"The Line Through the Heart" – J. Budziszewski

The Line Through the Heart: Natural Law as Fact, Theory, and Sign of Contradiction Intercollegiate Studies Institute; 1 edition (May 15, 2009)

I received this in the mail over the summer from ISI Press. I am making my through it, howbeit slowly — the bulk of my evening time these days spent with a rambunctious two-year-old who (rightly) demands his father’s attention. Still, with my gratitude to ISI for their granting me a preview, the least I could do is give it a mention:

Natural law is a fact about human beings, and a theory that humbles itself before this fact. Yet it is something else as well—a sign of contradiction, something that exasperates, offends, and enrages. The transient cause of such rage is the suicidal proclivity of our time to deny the obvious, but a more enduring cause is the Fall of Man. Our hearts are riddled with desires that oppose their deepest longings, and we demand to have happiness on terms that make happiness impossible.

In The Line Through the Heart, popular philosopher J. Budziszewski threads a path between these various abysses. Among his questions are how the knowledge of good is related to the knowledge of God, how things that seem to run against the grain of human nature can become “second nature”, and whether natural law can be reconciled with Darwinian evolution. Turning to politics, he takes up such topics as who counts as a human person, whether human dignity is compatible with capital punishment, what courts have made of the United States Constitution, and how an ersatz state religion can be built in the name of Toleration. Written in Budziszewski’s usual crystalline style The Line Through the Heart makes the natural law and its implications clear for both scholars and general readers.

A Line Through the Heart has received high praise from the likes of Peter Kreeft, James V. Schall, Ralph McInerney and Russell Hittinger (among others).

A former Evangelical, Budziszewski spoke with Ignatius Insight on the “objections, obstacles, and acceptance” which culminated in his becoming a Catholic. He is currently professor of government and philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin.

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