Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Conscious Acknowledgement of the Natural Law - Part VII

     Let us continue on the premise set forth by Thomas Aquinas concerning the relationship between being and the good:

All action and movement would seem to be directed in some way to being, either for the preservation of being in the species or in the individual, or for the acquisition of being. Now this itself, namely, being, is a good; and for this reason all things desire being. Therefore all action and movement is for a good.[i]

Any act of will resulting in action that is directed against the common good is consequential of a conscious-less acknowledgement of the natural law. Action that results in an end other than the good is “potentiality lacking act,”[ii] and therefore contra natura. This is so because the action of good flows from the nature of being and the nature of being is directed to the good.
     In the plurality of religious traditions, consequential of a religious consciousness, the functioning basis for human activity remains the natural law. It is the natural law that links humanity together despite cultural, political and religious differences. In the face of religious traditions that stand in stark opposition to each other as regards belief systems/worldviews, it is the natural law that serves as the seamless garment in a global community of diversity. Since religious traditions emerge from an innate religious consciousness, and religious consciousness awakens out of the very nature of human being, it is appropriate to determine that religious traditions can serve the end of man, that is, the common good, or they can serve an end devoid of the common good.
     Religious traditions, and religion in general, can serve as a vehicle for man to achieve the common good, the good not only of self, but of others. An essential reality that emerges forth from the natural law, as has already been established, is the innate gravitation to a good end. Since this appetite for the good is innate to each human person it becomes a general principle in its external expression. The innate appetite does not remain particular to the person, but becomes a general principle because of its social implications. The human being is a social being and therefore collectively moves in the direction toward a common good that is not good only for the particular individual but for all, hence the collective movement toward the common good. Aristotle states: “The particular good is directed toward the common good as its end, for the being of the part is for the sake of the being of the whole.”[iii]
     Interexistence between various religious traditions is possible only in the view of the common good; this view directly results from the natural law. The teleological movement toward the common good is centered in love of neighbor. Love becomes the overarching directive that makes it possible for man to live with others in a plurality of cultures, political systems and belief systems. Love is the converging point where cultures, political systems and belief systems find common ground toward the end of man, that is, the common good. Love of neighbor transcends our differences and serves as the impetus for man’s acting in responsibleness and toleration. The absence of love of neighbor, the absence of this common ground that enables man to transcend differences, is the absence of responsibleness and toleration. The absence of this transcendent quality of man lends itself to the presence of extremism and intolerance between cultures, political and belief systems.

[i]Pegis, Anton C., editor, Introduction to St. Thomas Aquinas. New York: Random House, (1948) 432.

[ii]Ibid. 433.

[iii]Aristotle, Polit., I-4.

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