a bit more complicated than that, especially when you get to how he treats immaterial essences, for example-- a lot of commentators see them acting pretty well like Platonic ideas.....  Also, one of the most famous aporias in Aristotle is whether primary substances are really primary, since he contradicts himself on this point, in addition to contradicting Plato.

In any case, the discussion of Plato is a bit of a rabbit hole, since, when we're talking about natural law, which I'm no fan of as a practical notion, Orthodox should be wary of taking Isa's tack here and opposing 'Platonism', lest this opposition be so broad as to fall into nominalism and deny universals like 'human nature' or 'divinity'. Moreover, it's possible to set aside the details of each philosophical system and say that the 'forms' that Papist is talking about are analogous, in their very broad function here, to what the 'logoi' of things are to Maximus the Confessor, himself someone with a relationship to Platonic thought at least as interesting as Thomas Aquinas'....

So, I don't think anyone, Catholic or Orthodox, would  deny that God has a specific way that He created the world to be. The issue over natural law is-- to what degree can reason be used to discern this? Orthodox tend towards a position that leans toward revelation as being the chief way we know God's will and participating in grace (however one wants to term this) as the way that one, once purified of the passions, comes to understand the true logoi of things... A hard natural law position would argue that any moral law that we know from revelation could also be discerned through the proper use of reason, regardless of divine illumination.

Now, I find it hard to argue that sometimes someones using reason (and here I'll sidestep the question of if, in an Orthodox understanding, any sort of 'pure nature' or reason completely existing apart from grace exists) won't hit on a proper understanding of how moral law should be. But, I find it equally unfeasible-- both notionally and in experience-- that this is always the case. So, for example, we can see how Roman Catholic moral teaching regarding sex has recently shifted, either in emphasis or in substance, by the introduction of the 'theology of the body', by shifting what the telos of sexual relations was, from a purely reproductive function to a unitive one as well.... It becomes very hard to argue in a firm way for why the nature of something requires it to be one way or another... and very often, in practice, this regress winds up with an appeal to authority of one kind or another.

I agree with this.
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« Reply #20 on: December 14, 2012, 11:47:51 AM »

