Monday, February 09, 2004

Comments by J. Budziszewski...

I've just started J.B.'s What We Can't Not Know and already I recommend it. On Human Nature he writes:
If God has designed and endowed us with our nature... then we can be confident that we have the nature that we ought to have in accord with His good purposes. Let us imagine someone who denies the premise. He admits that human beings have a nature... he only refuses to allow that we were endowed with this nature by God. We are to regard the direction of the grain as the result of a meaningless and purposeless process that did not have us in mind. I think it follows that had the process gone a bit differently - had our ancestors been carnivores instead of omnivores, had they laid eggs instead of borne live young, or had they never left the oceans for land - then we would have a different nature. Given the nature that we do have, certain things go against the grain, hence the natural law. Honor your father and mother. Do not kill. Do not covet. Given some other nature, other things would have gone against the grain - hence some other natural law. It might have been anything. Supplant your father. Chase away your mother. Eat your neighbor and covet his mate. What for our nature is a sin, would for that one be the norm.
Here we have an excellent commentary on the logical consequences of naturalism - the thought that nature is all there is, that determinism and chance are all that rule the universe. Try as we might, we just can't get away from declaring human actions as either right or wrong. The naturalist is forever trapped into explaining away why we make the moral choices we do. He is forever locked into an infinite regression of explanations having to do with pragmatism, yet never able to explain just where this idea of pragmatism ultimately came from.

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