Saturday 30th May 2015

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

The Disappearance Of Common Sense

May 17, 2014 Frontpage No Comments
common

By DONALD DeMARCO

Fr. Vincent McNabb, OP, begins his edifying little book, The Catholic Church and Philosophy, with an unusual, though perfectly valid, definition of philosophy. He refers to it as “orchestrated, supreme common sense.” Philosophy, far from being an esoteric enterprise, is well within the reach of the untutored person. “Its first duty,” therefore, according to Fr. McNabb, “is to justify mankind’s intuitions.”
It is essential that philosophy orchestrate its knowledge not in an accidental way, such as the way a person might organize the stamps in his stamp collection, but according to realistic principles. Because philosophy is tethered to reality, it respects the very principles that hold reality together and give it an objective order. Its common sense is “supreme” because it deals with notions of highest importance.
It may be said that the loss of philosophy in our present society as a vital force is associated with the disappearance of common sense. Three examples should suffice to buttress this contention and help to explain the elusiveness of justice, equality, and peace. Each of these great ideas is part of an objective order that requires the recognition and acceptance of foundational ideas upon which they rest. The whole world is in love with this trinity of ideas, but few are willing to affirm the three equally great ideas on which they are dependent for their operation.
Consider the following image as an illustration of the loss of common sense. A client approaches an architect and tells him to build a house that has a second floor but not a ground floor. The client emphasizes his affection for second floors and his disdain for first floors. The architect is puzzled, but informs his client that a first story is needed to hold up the second, that it is impossible to construct a second floor that stands in midair without any underlying support.
Try as he may, the architect is unable to convince his client that there is a certain rigor to reality that makes no concessions to one’s peculiar preferences. As G.K. Chesterton has reminded the world, “There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.” The rigor of reality is happily accepted by commonsense philosophy.
“Justice” has won the approbation of the vast majority of people, as a personal as well as a social value. At the same time, and in violation of common sense, the value on which justice resides — truth — is dismissed as subjective, unreliable, or presumptuous. Pontius Pilate’s immortal phrase, “What is truth?” still reigns. It is instructive to recall that the word “verdict” is derived from two Latin words (verum and dicere) meaning “to tell the truth.” A judge, for example, does not recklessly convict just anyone, but the one who, in accordance with the evidence, truly committed the crime. There can be no justice without truth. In fact, justice is the virtue that honors truth.
Our thirst for justice can be quenched only by imbibing truth. That is simply the order of things.
Another popular notion that remains elusive is equality. But the equality of all human beings rests on the notion of a common nature. Existentialists in the camp of Jean-Paul Sartre insist there is no such thing as nature. Feminists deny that men or women have a “nature.” In the attempt to avoid “stereotypes,” it is commonplace to avoid any kind of grouping. Yet, if nature is disregarded, what is left is nothing but individuals who have lost their unifying nature.
Also victims of this rejection of nature are marriage and the family. Equality has no basis where all the elements are distinct and unmixable individuals. But people are not equal with respect to how they are different but in accord with a common, human nature. There can be no equality without a common nature.
Finally, the love for peace is perpetually thwarted by a refusal to accept the order of reality. St. Augustine’s maxim that “peace is the tranquility of order” makes no sense to people who, out of a misguided affection for freedom, do not want to submit to any pre-established order. Disorder naturally breeds chaos. Common sense attests that chaos does not produce peace. If one desires peace, he must accept the natural order of things. The order of marriage, sex, and children, when spurned, has brought a great deal of disquietude to so many. It belongs to the wise man, for St. Thomas Aquinas, to respect the proper ordering of things (Sapientia est ordinare). The same wise man is the beneficiary of peace.
The penthouse where justice, equality, and peace reside is supported by truth, nature, and order. This is a verity that can be affirmed by “orchestrated, supreme common sense.”
Ideals are fine as long as they remain realistic. “If you build castles in the air,” Henry David Thoreau once advised, “your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.”

