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Natural Law quotations

 
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Joseph Milne



Joined: 17 Apr 2008
Posts: 326
Location: Herne Bay, Kent, UK

PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 5:18 pm    Post subject: Natural Law quotations Reply with quote

I thought it would be nice to collect some good quotations on the theme of Natural Law as this shows us the profoundly ethical nature of economics and society. My first is from Cicero.

Cicero on Duty

The primary duty is that the creature should maintain itself in its natural constitution; next, that it should cleave to all that is in harmony with nature and spurn all that is not; and when once this principle of choice and rejection has been arrived at, the next stage is choice, conditioned by inchoate duty; next such a choice is exercised continuously; finally, it is rendered unwavering and in thorough agreement with nature; and at that stage the conception of what good really is begins to dawn within us and be understood. (De Finibus, III, 20-21)
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Joseph Milne



Joined: 17 Apr 2008
Posts: 326
Location: Herne Bay, Kent, UK

PostPosted: Sat Mar 23, 2013 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I might just add to this that we have no way of knowing what is ethical without a knowledge of the nature of things. This is why Cicero insists that our actions are in harmony with nature.

Our modern subjective ideas of ethics do not take this into account. Modern 'conscience' is only emotion or personal feeling, and therefore not a ground for ethics.

In economic terms this means we cannot have justice without knowing the nature of society, specifically of land and labour and money.

Yet the present economic crisis, brought about through ignorance and greed, is not even regarded as an ethical problem by the current politicians and economits trying to deal with it.

Justice is not mere idealism. It belongs to the understanding of the nature of things.

Joseph
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Peter Fennell



Joined: 27 Sep 2007
Posts: 53
Location: London

PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Joseph, thankyou for the Cicero quote. Natural law is acknowledged in the economics courses and it is part of the definition of Economics used and also of the primary object of the institution. But given the course title 'Economics with Justice' I am coming to the view that we should explore a range of formulations of what Justice is and include (or conclude) with this: it is that which is in harmony with natural law.

Quote:
we cannot have justice without knowing the nature of society, specifically of land and labour and money


Yes and I also think we have to drill down and explore how those terms function. For instance:

The nature of land is that it seems to provide for its own government but at what level - should each estate be self governing and self funding?

The nature of man is more than labour. He may live of the fruits of his labour and yet in families we see him share them with the young and the old, maybe also with a wife. Should they not 'live of their own'?
What of the non-productive classes - governors, soldiers, priests, teachers etc - should they be supported by the productive or allowed land and expected to 'live of their own' (as parliament told Henry IV 1404).
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Leonie Humphreys



Joined: 23 Sep 2008
Posts: 216
Location: West Dorset, UK

PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcyuKUtgyZ8

This is ground control to Peter Fennell......!

Peter wrote:

Quote:
The nature of land is that it seems to provide for its own government but at what level - should each estate be self governing and self funding?


And:

Quote:
What of the non-productive classes - governors, soldiers, priests, teachers etc - should they be supported by the productive or allowed land and expected to 'live of their own'


Are you serious?

I don’t know what planet you are on but it doesn’t seem to be the same one as the rest of us .... 21st century Planet Earth!

Not sure where the phrase ‘live of their own’ comes from anyway – could you elaborate since it seems to be a fundamental assumption implicit in your questions? Also why do you consider that group of professions etc that you mention to be ‘non-productive’?


Joseph wrote:

Quote:
Cicero on Duty

The primary duty is that the creature should maintain itself in its natural constitution; next, that it should cleave to all that is in harmony with nature and spurn all that is not; and when once this principle of choice and rejection has been arrived at, the next stage is choice, conditioned by inchoate duty; next such a choice is exercised continuously; finally, it is rendered unwavering and in thorough agreement with nature; and at that stage the conception of what good really is begins to dawn within us and be understood. (De Finibus, III, 20-21)


Sounds like to live like that today one would have to become a hermit (which isn't possible of course). So, how might it inform the current situation, nevertheless?

In the context of economics you mention land, labour and money and imply that there must be a connection with how these are managed and organised in a society that is ‘natural’ and/or ‘just’ – have I understood that correctly? If so, then to live ‘unwaveringly in agreement with nature’ must follow from setting these conditions right? So, we end up with a chicken and egg situation. It is difficult if not impossible to live ‘in agreement with nature’ until we get the conditions right, but until there is at least a critical mass willing and able to live like this and to work to implement such conditions conducive to include everyone, nothing is likely to change. Back to square one!

Barbara Marx Hubbard recognises this problem as well as what seems to be required, in her book ‘Birth 2012 and Beyond’:

“We have recognised that the old systems are not serving us anymore and, more importantly, that the old consciousness is no longer working either. We’ve reached the end game for greed. And the heartache we feel when we witness a world of poverty, hunger, and deprivation can itself spark the flowering of viable innovations and compassionate solutions. ....”

And:

‘To fully awaken we need a shared peak experience or a mass spiritual experience of expanded reality. Mystics and visionaries have had such experiences all through human history, but it has never been a communal experience. Widespread spiritual experiences of our wholeness, oneness and goodness could become a collective awakening during our Planetary Birth process and celebration.’

Do you think there is much chance of this occurring?


I found this transcript about 'awakening' by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee this morning. As he puts it: 'We are the veil that separates us from the direct experience of an awakened reality. ....'. He explains why he feels we are at a point when the world wants to 'wake up'.

