Cicero: The Republic and The Laws

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RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Cicero. The Republic and the Laws ed. By Niall Rudd. New York: Oxford, 1997.

Thesis: Nature has given to mankind a desire to defend the well-being of the community (R1.1).

The “republic” is the “property of the public,” and the “public” is defined as a legal gathering. It comes together because men want to defend and form communities (1.39). Cicero turns to Aristotle’s discussion of the 3 types of government and their corresponding virtues and vices. Monarchy is the best type of government, but it has a precarious nature (1.54ff).

Philus gives the standard rejection to natural law: there is no “justice” because men often prefer to enact injustice and different countries have different customs. As Scipio begins his response, we have to navigate some difficulties in the text. Laelius is speaking that “law in the proper sense is right reason in harmony with nature” (III.33).

In Book IV Cicero gives a scathing rebuke of Greek “male love,” for lack of a more delicate phrase.

What is the purpose of life? Religious worship, rearing a family, and participating in the community. This is impossible without a well-ordered state (5.7).

Mind, Body, Soul

“You are not mortal, but only that body of yours. You are not the person presented by your physical appearance” (6.26). A man’s true self is his mind.

>>Whatever is in constant motion is eternal. There must be something that moves others but itself is not moved. Cicero then makes the (albeit not very clear) inference that minds possess this property. His reasoning is that inanimate matter can’t move itself but must be moved. Only a mind can do this.

The Laws

The nature of justice must be deduced from the nature of man (L. 1.17). Law is the highest reason and enjoins what “ought” to be done. If Cicero can make this argument work, then he just did an end-run around the “is-ought” problem.

Reason is a “middle term” between God and man (1.23). If you share in reason (i.e., participate in that reason which is connected to God), then you share in law. If you share in law, you share in justice. This mutual sharing is a single universe of God and man.

Law is an “eternal force” and natural law is “coeval with God” (L 2.8-10). So far that sounds like medieval and classical natural law theory. Cicero then goes pantheist: universal nature possesses intelligence (16). His argument makes sense: law is embedded in nature because nature is able to reason. This overcomes the “is-ought” problem but at a very high cost.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Addendum: Society must be ordered to the Good. Now frame all "religious liberty" arguments around that. It applies at the local library level.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Cicero. The Republic and the Laws ed. By Niall Rudd. New York: Oxford, 1997.

Thesis: Nature has given to mankind a desire to defend the well-being of the community (R1.1).

The “republic” is the “property of the public,” and the “public” is defined as a legal gathering. It comes together because men want to defend and form communities (1.39). Cicero turns to Aristotle’s discussion of the 3 types of government and their corresponding virtues and vices. Monarchy is the best type of government, but it has a precarious nature (1.54ff).

Philus gives the standard rejection to natural law: there is no “justice” because men often prefer to enact injustice and different countries have different customs. As Scipio begins his response, we have to navigate some difficulties in the text. Laelius is speaking that “law in the proper sense is right reason in harmony with nature” (III.33).

In Book IV Cicero gives a scathing rebuke of Greek “male love,” for lack of a more delicate phrase.

What is the purpose of life? Religious worship, rearing a family, and participating in the community. This is impossible without a well-ordered state (5.7).

Mind, Body, Soul

“You are not mortal, but only that body of yours. You are not the person presented by your physical appearance” (6.26). A man’s true self is his mind.

>>Whatever is in constant motion is eternal. There must be something that moves others but itself is not moved. Cicero then makes the (albeit not very clear) inference that minds possess this property. His reasoning is that inanimate matter can’t move itself but must be moved. Only a mind can do this.

The Laws

The nature of justice must be deduced from the nature of man (L. 1.17). Law is the highest reason and enjoins what “ought” to be done. If Cicero can make this argument work, then he just did an end-run around the “is-ought” problem.

Reason is a “middle term” between God and man (1.23). If you share in reason (i.e., participate in that reason which is connected to God), then you share in law. If you share in law, you share in justice. This mutual sharing is a single universe of God and man.

