Essay for The Federalist


Just published today at The Federalist is an essay of mine analyzing, and providing some broader philosophical context, the recent Kansas Supreme Court decision regarding abortion and SB95. An excerpt:

The framers at Wyandotte in the times of “Bleeding Kansas” could see well enough, despite their limitations, the truth in the phrase “All men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights.” Because of this, they constituted Kansas a free state, without slavery. Stegall has shown us that the killing of unborn children in Kansas, a state “birthed in the crucible of pitched battle between two opposed and irreconcilable ideas—government by consent or consent by government,” can only be declared a natural right by undermining the political liberty of its citizens.


New essay: The CRISPR Conundrum


Over at Arc Digital, a new essay of mine about CRISPR. An excerpt:

The Cartesian project of the mastery and possession of nature—now embodied by CRISPR—would recognize no boundaries of a Stoic “Nature.” The prospect of vast amounts of money to be earned and power to be gained from procuring and selling CRISPR technology impels many no less vehemently than the prospect of ending human suffering, disease, and aging itself. So where will the limits be?

Waldstein on Integralism

b5d968115bd99222b5e78b7297b9e281.jpgFor those interested in a deeper, theological and metaphysical defense of integralism, consider Pater Edmund Waldstein’s recent essay at Church Life Journal, “Integralism and the Logic of the Cross.” It is in response to an earlier CLJ essay by Timothy Troutner, “The Integralist Mirroring of Liberal Ideals.” Troutner himself cites an earlier essay by Pater Edmund at CLJ, “What Is Integralism Today?”

Most especially helpful was the use that Pater Edmund makes of the centrality of St. Benedict’s Rule as an exemplar cause of even secular order in the Middle Ages—no surprise there, coming from a Cistercian. A sampling of the newest essay:

Troutner accuses integralists of uncritically accepting everything about Christendom that liberals reject, thus blinding their eyes to the errors of Christendom. But integralists have always distinguished abuses of power in Christendom and its proper uses. It is Troutner who uncritically accepts liberal rejections of the use of temporal power for spiritual ends an sich. Troutner manifests here a view of temporal power as so deformed by libido dominandi that it can never be used for good ends. On Troutner’s view, grace does not heal, elevate, and perfect man’s political nature, rather it replaces it with an inclination to a vague and inconsistent anarchism. Moreover, Troutner’s contention that integralists promote a worldly understanding of power not formed by Christ’s kenotic love, misunderstands both the form of power in Christendom and (more importantly) Christ’s love. Christ self-emptying in the Incarnation and the Crucifixion is meant to restore and elevate the hierarchy of creation wounded by sin, not to replace it with egalitarianism. Nor was the Church’s juridical understanding of herself in Christendom an imitation of worldly power, unaffected by Christ’s kenosis. In fact, the very opposite is the case: the form of temporal politics in Christendom was a conscious imitation of the hierarchy of the Church and the rules of the monastic orders. And the ruler was always understood as an image of Christ, bound to give himself for the common good of his commonwealth just as Christ offered himself for the Church.

De Koninck on “The Great State”

An excerpt from reading Vallée’s introduction to De Koninck’s Œuvres, II.3:

The Great State [Le Grand État] is an evil in itself, writes de Jouvenal, for a fundamental reason relating to the very nature of the human mind. Incapable of considering the innumerable relations linking a great quantity of objects, it considers them only by reducing them to a small number of classes, a number determined in advance by the quality of the mind. If, then, the quantity of objects is greatly increased, it must happen that the classes embracing each of the growing quantity of objects be of the sort that, if the objects have an individuality, the classes constituted by the mind be a view increasingly distant from reality. . . .  The administration of a State is necessarily, especially blind to individual realities insofar as the State is the larger. It is more inhuman, more geometric, more automatic. . . .

Now, what prevents the Great State from being a political society, that which renders it ineluctably despotic, is not simply the fact that the human mind is incapable of considering the innumerable relations linking a great quantity of objects. The characteristic difficulty arises from this, that the objects in question are despite everything political animals. That man is by nature a political animal is one of these necessities that liberty presupposes but which the Great State cannot tolerate except in name. The Great State faces the past, customs, at all types of contingencies which have shaped persons, peoples, and their diversity. It is this matter—so complex, heterogeneous—which men are . . . [and] which the Great State is constrained to homogenize.

~ C. De Koninck, “La Confederation, rempart contre le Grant État,” 80, 81 (Œuvres II.3; translation mine)

One wonders whether or not the advent of modern computing technology—the aid to a massive bureaucracy and its the “homogenization” that De Koninck critiques—in fact overcomes the “epistemological-political problem” in the first paragraph. It strikes me that the answer is no, for the reason given in the second paragraph. These thoughts are a work in progress.