God and the Natural Law: A Rereading of Thomas Aquinas by Fulvio Di Blasi, translated by David Thunder
Originally published in Italian in 1999, God and the Natural Law is the impressive work of a young scholar, navigating through the swirling currents of modern debate over the meaning of natural law. President of the fledgling Thomas International (a planned Thomistic university) and co-director of the newly formed Ralph McInerny Center for Thomistic Studies, Fulvio Di Blasi presents a closer, far richer reading of Thomas Aquinas than is typical in these debates.
Di Blasi argues that many scholars have been unduly influenced by the fact-value distinction and other modern notions, and as a result misunderstand the role of God and nature in Aquinas's thought. The author maintains that Aquinas (and Suarez) did not think that natural law is completely external to man, based on the arbitrary will of God; nor that the natural law is completely internal to man, based on man's reason alone. Without a basis in nature, morality becomes merely a human product, and natural law ceases to be natural. Yet without seeing the natural order as a product of God's will (in accord with His reason), there is no sufficient obligation for man to obey the dictates of his natural ends, and the natural law ceases to be law. For Aquinas, the "natural law is nature revealing itself to human reason as willed by God."
—Matthew J. Peterson
The Claremont Institute
* * *
This article appeared in the Fall 2006 issue of the Claremont Review of Books