Thursday, July 21, 2005

Most Excellent!


You know, it's been a while since I've done a good rant, just typing in a heat, publishing, and then say "come what may." Far too long, I think. For those who may be new to this site, this might be the time to duck for cover.

I'm fairly annoyed at this tendancy that I've been observing to do the bare minimum. Someone does something, I criticize it, and the defense is "well what's wrong with [insert what you will here]?" It's not that there's necessarily anything wrong with what is being done, but there ain't a whole lot right or commendable about it, either. It It's the bare minimum, obeying the moral law like a checklist, but not going the extra mile, where someone says that not only are they going to obey the letter of the law, they're going to obey the spirit as well, and strive to better themselves. Too often, people will focus on not doing anything wrong, rather than actively doing what is right.

Another name for virtue ethics is aretaic ethics, from the Greek word for "excellence". When we behave with virtue, it is said to be a certain perfection or excellence of the self. Contrasted to the deontological, or "duty based" ethics, you discharge your duty, not a bit more, and that's what is morally good. "Duty for duty's sake", as Kant put it.

With Christ's Sermon on the Mount, simply doing one's duty was no longer the standard. The law that we obey is no longer the finish line, where we can say that we have done our best, but becomes the starting point. The law only requires us to go with our neighbor the mile of his journey that he asks, but Christ challenges us to go with him until he is altogether finished with the trip. The law allows us recompense if our brother strikes us, but Christ challenges us to end the cycle on our own by turning the other cheek for him. We were not told merely to dot all the i's and cross all the t's, but to "Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect." (Mt. 5:48)

Let's raise the bar a little bit, then, shall we?

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam+

"I say that a man must be certain of his morality for the simple reason that he has to suffer for it."
-G.K. Chesterton


At 9:00 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

You're right, but it sounds so...well...Dominican!


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