Pillar: The Human Person

The Human Person

The first pillar of a decent society is respect for the human person, which recognizes that all individual human beings have dignity simply because of the kind of being they are: animals whose rational faculties allow them to know, love, reason, and communicate. It also recognizes that human beings are persons, members of the human family who flourish in a community that respects their fundamental rights and who long to discover transcendent truths about the nature of reality.

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Reproductive Technologies and Human Dignity

Given the risks of assisted reproductive technologies and gene-editing technologies for both individuals and society as a whole, a hands-off, libertarian approach to these issues is ethically irresponsible. Because these technologies imply a radical transformation in our understanding of the meaning of parenthood and our approach to the next generation, we must ask ourselves what sort of world these technologies are creating, and whether it is the sort of world that we want for our children and grandchildren.

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Saint John Henry Newman and Freedom of Conscience: Countering a Modern Apostasy

In the 130 years since John Henry Newman’s death, few concepts have been more misunderstood and distorted than “conscience.” The danger is greater today than when the great saint wrote. The distorted view of conscience that Newman described as oriented to self and not to God has penetrated Western culture and religion. For many, the obligation to follow one’s conscience has been embraced, but fidelity to truth has been set aside. This untethered and counterfeit “freedom of conscience” has led to a widespread subjectivism that Newman saw emerging within modern European society, even in his own day.

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The Age of Miracles and Misery Machines

We have more material comforts than kings and merchant princes of old, and technological progress has wrought what would once be considered miracles. Yet our culture makes every effort to promote dissatisfaction, for there is money to be made when people are unhappy or bored with what they have. In an age of miracles, our phones are becoming misery machines.

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Coherence, Calvinball, and the Consistent Ethic of Life

A consistent life ethic (CLE) should consider the totality of an act: not simply the consequences, but also the intention, the object chosen, and the circumstances of the act. Charles Camosy deserves our respect for boldly declaring the case for CLE, but the devil remains in the details. Without agreement on those details, the consistent life ethic remains as unpredictable and random as Calvinball.

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Forgiving the Unforgivable: A Lesson in Love

I initially tried to explain forgiveness in terms of the psychological benefits to oneself, or even in terms of social harmony. But narratives of forgiveness as an outpouring of love correspond more to a different explanation of forgiveness: the desires of a heart that wants to expand. This is not a sentimental love; it is a love that seeks charity in truth, in justice, and in regarding our neighbor who has harmed us as a person deserving of the same merciful love that we ourselves have already been shown.

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Eberstadt on Eberstadt: Identity Politics’ Roots in Secularization

For all its insight into the link between identity politics and the sexual revolution, Mary Eberstadt’s recent book should be supplemented with the insights from her earlier work on secularism. As the history of philosophy indicates, identity loss is bound up with secularization, which gives the self the impossible task of constructing meaning from scratch. The only sure basis for personal identity is the will of God for me as his creature.

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Things Worth Dying For: The Nature of a Life Worth Living

It’s a good thing, a vital thing, to consider what we’re willing to die for. What do we love more than life? To even ask that question is an act of rebellion against a loveless age. And to answer it with conviction is to become a revolutionary; the kind of loving revolutionary who will survive and resist—and someday redeem a late modern West that can no longer imagine anything worth dying for, and thus, in the long run, anything worth living for. This essay is adapted from a lecture delivered on October 11, 2019, for the Constitutional Studies Program at the University of Notre Dame.

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The Advertiser and the Witness

Rather than a marketplace of influencers, perhaps what we truly desire—what we need—is to live in the company of men and women who have actually tasted and seen and can testify. These men and women, witnesses all, direct us neither to themselves, nor to their products, but to something that exists independently of both. That’s the mission of the Thomistic Institute.

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Human Embryos are Human Beings: a Scientific and Philosophical Case

In Human Embryos, Human Beings, A Scientific and Philosophical Approach philosopher Samuel Condic and Neurobiologist Maureen Condic advance a careful and detailed case for the proposition that a human being comes to be at fertilization, and refute the main arguments to the contrary. Along the way they clarify the concepts of substance, substantial form, soul, organism, and final and formal causality.

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Old Natural Law Theory, Marriage, and Sexual Ethics

“Old natural law theory” begins with the natural end of our sexual faculties and derives ethical principles from there. But this approach has to rely implicitly on prior value judgments in order to distinguish between biological facts that are axiologically or morally relevant and those that are not. The second in a two-part series.

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On the Waves of Feminism with Mona Charen

One of the unfortunate poisons that feminism leached into the culture is hostility between the sexes. We need to rescue feminism from that. We need to stress the importance of raising boys and girls who are open-hearted, respectful, and comfortable with themselves and each other. Adapted from an interview with Mona Charen conducted by Ana Samuel during The CanaVox state leaders meeting.

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The Rise of the Nones

The rise in numbers of people with no religious affiliation reflects the emergence of a new faith rather than a loss of faith altogether. As America’s religious norm changes from Christianity to therapeutic deism and spiritualized progressivism, we will find more people challenging longstanding protections of human dignity and religious liberty.

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Johnny Tremain: One of My Favorite Books

Johnny Tremain is a liminal secular-religious book. It challenges its secular readers to have a deep enough conception of the secular to encompass dying for the sake of freedom. It challenges its religious readers to deepen their pieties sufficiently to encompass the aspiration for freedom which is written in the human frame. It shows that the constitution of liberty is engraved in the human form itself.