Law is an “eternal force” and natural law is “coeval with God” (L 2.8-10). So far that sounds like medieval and classical natural law theory. Cicero then goes pantheist: universal nature possesses intelligence (16). His argument makes sense: law is embedded in nature because nature is able to reason. This overcomes the “is-ought” problem but at a very high cost.
You know I have to say it I think we finally have subject we agree on, I say tounge in cheek (I know we agree on alot) . I have come to an appreciation of natural law and 2 kingdom theology. That said, I'm interested in your statement about "grounding religious freedom"? The thing about religious freedom is it is a doubledged sword, if I want religious freedom than I have to give it to those I disagree with.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Senior
You know I have to say it I think we finally have subject we agree on, I say tounge in cheek (I know we agree on alot) . I have come to an appreciation of natural law and 2 kingdom theology. That said, I'm interested in your statement about "grounding religious freedom"? The thing about religious freedom is it is a doubledged sword, if I want religious freedom than I have to give it to those I disagree with.
Neutrality fallacy.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
You know I have to say it I think we finally have subject we agree on, I say tounge in cheek (I know we agree on alot) . I have come to an appreciation of natural law and 2 kingdom theology. That said, I'm interested in your statement about "grounding religious freedom"? The thing about religious freedom is it is a doubledged sword, if I want religious freedom than I have to give it to those I disagree with.

The key is the statement "Ordering society to the Good." Drag queens at library story hour don't do that. Per Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk, liberty cannot exist outside an ordered system.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Senior
Satanism is a religious category. Jefferson promoted Unitarianism. Naturally or by default or willful intent there is prevailing influence or thought.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Satanism is a religious category. Jefferson promoted Unitarianism. Naturally or by default or willful intent there is prevailing influence or thought.

While I certainly don't disagree, I think the analysis is more complex. While ancient man did believe in "rights" of a sort (e.g., you can find Latin writers speaking of "ius"), it wasn't the modern sense of "free to do whatever."

Ancient man, Christian or not, believed in a transcendent Good in which society participated (or shared, to use a later Wycliffean concept). Something is ordered to that Good or it is not
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Senior
While I certainly don't disagree, I think the analysis is more complex. While ancient man did believe in "rights" of a sort (e.g., you can find Latin writers speaking of "ius"), it wasn't the modern sense of "free to do whatever."

Ancient man, Christian or not, believed in a transcendent Good in which society participated (or shared, to use a later Wycliffean concept). Something is ordered to that Good or it is not
True, and philosophers were not as hostile to religion back then. They weren’t atheists.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Senior
What about Greco-Roman polytheism prior to the fall of Rome? Is that the direction we seem to be creeping towards? A oneist system of thought and belief as covered quite extensively by Peter Jones. This seems to gradually be prevailing and acceptable thought (alternative morality) and it’s having an influence on law and government, wouldn’t you say? Or no?

Manufactured consent is how I like to view it.


https://truthxchange.com/2019/10/beto-we-love-you/
 
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RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
What about Greco-Roman polytheism prior to the fall of Rome? Is that the direction we seem to be creeping towards? A oneist system of thought and belief as covered quite extensively by Peter Jones. This seems to gradually be prevailing and acceptable thought (alternative morality) and it’s having an influence on law and government, wouldn’t you say? Or no?

Manufactured consent is how I like to view it.


https://truthxchange.com/2019/10/beto-we-love-you/

Perhaps, but the big difference is that ancient cultures believed in a transcendent realm. Ours does not.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
The key is the statement "Ordering society to the Good." Drag queens at library story hour don't do that. Per Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk, liberty cannot exist outside an ordered system.
Well they are funny looking. So the good for society would be religious freedom because less fighting is better. So an ordered system would include that.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
While I certainly don't disagree, I think the analysis is more complex. While ancient man did believe in "rights" of a sort (e.g., you can find Latin writers speaking of "ius"), it wasn't the modern sense of "free to do whatever."

Ancient man, Christian or not, believed in a transcendent Good in which society participated (or shared, to use a later Wycliffean concept). Something is ordered to that Good or it is not
Free to do whatever is is legal and keep us from hurting eachother. So freedom is the correct ordering to good for society?
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Well they are funny looking. So the good for society would be religious freedom because less fighting is better. So an ordered system would include that.

That's not what we are arguing for, though. Society is always ordered to something, a transcendent Good in this case. Predators who groom children don't fit into that Good.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Free to do whatever is is legal and keep us from hurting eachother. So freedom is the correct ordering to good for society?

