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Archive of some video Programs from Cicero's Works,
(most recent Programs at top) On Duties>>> (Scroll down for The Laws and The Republic)
Cicero is traditionally considered the greatest writer at any time in any language, but he has fallen out of favor in the West in the last 200 years with the rise of modern humanism and spiritual liberalism. Cicero was, of course, a hero to Augustine and to Jefferson (and to Michael Grant!), and in fact, in my mind, his philosophy is the culmination and zenith of pagan antiquity and its Natural Revelation philosophy started by the Greeks, of course.
Scroll down for Cicero's probably unequalled, and certainly unsurpassed, opening books of The Laws as well as The Republic with Scipio's Dream. At some point I hope to be able to make an Archive of all these Programs available on line for use in university, even possibly high school, classroom discussion. I think the return of Cicero as a central and important figure in the West in education, politics, law, and philosophy will mark the return of the West to its Natural Law/ Revelation Logos foundation of Reason which, in fact, served the West so well for so many centuries until the intellectual, cultural, moral and spiritual decline of modern times with truly faulty notions of (humanistic) "Reason."
Wisdom of God, fellowship of man, without which nothing is Right or Good (or True)
Today, we wrap up the famous Book I of Cicero’s On Duties on moral good with its 4 virtues of 1.) wisdom/truth; 2.) justice/right; 3.) courage/perseverance; 4.) temperance/self-control. This last one has the fitting or appropriate, and harmonious decorum, etc., and so acting upon it. Not to be boorish or a dog or cow, etc., young man!Today's marker board update of the outline of On Duties: Program 251 Photo The sum of the matter? For Cicero as for Aristotle and Socrates and Solomon the whole point of education for young men is to learn pleasure and fulfillment in doing the morally right thing, and, further, for Solomon, Socrates, and Cicero it is that one is ultimately to judged by God in the next life! For the humanist none of this is the point of education, but rather it is to learn that Cicero, Aristotle, Socrates and Solomon are all essentially metaphysical nonsense with their foundationally absurd "right living," (let alone, in even suggesting that we might be accountable before God in this life or the next in that supposed "right living")! Still, we must choose between these two general positions, and we pretty much see the truth of all things to fall out one way or another in these two options, of a real Good, Right and True, or not at all. One man’s " shameless" may be another man’s "natural," but what is really "natural" and what is "shameless"? You can’t ask those questions say the humanist and liberal because those things have no real objective or metaphysical reality. Or, do they? That is basically the question of Western philosophy from start to finish. All I am saying is Cicero is speaking naturalistically of the righteous truth and good of God in the Nature of things, and, furthermore, he was so seen to be by most great Christian thinkers up until the 19th century.
4th Virtue of Good: Self-control for both morality/ justice and for decorum, fitting or appropriate action
Today, this all ends, more or less, for Cicero with a moral / spiritual refinement of "good manners" and "courtesy"!!! I’m serious, believe it or not...Is Philippians 4:8 the greatest verse in the Bible? In general, probably not, but for philosophical purposes, quite possibly... Without question, it is THE issue in politics, and THE issue in law, and THE issue in entertainment, and even in religion, and certainly in education. And, of course, it hardly exists at all for us, nor has it specifically nor in its substance in decades, if not generations in almost all of education, law, politics, religion, and entertainment. And, again, you almost certainly did not learn this Philippians 4:8 stuff in junior high or high school, let alone in college, because your teacher or professor had not learned in it college, himself (or herself), in order to be able to teach it to you! The humanists "professing to become wise" and smarter than everyone else (as Romans 1 says) had pretty much removed all of this true philosophical worldview teaching from the educational curriculum by the late 19th century and almost certainly by the early 20th century, in most cases. But, in truth, Good and Evil are not just real concepts in a Platonic sense, but actually real spiritual realities in an ontological sense! But none of these things exist for the humanist, of course. And, further, the indwelling Holy Spirit in the born-again Christian is the third Person of the Trinity, existing in us as something of a "sanctified conscience," as Brother Adrian used to say. Of course, the materialist humanist himself claims to have not even an unsanctified natural conscience, as it were! And the spiritual humanist (that is, liberal) has a conscience but not of the moral good but of mere oneness and open-minded tolerance and all that amoral, no-rational-truth nonsense, or just flat baloney.
