Order: The First Need of the Soul

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“As Russell Kirk states, ‘Order is the first need of the soul’”

Order is that state of things where everything functions according to its nature and end. When everything is doing what it is supposed to be doing, there is order “because nature is the cause of order” and “whatever does not possess order is not according to nature” (Saint Thomas Aquinas, In Physic., lib. 8, lect. 3, n. 3).

RTO-mini2 Order: The First Need of the SoulFree Book: Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go

Order stems from the principles of natural law by which we orient ourselves. Everyone needs some semblance of order to function properly. It is a primary need from which we get our bearings, as with a compass.


As Russell Kirk states, “Order is the first need of the soul” (Kirk, Roots of American Order, 6). This same necessity of order can be affirmed about society: it is also the first need of the nation lest society decay into chaos. Freedom, justice, law, or virtue are all very important, but order is the first and most basic need. A return to order is thus a return to the principles of natural law.

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  • John

    I like the point about natural law providing a reference point and grounding for order. Our Declaration of Independence contains that position by mentioning: “… the laws of nature and nature’s God…”.
    I’m sorry, but, I don’t understand the meaning of your use of “organic”. It has only one meaning for me, any chemical that contains hydrogen and carbon. Example, methane, CH4, is organic.

    • pascal78

      I think organic in this sense means human organisation . Like the organs of the body. They all work together ‘organicaly’.
      I hope this helps.

      • John

        Thank you. I have a problem, in that when I’m taking something seriously, I get very literal, which can restrict my understanding of meanings. I get to the point of where I want to understand exactly what I’m learning, including what nuances are intended. Thanks for your help.