Since St. Maximus has come up (in a context I agree with), I'm going to post a part where I think he was carried away by Platonism, for comment:
Quote
Since then the human person is not moved naturally, as it was fashioned to do, around the unmoved, that is its own beginning (I mean God), but contrary to nature is voluntarily moved in ignorance around those things that are beneath it, to which it has been divinely subjected, and since it has abused the natural power of uniting what is divided, that was given to it at its generation, so as to separate what is united, therefore ‘natures have been instituted afresh’, and in a paradoxical way beyond nature that which is completely unmoved by nature is moved immovably around that which by nature is moved, and God becomes a human being, in order to save lost humanity. Through himself he has, in accordance with nature, united the fragments of the universal nature of the all,  manifesting the universal logoi that have come forth for the particulars, by which the union of the divided naturally comes about, and thus he fulfils the great purpose of God the Father, to recapitulate everything both in heaven and earth in himself (Eph. 1:10), in whom everything has been created (Col. 1:16).  Indeed being in himself the universal union of all, he has started with our division and become the perfect human being, having from us, on our account, and in accordance with our nature, everything that we are and lacking nothing, apart from sin (Heb. 4:15), and having no need of the natural intercourse of marriage. In this way he showed, I think, that there was perhaps another way, foreknown by God, for human beings to increase, if the first human being had kept the commandment and not cast himself down to an animal state by abusing his own proper powers. Thus God-made-man has done away with the difference and division of nature into male and female, which human nature in no way needed for generation, as some hold, and without which it would perhaps have been possible.  There was no necessity for these things to have lasted forever. For in Christ Jesus, says the divine Apostle, there is neither male nor female (Gal. 3:28). Then having sanctified the world we inhabit by his own humanly fitting way of life he opened a clear way into paradise after his death, as, without a lie, he promised the thief, Today, you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43). Then, since there was for him no longer any difference between paradise and the world we inhabit, he again made this clear to his disciples when he was with them after his resurrection from the dead, showing that the world is one and is not divided in itself, preserving the logos in accordance with which it exists free from any division caused by difference. Then by his ascension into heaven, he clearly united heaven and earth, and with his earthly body that is of the same nature and con substantial with ours he entered into heaven and showed that the whole nature that can be perceived through the senses is, by the most universal logos of its being, one, thus obscuring the peculiar nature of the division which cuts it into two. Then, in addition to this, by passing with his soul and body, that is, with the whole of our nature, through all the divine and intelligible ranks of heaven, he united the sensible and the intelligible and showed the convergence of the whole of creation with the One according to its most original and universal logos, which is completely undivided and at rest in itself. And finally, considered in his humanity, he goes to God himself, having clearly appeared, as it is written, in the presence of God the Father on our behalf (Heb. 9:24), as a human being. As Word, he cannot be separated in any way at all from the Father; as man, he has fulfilled, in word and truth, with unchangeable obedience, everything that, as God, he has predetermined is to take place, and has accomplished the whole will of God the Father on our behalf. For we had ruined by misuse the power that had been naturally given us from the beginning for this purpose. First he united us in himself by removing the difference between male and female, and instead of men and women, in whom above all this manner of division is beheld, he showed us as properly and truly to be simply human beings, thoroughly transfigured in accordance with him, and bearing his intact and completely unadulterated image, touched by no trace at all of corruption. With us and through us he encompasses the whole creation through its intermediaries and the extremities through their own parts. He binds about himself each with the other, tightly and indissolubly, paradise and the inhabited world, heaven and earth, things sensible and things intelligible, since he possesses like us sense and soul and mind, by which, as parts, he assimilates himself by each of the extremities to what is universally akin to each in the previously mentioned manner. Thus he divinely
recapitulates the universe in himself, showing that the whole creation exists as one, like another human being, completed by the gathering together of its parts one with another in itself, and inclined towards itself by the whole of its existence, in accordance with the one, simple, undifferentiated and indifferent idea of production from nothing, in accordance with which the whole of creation admits of one and the same undiscriminated logos, as having not been before it is.
http://books.google.com/books?id=DEpOMmY51_MC&pg=PA156&lpg=PA156&dq=%22Since+then+the+human+person+is+not+moved+naturally%22&source=bl&ots=lOgGXzsPMx&sig=FEboRIrHAtScsZDRWFOUxSXMbjg&hl=en&sa=X&ei=NkrLUKzTNKrQ2QWa1oG4Bw&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22Since%20then%20the%20human%20person%20is%20not%20moved%20naturally%22&f=false
« Last Edit: December 14, 2012, 11:48:43 AM by ialmisry » Logged

Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
ialmisry
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« Reply #21 on: December 14, 2012, 12:01:13 PM »

And another quote of what "Natural Law is not," despite the quoters claim to the contrary
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As a final example of the antiquity of Natural Law in the I would like to share excerpts from one of the Church Fathers, Athanasius who teaches on in his great work, “Against the Arians.” In this excerpt Athanasius uses the term “Wisdom” but the teaching, as you shall see is the same as the Logos tradition and what we have come to call “Natural Law.” Here are excerpts:

An impress of Wisdom has been created in us and in all his works. Therefore, the true Wisdom which shaped the world claims for himself all that bears his image…Wisdom himself is not created, because he is the Creator, but by reason of the created image of himself found in his works, he speaks [of himself] as if he were a creature, and he says: The Lord created me in his works, when his purpose first unfolded. The likeness of Wisdom has been stamped upon creatures in order that the world may recognise in it the Word who was its maker and through the Word come to know the Father. This is Paul’s teaching: What can be known about God is clear to them, for God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature has been there for the mind to perceive in things that have been made….So there is a wisdom in created things, as the son of Sirach too bears witness: The Lord has poured it out upon all his works, to be with men as his gift, and with wisdom he has abundantly equipped those who love him….and in the light of this wisdom the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims the work of his hands. – Discourse “Against the Arians” by St Athanasius
http://blog.adw.org/2010/09/natural-law-is-not-new-and-is-needed-now/
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Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
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