You should want to read this book based on the perplexing title alone. J. Budziszewski’s What We Can’t Not Know is an unusual philosophy book: it presents an overview of the Natural Law, its classical roots and Catholic application, in an easy-to-read, relatively-easy-to-understand, often humorous, sometimes disturbing, and always thought-provoking volume. It is also something I never thought I’d see after two college courses in philosophy: a page-turner.
I say that with with a caveat: I’m the type of guy who likes a cohesive worldview, in which the foundation and principles at the root are applicable at the terminal twig of every branch. I believe in objective morality and universal truth — and I believe that, with effort, we can come close to discerning these things. More than that, I want to discern them — and so, it seems, does Budziszewski. In this respect I was a sympathetic reader solidly in the book’s target audience.
The book is packed with insight, and is an easier read in many ways than the shorter C.S. Lewis volume The Abolition of Man. I recommend it wholeheartedly for anyone interested in the ideas of objective truth, universal morality, or the philosophical underpinnings of Catholic teaching. It articulates the ways in which we can discern that there is a Natural Law and uncover what the Natural Law is, and it also suggests practical application of its principles, which is much needed in the materialistic, relativistic, self-consciously diverse, “it’s all good” society of today.