Doing the Right Thing with the Absurd in Individualism 


            The difficulty of integrating spirituality into the college curriculum, laments Arthur Zajonc, a physics professor at Amherst, is that the separation of Church and State has created a “wrong map” in education. Science, reason, natural knowledge and facts are right or suitable subjects to study while their counters of religion, faith, moral knowledge, and values remain on the wrong side, being too associated with religion to be academic subjects. While being a proponent for separation of church and state, he still wants to include spiritual, aesthetic and moral cognition as part of the inquiry and interpretative process (53-55). With Spike Lee’s 1989 film Do the Right Thing as a backdrop referent, this paper will study individualism as a root metaphor of original sin in the field of social ethics and moral decision making. After a study of individualism and its associated sins that make us deaf to social concerns, we will look to globalization for possible solutions to our individual selfish nature, both negative and positive. Just as awareness of Original Sin can point to improvement - to Christ and Salvation, discovering our biases and the absurd condition of being individuals in a community will point us in the right direction to make good moral social decisions.

            In Do the Right Thing, a white owned pizza shop in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, a predominantly black neighborhood, with a considerable amount of Koreans, Spanish and other ethnic groups,  is destroyed in a riot, instigated by the owner, Sal, refusing to put photographs of famous blacks along side his photos of famous Italian Americans. He has the legal right, but shouldn’t he morally try to please his clientele? Of course, the major issue is racial tensions. Egotism and concupiscence wins out over mutuality and self-control. The film takes place in 24 hours and has all the qualities of a classical tragedy. Are we fated to never do the right thing? What causes us to be blind or deaf to good decision making?


                                    The Root of Sin or Rhizomes of Sin



            Philosophers Deleuze and Guattari decentralize the notion of being human. Our being does not spring from one central root, but is like rhizomes or tree shrubs that send out multiple little roots (rhizomes) from underground, like potato spuds. If a person obtains a horse and a plow, his being is being transformed – added on to. Being is constantly shooting out (Sedgewick 151). Sin would work the same way. It would be difficult to pinpoint one central evil, but we could see patterns of it by studying how certain groups of people stray from good. If individualism and egoism is a sin, the symbolic experience of the metaphor of the rhizome will help us get outside ourselves and confront the other in its various forms.


                                    From Idolatry to Lonergan’s Social and Objective Surd


            Tatha Wiley starts her study of Original Sin with early Hebrew writers and Exodus 32. Idolatry is the paradigmatic story of sin. “Idolatry is the root of sin. While Moses is on Mount Sinai receiving the commandments from God, the people below build a golden calf to worship as a god. In the priestly perspective, idolatry is manifest in infidelity to God’s covenant demands” (31). “Idols” has something to do with reification, the tendency to “thingize” or objectify everything in the world. The “A” in the course becomes the reality of the course rather than the experience of learning and community that took place during it. Wiley, whose concept of Original Sin is essential in understanding God’s saving action and human nature in general, later compares Bernard Lonergan’ s methodical theology to Acquinas’s metaphysical approach. The medieval notion of sin is too abstract for Lonergan. Notions of sanctifying grace, soul, etc. are too abstract to deal with everyday life. He prefers the grace of conversion to the grace of justification (Wiley 179-81). Moral conversion is decision making based on long range values rather than immediate satisfactions.  Being authentic is the goal. Authentic development is when our “intentionality” is motivated by a self-sacrificing love. We make decisions by being attentive at the experience level, studying and looking for insight at the understanding level, sorting out biased information at the judgment level, and being loving, responsible and holy at the moral-decision making level (Wiley 185-6). This “cognitional” method is a way of using both faith and reason to change (conversion) our way of thinking from short range satisfactions to long range values. Interest and egoism are bad words here breeding personal and group biases. The “social surd” means that society is usually “deaf” (surd) to the fact that they are deciding things on short range desires. We are blind and deaf to our own biases (Wiley 194-5). The “objective surd” would be our tendency to reduce reality to things that we can consume. An example might be taking photographs on a vacation may cause us to miss the actual experience. We substitute experience with objective photos, and thus reduce our enjoyment and educational development (198). What are we deaf to?  Individualism might be an engenderer of rhizomes that keep us unconscious of social sin and personal development.


                        On Schindler’s List - Individualism as Social Sin


            Thomas Schindler asks what kinds of political and social structures are needed to support a social morality based on Catholic ideals (10). Many individuals are alienated and crushed by the economic structures of the United States, and yet capitalism praises the individual effort (22-3). Schindler sees individualism, not racism or sexism, as the root evil. After defining the term in the first part of the book, Schindler proposes a morality against the evil, by using the cardinal virtues. He follows with a revelation of cultural, philosophic, and scriptural sources, concluding with an anti-hero/individual morality with the Church as a model.

