The Line Through the Heart - Intercollegiate Studies Institute

The Line Through the Heart

Natural Law as Fact, Theory, and Sign of Contradiction

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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.

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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.

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“C.S. Lewis writes in ‘The Poison of Subjectivism,’ that the idea that moral values are humanly invented and humanly changeable, i.e. the denial of the Natural Law, is an idea which ‘will certainly . . . damn our souls and . . . end our species.’ This book explains why that is so, why the Natural Law is our only dam against disaster. This is not ‘Bud lite.’ It is a powerful, convincing, high-level yet commonsensical piece of philosophizing, a worthy successor to Lewis’s The Abolition of Man and Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue.”
Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy, Boston College

“Budziszewski on natural law is simply the best. He is clear, concise, persuasive, and accurate. Besides he is eminently readable. Much of the world is busy denying the actuality of the natural law at the very moment when we have for our reading a book that makes this denial simply incoherent. The Line Through the Heart is a must read. Good and evil do pass through every heart. Budziszewski explains why and does so in terms that we all can understand.”
James V. Schall, S. J., Georgetown University

“J. Budziszewski’s The Line through the Heart is a modern masterpiece, combining the wit of Chesterton, the clarity of Lewis, and the psychological depth of Pascal. No one writes with more insight into the complexity of the human mind as it struggles with the inexorable divine law written within. Budziszewski’s work is further proof of the thesis that true originality can be achieved only by those who have no interest in being original as such: Budziszewski strives constantly to do no more (or less) than to be faithful to the great tradition of the West, and, as a result, his writing is like no other’s. This book breaks new ground in understanding the impact of Christian revelation upon the West’s understanding of the natural law: both how we warp our consciences in an attempt to escape the Hound of Heaven, and how the light of Christ irreversibly transfigures our natural understanding of human potentiality.”
Robert C. Koons, Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas–Austin

“J. Budziszewski has done it again. In a series of books on natural law, he has produced a convincing, accumulating, magisterial approach that is brought to new heights with this book. Clear, analytical, persuasive. A very welcome addition.”
Ralph McInerny, Michael P. Grace Professor of Medieval Studies, The University of Notre Dame

“J. Budziszewski is perhaps the clearest and most eloquent natural lawyer writing today. When reading his works I often find myself amazed by his insights and wondering, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ And then it dawns on me, ‘That’s what C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton do to me as well.’ The Line Through the Heart is another destination in J. Budziszewski’s philosophical quest to lead his readers to the promised land of the good, the true, and the beautiful, to guide us to that place where we have always been but can’t seem to find.”
Francis J. Beckwith, Professor of Philosophy & Church-State Studies, Baylor University

“It is the inestimable dignity of the human soul to have a moral law written on its heart. At the same time, this most intimate of laws is not always conveniently or happily known. Professor Budziszewski takes us into the anthropological center of this paradox. These are truly fundamental essays, which I shall enjoy reading over and over again.”
Russell Hittinger, William K. Warren Professor of Catholic Studies, and Research Professor of Law, University of Tulsa

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