instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Some questions for those whose need for a definition of torture has not yet been met
  1. What are you going to do with your definition once you get it?

    I ask this because lexicographers, moral theologians, legislatures, courts, governments, and international bodies all have definitions that meet their needs.

    What specialized needs do you have that existing definitions don't meet?

  2. Why can't you define it yourself?

    Who better than you to meet your own specialized need? And if you aren't capable of coming up with a definition, then you might ask yourself whether you're really capable of using it even if someone gave it to you.

  3. Are you similarly paralyzed for want of definitions for other words?

    If you are one of the people who have been frozen in place for half a dozen years, unable to participate in the debate on torture until they're provided with an acceptable definition, are you also frozen out of debates on such things as terrorism (which the Catechism treats in the sentence immediately preceding its first mention of torture)? What, after all, is terrorism? When I was a child, I was terrified that my father would come home before I cleaned my room. Does that mean my father was a terrorist?

    Or what about gluttony? Some might try to define it as an inordinate desire of eating and drinking, but really, that's no definition at all. How much popcorn is "inordinate"? Ten kernels? A thousand? Where's the line? For a sick person, a single kernel may be too much. Is nothing but starving yourself to death moral?