Three questions: 1.) the moral Good, 2.) the expedient, and 3.) when they clash...
If I am not mistaken, at 3:35 minutes, it was only early parts of Cicero’s Republic that are a late discovery for modern man, not Scipio’s Dream of Cicero's Republic and his Laws, which were so inspirational. The 3 questions of the title of today’s Program represent the 3 books of On Duties. Recall the Proverbs also have practical wisdom and moral wisdom (and its desirability). And the entire question of Plato’s Republic was, essentially, the same: Is the moral life really the best life? More or less Book III here of Cicero’s On Duties. Is the practical, the expedient, the immediately beneficial, the self-interested, the utilitarian, the pragmatic truly the moral good? The one question of philosophy over and over and over in all the great works of the masters (Solomon, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, etc.) and, generally, of even the humanists themselves (Protagoras, Lucretius, Hume, Mill, Dewey, Russell, etc.), in reaction to the rational moral truth masters! The battle continues... again, of all history... and philosophically of the two "cities" (or "kingdoms")... of God and man...
On Moral Duty: As a Stoic, Cicero, himself, draws the worldview line with Epicureans & Skeptics
The whole confrontation between almost all the philosophical schools of antiquity is made by Cicero himself at the beginning of On Duties! Unbelievable? Completely... but Protagoras and the sophists, as such, are not included. Ultimately, what is the question, practically? What to teach the children, and what to teach in the schools? Well, what does it mean to be "educated"? It is, I would say, to know both sides of the worldview chart of the Laws! (See Program 220 Photo)
More Archive of some video Programs from Cicero's
earlier works and his Republic and his outstanding Laws>>>
On God, man, & the Nature of things: The Philosophical foundation of Cicero’s Republic & ours, IV
Today we try to put some of the changes of American Constitutional law into historical and philosophical context. Also, Program 220 Photo We have darkened the lettering on the same marker board chart. In fact, it is entirely possible that in 10 years this chart (more or less) could be learned by every college freshman in America (and possibly, even probably, with Book I of Cicero's Laws). In truth, every college freshman could be starting off his studies with this chart for the next 1000 years, no less! Is this presumptuous of me? No, it is not because, one, it is not really "my" chart (it's Cicero's), and, two, this is (more or less) what everyone learned in universities or similar studies over the last 2000 years, until the 1960s when the left side of the chart (as we look at it) was removed from the "closed-minded" curriculum. Up until about 1700 throughout the Christian era, the consensus was the left hand side was correct concerning rational moral truth, etc. With the rise of materialistic humanism in the "Enlightenment" the right side was seen to be more correct, so much so that eventually the left side was removed altogether, and so the great debate of these major worldviews came to an end, regardless of which side you see to be "preferable" or most reasonable. The Academy determined by the 1960s the left side was no longer an option to be debated or learned, and almost even known as a mere historical exercise!
Click on the links below for Program 220 of "The Story of The Great Books":
For the VIDEO in Broadband "High Speed" (cable, etc.):
We still had a modern humanism in the 1930s arguing with the rational moral truth folks (essentially arguing this same chart of Cicero), if you doubt this, go read the literature for yourself. My personal opinion is the 1920s and 30s were modern humanism's "finest hour," wonderful writers and brilliant minds, but by the second half of the 20th century the discussion shifted to the implications of a then generally accepted modern humanism. Then optimistic "rational" modern humanism eventually collapsed into an irrational, pessimistic humanism or, that is, absurd-ism or so-called post-modern, anti-rational humanism, of existentialism and so forth. And, in fact, generally postmodernists themselves give the very same history, because they actually see themselves as the culmination and end of Western Civilization! (Could I make this up? The truth is we are all pretty vain, are we not?) In any case, here we are, looking to find our way back to the foundations of Western Civilization. (Some Roman Catholics still do a little of this stuff because of Aquinas, but for the most part the Great Worldview Debate of Western Civilization that went on for 2000 years is almost totally gone these days and has been for 40 years, or so?)
