J. Budziszewski was an Evangelical who converted to the Catholic Church in 2004. His book on the Natural Law “What we can’t not know” was published by Spence around the same time. Recently Ignatius Press has issued an expanded version of this book with a new preface and updated content. Natural Law theory was something I wanted to go deeper into and so I got this book after seeing it mentioned at Insight Scoop.
I’m glad that I did since What We Can’t Not Know: A Guide is a very good introduction into the Natural Law and really answered some of the questions that I had. The author describes that the book is for “The persuaded, the half-persuaded, and the wish-I-were-persuaded.”
He shows the history of the Natural Law series which was first proposed prominently in Stoicism and has been advanced by all major religious traditions to some extent. This book clears up so many preconceptions on the Natural Law about what it is and what it isn’t. There is certainly much confusion on these points that I have found among Catholics. There has always been a tension between “What we can’t not know” and how we act and that tension is what people often use to deny the Natural Law. Acting contrary to the Natural Law is an aspect of concupiscence and there are many ways that what the Natural Law theorists call the “four witnesses” to the Natural Law can in part be suppressed. Rationalizations and cultural trends can make it harder for us to hear our deep conscience and the other witnesses – but those witnesses are still there regardless.
The writing itself is very good and fits the target audience exactly. I learned much from it and I especially enjoyed the section where is presents arguments against the Natural Law as a conversation between two people. Common objections are presented and answered in a natural conversationalist way. This was really exactly what I was looking for in explaining the Natural Law.
This book is available at Ignatius Press in both Paperback and eBook editions.