146. Man has duties towards God and towards himself; in regard to his fellow-men he has both duties and rights. We are still speaking of man as an individual and not as a member of society. According to this view we shall next consider his duties to other men and his right to possess property.
ARTICLE I. THE LOVE WE OWE OUR FELLOW-MEN.
147. Thesis VII. We must love our fellow-men as we love ourselves.
Explanation. We do not say as much or as intensely as we love ourselves, for this would be impossible, but "as ourselves," that is, in a similar manner, by wishing them good things of the kind we desire for ourselves.
Proof. Right order, which is the foundation of all morality, requires the creature to conform his will to the will of the Creator. Now, the Creator wills the good of all men, namely, that they shall, of their own free will, attain their last end, and that they shall have all the necessary means to do so. This same, therefore, we must desire for our fellow-men; and this is to love our fellow-men as we love ourselves.
Right order requires also that every one shall make it his first duty to work out his own salvation; he is immediately and directly responsible for this. Hence, he must seek primarily to procure with most special care all things tending to this object, which is his own greatest good. Consequently every man must love himself more than he loves other men.
My love for other men is based on the fact of our common nature. All other men have the same specific nature as myself, but not the same identity or individuality; therefore, my love for all other men must be the same specifically, or of the same kind, as my love for myself; but it need not, in truth it cannot, be so intense, because I cannot be so completely identified with another person as with my individual self.
148. But according to the foregoing principle, does not heroism, by which men sacrifice themselves for the good of others, violate the rule of well-ordered love? Even here the principle holds true; for, though the hero may risk or sacrifice his life to save another person, yet he thereby endeavors to gain for himself a higher good than life. His heroic act of charity merits a greater reward in the next world than a prolonged life of ordinary virtue. Hence, he really seeks his own greater good, preferring a spiritual good to one that is temporal.
149. From the argument of the preceding thesis, it is apparent that, even in the natural order, our love for our fellowmen is based for its motive upon our love for God. Hence, we perceive that all our rights and duties are referred directly or indirectly to our dependence upon God.
The dictates of this general love may be thus expressed "Never do to others what you would not wish them to do to you," and "do unto others as you would have others do unto you." The negative dictate of this law obliges always; the positive dictate obliges us to act on special occasions only, when others are in uncommon need of assistance. Our duty to render such assistance becomes urgent when they are in extreme necessity.
150. We are obliged to love all men; therefore, we must love our enemies. True, we may take whatever precautions sound reason approves, in order to protect our right against those who seek to injure us, but our object in so doing must be justice or the expediency of public or private good, and not personal revenge. It is not lawful to hate our enemies, for hatred is never a means to redress the wrong we may have suffered; nor are we allowed to injure them, unless the injury be done in self-defense (No. 164), and without violating the order of civil society. Nay even, we cannot rightfully exclude enemies from that general internal love which we owe to all men. They may, it is true, have done nothing to deserve such favor; yet, in common with ourselves, they are members of the human family, and made in a special manner to the image and likeness of God.
151. Whom are we to love most? Evidently, we ought to love those most who are most closely united to us by ties of nature, religion or civil society. Community of nature being the bond of love between man and his fellows, the more two parties have naturally in common, or the nearer they approach to identity by relationship of any kind, the greater ought to be their love for each other. Special effects of this love ought to be determined by the particular kind of relationship: to blood relations, we owe, especially, natural goods; to our brethren in the household of the Faith, spiritual goods; to our fellow-citizens, civil protection.
ARTICLE II. OUR DUTIES REGARDING THE MINDS AND WILLS OF OTHERS.
152. Duties to others founded on the mutual relationship of our minds are violated by all falsehood and, particularly, by the propagation of false principles. Duties arising from the relationship of our wills are violated by bad example or scandal, which tends to deprave the wills of others.
153. A falsehood, or lie, is speech contrary to one's mind. By a falsehood, a contradiction is willfully established between a person's thoughts and the received expression of those thoughts. For this reason, a falsehood contains a moral disorder and is essentially wrong.
Lying must be distinguished from equivocation and mental reservation.