On God, man, & the Nature of things: The Philosophical foundation of Cicero’s Republic & ours, III
The question today: Where and how did we lose the natural moral law and a God behind everything in America and modern Western Civilization? Not pretty, but it must be done... But to be fair, the humanists are in good faith. They really believe their own nonsense, as it will prove to be (literally) by the postmodern, politically correct, 1960s. In essence, over the generations after the founding, slowly at first, then with more momentum, America’s leading intellectuals become more and more modern "Enlightenment" humanists setting up the postmodern "absurd" meltdown of the 1960s. And, so, here we are?
On God, man, & the Nature of things: The Philosophical foundation of Cicero’s Republic & ours, II
Who wrote the Declaration of Independence? Jefferson or Cicero? Cicero, clearly? We have some real fun in this Program in simply reading the Declaration, and you can decide for yourself... as we, ourselves, today in our time, step on to the stage of all history...
On God, man, & the Nature of things: The Philosophical foundation of Cicero’s Republic & ours
This specific chart is original with me, of course, but the substance of it is straight out of the text of Cicero’s Book I of the Laws. It is a philosophical worldview chart to end all philosophical worldview charts, at least certainly of pagan antiquity, its being the last, best shining star of pagan antiquity, and Cicero’s thinking here will be foundational, in a general philosophical sense, for all non-humanists who follow him... And if we restore our Republic, this rational moral truth and theism could be foundational, yet once again, for all social/ political philosophy and education for the next 1000 years!
Program 217 Photo At 37:07 Minutes, I read the qualifications for getting into Harvard about 1700 from (page 78 of) Never Before in History, America’s Inspired Birth, an excellent book on the Christian foundations of America, but, again, the philosophical foundations of the Natural Law in political theory are most famously done in antiquity by Cicero, and no one else. Cicero is, of course, arguing these concepts should be the foundation of the State, not that they are! And almost 1800 years later, or so, the American founders will agree, given their Christian heritage!!! Again, we have these same arguments repeat themselves historically, time and again... Namely, Socrates versus the sophists, Cicero versus the hedonist Epicureans, the American founders versus the humanist philosophes, and today’s Christians versus the 1960s postmodern radicals. In essence, this chart was (in substance) the foundation of education until the 1700s, but after the so-called "Enlightenment" of the 18th century, we lost such thinking for utilitarian materialism and humanism in the 19th century. But I think we can say in the 21st century that the kid, Cicero, is back!!! Big time!!! Back from the grave!!! (Who would have believed it just a few short years ago? Indeed, just a few short weeks ago!!! Get down! Get low?!)
On God & man: Truth, falsehood, good laws, right conduct, dialectic, wisdom, knowledge...
"...the real mother of all good is wisdom, so loved by the Greeks that they composed the word ‘philosophy’ [love of wisdom]... aiming to discover the origin and destiny of living things... which of them is mortal and perishable and which divine and eternal. In the end [this man] will come near to a comprehension of the Being [God] who guides and regulates them all..." All done as a "citizen of the universe"! But enough of the text of Book I! What have we seen so far? The answer is we here today can now start the philosophical chart to end all philosophical charts, all based on this Book I of Cicero’s Laws. The last line, in reality, is more Augustine than Cicero, for history, if not philosophy, as such. But, philosophically, it is clearly in Cicero with his attacks on "absurd" legal positivism...