            In the first part Schindler gives a history of individualism that the Western world holds in primal esteem. The individual is free to pursue one’s own self interests in the market place. The individual relates to others who have the same rights, and who are also competitors. Society and government help. The physical world and science provide materials and means, with religion providing a world view. Individuals remain related to society, who through an “invisible hand” (Adam Smith idea) promises that society will benefit from the betterment of the individual (40). The government assists individuals in their pursuits. This classic liberal philosophy is countered at times with a more social, economic “control” philosophy, but the liberal philosophy is generally the “coin of the Western realm” (41). This “freedom and individual” philosophy can keep us separate from others. In so doing, we lose a sense of right conduct in the social scene, and that sphere of morality (Schindler 52).  Schindler defines the “individual” as different from the “self,” which is the notion we have of ourselves within a society. Absurdly, individualism separates us from our selves (56). The Church is historically against individualism, but inadvertently supports it through many of its policies. Schindler cites personal confession and the Lateran Council of 1215 as a major shift to personal morality (60-63). With the focus on “intention” as the mark of a serious sin we move more to a personal, than social morality [O’Keefe in our course]. The priest becomes a judge and all sorts of court and legal terms enter the scene. We follow commandments rather than beatitudes. Focusing on sex , and other “rules” type wrongs  can keep us blind to the social realm. Pope John Paul is aware of this blindness, and, in 1978, has spoken out against the inequality of life. Solidarity and community participation are antidotes to individualism that will unclog our ears to the need of a social morality.

            In the next part Schindler points to a virtue ethic which will lead to a life of moral decision making that will counter our individual short range desires with long range human goals. Virtue here is not some “concrete quality” like a “bag of virtues” sold by those TV pitchmen who promise to make you successful. Virtue here will be what we call “character” (90). When we build our character with virtue we will be empowered to make moral decisions.  The one big virtue is justice. How to do the right thing?  Schindler redefines the cardinal virtues. Temperance does not just concern sex and eating. It is an overall balancing of our emotions and passions with reason to ensure that our decisions are based on justice, which is concerned with the common good rather than the personal ego (101). Fortitude is the courage that we need to go against the norms of individualism. Prudence is real deliberation – the need to make choices based on serious deliberation (113). The theological virtues are not “acquired,” but “used” to validate the authenticity of our cardinal virtue decisions. Original sin is a symbol that unites us as a people who need God’s grace. Individualism is the concrete form that original sin takes in the culture of the United States. If we have a right sense of social guilt, we can be educated in social sin. Schindler compares this education and awareness of social sin, the taking responsibility of it, to baptism (146-8). 

            Culture, natural law, and scripture are sources for us to see morality in operation. The Church and its community aspect provide the structural space for moral dialog to take place.  Culture is defined by Clifford Geertz (in Schindler 157) as the ordered system of meanings and symbols by which social interaction take place. It is, by definition, against the forces of individualism, which ironically makes us forget where we come from. The free will/determinism tension is at work. We are defined by our culture, and yet, try to transcend it from within. An example would by minority groups bringing their subcultures to the dominant culture. The interaction of subcultures can be a positive force of growth facilitated by the present globalization process. Natural Law brings insight into human well being and morality through reflection on human experience (Schindler 176). Natural law is based on our feelings and experience. For example, in Antigone, the state law is legally right for refusing burial of a traitor, and yet Antigone is religiously or morally right in wanting to respect the dead body by burial. A factory may have legal rights to move to another town, but morally it is still responsible for putting people out of work. Natural law is based on a way of knowing similar to faith. Natural law is based on what we cannot see. We have to “feel” what is right. Schindler does say that we must also use reason to coincide with our feelings (189). US individualism wants more certitude of what is right and wrong. Schindler claims that US individual culture uses technological reasoning, which is more of a “legal” “fact” based proof of arguments. Enrique Dussel, a liberation philosopher, accuses Kant and Descartes of being the bad guys of European modernity, the European expansion throughout the world, conquering territories and peoples. He questions the “geometric” side of their arguments. Their philosophy of reason was too “mathematical” too “simple,” not taking into account the complexities of being de- corporalizing subjectivity. The quest for certitude is incompatible with what is naturally right.  Rationalism was used as a basis for Europeans to colonize and exploit third world peoples. Dussel calls for a philosophy of liberation and a anti-systematic philosophy (like Nietzsche and Heiddeger) whereby the exploited peoples educate themselves and arrive at moral decisions based on their own culture (Dussel 15-18). Schindler would agree with Dussel and advise to use natural law with culture to arrive at moral decisions. Using scripture to prove moral decisions is in line with the “rules” oriented approach of US individualism. Schindler says the Bible is “revealed reality,” not “revealed morality” (213). We must use scripture in a dialog with culture and natural law to arrive at good moral decisions (218). The Church provides the sacred community space for the dialog to take place. This conception of church is a dynamic one. The church is not a building, but a decentered community acting like Christ. It is like a Copernican revolution. The Church is not in the center, but out in the poor and oppressed sections of the world. Liberation theology’s notion is that the Church’s center is outside itself (231). Schindler advocates a service model of authority. He says that presidents, police chiefs, and mother superiors are all first class relics of original sin (235). He warns us against using a correspondence theory of truth whereby an idea is true if it conforms to reality. He says this can be too “proof” oriented, and suit only the powerful. He prefers a transformative theory of truth whereby something is true if it brings about necessary creative changes (240-1). 

