Forerunners of the French Revolution, Part 3b

The pagan philosophy of Rationalism played a big part in shaping, not only the French Revolution, but the anti-Christian movement with which the Church is even now locked in deadly conflict, we may summarise Rousseaus position in the light of Catholic doctrine as follows:
Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Catholic Doctrine

Rousseau: Men are born good. It is contact with other men which makes them evil. Were man to live alone he would remain good.
Catholic Doctrine: Man is born stained with Original Sin. It is through the ministration of the Sacraments by other men that he becomes good. Society is necessary for man to develop his natural and supernatural life and thus to fulfilthe purpose of his existence (cf encyclical Immortale Dei (Pope Leo XIII), p.73).

Rousseau: Men are born free they are everywhere chained down by society.
Catholic Doctrine: Authority and true freedom are not in conflict. Freedom means not license to do what is wrong, but absense of constraint, whether from within oneself or from outside, in doing what is right, i.e. what is according to just laws. Authority is necessary for man since society is necessary, and society is impossible without authority.

Rousseau: All men are equal by nature, and therefore all should be equal in regard to the State.
Catholic Doctrine: (i) All men are equal in that all come from the hand of the same Creator, all have been redeemed by Jesus Christ, and all will be judged, rewarded or punished by God according to the exact measure of their merits and demerits. (cf encyclical Quod Apostolici muneris (Pope Leo XIII), Dec. 28, 1878).
(ii).Men are not equal in everything. Some, for example, are physically stronger than others or more intellectually gifted. God gives each one his special gifts, little or great, to be used for the common good of society so that princes and subjects, masters and men...united by a bond of love, may help one another to attain their final end in heaven, and their material and moral well-being on earth. (ibid.)

Rousseau: Society depends upon the Social Contract which is a pact concluded among themselves by men, who, being equal and free, may break it again if they think fit.
Catholic Doctrine: God, not man, is the ultimate author of society; changes in the political form of the State must therefore be effected within Gods law.

Rousseau: Law is the expression of the General Will of the people and this is indicated by numbers.
Catholic Doctrine: Law is an ordering of things, according to reason, for the common good, promulgated by him who has the care of the community (St. Thomas Aquinas). Rousseauist democracy makes a God of the People, makes might prevail over right, makes the votes of a hundred fools or villians prevail over those of fifty saints or men of genius.

Rousseau: The people are sovereign and authority lies in them.
Catholic Doctrine: Authority comes from God as from its first origin and only goes through the people to dwell in the person or persons charged with the care of the common good.

Note.- THE ROOT OF ROUSSEAUS ERRORS. Rousseau detested logical order and reasoning. He aimed at basing truth not on the evidence that appeals to the intelligence but on the emotions of the heart. Hence his tendency to admire virtue without practising it- to feel that one loves God is everything for Rousseau; hence, too, the fact that he saw no contradiction in posing as an educator while abandoning his own children.

No wonder he gave free reign to the passionate revolt of fallen man against authority and order, and that he became the father of modern self-expression. The charm which so many have found in his writings is due to the fact that Rousseau was keenly sensitive to harmony and all that appeals to the senses. It is interesting to note, however, that a number of specialists are agreed that he was mentally abnormal. cf. La Folie de Jean Jacques Rousseau (1890) by Dr. Chatelain.

An Outline History of the Catholic Church by Rev. Reginald F. Walker CSSP

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