154. Equivocation consists in using an expression readily susceptible of two meanings, one false, the other true, which the listener or reader can, and often will, understand wrongly. Thus we read (Gen. xii. 13 that, on entering Egypt, Abraham instructed Sarai to call herself his sister, the Hebrew word for sister being often used to denote a near female relative. He did this because his life would not have been safe if she were known to be his wife. In the matter of liceity, equivocation is generally classed with mental reservation which is not purely mental.
155. "Mental reservation is the unexpressed qualification of a statement affecting or entirely altering its meaning as understood by the person addressed, generally so that the uttered statement is untrue, though with the qualification it is true." (Standard Dictionary, 1894.)
It consists, therefore, in withholding a circumstance by which a statement is qualified in such a manner that the statement is false as it stands, although it is true if joined to the qualifying circumstance. When it is strictly mental, i. e., when there is nothing either in the words or in the circumstances that can prevent the hearer from being deceived, it is equivalent to a lie and therefore essentially wrong. But when the reservation is not strictly mental, it may be allowed at times; yet not without weighty reasons, else speech would become unreliable and social confidence would be impaired. If, however, reservation were never lawful, the common good or great private good would often have to be sacrificed without sufficient reason, for it may often happen that important secrets cannot be protected without mental reservation. One example will suffice: a man to whom an official secret has been intrusted may answer, if interrogated on the subject, that he does not know, meaning thereby that he does not know the matter in such a way as to be able to communicate it.
The objection may be raised that mental reservation is always wrong because it leads others into error, and, consequently, inflicts an injury upon them. We answer that he who uses a mental reservation, as an unavoidable means, intends directly to save a private person or the public from injury; and that, in so doing, he is not the cause but the justifiable occasion of error in the mind of the rash questioner.
156. Thesis VIII. A lie is intrinsically evil.
Proof 1. It is intrinsically evil to use a thing contrary to its natural end. But the natural end of speech is to communicate our thoughts to our fellow-men, and a lie is the contrary of the thoughts of him who utters it. Therefore, a lie is contrary to the natural end of speech and is intrinsically evil.
Proof 2. The universal shame attached to lying is an evident sign that, by the common consent of mankind, it is held to be wrong in itself. This is made clearer by the application of the simple text, "Do not do unto others, etc." Does any person wish to be deceived? Lying, then, is an evil to the intellect which no one wishes to suffer, for no one wishes to be deceived.
Proof 3. Man is by nature a social being; hence it is the will of the Author of Nature that he shall live in society. Therefore, whatever tends to subvert human society is intrinsically wrong. But lying tends to do this, because it weakens mutual confidence, which is essential for human society.
1. That cannot be wrong which all civilized nations allow in their courts of justice; but they allow the guilty to plead "not guilty." Answer. "Not guilty," pleaded in a criminal court, is an accepted technicality meaning "not proved guilty."
2. That is not wrong which is related by Holy Scripture concerning virtuous men; but it is there related that Jacob said, "I am Esau, thy first-born (Gen. xxvii. 19). Answer. Jacob regarded himself, after purchasing Esau's right of primogeniture, as legally Esau the first-born. Besides, Holy Scripture does not approve all the deeds which it chronicles of good men.
3. Our Blessed Saviour Himself declared that He was not going up to Jerusalem, and yet eventually He went thither (John vii. 8). Answer. Our Lord did not go up to Jerusalem on that particular festival day of which He was speaking at the time, but He went up on the third or fourth day afterwards.
4. But He denied that He knew when the end of the world should come (Mark xiii. 32). Answer. Our Lord spoke mystically as man and not as God; so He was understood by His disciples, as in other like passages, e. g., "My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me."
158. Thesis IX. We are obliged to refrain from giving scandal.
Explanation. Our duty towards the will of our fellow-man amounts to this: that, in charity, we ought to aid him in the attainment of his highest good, and, in justice as well as in charity, we must never deter him therefrom. We may so deter him, and thus become accessory to another's wrongdoing, in various ways, and especially by bad example, all of which we include under the general term, scandal. For scandal may be given by any word or deed not entirely right, which is an occasion of wrongdoing on the part of others.
Proof. We are obliged to will that others should attain their last end (Thesis VII.). But to give scandal is to will the contrary, because it tends to lead men away from their last end. Therefore, we are obliged to refrain from giving scandal.