            This anti-leader or anti-hero stance leads to the last part of Schindler’s thesis where he proposes a political conscience over a personal conscience. We have to shun heroes and authority figures who emphasize individual feats making us deaf to community responsibility (263-4). He says the Church must support an alternative to individualism (279). Philosophers like Kant focus too much on the subject and the individual (292). The teleological approach to ethics is preferred over the deontological (intrinsic notion of what is right or wrong). The teleological approach asks what kind of self will I be, or what kind of world will this be if such and such decision is made ((298). A new social “angle” of approach is needed, and the Church’s community structure can provide the space. The angle is “from below,” not from the hero level. A study of globalization will give some insights on where to go for improvement.  


Globalization and Virtual Help from Individualism: from Modernity to Empire


            Michael Hardt’s  Empire is a philosophical and historical approach to globalization, with history seen as a drama of sovereign powers versus the masses. Empire is the name Hardt gives to the sovereign political subject that governs globalization, which is defined as the irreversible cross border system of exchanges, both economic and cultural, of people, technology, money, and goods (xi). Empire succeeds the nation-state system of modernity, which covered the past 600 years of European expansion. The concepts of immanence and transcendence play a role. Modernity is defined as a shift, in the years 1200 to 1600 from the divine to the human (70). Humans declared themselves masters of their own destiny, producers of cities and history, and inventors of the heavens.  Modernity is a shift to humans now deriving power from themselves – an immanent source. The God of feudalism represented transcendent authority.  Modernity is filled with a power struggle of the Church and Nation State to gain power. Hardt’s “empire” is a deterritorialization and decentralization of modernity’s nation-state structure. The global market and transnational corporations are major forces that produce goods and people. The United States and the G7 still regulate currency and provide police action, but their power is secondary to the market. Capitalism has learned to expand from within, since nation-states can no longer expand. Workers are learning to cross borders and are gaining a new subjectivity (233, 253).

            These border-crossing workers make up the “multitude.” This is a new word that Hardt substitutes for the “people” of modernity. While the multitude is controlled by forces, there is hope that they can join forces for a better world that is not so “individualistic.” Hardt distinguishes modernity from empire. Modernity is a disciplinary society while Empire is a society of control.  In Modernity, the disciplines are the institutions of family, schools, hospitals and factories.  We live in a “prison” (Foucault word) society and are policed by the roles assigned. In Empire, our time, there is a breakdown of the institutions. Capital has to reach clients outside their disciplines. The society of control identifies these “actors” outside their institution space, and is able to market things to this “multitude” (312). The “multitude,” our hope from the power of individualism, is composed of all diverse people who use the global network. For example, AOL Time Warner is trying to control everything we do with a phone and TV, with what we do for reading and entertainment. We are controlled biopolitically by the transnational corporations,  since every part of our lives has been subsumed to some form of capital. “Biopower” is a Hardt word. Who has the power of life is a question for all people, especially the marginalized. The “multitude” does have the potential to form a mass democratic intelligence, a Spinoza term, and overthrow the capitalist sovereigns (344). Ironically, Empire needs the freedom and desires of the multitude to see what products they need to produce. The multitude’s chance for democracy and rights is greater than that of the “people” of modernity because of their virtual powers – their virtualities.

