To be pained by the things that we ought

“Hence we ought to have been brought up in a particular way from our very youth, as Plato says, so as to both delight in and to be pained by the things that we ought, for that is the right education.” – Aristotle


The marginalization of the individual and the mulish control of government on society drove America’s forefathers to develop an entirely new set of ideas and a radical blueprint for a new society. These ideas ignited not only rebellion but the burgeoning seeds of Capitalism in the West.  These seeds were planted by the Church with the intent of separating society from the control and manipulation of government as well as to ensure the protection of freedom.  This experiment was, to a large degree, a backlash against the marginalization of individual freedoms and an affirmation of God-endowed rights.

The question of Capitalism as a construct is multifaceted as its expanse extends well beyond an unfettered, laissez-faire approach to the free market. It is buttressed by its roots in an ambition to provide protection and recognition of its players and their respective rights, freedom, and dignity.  As a result, the modern assault on the philosophical underpinnings of Capitalism cannot simply be viewed as a fresh and modernized approach to an old, worn out system.  It is much larger than simply the problems of government intervention in free markets, given Capitalism’s history, it is a potential assault on the sacredness of the individual.

Despite the most ambitious attempts, the reach of God cannot be shortened or extricated from the dialogue of Free-Market Capitalism or Constitutional liberty as each involved, serve to elevate the sacred; sacred, or the imago dei, the created image of God (i.e., Genesis 1:27-28, Genesis 5:1-3, Genesis 9:6).

The early church father, Tertullian asked, “What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” In fact, Jerusalem, or the Church, has much to say about Athens, or the Academy.  The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive.  A Christian worldview presupposes a lens by which we come to understand and make sense of the world, humanity, education, commerce, and policy. It informs decisions and elevates the dignity of the individual. The postmodern prophets evangelize a naturalistic ethos which elevates scientific inquiry and empiricism at the expense of the dignity and distinctiveness of the “sacred,” and these notions have a cascading effect that influences the way society makes sense of the world. As a result, the supernatural is replaced with natural, and thus the removal of God and His endowment of distinctiveness on humanity.

The danger of marginalizing Free-Market Capitalism and Constitutional Liberty and relegating it to a manipulatable system of quasi-statism may be tolerable and intellectually amenable at first blush, in fact, its exigency may prove reasonable. Even so, the eventuality of its consequences relinquishes control to the government to dictate economic, social policy, rights, and then ultimately, the control of its people, a power, and authority that stands in stark contrast to not only the Constitution but most importantly, the intent and aim of God Himself.

Like a young child with explosives, undeveloped ideas, naively proffered are seemingly innocent intellectual exercises. However, given enough time, freedom to roam, and an ignition source, these seemingly innocuous ideas may come to a tragic conclusion. Intention is less important than consequence, and it is these potential consequences that demand the vigilance of Christendom and the Academy to ensure the dignity and freedom of the sacred is ultimately preserved.

Aristotle, Nichomachean ethics II, 3

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