ARTICLE III. DUTIES REGARDING THE LIVES OF OTHERS.
159. Taking away another man's life is homicide. This, we shall see further on, may in special cases be justifiable, namely, in a just war (No. 263), in the infliction of the death penalty by the civil authority (No. 249), and in self-defense (No. 164). When homicide is not justifiable yet has extenuating circumstances, it is known as manslaughter; when committed with malice and full deliberation, it is called murder. In the law, murder is defined as "the killing of a man with malice prepense or aforethought."
160. The material world has been created for mankind; not for this or that individual man, not for any special class of men, but for every man and for all men. Each and every man is created for God and for his own final happiness, which is to be found in the everlasting possession of God. Considered in this light, i. e., according to their nature, all men are equal and independent of one another. It is not with man as with the brute creation. All other things have been made for him; he can, therefore, dispose of them for his own advantage, and he has the right of life and death over irrational animals. But man has been made for God alone; consequently, to God alone belongs the right of life and death over man. Besides, since man is bound to tend towards his last end, he has a natural right to the means necessary for this purpose. Now, life is such a means; it is the foundation or the indispensable condition of all other means. Therefore, every man has a right to life, which all other men are bound to respect.
161. Thesis X. Murder is a great wrong.
Proof. The violation of most important rights is a great wrong. But murder is such a violation: it is therefore a great wrong. Murder is a violation: 1. Of God's right over human life. 2. Of the murdered man's right to his own life, the foundation of his other rights and duties, and the means necessary to attain or increase his final beatitude. 3. Of the rights of society to one of its members, and to public peace and order. 4. Of the rights that bereaved relatives and friends have to the love and society of the murdered man. Though some of the latter evils may not exist in special cases, nevertheless the chief disorders are present in every murder.
1. An act is good when its object, end, and circumstances are good; but such would be the case in, say, the murder of a persecutor of the Church, Answer. The object of the act, or the thing done (No. 47) is wrong, for it is a usurpation of God's absolute right over the life and death of man.
2. How then can it be right to kill a man in war? Answer. The thesis treats of murder, but not of justifiable homicide. We shall see (No. 263) that God confers upon the State the right of waging a just war.
3. David killed the young man who had slain Saul. Answer. David acted in this case as a sovereign punishing crime.
4. Moses by his private authority slew an Egyptian. Answer. Moses was the divinely appointed deliverer of the chosen people. God, the master of life and death, inspired him to begin his task in this manner.
5. Inspiration cannot be claimed for Mathathias, who put an apostate to death by his own authority (Mach. ii. 24). Answer. Mathathias was high-priest and judge, and, as such, the executive of the Jewish law, which ordained death without trial to the introducer of idolatry.
163. Thesis XI. Under certain conditions it is lawful, in self-defense, to kill an unjust aggressor.
Explanation. The conditions are: 1. Real danger of losing life, or of suffering great bodily injury, or of losing important possessions, the latter often being as necessary as life or limb. According to the general opinion, a woman may kill an assailant when his death is necessary in defense of her chastity. 2. No other way of escape. 3. No direct intention of killing the aggressor, but only of defending one's self. 4. That no greater injury be intentionally inflicted than necessity requires. 5. That violence be used only when the danger is imminent.
Proof 1. Our right to live involves a right to use the means necessary for life, provided such means do not violate the rights of others. But, in the case of unjust aggression the death of the aggressor may be the only means for saving one's life; nor are the rights of others thereby violated. Between the assailant and defendant arises a conflict of claims to life, in which, evidently, the right of the defendant prevails, while that of the assailant is suspended for the time being. The precedence of right belongs to the defendant, who has not willingly exposed himself to the danger, and is merely repelling an attack; but it cannot belong to the assailant, who is not acting from a motive of self-defense, and can cease from the attack or could have abstained from beginning it.
Proof 2. The thesis is a dictate of common sense, as Cicero declares in his plea for Milo.
1. The end never justifies the means. Answer. The means employed in self-defense are not evil; the defendant intends by his physical act, which is not in itself evil, not the death of his aggressor, but his own defense, and he violates no rights.