+    +    +

(Donald DeMarco is a senior fellow of Human Life International. He is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario, and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Conn., and a regular columnist for St. Austin Review. Some of his recent writings may be found at Human Life International’s Truth & Charity Forum.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Untitled 3

Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

Ireland is worse than the pagans for legalising gay marriage, says senior cardinal

Ireland has gone further than paganism and “defied God” by legalising gay marriage, one of the Church’s most senior cardinals has said. Cardinal Raymond Burke, who was recently moved from a senior role in the Vatican to be patron of…Continue Reading

UN Official Reports on Islamic State’s “War on Women”

A United Nations official has painted a chilling picture of how the Islamic State group oversees a vast network of sexual slavery, including an elaborate pricing system, violent treatment by slave masters and casual branding of female bodies and reselling…Continue Reading

Confidential Meeting Seeks to Sway Synod to Accept Same-Sex Unions

ROME — A one-day study meeting — open only to a select group of individuals — took place at the Pontifical Gregorian University on Monday with the aim of urging “pastoral innovations” at the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the…Continue Reading

Ireland has voted to legalize gay marriage, both sides say

DUBLIN (AP) — Irish voters have resoundingly backed amending the constitution to legalize gay marriage, leaders on both sides of the Irish referendum declared Saturday after the world’s first national vote on the issue. As the official ballot counting continued,…Continue Reading

Vatican’s eco guru champions Occupy Wall Street thugs

May 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Jeffrey Sachs wears many hats. He is known as the architect of the UN Millennium Development Goals, and the proponent of the upcoming UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). His new book, entitled, (what else) The…Continue Reading

Boy Scouts president: We need to allow open homosexual leaders

May 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Boy Scouts of America president Robert Gates says the youth organization must change with the times and allow open homosexual men to serve as Scout leaders. Gates, the former U.S. Secretary of Defense and CIA…Continue Reading

Federal Court Forces University of Notre Dame to Obey Pro-Abortion HHS Mandate

A federal appeals court has denied a request by the University of Notre Dame to get out of having to comply with the pro-abortion HHS mandate that is a part of Obamacare and requires businesses and church groups to pay…Continue Reading

The Reception of Holy Communion in the United States

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council. Pope Francis has decided to mark the occasion with the “Year of Mercy.” Despite much happy-talk and positive papal press, it is a time of foreboding in…Continue Reading

‘Eleven Christians Killed Every Hour,’ Says Irish Bishop

According to Bishop John McAreavey, the Chair of the Council for Justice & Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, statistics show that the situation of Christian persecution in the world is far more dire than most people understand. The…Continue Reading

Africa’s experience of family life must be heard at synod, Pope tells Togo’s bishops

Pope Francis received Togo’s bishops in audience on May 11 as part of their quinquennial ad limina visit to Rome. The West African nation of 6.8 million is 20% Muslim, 15% Protestant, and 14% Catholic, with approximately half of the…Continue Reading

The eco-encyclical won’t commit the Church to unsettled science

By the time the environment encyclical of Pope Francis is released, it will be anti-climactic. Not anti-climate change to be sure, as the Holy See is certainly enthusiastic about the issue. Actually, it is against climate change, but enthusiastic about…Continue Reading

“America’s Changing Religious Landscape.”

The Pew Research Center just released its latest study on “America’s Changing Religious Landscape.” The subtitle tells the story: “Christians Decline Sharply as Share of Population; Unaffiliated and Other Faiths Continue to Grow.” For our purposes, I want to focus…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis: Evangelize with a language of merciful love

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday received members of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization at the end of their Plenary session. During the course of their Plenary session the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization has been discussing the relationship between evangelization and catechesis and it was on that theme that Pope Francis addressed members of the Council, including its President Archbishop Rino Fisichella. Speaking to them…Continue Reading

Pope: coherent Christians draw people to Christ

pope788

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ homily this morning focused on the Gospel account of Bartimaeus, the blind man who cried out to Jesus to be healed, and whom the disciples called to be silent. The Gospel led the Holy Father to reflect on three different groups of Christians. First, there are Christians who are concerned only with their own relationship with Jesus, a “closed, selfish” relationship, who do not hear the cries of others: “This group…Continue Reading

Pope speaks with open heart to Argentinean newspaper

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says that being with people does him good. In a long and very personal interview with Juan Beretta, a reporter from the Argentinean newspaper “La Voz Del Pueblo”, the Pope speaks of his feelings of when he was elected Pope, of how he misses walking the streets, using public transport and sitting down for a pizza, of how he feels moved and sad when he meets sick children, prison inmates and…Continue Reading

