Thursday, September 27, 2012

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43BC): Regarding the US elections.

I have been listening to Cicero's work, On The Laws, which is a philosophical discussion of the basis of law. His starting point is the society itself, so rather than "human rights", which have a starting point of "me", there are "social rights", which are the rights conferred by the society for its own preservation and enjoyment:

"And lastly, that these natural brethren are bound together by the reciprocal obligations of friendship and affection, as well as social rights." - On The Laws, Book I.

To this is added much about virtue and vice, along with the fact that it isn't sensible to legislate everything, yet there still remains natural laws regarding good and evil.  For the hyper-legalist, Pharisses and the like, there is this:

"How I am ashamed at those philosophers, who assert that there are no vices to be avoided but those which the laws have branded with infamy."

And something that every Christian theologian should recognize:

"Shall corporal defects, if they are remarkable, shock our sensibilities, and shall those of the soul make no impression on us?—Of the soul, I say, whose turpitude is so evidently proved by its vices."

There are a number of other remarks that will raise the eyebrow of a new testament Bible student.  Then there is a split which I find quite fascinating:

"According to the Greeks, therefore, the name of law implies an equitable distribution of goods: according to the Romans, an equitable discrimation between good and evil."

This distinction is one that seems to have been passed down to our modern era, as the leftists legislate laws for the distribution of good, while the conservatives are more focused on good vs. evil.  Cicero anticipates the 19th century Utilitarian arguments and offers up a rebuttal:

"But if justice consists in submission to written laws and national customs, and if, as the Epicureans persist in affirming, every thing must be measured by utility alone, he who wishes to find an occasion of breaking such laws and customs, will be sure to discover it. So that real justice remains powerless if not supported by nature, and this pretended justice is overturned by that very utility which they call its foundation."

Epicureans should be treated as a synonym for Darwinistas, who have been pushing their religion into the legal sphere for quite a while.  What really stands out, however, is a discussion of what happens if the natural conscience is overruled, for which we have an excerpt:

"But if the opinions and suffrages of foolish men had sufficient weight to outbalance the nature of things, might they not determine among them, that what is essentially bad and pernicious should henceforth pass for good and beneficial? Or why should not a law able to enforce injustice, take the place of equity? Would not this same law be able to change evil into good, and good into evil?"

It is this area that stands out as it has been formally embraced by the Democrats - that the definition of evil and good can be interchanged on a whim - and a big chunk of the Republican party thinks that there is no philosophical basis for challenging such a notion.  This moral disease isn't limited to the US, however, as can be seen in the recent move by France to ban the legal notion of Mother and Father.  Voting for Obama and the Democrats is out of the question, since they have formally embraced a policy of legislating good as evil and evil as good.  Romney certainly has the advantage here, although I think that a more vocal role is needed to confront the activist anthropology professors who want to entice humans to embrace the social norms of a troop of baboons or apes.

It should be noted that Cicero's comments about legislating good as evil and evil as good would come to fruition a century later with Caligula, Claudius and Nero.  Christians were no stranger to living as loyal citizens in this society, hence, we see this verse from Philippians that was likely written under the reign of the dissolute Nero:

"All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household." - Philippians 4:22

This should be a reminder that the march to depravity as a national identity isn't a one way street, although perhaps a barbarian invasion is needed to sweep this away.

No comments: