J. Budziszewski: The Underground Thomist
Catholic Culture readers may already be familiar with one of our favorite natural law scholars and Christian apologists, J. Budziszewski, two of whose books we have reviewed in the past (What We Can’t Not Know: A Guide and The Meaning of Sex). Budziszewski, a professor of government and philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, is a Catholic convert known best for his writings on conscience, the intersection of virtue and politics, and natural law in the tradition of St. Thomas Aquinas.
In his lucid and persuasive arguments for the existence of natural law, Budziszewski sets himself apart not just by the strength but by the variety of his evidence, marshaling as he does not only abstract reason but the testimony of the human conscience and emotions. Thus these arguments work on multiple levels, simultaneously appealing to the mind and striking the gut in a highly intuitive way. At the core of his work is St. Thomas’s insistence that "we must say that the natural law, as to general principles, is the same for all, both as to rectitude and as to knowledge." That is, because the natural law is not an external law but something that follows from our own inner design, it is not only binding for everyone but is, at its most fundamental level, known intuitively by each human being.
Interested readers will be glad to know, then, that Budziszewski’s thought is now more easily accessible than ever due to his new website, The Underground Thomist (see our review). Nothing more than a central hub for all things Budziszewski, the site overflows with content spanning the many facets of the author and professor’s work. It includes a thorough bibliography, autobiographical essays, interviews, and scores of articles on many different topics and in many different forms. The scholarly inclined will gravitate towards the many lengthy and in-depth essays on political philosophy and ethics, the course syllabi, or the ongoing commentary on Thomas Aquinas’s Treatise on Law. The more casual reader will enjoy hundreds of witty and thought-provoking letters columns and dialogues between the fictional professor Theophilus and his students. There is even audio and video of some of Budziszewski’s lectures and addresses. Rounded out by a developing natural law blog, there is truly something for everyone here.
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