Pope: worldly Christians can’t have both heaven and earth

pope787

(Vatican Radio)  It’s sad to see a Christian who wants to “follow Jesus and the things of this world.” That’s what Pope Francis said at Tuesday morning’s Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, stressing that a Christian is called to make a radical choice in life:  you can’t be “half” Christian or have both “heaven and earth.” In his homily Pope Francis reflects on Peter’s query to Jesus:  what would he and the disciples get…Continue Reading

Saving The Fourth

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO The Patriot Act has a bad pedigree and an evil history. In the fearful days immediately following 9/11, the Department of Justice quickly sent draft legislation to Congress that, if enacted, would have permitted federal agents to violate their oaths to uphold the Constitution by writing their own search warrants. The…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “How Many People Are Homosexuals?”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995.) + + + “Homosexuality is one in 10. It’s one in 10 on the football team. It’s one in 10 on the baseball team. It’s one in 10 on the softball team. It’s one in…Continue Reading

It Is A Christian Country: At Least It Used To Be

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK I realize that there are intelligent commentators on the right who are convinced that homosexual activists are pushing for the day when Christian churches will be compelled by law to perform same-sex marriages. I may be wrong, but I do not think that we will see that dictate anytime soon. It…Continue Reading

Sharper Than A Serpent’s Tooth

By DONALD DeMARCO Commutative justice demands that we repay what we owe. If I owe my brother $10, I should pay him $10. Justice in this sense is a proportion between the debt and the repayment. It is morally and often legally binding. There is a similar proportion on a higher level though it does…Continue Reading

Intense Conflicts . . . Is The Catholic Church In Germany In Danger Of Apostasy?

By MAIKE HICKSON For several weeks now, the German Catholics — bishops and laymen alike — have been in debate and disagreement over Catholic moral teaching and its continuing validity for Catholics today. After the German Bishops’ Conference came out on April 16 with its report to be sent to Rome for the upcoming October…Continue Reading

The Wanderer Interviews His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke . . .

burk10

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who previously served as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome from June 2008 until November 2014, recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. Prior to that he served as Archbishop…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Q. I like to attend daily Mass, but the town where I live only offers two — at 6:45 and 7:00 a.m. at two different churches. Now that I am getting older and have trouble sleeping, these early Masses are very difficult to attend regularly. I wonder if every parish priest would consider offering at least one Mass per week in the…Continue Reading

The Blood Of Christ Cleanses Our Consciences

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Solemnity Of Corpus Christi (YR B) Readings: Exodus 24:3-8 Heb. 9:11-15 Mark 14:12-16, 22-26 In the first reading today we hear about the covenant that was entered into between God and the people of Israel. Moses was the representative of both God and the people in this case. Consequently, he speaks to the people on behalf…Continue Reading

Archbishop Martin In Lourdes . . . In Defending Marriage, We Are Not Trying To Hurt Or Offend

LOURDES (ZENIT) — Here is a homily given May 13, on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, by Archbishop Eamon Martin at Mass in Lourdes on his first pilgrimage to the Marian shrine as archbishop of Armagh, Ireland. + + + At Mass in Lourdes, Archbishop Martin remembered and acknowledged the faithful in Ireland, and around the world, who…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Social Networks, Addiction To Images, And Custody Of The Eyes

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK A follower on my Facebook page recently messaged me about a sordid situation arising from an association based on a Facebook “friendship.” She “friended” a man who then used her account to gain access to her daughter. What started out as a hope to meet someone who may become a real friend ended in inappropriate…Continue Reading

An Apologetics Course… The Order Of The Universe Proves God’s Existence

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 3 Let us put our thinking cap on, and reason: Whenever you see something whose parts are arranged in order, following a specific logical pattern, you know that someone did it. Furniture in a living room, chess pieces on a board, books in a library. Orderly arrangement cannot be explained except as being due to…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . St. Ephrem

By CAROLE BRESLIN For centuries — no, for millennia — the Mideast has been the center of tragedy and unrest. Particularly significant in this historical conflict sits the city of Nisibis, now named Nusaybin. Nusaybin is an ancient city which sits on the border between Syria and Turkey. In ancient times this fertile land, located between the Tigris and Euphrates…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Charles Lwanga And Companions

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Catholic Church in Africa has experienced unprecedented growth in the past century. In 1900, shortly after the martyrdom of Charles Lwanga and companions, there were two million Catholics in Africa. When Pope Benedict XVI visited Africa in 2009, the Catholic population was 158 million. Once again the Church has witnessed that the blood of martyrs is…Continue Reading