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Friday, September 4, 2020

Sex, Human Rights, and Natural Law


In the news is the feud between the French philosopher Jean-Paul Enthoven (age 71) and his son Raphaël Enthoven after Raphaël's 500-page autobiographical novel was published.

Jean-Paul reacted angrily to the publication of Le Temps gagné (Time Saved), claiming it has left him “heartbroken” and loved ones “drowning in a sea of ingratitude”.

Jean-Paul dated the model Carla Bruni who later married his son, Raphaël (age 44). Raphaël fathered a child with Bruni in 2001. Both men had been married before.

Raphaël and Bruni separated in 2007. One year later, Bruni later married French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

However, the Enthovens’ clash has nothing to do with Bruni. It is about Raphaël's fictional tell-all in which he portrays family and friends in a bad light.

French philosopher Pierre Manent (Wikimedia Commons)

In a stark contrast to the lives of the Enthoven's, the French philosopher Pierre Manent recently discussed the harms of the human rights ideology and called for a restoration of natural law within Western societies. 

He says, "Alexis de Tocqueville often said that democracy was threatened by a despotism from the majority, and today we see in our regimes that there is a tyranny of minorities, of individuals, who are the most minoritarian minority. We don’t realize that we grant illimited power to a right that cannot be formulated and which has no reason to be, apart from feelings. But a feeling is nothing but an affect which can also be very unstable and changing."

In his recent book Natural Law and Human Rights: Toward a Recovery of Practical Reason (University of Notre Dame Press), Manent shows how modern civilization progressively made human will the ultimate source of law within societies, denying that nations can be governed by universal principles that should be acknowledged and preserved rather than constantly reinvented.

Manent taught political philosophy at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris for many years and is now visiting professor at the Boston College Department of Political Science. He is the author of a number of books about the history of political thought and the relationship between politics and religion, including Metamorphoses of the City: On the Western Dynamic and A World Beyond Politics?: A Defense of the Nation-State.

In this interview with the Register, Manent warns against the excesses of the modern human-rights doctrine and discusses the importance of natural law for civilization's sustainability.

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