            Virtualities is a concept associated with the desires of the working and consuming multitude, their virtual unions and immaterial labor. The multitude, as labor, gains more control over productivity. Their mobility increases due to the internet, and allows them to cross borders and form virtual unions with similar laborers (278). Three types of immaterial labor help border crossing: a reversal of marketing to manufacturing where we know what is wanted before making it, thus keeping less durable goods in stock; computers doing creative and intelligent tasks; and an increase in “affect” services, such as health care and entertainment which produce feelings, well-being, and passions (293). Production has been enriched to the complexity of all human interaction. All labor has been “democratized.” Even things that used to be considered “women’s work” (health care in homes) are now important affect services.

            The process of being human has changed. In Modernity, we were treated like machines. Information and communication were a means to an end. Now they are the end. Computers are prostheses (291). The multitude can take these machines or new body parts and use them for their benefit to realize their desires better. According to Hardt, linking desire to reality is a good definition of what being is(386-9). Love, passion, and desire generate a productivity of being. If you cannot link desires to reality, you experience a lack of being. Hardt’s multitude resists the control of Empire and will form better democratic subjectivities. These “militants” or new rebels are in virtual unions working to produce a new biopolitical democratic space against the corruptions of postmodernity’s Empire (413). That is his vision of hope anyway.

            Getting rights is political. Understanding them is philosophical. We have to question philosophers like Kant and Descartes. We have to look for the parts of their philosophy that give too much power to the individual subject. Philosophers like Deleuze and Guattari question the center of our subjectivity and being. Spinoza is a model of resistance to power who advocates democracy as the absolute form of politics. He views the idea of death as a hostage used to blackmail freedom of the thought. The political powers use this fear to interrupt our contemplation of love, love of life, and vocation, which is the supreme form of intelligence (Hardt 77-8).  We can use Hardt’s model of the multitude in forming a better Church community where we can be in dialog and resist the forces of individualism.


A Catholic reading of Hardt’s Globalization and Multitude: ethics from below


            Christian Social Ethicists have also commented on globalization. We have to hope Hardt’s vision of a multitude that would promote democratic global cooperation will come to exist. As followers of Christ we should be concerned about the poor joining Hardt’s multitude.  William Byron offers an interim ethic until the second coming telling us we should all be stewards preparing for God’s kingdom. He says that the poor are particularly blessed. Since they never have exploited anyone, they should be sought after as examples to follow (43).   Patrick Kerans speaks to the deafness  that we have to social concerns. To hear the voice of the poor, he says, is to receive the grace of conversion (107).

Elizabeth Gerle talks about the ethical challenges to globalization, especially the need to arrive at an ethical conduct to help the poor, the losers in the globalization process (158). On the positive side of globalization there are culture mixes. New literature and music are emerging from cities of different cultural groups that give new ways of looking at  and hearing our beingness in the world. On the down side, deprived neighborhoods are being isolated from the successful ones (159). Religion can be a big help in entering the dialog about how to deal with those who cannot compete in the globalized world. Unfortunately the separation of church and state has placed religion in a more personal role. She cites Stanley Hauerwas’s term “Christian Communitarianism” as a critical attitude of any theological attempt to engage in dialog with liberal ethics (161). While secularization is important to keep fanaticism out of the political, religion has been associated with forces that oppose democracy, reason and equality (162). Like Professor Zajonc who I earlier cited as a professor wanting to make spirituality a part of the college curriculum, Gerle wants religion to play a stronger role in critiquing the goods and evils of globalization. Gerle wants church ethics to protect the most vulnerable (163). The “feminization of poverty” where women are reduced to the lowest paying jobs is a possible area of dialog (165). Gerle agrees with economist and trader George Soros that there should be regulations in the market with assistance from the World Bank to help poorer nations to become open societies and play a role in the world market (164). The inequality of riches is astounding. The top 20% of people in the world, in income, account for 86% of consumption expenses, with the lowest 20% in income accounting for just 1.3% (165). Gerle does see signs of hope. Women are finding work in the new market. She cites Saskia Sassen, who studies the new solidarity of “non-state” workers (the multitude in Hardt’s book). These formerly exploited poor, especially women, are finding new roles to play in the political arena, which is starting to be governed by NGOs (non government or state supported agencies like doctors without borders and amnesty organizations). Hardt placed these organizations in an important tier of the constitution of his “empire” separate from the nation states and transnational corporations. Gerle’s term “ethics from below” apply to ethics coming from these non-state actors (169). These organizations are concerned with a human rights discourse. “From above” ethics are the rules of the market and state sources of power. Her ethics from below are a Christian virtuous addition to Hardt’s virtual unions of the multitude.  All these ethics emphasize community over the individual.  

