Monday, November 11, 2013

Where Augustine goes wrong

In "What Does it Mean to be Pro-Life?" Elizabeth Stoker quotes Augustine:
And if any member of the family interrupts the domestic peace by disobedience, he is corrected either by word or blow, or some kind of just and legitimate punishment, such as society permits, that he may himself be the better for it, and be re-adjusted to the family harmony from which he had dislocated himself…To be innocent, we must not only do harm to no man, but also restrain him from sin or punish his sin, so that either the man himself who is punished may profit from his experience, or others be warned by his example. Since, then, the house ought to be the beginning or element of the city, and every beginning bears some reference to some end of its own kind, and every element to the integrity of the whole of which it is an element, it follows plainly enough that the domestic peace has a relation to the civic peace — in other words, that the well-ordered concord of domestic obedience and domestic rule has a relation to well-ordered concord of civic obedience and civic rule.
This struck me:
but also restrain him from sin or punish his sin, so that either the man himself who is punished may profit from his experience, or others be warned by his example
That's the belief of bullies and cultists. Punishment only teaches punishment, and the example of punishment does not show that what was done was wrong, but only that those who are found guilty will be punished. That's not morality. That's just might.

Augustine has his virtues. Brother Will says this ain't one.