No. While I don't like quoting Hegel, he made a perceptive comment on the two different freedoms. Absolute freedom is the French Revolution (or in our day, Drag Queen Story Hour). It is nihilism. There is no inner binding in that society. It soon degenerates into Hobbes "War of all against all."

The proper freedom is ordered liberty. See Augustine's City of God, Book 19. I'll post the summary here.

From Bonds of Imperfection

A thing’s end is its perfection. The summum bonum is that object for which other objects are sought, but which is sought only for itself.

res publica:

true right (ius) implies obedience to the true God; for right-ness (iustitia) “is the virtue that assigns everyone his due, and there can be no rightness when the worship owed to the Creator is offered instead to unclean demons” (53).

The whole of Book 19 can be summarized along three points:
  1. An eschatological claim: the supreme good is perfect peace (19.11-12)

  2. A negative conclusion: relative to the perfect peace, our life is most unhappy.

  3. A qualification of this negative conclusion: we can have relative happiness if we make our life a means to the summum bonum.

Communis Usus

  • each city has its own end.

  • Augustine is not saying that the two cities get along together by having a common use of means towards different ends. The connective phrase ita etiam connects chapter 16 with the first line of chapter 17: the comparison is between the earthly city and the earthly household
Consensus of Wills

But what of the obvious fact that the Two Cities do seem to “get along” from time to time? For one, we note that members of the heavenly city use the earthly as a means to an end; whereas the earthly city sees itself as an end. There is no tertium quid between the two cities, no neutral space. The agreement can only be on a surface level of means, and only that.

Ius and Iustitia


Augustine notes that “ius” flows from the source of iustitia (19.21). There can be no iustitia common to the two cities because the earthly city does not deal or participate in the forgiveness of sins (Ep. 140.72; Spirit and the Letter 32.56). Iustitia, nonetheless, is not at the forefront of Augustine’s concerns.

If a state does display some virtues but it relates to some object other than God, then it is disorder (19.14-16). This insight allows Augustine to say that there is some relative order and good in a state, but gives him the space to critique the State.

O’Donovan then outlines a pyramid of ascending orders of peace in the universe (rerum omnium). I will number them but I can’t reproduce the pyramidal scheme here. The numbers aren’t of greater importance to lesser, or vice-versa. Rather, beginning with (1) it is a continual movement outward.

(10) ?

(9) peace of the heavenly city

(8) peace of the city

(7) peace of the household (19.14-16)

(6) pax hominum (Peace of Rome? or basic Peace between men)

(5) peace with God

(4) Body-soul union

(3) rational soul

(2) irrational passions

(1) Body

The relation between peace and order is one of definition. The peace of any household is the tranquility of order.

Household (Domus)

It is an ordered harmony of giving and receiving commands. Unlike the City, though, the commands are not given from a desire to dominate, but from compassionate acceptance of responsibility.

Augustine does not try to “transform” society. It is impossible to read Book 19 or the whole City of God that way. Rather, he “transvalues” society’s structures (O’Donovan 68).
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Senior
No. While I don't like quoting Hegel, he made a perceptive comment on the two different freedoms. Absolute freedom is the French Revolution (or in our day, Drag Queen Story Hour). It is nihilism. There is no inner binding in that society. It soon degenerates into Hobbes "War of all against all."

The proper freedom is ordered liberty. See Augustine's City of God, Book 19. I'll post the summary here.

From Bonds of Imperfection

A thing’s end is its perfection. The summum bonum is that object for which other objects are sought, but which is sought only for itself.

res publica:

true right (ius) implies obedience to the true God; for right-ness (iustitia) “is the virtue that assigns everyone his due, and there can be no rightness when the worship owed to the Creator is offered instead to unclean demons” (53).

The whole of Book 19 can be summarized along three points:
  1. An eschatological claim: the supreme good is perfect peace (19.11-12)

  2. A negative conclusion: relative to the perfect peace, our life is most unhappy.

  3. A qualification of this negative conclusion: we can have relative happiness if we make our life a means to the summum bonum.

Communis Usus

  • each city has its own end.

  • Augustine is not saying that the two cities get along together by having a common use of means towards different ends. The connective phrase ita etiam connects chapter 16 with the first line of chapter 17: the comparison is between the earthly city and the earthly household
Consensus of Wills

But what of the obvious fact that the Two Cities do seem to “get along” from time to time? For one, we note that members of the heavenly city use the earthly as a means to an end; whereas the earthly city sees itself as an end. There is no tertium quid between the two cities, no neutral space. The agreement can only be on a surface level of means, and only that.