2. God's right as master of life and death is violated. Answer. It is violated by the aggressor, who forces the defendant to strike the deadly blow.
3. We must love our enemies. Answer. Well ordered charity does not require us to love our enemies more than we love ourselves, nor even to love them with equal intensity.
4. But, if this last principle is true, we should be bound in duty to kill the aggressor; yet this doctrine is repugnant to charity. Answer. We are obliged to employ only ordinary means for the preservation of life. As homicide is certainly an extraordinary means, we are not obliged to make use of it, although we have a right to do so. A man may waive this right, unless held back by imperative duties to others, and prefer, by a heroic act of charity, to lose his life rather than cut off his assailant while the latter has all his sins upon his head.
5. The foregoing does not apply, if the aggressor is an insane person. Answer. Though not an unjust aggressor formally, yet he is such materially. Hence the common opinion is that, in most cases, the killing, in self-defense, of an insane person is not against the natural law.
6. Then infanticide is not wrong, if it is necessary to save the mother's life. Answer. The unborn child is not an unjust aggressor, either formally or materially. Hence, the right of the mother who has caused, in some sense, the conflict of claims to life, must yield to the right of the child.
ARTICLE IV. DUTIES RELATING TO THE HONOR OF OTHERS.
165. Honor is the esteem in which a man is held by his fellow-men. Considered radically, or in its cause, it is a man's real excellence. Since all men have naturally, as beings endowed with rational faculties and destined for an exalted end, a certain high excellence, all men are naturally entitled to a certain honor. Still, as all men are not gifted with equal excellence, they are not all entitled to equal honor. A person may lose some of his claims to be honored or respected by others. It may be necessary for the common good, or even for some considerable private good, that the vices of an individual be exposed and his honor thus lessened.
Honor is unjustly impaired by: 1. Insult, or contumely, consisting in open, deliberate expressions of contempt; 2. Calumny, or false accusation; 3. Detraction, or the disclosure of another's secret faults to any one who has not a right to know them. The last two faults are still further specified as offenses against another's good name.
166. Thesis XII. It is unlawful to impair another's honor, and necessary to make amends for its violation.
Proof. We are obliged to love others as we love ourselves; but to lessen another's honor is not to love him as we love ourselves, for we would not have others do this unto us. We wish our honor to be respected, (a) as something valuable for its own sake and prized as such by noble minds; (b) as a protection of our rights, for a man in bad repute is more apt to suffer wrong and has little if any influence towards conciliating favor.
A man is obliged to make good the damage or loss which he has caused to another's honor or good name. Since justice demands that every one shall have his due, the honor unjustly taken away is due to him from whom it has been taken and must, as far as is possible, be restored.
167. Duelling, a practice handed down from the paganism of northern Europe, was once extensively used as a means for protecting or recovering personal honor. Happily, it has fallen into contempt and consequent disuse.
168. Thesis XIV. Duelling is opposed to the natural law.
Proof. A duel is a fight between two parties with murderous weapons, undertaken by private authority and according to previous appointment. Now, such an act is intrinsically wrong, and therefore opposed to the natural law. The act is intrinsically wrong, because it has the malice both of suicide and of murder. 1. A principal in a duel exposes his life without a just and reasonable cause, and he does this deliberately and by pre-arrangement. 2. He deliberately seeks the life of a fellow-man on his own private authority and without being forced by necessary self-defense.
1. David is praised for his duel with Goliath. Answer. A single combat, authorized by the civil power as a means of warfare, is not a duel in the sense here attached to the word.
2. A duel may be necessary to avoid the imputation of cowardice. Answer. It would be moral cowardice to do a wrong action through human respect.
3. It is lawful to slay the unjust assailant of a man's honor, since many value honor more highly than life. Answer. Life can sometimes be defended only by striking down the unjust aggressor; but this is not true of a man's honor or good name. Moreover, the esteem in which one man is held by others is not more precious than life, though this is true of honor considered radically or in its cause, i. e., personal excellence and virtue.
4. According to the general opinion, a woman may kill the assailant of her honor, or virtue, if there be no other means of escape. Answer. Honor in this case means more than a good name; it means bodily chastity, which its owner has a right to defend as a priceless possession (No. 163, i).
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