Marker board photo>> Program 216 Photo First, we erase the board from our Republic outline, and then we start another philosophical worldview chart to end all philosophical worldview charts; this time all based on Book I of Cicero’s Laws. This philosophical work of Cicero, to my knowledge, has never been done before in all history, and, of course, it never can be done again for a first time, and certainly not by natural revelation alone!!! But it will be repeated countless times in the years and centuries to come by the countless lovers, readers, and followers of Cicero. (And Cicero's enemies thought they had killed him?! A strategic miscalculation of the first order? By Satan, himself?)
On God & man: The sum of the matter of interrelated themes, topics, and problems in the Nature of things
Today Cicero emerges as one of the great philosophical minds of all history. There are two different major schools of philosophy: 1.) humanism, usually materialistic (though often spiritual in the Christian era), and 2.) rational moral truth and theism, of one sort or another. But the rational moral theistic Stoics differ with the Platonists and Aristotelians on whether any pleasures are truly good, or are they just "conveniences." Though Cicero is not usually so seen of course, he shows himself here to be one of the great philosophers of antiquity and in the history of the West by pointing out the central difference between the Stoics and Socrates- Plato- Aristotle as well as pointing out the more major and important differences dividing the humanists and Epicureans on the one hand and Socrates- Plato- Aristotle and the Stoics as a whole on the other...
Cicero is correct, I think. He sees the main issues dividing the humanists and Epicureans from Socrates- Plato- Aristotle and the Stoics. The first groups has pleasure, fame, power, fortune, etc., as foundational while Socrates- Plato- Aristotle and the Stoics have moral good and a natural or right order and true ends and fulfillment for man and so forth as real and foundational, but Cicero also sees how the Stoics differ from Socrates- Plato- Aristotle on whether any pleasure can be "good." Most people will hold that the Stoics get way too stoical on this point, correctly I think, and it is just as Plato and Aristotle had warned not to do centuries before! We are getting into very deep water here? (Even the editors of the text, as we see today in one of their footnotes, have missed the brilliant clarity and accuracy of Cicero’s thinking and analysis.)
On God & man: "Partners in (moral) law are necessarily also partners in Justice..." Part IV
If all nations’ laws are equally valid and just? That’s "absurd," says Cicero! Bingo!!! Postmodernism!!! Never better defined! My goodness, gracious! And, further, today I take on what the Brits would call a "sticky wicket," namely, the concept of "Nature" in Cicero and the Stoics, and is it Christian? Essentially, "Nature" for the Stoic is the order or proper order and true fulfillment of things as created by God, and for the humanist there is no such "Nature," only material facts and physical pleasures and pains, that is "nature" for him; and there is no larger sense of order, ends, good, design, purpose, etc. If you have a philosophical bone in your body, this Program should probably really connect with you, I think. So, let us continue with.... probably the greatest political philosophy treatise ever written, and that will ever be written?
Do good and justice, and for the immoral? If the law and disgrace do not get you, your conscience will convict you, and ultimately God and the Furies will get you!!! Cicero means this, quite literally, I think, after Scipio's Dream, and, today, there is my favorite example of this in all Cicero and in all literature (after Plato's invisible ring question), and it is clearly a variation on Socrates and his ring which makes you invisible. Cicero’s question is: Should you kill and rob a man who is dying and alone in the desert with a big bag of gold, if you know it is impossible to get caught? Why not? If no fear of God, and self-interest and utility are your only concern? (Is Cicero good at this stuff, or what? Certainly unsurpassed and maybe, even probably, unequalled in all history?)
On God & man: "Partners in (moral) law are necessarily also partners in Justice..." Part III
We continue today with perhaps the greatest philosophical text ever written... It doesn’t let up in all areas of society and life, for Cicero says, "Right Reason" gives us "commands" and "prohibitions." "We cannot consistently separate (right) Nature from law and justice..." Get back, get down... Please!