Ius and Iustitia


Augustine notes that “ius” flows from the source of iustitia (19.21). There can be no iustitia common to the two cities because the earthly city does not deal or participate in the forgiveness of sins (Ep. 140.72; Spirit and the Letter 32.56). Iustitia, nonetheless, is not at the forefront of Augustine’s concerns.

If a state does display some virtues but it relates to some object other than God, then it is disorder (19.14-16). This insight allows Augustine to say that there is some relative order and good in a state, but gives him the space to critique the State.

O’Donovan then outlines a pyramid of ascending orders of peace in the universe (rerum omnium). I will number them but I can’t reproduce the pyramidal scheme here. The numbers aren’t of greater importance to lesser, or vice-versa. Rather, beginning with (1) it is a continual movement outward.

(10) ?

(9) peace of the heavenly city

(8) peace of the city

(7) peace of the household (19.14-16)

(6) pax hominum (Peace of Rome? or basic Peace between men)

(5) peace with God

(4) Body-soul union

(3) rational soul

(2) irrational passions

(1) Body

The relation between peace and order is one of definition. The peace of any household is the tranquility of order.

Household (Domus)

It is an ordered harmony of giving and receiving commands. Unlike the City, though, the commands are not given from a desire to dominate, but from compassionate acceptance of responsibility.

Augustine does not try to “transform” society. It is impossible to read Book 19 or the whole City of God that way. Rather, he “transvalues” society’s structures (O’Donovan 68).
Great stuff. But we are too far gone for this to be applicable today I reckon? It doesn’t appear the masses even want ordered liberty. And the extreme cases want merely to devour.

There is transforming occurring, but it doesn’t seem to be for the good.
 
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jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
That's not what we are arguing for, though. Society is always ordered to something, a transcendent Good in this case. Predators who groom children don't fit into that Good.
I see, we are "grounded" in a transcendent law that is also intuitive (written in our hearts). That helps us order society as best we can. God in his common grace doesn't let us get as bad as we can, unless he wills it.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Great stuff. But we are too far gone for this to be applicable today I reckon? It doesn’t appear the masses even want ordered liberty. And the extreme cases want merely to devour.

There is transforming occurring, but it doesn’t seem to be for the good.

I think a country of 330+ million is too big for any good to happen. On the other hand, disintegration isn't the best idea, either. So that's where we find ourselves.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Great stuff. But we are too far gone for this to be applicable today I reckon? It doesn’t appear the masses even want ordered liberty. And the extreme cases want merely to devour.

There is transforming occurring, but it doesn’t seem to be for the good.
What do you mean too far gone? Morally, socially? I don't think we are great in either case but functional yes.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Senior
What do you mean too far gone? Morally, socially? I don't think we are great in either case but functional yes.
It sounds like our framers were fairly close to Cicero and maybe even Augustine. As far as what is espoused in the mainstream it seemes like in a generation or two we will be pretty far removed. Based on the link I shared, it appears Peter Jones gets that feeling too. I hope I’m wrong, maybe there will be greater resistance on the horizon, who knows.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
It sounds like our framers were fairly close to Cicero and maybe even Augustine. As far as what is espoused in the mainstream it seemes like in a generation or two we will be pretty far removed. Based on the link I shared, it appears Peter Jones gets that feeling too. I hope I’m wrong, maybe there will be greater resistance on the horizon, who knows.
Yeah, I don't know. But human beings are resilient, that whole not wanting to die thing. I tend to be skeptical of doomsday scenarios, but I haven't read the link. I'll read it later.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
It sounds like our framers were fairly close to Cicero and maybe even Augustine.

Interesting that you mention that. Large sections of Cicero's Republic are no longer extant. We can only supply them from quotations by Augustine and Lactantius.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Absolute freedom is the French Revolution (or in our day, Drag Queen Story Hour). It is nihilism. There is no inner binding in that society. It soon degenerates into Hobbes "War of all against all."

The proper freedom is ordered liberty.

This point is one that Vincent James constantly makes on the Red Elephants in opposition to the libertarians who masquerade as conservatives.
 
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