W. H. Marshner
May 19, 1987
Nature, Sex, and Person in Thomistic Thought
WILLIAM H. MARSHNER
Certain Catholic feminists of philosophical bent have criticized a strand of Catholic thought as positing in effect two natures of human beings. Sr. Mary Aquin O’Neill, for example, says the Catholic view of complementarity between the sexes has invented a male nature and a female nature. Mary J. Buckley repeats this charge. Both accuse the tradition of arriving at this error by “extrapolating meanings from the male and female bodies” and thus mistakenly attributing culturally-based gender differentiations to human nature itself. Sr. O’Neill seems to prefer an androgynous view of human capability and a biological view of what is “natural” to us. Mary Buckley demands that all talk of “constant” or “fixed” human nature be replaced by a “transformative model,” as she calls it, in which the core of humanity is sheer freedom. The aim of this paper is to show that the Thomistic account of human nature does not commit the mistake the feminist philosophers allege and avoids both of the disastrous (and conflicting) reductionisms into which they fall. Man qua man is one nature, for St. Thomas, not two; yet this one nature is neither pure biology nor pure freedom.
Among Catholics who follow the Church’s teaching, it is well accepted that a couple practicing Natural Family Planning (NFP) with an intention of a certain kind is doing a morally good act, quite different from contracepting. It is also accepted that a couple practicing NFP with an intention of a different kind is doing a morally wrong act, similar to contracepting. These two intentions — how exactly do they differ?
Continue reading “Can A Couple Practicing NFP Be Practicing Contraception?”
AQUINAS ON THE EVALUATION OF HUMAN ACTIONS
BY William H. Marshner
Front Royal, Virginia
[Reprinted from The Thomist, 59, 3, July, 1995]
Among the questions dealt with in the Prima Secundae are those of what moral goodness “is” and on what basis it is attributed to some human actions but denied of others. Aquinas’s answers are currently a matter of contention between the proportionalists and their critics, as is his answer to the question of how human actions are classified. Continue reading “Aquinas on the Evaluation of Human Actions”
The Counterfeits of Transcendence
W. H. Marshner
Cultural Conservative Policy Insights
721 Second Street N.E., Washington, D.C 20002
Institute for Cultural Conservatism Policy Insight Number Three
May 12, 1988
Cultural Conservative Policy Insights is published by the Institute for Cultural Conservatism, a division of The Free Congress Research and Education Foundation, Inc, a non-profit tax-exempt educational organization, nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the view of the Institute for Cultural Conservatism or as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before Congress.
In a previous policy insight, entitled “Cultural Conservatism and Transcendent Norms,” it was argued that a high understanding of right and wrong is implicit in the stance of cultural conservatives.
The present essay takes the argument a step further. It deals with the problems of moral relativism, because the relativist position is often based on ideas about culture. Challenging those ideas will expose the dangers which emerge when transcendence is misallocated to sheer “human consciousness,” or to the alleged future of our consciousness, and when transcendent right and wrong are thereby mismanaged. In the hands of cultural radicals, the mismanagement is common and multifarious.
ON THE TEXT OF THE SYLLABUS
Translated by W. H. Marshner
Originally appeared in Action française, May 15, 1906
Who is killing you?
Who is leading you?
Among the various nonbelievers who joined together in the common effort of l’Action française, there were differences of opinion and tendency, to be sure. Yet their stance of seeking the public good, on the one hand, and the pains they took to avoid all preconceived ideas, on the other, have led them on (or led them back) little by little to a plain fact: here in this world (whether it be a question of things spiritual or things temporal, of the moral order or the material one) the views, interests, suggestions, and decisions of Catholicism match up point for point with the essential interests of the French nation and of the civilized world. I speak of interests understood as precisely as possible. I speak of Catholicism taken in strict definition. Continue reading “On The Text Of The Syllabus”