Cicero says only those will agree with him who hold "that right and honorable things should be pursued for their own sake, and that nothing should be counted good, and certainly not great good, unless it is admirable in itself." This "good in itself" amounts to God or to what is of God, of course! That mortal man is capable of such writing, is somewhat hard to believe, and probably unequalled in all history?
On God & man: "Partners in (moral) law are necessarily also partners in Justice..." Part II
"The first principle of ‘noble’ Epicurus," asks Cicero? "God takes no care either of himself or anyone else." Is this really the "first principle" of life? Or, rather, is the first principle of philosophy to fear God and keep his commandments for everything will be brought into Judgment? We continue today with perhaps the greatest philosophical text ever written....
Click on the links below for Program 208 of "The Story of The Great Books":
For the VIDEO in Broadband "High Speed" (cable, etc.):
Cicero says that no principle or idea for him is "more important" than this: "that man was born for Justice, and that Justice was established not by the judgment of men but by Nature." This is, of course, the right or proper Nature of things as designed by God. And we see this, says Cicero, in our common humanity, and in true "right living," and in a "sense of right. " Similarly, in fact, as C. S. Lewis said, the long way around is the only way home to the just Republic, and that long, or longest, way is getting everybody on board for the moral good life personally! And Cicero and Aristotle agree, of course. (As a practical matter, in our time, this (getting everybody on board for the moral good life personally) will probably only be accomplished by yet another Christian Great (Evangelical) Awakening?)
Scipio’s Dream: God, Nature, Justice, Moral Law, & the Rewards for the Statesman & wicked
For it is appointed unto man once to die and then the Judgment, Paul (presumably) says, in Hebrews. And so also said Solomon, and Socrates, essentially; and so says Cicero; and Cicero says that the materialists, humanists, and Epicureans mock this, just as Solomon said "fools make a mock of sin"! In any case, Cicero’s Republic is working its way to the end, and what will face us in the next life upon death. Cicero says, "You must not abandon human life except at the behest of Him by whom it was given you, lest you appear to have shirked the duty imposed upon man by God... [which is] love justice and duty." This is "man’s whole duty" (of Solomon, again), as it were, and, in essence, this is the whole of the matter for Cicero as well...
As Cicero ends the text, he says, as Jesus did, do not be a slave to sin or sensual pleasure as the hedonist, for the Judgment of God will fall on such people! The unrighteous in the next life will have 'hell to pay,' so to speak. The Republic ends with these words "...the spirits of those who are given over to sensual pleasures and have become their slaves, as it were, and who violate the laws of gods and men at the instigation of those desires, which are subservient to pleasure-- their spirits, after leaving their bodies, fly about close to earth, and do not return to this place except after many ages of torture" [no less]. Scipio then awakes from his dream and so ends the Republic of Cicero. And now, for us, on, next time, to Cicero’s Laws, which, especially in its Book 1, is, perhaps, quite possibly, maybe even probably, the greatest political philosophy treatise ever written... (You don’t see that too often?)
Do your (moral) duty & True law is Right Reason in agreement with Nature
There is a transcendent law of nations, and of justice, or there is not. Further, the point of that Justice is to cause the State to exist with stability over time in its own affairs and in proper accord or relationship with other countries. You might even say, yet again, as the American Founders: "to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."
This is one of the better quotes of Cicero's Republic and certainly classic Cicero (page 211 of the Loeb Library text): "True law is Right Reason in agreement with Nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrongdoing by its prohibitions. And it does not lay its commands or prohibitions upon good men in vain, though neither have any effect on the wicked. It is a sin to try to alter this law, nor is it allowable to attempt to repeal any part of it, and it is impossible to abolish it entirely. We cannot be freed from its obligations by [the statute law of] senate or people, and we need not look outside ourselves for an expounder or interpreter of it. And there will not be different laws at Rome and at Athens, or different laws now and in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and all times, and there will be one Master and Ruler, that is, God, over us all, for He is the Author of this law, its Promulgator, and its enforcing Judge. Whoever is disobedient is fleeing from himself and denying his [true] human nature, and by reason of this very fact he will suffer the worst penalties, even if he escapes what is commonly considered punishment." Antiquity’s triumvirate of Solomon- Socrates- Cicero now takes center stage with essentially the same message, for all time and for all history!!! ("Remarkable," would be a vast, a true, a great understatement?)
