A Study Of The Concept Of Freedom

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A Study of the Concept of Freedom

A Study of the Concept of Freedom

Statement of the Purpose

The purpose of the study is to compare the concept of with the treatment in Veritas Splendor and gain understanding of the contemporary themes. In its opening pages Veritatis Splendor laments the rejection of traditional freedom morality by those who dissent from Church teaching, by those who think the demands of freedom supersede the demands of the law. Indeed, even some of those who have been faithful to Church teaching have thought that with the Christocentric focus of Vatican II, Pope John Paul II's personalism, and the proliferation of rights language in papal documents, the Church has jettisoned the importance of freedom teaching in its moral theology. The aim of the paper is to explore intricacies of freedom.

Veritatis Splendor on Freedom

Veritatis Splendor strongly reminds us of the proper place that freedom retains in moral theology. It teaches that personalism, freedom and natural rights are linked by their shared grounding in the dignity and nature of the human person: inasmuch as the freedom expresses the dignity of the human person and lays the foundation for his fundamental rights and duties, it is universal in its precepts and its authority extends to all mankind.

Thus, freedom, rooted in human nature shared by all mankind, is a guide to morality accessible to the Christian and the non-Christian alike. It is the great natural unifier of mankind; it allows men from different cultures and traditions to arrive at some consensus on morality.

The encyclical denies that changing historical circumstances or the varieties of cultures make invalid any effort to formulate universal laws. Certainly different cultures will have different means of teaching and implementing both the positive (e.g., honor your parents) and negative precepts (e.g., do not kill the innocent) of the freedom, but there are certain behaviors that are always moral (e.g., being just) and certain behaviors that are always immoral (e.g., adultery) no matter what the culture or period in history. Moreover, the freedom grounds the inalienable rights of man never to be violated by civil authorities or particular individuals. The encyclical is careful to state that freedom is not called natural out of reference to the irrational laws of nature, but to man's natural power of reason to discern God's laws. This is not to say that physical laws or man's biology are irrelevant to freedom, for man's biology is a constitutive part of his personhood.

The encyclical insists that the human person is a unity of body and soul and that certain natural inclinations of the body are revealing of the goods to which human nature is ordained. Some think that man is free to manipulate nature in whatever way he chooses and accuse any who think natural functionings have some relevance to moral choices, as being guilty of physicalism or biologism.

The encyclical speaks against erroneous views of freedom and nature that would have them in opposition to one another. Veritatis Splendor counters that the modern obsession ...
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