The Death of Socrates

The Death of Socrates

Friday, 14 January 2011

Autonomy and Sin

One should not underestimate the violence and other wickedness perpetrated by the human race. However, one should not conclude that humanity is somehow wicked in its very core and constitution. Clearly, human beings are habituated in vice: but I want to insist that this is a superficial state, not a fundamental one - something that can be corrected, healed and sanitised by God's grace.

The reason we have gotten ourselves into this condition is that we have separated ourselves from God - this is the state of "original sin" - and so have lost the correct context and environment for our autonomy - this is the origin of concupiscence.

The idea of autonomy has been twisted to mean some kind of "UDI" regarding God. On the other hand, I rather suspect that the story of the Fall is all about God coaxing Adam and Eve to step out into the world from the stultifying womb of the Garden of Eden: so that they could "find themselves" and discover what it was to be truly human. This process of discovery of the knowledge of what is good and evil is not a comfortable one - but it is necessary if we are going to cease to be simply God's children and respond to God's call to become God's friends.

I accept wholeheartedly that for the human individual to fully realise their individuality, it is necessary to have a social context - even for a hermit. This is one reason why I am a Catholic rather than a Protestant, now. However, having a wholesome context and living within a tradition does not imply losing one's autonomy or individuality. The Company of Saints is a glorious diversity of form! Moreover, each of us must always act in accordance with our conscience: never in accordance with some external imperative - unless this is itself what our conscience itself instructs us to do.

No comments:

Post a Comment