Thursday, August 11, 2022

Natural Law and the Meaning Crisis…

…or, as an alternative title: Must I Set Myself on Fire in a Public Display of Indignation….

Paul VanderKlay did a two-hour video covering a discussion between John Vervaeke and Jonathan Pageau that was hosted by Rebel Wisdom.  I watched PVK’s video, and the comment I left at his site regards this:

Two hours on a video that is focused on the necessity of natural law ethics and objective morality in order to live peacefully among other human beings and as the solution to the meaning crisis without ever once mentioning natural law ethics while dissing the idea of objective morality. 

Yes.  His entire video talked all around natural law but never mentioned it.  As for the term objective regarding morality and ethics, this was dismissed.

That’s really quite an accomplishment.  Thank God Karl is no longer around.  The tirades that would flow would be…Biblical!

Karl used to comment often at PVK’s site.  His frustration on the lack of focus on natural law ethics as necessary in this dialogue would often result in direct, blunt, biting comments.

I understand Vervaeke doesn’t want nostalgia. 

Vervaeke doesn’t want to go back to something.

He (and, it is clear, PVK) will have to contend with Lewis and The Abolition of Man on this point.

Why?  You know why (at least those of you who have been reading attentively over the years).  Citing Lewis from this book:

This thing which I have called for convenience the Tao, and which others may call Natural Law or Traditional Morality or the First Principles of Practical Reason or the First Platitudes, is not one among a series of possible systems of value. 

It is the sole source of all value judgements.  If it is rejected, all value is rejected.  If any value is retained, it is retained.

Unless you accept these without question as being to the world of action what axioms are to the world of theory, you can have no practical principles whatever.  You cannot reach them as conclusions; they are premises.

There has never been, and never will be, a radically new judgement of value in the history of the world.

The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of imagining a new primary colour, or, indeed, of creating a new sun and a new sky for it to move in.

Nostalgia.  Nostalgia for traditional and objective ethics – the natural law.

Returning to my comment at PVK’s site:

It’s a good thing that there will be an eternity to sort this out.  At this pace, however, even eternity might not be long enough.

And then, a gift out of the blue – although, again, no mention of natural law at all.  A discussion between Jordan Peterson, John Vervaeke, and Jonathan Pageau.  This was complicated to follow, and it went on for 2.5 hours.  But I did find a few gems that were at the same time recognizable to me – including this million-dollar quote:

John Vervaeke: I would propose to you – it’s a proposal – that whatever is going to resolve the meaning crisis has to reintegrate science and spirituality.

Let’s see.  What has proven itself as having integrated science and spirituality?  Science: taking nature as it is, and man as he is.  Spirituality: everything in nature has a purpose, a purpose that can be discovered based on its (his) nature.  What could this be?

How about…the natural law!

Jonathan Pageau: What Christianity does is it provides the body for that which was good for the neo-Platonic tradition to be embodied in a communion of love and a communion of participation.

Jesus.  As an aside (and I included this quote only because it sets up Vervaeke’s next comment): This is Plato’s perfect form made manifest as Aristotle required.

John Vervaeke: Two identity claims, both made by John: God is the logos and God is agape.

Hence, uniting science and spirituality.  Hence, it is only in and through Christianity that natural law ethics can be (and has historically been) fully developed and lived (to the extent imperfect man can live to an ethic).


Two “books” I have written, both to be found here.  Each with preceding work that stretches back several years, leading me to these conclusions.  The first deals with the necessity for the natural law ethic if we are to move toward liberty (to include the necessity of Aristotle to modify Plato).  The second walks through the necessity of the natural law ethic if there is ever to be a solution to the meaning crisis.

As I have written often: This “meaning crisis” conversation will eventually come to a natural law ethic, or it will never resolve.  All of the conversation partners in this dialogue are circling natural law, but none of them choose to say it.  It is unfortunate – instead of spending thousands of hours trying to find something new, a few hours of examining something old would allow them to discover that which they seek.

Well, now for the gasoline and a match!


  1. The way forward is the way back. If people require we don't go back in order to discover answers we will only get closer to hell.

    If Murray Rothbard wasn't afraid to dust off natural law ethics why would Christians? It boils down to going back to historical Christianity. What Christian wouldn't want to do that?

    If objective truth is considered at all, then that truth has to be universal to all humans by definition. The only ethical system that is universal and therefore objective is natural law and natural rights. These concepts explain what life should look like and gives life meaning. Then it gives freedom to all to pursue this objectively good lifestyle and protects individuals from others trying to impede them. Sounds like Bible to me.

    Galatians 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

    This is specifically about spiritual freedom from works righteousness. But it is a principle that can help us see other areas where God wants us to be free.

    The Ethics Of Liberty-

    1. Yes, I agree. The one thing I will touch on - which I probably should have done in this post but have mentioned before: I don't really consider returning to natural law as "going back" to something; it is more like a return to the proper center.

      But the point remains - it is the ethic which is yet to be discovered in this conversation.

    2. It seems that they are deliberately - maybe not consciously - avoiding the conclusion that there even is such a thing as objective ethics. This is a conclusion that seemingly took you years to arrive at, Bionic, and you're nowhere near as squeamish as they are about treading the paths of political incorrectness.

      From my personal experience, I get the feeling that relativistic ethics is far more deeply embedded in the fabric of "respectable" Western thought than I would have liked. Simply hovering over the idea that some latter-day Progressive sacred cows are objectively bad and ought to be tolerated at best, but never celebrated and certainly not promoted, is seen as dangerous crazy talk.

      Specifically, I've tried making the point that people who like putting pee-pees in poopers and such are a case of something clearly wrong, though clearly not criminal from the standpoint of social relations. "Normies" invariably become livid or assume that I must have been brainwashed by some Bible-thumping pastor out there. You're not a brainwashing Bible-thumper, are you, Bionic?

      Well, anyway, this is the thing: most believe the propaganda that certain absolutist conclusions can only be drawn by religious zealots and are thus not worthy of consideration. As you noted, this is the final threshold to be crossed in resolving the issue, and it's a dangerous threshold for persons with public exposure.

      Frankly, I'm surprised they even got so far. But in any case I'm nowhere near as worried as I once was. It seems the Great Unraveling is finally at hand, and I'm happy to just see "normies" starting to probe the edges of the Progressive matrix.

    3. Cosmic: "This is a conclusion that seemingly took you years to arrive at, Bionic, and you're nowhere near as squeamish as they are about treading the paths of political incorrectness."

      This is a good point. I will try to remain patient and comment in a positive tone when interacting with such as these.

      "You're not a brainwashing Bible-thumper, are you, Bionic?"

      You've been around here long enough. Am I?


  2. This comment isn't about the article but I thought this was really cool and related to you Bionic. I listened to Tho Bishop on the Babylon Bee podcast. He said that he recently has become a Christian. He credits at least partially the Dan Ajamian's article at talking about the problems with the Enlightenment. I think you said you worked with Ajamian on the content of that article. Well if so it was significant in another libertarian having faith in Jesus. Very cool.

    1. Thanks for alerting me to this. I will say - and even though my role in this was very indirect and tangential - this is the best kind of feedback I can imagine.

      Thanks be to God.

  3. Many years ago I was told: God pays his debts without mon ey