The transcript of the talk in March 2007 can be found at this link: http://dotsub.com/view/e17d27de-cdfc-4917-a679-9afe44ada02a/viewTranscript/eng

Leonie
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Peter Fennell



Joined: 27 Sep 2007
Posts: 53
Location: London

PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good morning Ground Control,

Quote:
Not sure where the phrase ‘live of their own’ comes from anyway


Sir Kenneth Jupp refers to this principle in 'Stealing our land'. I think the difference between 'off' and 'of' in those days was indistinct but the idea is that the cost of administration would not be borne by appropriation of the people's wealth but from the government's own resources.

What I am pondering is whether in natural law the principle should not apply equally at local levels of government? And if so why not right down to the householder's government of his own holding?

Quote:
why do you consider that group of professions etc that you mention to be ‘non-productive’?


Not engaged in the production of wealth. There are non-productive times of life and also classes of employment. Not to say non-valuable, quite the opposite. Only that they are not making things and must be fed, clothed and housed by those who are. This is from Henry George 'The Science of Political Economy' Book III. In considering what those classes may be in natural law I have drawn on the Vedic framework of Kshatriya (governors and soldiers) and Brahmins (priests and teachers) that are expected to be supported by Waishya (merchants) and also on current practice of what we regard and fund as public services today. You could add others ...
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Richard Glover



Joined: 29 Sep 2008
Posts: 185
Location: Ealing, London, UK

PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2013 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

James Prescott Joule, 2 quotes:
"It is evident that an acquaintance with natural laws means no less than an acquaintance with the mind of God therein expressed."
"After the knowledge of, and obedience to, the will of God, the next aim must be to know something of His attributes of wisdom, power, and goodness as evidenced by His handiwork."

An aside: One aspect of natural law that appears to be of real concern these days is energy, its conservation and availability. Joule's name is used as the international standard unit of energy and he was instrumental in deriving the first law of thermodynamics.
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Leonie Humphreys



Joined: 23 Sep 2008
Posts: 216
Location: West Dorset, UK

PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Peter,

You wrote:

Quote:
Sir Kenneth Jupp refers to this principle [to 'live of their own'] in 'Stealing our land'. ...... the idea is that the cost of administration would not be borne by appropriation of the people's wealth but from the government's own resources.

What I am pondering is whether in natural law the principle should not apply equally at local levels of government? And if so why not right down to the householder's government of his own holding?


You seem to be asking if Natural Law would dictate that people ‘live of their own’, and if so at what level – the family or the wider community/society? The implication then is that conditions would be required to allow for that.

As I understand it, if Henry George’s idea about raising public revenue from ‘rent’ instead of production (through LVT for example), was implemented this might provide the conditions where people could ‘live of their own’ in some respects at least, at the family and local level. But what people value at the community level would still have to be funded from the communal pot - this is a matter of social organisation and efficiency rather than 'principle' surely? Most of the ‘classes’ of employment you mention in your post above – teachers, politicians, the military for instance are ‘productive’ – they provide a service, where the others you mention, the ‘merchant’s’ tend to produce goods. They still all have a role in the community, and are in that sense ‘productive’. Even the spiritual Teachers provide a ‘service’ but the question is how they are looked after in a community – you raise the issue then of whether they are ‘valued’.

You point out that we look after each other at the family level, even women who only ‘produce’ children and don’t go out to work! It seems to me the Natural Law is that people look after those they ‘love’ even if they are ‘unproductive’ for a while – the young and old and ill and disabled for instance. Isn’t that ‘Natural Law’ in operation?

You mention the ancient Indian caste system – are you suggesting that this is an expression of Natural Law? And what about the poor old Brahmins, or Plato’s ‘guardians’? Who cares about them?! Trick is perhaps to be a ‘lovable’ spiritual Teacher – like the Dalai Lama – after all spiritual awakening is all about ‘love’ isn’t it? That surely is also ‘Natural Law’? Perhaps we need a ‘spiritual tax’ – would that be in tune with Natural Law?

With best wishes, Leonie
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Peter Fennell



Joined: 27 Sep 2007
Posts: 53
Location: London

PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Leonie,

Quote:
You seem to be asking if Natural Law would dictate that people ‘live of their own’, and if so at what level

Yes. We expect a territory (land) to be self governing and self funding. But why only at National level? I could imagine a system in which a land holding would pay some of the rent to central government for national services, some to local government for local services and some held for attending to the government of the estate - if any.

The George / LVT model could work in this way. The difference may be to not assume Whitehall is the only type of government. eg. Charities by definition provide public benefit - so it may be right for them to be independently funded out of rent from their own land holdings rather than receive a stipend back from CG which would undermine their independence.

Quote:
Most of the ‘classes’ of employment you mention in your post above – teachers, politicians, the military for instance are ‘productive’ – they provide a service


Most functions we call services are a sub-process in production of material goods. These are not in that category. I agree they are productive of something but if we allow metaphysical goods into our economic meaning of 'production' then I think we risk subjecting things to economic analysis that are properly beyond it. As Scruton says: friends are useful but if we accord them utility value we undermine friendship.
Or as Schumacher says some things are 'meta-economic'.
Still they need to be supported by the economy - the farmer must feed them etc - so our understanding of the producer's responsibilities to support others may have to expand.

I fear I may have diverted from Joseph's aim for a thread of Natural Law quotations although I think we are still talking to Cicero's
Quote:
the creature should maintain itself
and who else may be comprehended in its
Quote:
inchoate duty
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