Friday, 5 May 2017

Dual Nature of Natural Law


It has struck me that the spirit of Natural, Moral Law, as conceptualised and propagated by independent researcher and activist Mark Passio, is both descriptive and prescriptive in essence. 

To avoid shallow, Darwinist, uneducated understandings of the term 'Natural Law', which some predictably interpret as the phenomenon whereby the strong vanquish the weak, the aforementioned researcher has described it as "the set of laws that govern the consequences of behavioural choices", in the sense of "reaping what you sow", a definition which points to Natural Law's descriptive quality, i.e. its congruence with the truth of Being, what is. 

Yet elements of Moral Law are purely prescriptive such as the forbidding of murder, rape, theft and coercion since these occur all the time all over the planet. 

It might be added - at the risk of stating the obvious - that violation of Moral Law results in harm being done to the person whose right to physical, financial, psychological integrity has been interfered with by the violent violation and it is questionable, to say the least, whether the party who brought about the injury, whether it be an individual, an organisation or the State itself, will truly incur any kind of karmic harm for doing so.

Thus it would seem that the descriptive aspect of Natural Law is slightly over-emphasised by Passio, as keen as he is to place it on the same level as, say, the physical law of gravity, when in fact the Law is more of an imperative commandment to those who have a conscience than a descriptive, point-of-fact reality whereby those who violate the Law will meet with inevitable suffering as a direct result of violating it. 

A Note on Proust


I am currently reading Marcel Proust's magnum opus À La Recherche du temps perdu, now enjoying volume 3 of the epic novel, Le Côté de Guermantes.

Two passing and, as it turns out, related thoughts have presented themselves to me in such a way that I wish to share them here, but in the manner of an enthusiast rather than a rigorous scholar:
  1. Book 1, Du Côté de chez Swann, indicates precocious desires on the part of the young narrator to become a writer, admiring as he does the contemporary littérateur Bergotte. However in his budding attempts at writing he suffers from self-doubt and feelings of literary inadequacy, unable as he is to offer biting and original philosophical angles like the authors he cherishes the most. Yet, as it turns out, the explorative and nuanced mode of consciousness of À La Recherche is one of its chief strengths and defining characteristics, free of too strong a philosophical angle on things, letting phenomena, whether social or otherwise, teach their own lessons rather than relying on à priori notions of the good life, truth and virtue.
  2. Again in Book 1, much is made of the ritual of the narrator's mother coming up to his bedroom to kiss him good night, something that the narrator longs for and cherishes come evening-time and suffers from if denied its occurrence. The narrator at this stage is still a boy. Yet, in its way, this can be seen as a Freudian foreshadowing of the narrator's many romantic infatuations as he gains in years, starting with the young and frivolous Gilberte in the Champs Elysées, moving on to the jeunes filles en fleur in the seaside town of Balbec in volume 2, one of which turns out to be the central female character Albertine Simonet, followed, in book 3 of the novel, by a quasi-stalking-level obsession with the noble Duchesse de Guermantes and a desire for physical possession, later on in that volume, of Mme de Stermaria.
"Ce qu'il me fallait c'était de posséder Mme de Stermaria."  
Thus a provisional observation - provisional in the sense that I need to complete the novel to reach a fuller perspective on the main character's development and life choices - is that both the narrator's infatuation with women and his creative aspirations are present in him as a young boy in the very first chapter of À La Recherche with my personal intuition telling me that in the end women will give way in importance to art. 

It is interesting in that respect to consider the scene in Jeunes Filles en fleur where, almost despite himself given his preference for finding these jeunes filles on the beach somewhere, the narrator pays a visit to the painter Elstir who reveals himself to be not only gifted but highly sophisticated, more so than the many mondain characters we have met so far in the novel. 

It is while the narrator gets a sense of the magic of art through Elstir's extraordinarily sensitive descriptions of some medieval reliefs that one of the young women in flower, Albertine, completely to the narrator's surprise, greets the painter so that both worlds, the romantic one and the artistic, meet in what is a crucial crossroads moment of the novel, i.e. a meeting of two expressions of life that are not easily reconciled. 

This apparent antagonism as well as coincidence between romantic love and creative yearning - or at least artistic appreciation - is perhaps, based on what I have read so far, one of the chief dialectical drives of the narrative.

I look forward to finding out how this dichotomy and union between beautiful women and beautiful works of art resolves itself as the novel progresses.