Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Universal Ethic-Perception of Moral Values 3-Discovery of the Precepts

2.3. The discovery of the precepts of the natural law: universality of the natural law

44. Once we place the basic affirmation which introduces the moral order—“it is necessary to do good and to avoid evil”—we see how the recognition of the fundamental law which should regulate human acts comes upon the subject. Such recognition does not consist in an abstract consideration of human nature, nor even in the effort of conceptualization, which is proper to philosophical or theological theorization. The perception of the fundamental moral good is immediate, vital, founded upon the connaturality of the spirit with value, and engages both the affectivity and the intelligence, both the heart and the spirit. It is often an imperfect acquisition, even dark and twilight-like, but it has the profundity of immediacy. One deals here with the data of the most simple common experience which are implied in the concrete acts of the person.

45. In its search for the moral good, the human person puts himself in a state of listening to himself and becomes conscious of the fundamental inclinations of his nature which are something other than the simple blind promptings of desire. Paying heed to the admonitition that the goods to which he tends by nature are necessary for his moral fulfillment, he formulates to himself, in the form of practical commands, the moral duty of carrying them out in his own life. This expresses itself in a certain number of very general precepts, which he shares with all human beings and which constitute the content of that which is called the natural law.

46. Traditionally, three large ensembles of natural forces which work in the human person are distinguished.(50) The first, which he has in common with every substantial being, includes essentially the inclination to preserve and to develop his proper existence. The second, which he has in common with every living thing, includes the inclination towards reproduction so as to perpetuate the species. The third, which is his as a rational being, is composed of the inclination to know the truth about God and to live in society. In addition to these inclinations, the first precepts of the natural law, which are known naturally, can be formulated. Such precepts are very general, but they form, as it were, the first substrate which is at the base of all further reflections regarding regarding the good to practice and the evil to avoid.

47. To depart from this generality and elaborate the concrete choices to be done, it is necessary to resort to discoursive reason, which determines which, and at what level, are the concrete moral goods neded to fulfill the person— and humanity— and which formulates more concrete precepts to guide his acts. In this new stage, knowledge of the moral good proceeds through reasoning. At its origin it is very simple: a limited experience of life is sufficient for it, and it maintains itself within the intellectual possibilities of each person. One speaks here of "second precepts" of the natural law, uncovered thanks to a more or less lengthy consideration of the practical reason, in contrast to the general fundamental precepts which reason grasps spontaneously and that are called "first precepts"(51).

(50) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, Ia-IIae, q. 94, ad. 2.

(51) Cf. Ia-IIae, q. 94, ad. 6.

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