Monday, July 12, 2004

Pascal and Human Nature

I was skimming through some Pascal earlier and ran across this thought about human nature and goodness:

426. True nature being lost, everything becomes its own nature; as the true good being lost, everything becomes its own true good.

In a recent interview on the Mars Hill Audio Journal (I am afraid I don’t remember which) a cultural observer noted that there is a lot being invoked in the name of “human rights” by those whose fundamental philosophy does not have any kind of set notion of a human person. He found it ironic that on the one hand people were pressing for more and more rights as human persons when, as a matter of fact, they didn’t believe in personhood per se. For example a good deal of Naturalism today treats human nature as not so different from animal nature. After all, we are just the latest (and maybe not the greatest) rung on the evolutionary ladder. Irony enters the picture when a Naturalist of that stripe demands legislation which is intended to protect their rights as humans. What they are really attempting to do is remove all the fetters of human nature. They are not demanding more rights as humans; they are calling for less humanity.

The same kind of thing can be said about the notion of “good.” When people become afraid to draw any lines in the sand between good and evil, then the worst possible thing happens-nothing is evil any longer. In this scenario is it not the case that we assume all things evil and must be shown what is good; we assume all things are good and don’t like the moniker of evil. Does a relativist think all things evil? Are they afraid to label anything as good? In actuality it seems they are ready, willing, and able to label all things as good and nothing as evil.

When a culture seeks freedom by casting off the old constraints, it finds only chaos where it intended to find a new liberty.

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