Whose metaphysical castle in the air? Legal Positivism & Might vs. Natural Law & Moral Justice
Is Justice really only for the weak, and nothing really at all? That is the question!!! But, in truth, who is really making up empty metaphysical arguments (out of thin air!)? The hedonist/ Epicurean holds it is Cicero with his rational moral truth and justice in the Nature of things. However, Cicero holds the hedonist/ Epicurean is wrong, and, I think we could say, he, the Epicurean/ materialist, is "a fool," ultimately? In any case, today, we use the marker board to review 8 Programs (191-198) on Cicero’s Republic. There is, indeed, method to our madness,... and to Cicero’s!
Program 200 Photo Augustine is famous for developing many of these political themes of Cicero, specifically, but in a particular Christian manner, of course, but that is about 400 years off, and before that we will need to look at the New Testament first as a "Great Book" (and primary source material) of the Special Revelation in Christ (and not simply of the Natural Revelation). However, philosophically, the Stoic versus Epicurean debate will die out (for the educated mind) for about 1700 years, or so, because the Christians will be anything but humanists, materialists, and hedonists!!! This is why after the Stoics and Cicero the philosophical argument of the Epicurean materialist hedonists does not re-emerge (out of the deepfreeze, as it were) until the so-called materialist-humanist "Enlightenment," which brings back the long dormant (and thought to be dead?) humanist Epicureans of Western Civilization as a supposedly valid and educated position trying to deny the General or Natural Revelation of pagan antiquity and of modern-day Christians of the 18th century! (Yet, once again, the more things will change, the more they will remain the same... "with an historical final match"?)
The Commonwealth: Justice, Rights for all, Reason, The Ship of State, Wisdom and Integrity
The same themes continue today with specifics on setting up a well-balanced government, where all people or, we would say, "all interests" are represented...
Click on the links below for Program 194 of "The Story of The Great Books":
For the VIDEO in Broadband "High Speed" (cable, etc.):
Back to the Marker Board today and Program 194 Photo (there is method to this madness, yet again?), and good-bye to our Ultimate Timeline of almost two months ago, when we started by placing Cicero in historical context, which we will return to eventually, but for now we place Cicero versus the Epicureans in the philosophical context of 1.) Socrates versus the no-truth Sophists followed by 2.) the Stoic Cicero versus the pleasure-based Epicureans followed by 3.) the Natural Law American founders versus the materialist humanist Philosophes (French and British) followed by 4.) the Christians (the last standing Natural Law theorists) versus the radical postmodern subjectivity of the 1960s and Sartre (with Sartre as probably most representative of postmodernist humanist philosophy in the second half of the 20th century).
The American founders are, of course, Christian Natural Law (usually even highly Christian), but, strictly philosophically speaking, Cicero could have almost written the Declaration and the Preamble! This is not a coincidence; he was an extremely well-known figure in Colonial days, and his "ideal" Republic is, philosophically, I would say, closer to the American Republic than the actual Roman one (of Cicero's day or before)! This is almost enough to give you cold chills down your spine, and, further, there is no such take away from Plato or Aristotle or even any other ancient Stoic, all of which figures have virtually no practical take away beyond a just harmony of the parts, and a morality and justice as the point of life and the state, ...all of which are, of course, classically opposed by the Sophists, the Epicureans, the materialist humanists, and the postmodernists (in our 4 major philosophical Eras)! After the 1960s America enters her darkest hour? And so we remain to this day with a lost Vision, indeed no Vision at all? So, what is next for us in all history? That’s another story for another day!