May 18, 2019

"THE BENEFIT OF THE COMMUNITY":

CICERO'S REPUBLIC: IMPLANTED IN THE NATURE OF MAN (Bradley J. Birzer|, May 17th, 2019, Imaginative Conservative)

The best society, Cicero continues, cultivates us as free individuals, not for our benefit, but for the benefit of the community. "For, in truth, our country has not given us birth and education without expecting to receive some sustenance, as it were, from us in return; nor has it been merely to serve our convenience that she has granted to our leisure a safe refuge and for our moments of repose a calm retreat," he argues forcibly and persuasively. "On the contrary, she has given us these advantages so that she may appropriate to her own use the greater and more important part of our courage, our talents, and our wisdom, leaving to us for our own private uses only so much as may be left after her needs have been satisfied." Though unpalatable to modern libertine ears, Cicero's words certainly anticipate those of Edmund Burke. Additionally, Cicero notes, a man must act not merely on behalf of his own republic, but on behalf of the universe as seen through the republic and the actions of its citizens. "Do you not think it important for our homes that we should know what is happening and being done in that home which is not shut in by the walls we built, but is the whole universe, a fatherland which the gods have given us the privilege of sharing with them."

One must presume, especially given his other writings, that Cicero means an example not only for the world of any one person's generation, but for all generations, past, present, and future. Scipio, one of Cicero's characters, states as much when he famously argues: "A commonwealth is the property of a people. But a people is not any collection of human beings brought together in any sort of way, but an assemblage of people in large numbers associated in an agreement with respect to justice and partnership for the common good." In this, he echoes the future views of Edmund Burke, again, in the Anglo-Irish statesman's explanation of the eternal contract between those dead, those living, and those yet to be born. "The first cause of such an association," Scipio continues, "is not so much the weakness of the individual as a certain social spirit which nature has implanted in man." As with Aristotle, Scipio claims "man is not a solitary or unsocial creature, but born with such a nature that not even under conditions of great prosperity of every sort" does he choose to leave the company of others, permanently.

Posted by at May 18, 2019 5:16 AM

  

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