God and the Natural Law

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Translated by David Thunder, Foreword by Ralph McInerny, Preface by Mario A. Cattaneo, 270 pages, foreword, preface, introduction, notes, bibliography, index 6" x 9"

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God and the Natural Law

A Rereading of Thomas Aquinas

Fulvio Di Blasi

It seems that to have credibility in the post-Kantian and analytical world, contemporary natural-law theory wants to show its independence both from God and from human nature. But can there be a natural-law theory without the "natural" – not grounded on the facts of nature – and without "law" – not in need of a Legislator? In God and the Natural Law, Fulvio Di Blasi, starts with an original analysis of the current debate in ethics, jurisprudence, and politics in order to give the background for a sound understanding of the concept of natural law, which sets the stage for the heart of the book: a recovery of the authentic meaning of the two main concepts of classical natural law theory as synthesized by Thomas Aquinas – the will of God and the order of nature.

The wide revival of practical philosophy and objective-values ethics of the past decades has involved a strong rediscovery of classical natural law. This rediscovery is marked by two main traits: the emphasis on the autonomy of practical reason (as a reaction to the modern voluntarism centered on the external will of the legislator) and the emphasis on the originality of practical reason (as a reaction to the idea of a rational deduction of moral truths from the facts of nature). Without denying an autonomous character of ethics and the need for a strong criticism to moral rationalism, Di Blasi claims that Aquinas’s thought remains unintelligible if we remove from it either God or the metaphysical understanding of nature.

"[God and the Natural Law is] direct and immediate, because [today] it seems ever more difficult for our mindset to think through to the depths, without historical and conceptual filters, the simple and radical idea that natural law is nothing other than the encounter between man and God. Natural law is the way in which we discover ourselves as part of the project of creation." – Salvatore Amato, Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia del Diritto