            Howland Sanks argues that the Church’s social mission has always been contextualized and that the context has always been globalization. Contextualization is the notion that the Church has always been involved in the social and cultural (1). He cites Rodney Stark whose thesis is that the early spread of Christianity was due to the sincerity of its social concerns (Sanks 2). Sank later says the individual human agency can be demoralized by a lack of influence on big social concerns (10). It is here that the Church can encourage individuals to become unified in the larger community. He cites Robert Schreiter, who speaks of “global theological flows” influenced by Church solidarity. Four such examples are liberation theology, feminism, ecology and human rights (11). These movements go from the particular to the universal. Liberation theology starts as a Latin American phenomenon, but its principles apply to the oppressed in Africa, the Philippines, Korea, and our backyard. Catholicity (Sanks citing Schreiter) is an ecclesial social mission. The Church becomes a communion of individual churches from different cultures (12). Sanks and Schreiter use the term “glocal” to describe the union of local and globalized concerns. I might add that, on the social level, we are not the Catholic Church, but the Glocal Church. The Glocal Church brings in the ‘new things” that Isaiah promised.


Doing the Right Things – Spiritual Anti-individual Exercises  


Peter McVerry suggests that a consciousness of social sin be added to the Loyolian “Spiritual Exercises.” The goal of the “Spiritual Exercises” is to help Jesuits really get into the world seen and experienced by Christ. Conscientization of good and evil are the goals (41). We experience inertia for social change because we are the beneficiaries of the social structures under which others suffer (McVerry 43). “Any structural change which relieves the suffering of the poor will necessarily involve a lowering of the standard of living and/or a reduction of power, status and opportunities available to the rest of  us”(43). The Magnificat thrusts into us in two ways. “He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly; the hungry he has filled with good things, the rich he has sent away empty” (Luke 1:52-3).  We become conscious that we are responsible for social sin and that we are the ones who need to be brought down. McVerry says that we should be aware of sinning when we buy products from corporations that exploit workers ((40). He also says that if we quit a job from a company that exploits the poor it we might be doing a sacrifice similar to the crucifixion (48). Being aware of social sin and our absurd condition as exploiters/exploited is a first step in following the suffering of Christ (49).


                                    A School Might Be Nice


When theologian Thomas Groome asked missionary Father John Drury what would bring social justice to his people and give them a chance for a decent life, he answered without hesitation – education. “The best hope for justice here is to build a school”(210). When we talked about the racial tensions in the film Do the Right Thing, we were not sure what the right thing was. It certainly wasn’t burning down the pizza shop because the owner Sal would not put up pictures of famous black stars along side the Italian stars. There was a person who stuttered in the film. He talked about Malcom X’s way of justified violence versus Martin Luther King’s more peaceful way of revolution. If the neighborhood had a good school, or if there was a good community of churches in the area where the diverse groups could go to articulate their desires and complaints, tensions might have been relieved.

            I started this paper with Lonergan’s notion of the social surd or deafness to social sin and objectification of human life. We have to confront our “surdities.” The absurd might mean against the deafness. If it does than it is a good thing. Confronting the absurd is the right thing to do. Taking an ethics/philosophy course in school might be a good place to start. We will become aware of our ridiculous sinful/graceful natures and maybe can make better educated choices. 



                                    Works Cited

Byron, William J. Toward Stewardship: an Interim Ethic of Poverty, Power and

Pollution. New York: Paulist Press, 1975.

Dussel, Enrique. “Beyond Eurocentrism.” The Cultures of Globalization. Fredric

Jameson and Masao Miyoshi, eds. Durham and London: U of Chicago P, 1998.

Gerle, Elizabeth. “Contemporary Globalization and its Ethical Challenges.” The

Ecumenical Review 52.2 (Apr. 2000): 158-71.

Groome, Thomas H. What Makes Us Catholic. San Francisco: Harper, 2002.

Hardt, Michael and Negri, Antonio. Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2000.

Kerans, Patrick.  Sinful Social Structures.  New York: Paulist Press, 1974.

Lee, Spike. Do the Right Thing. Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks, 1989.

McVerry, Peter. “Sin: the Social, National an International Aspects.” Way Supplement 48

(Fall, 1983): 39-49.

Sanks, Howland.  “Globalization and the Church’s Social Mission.” Theological Studies

            60.4 (Dec.99): 625-52. (15 pages on the Atlas source)

Schindler, Thomas F. Ethics: The Social Dimension: Individualism and the Catholic

Tradition. Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, 1989.

Sedgewick, Peter. Descartes to Derrida: an Introduction to European Philosophy.

Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 2001.

Wiley, Tatha. Original Sin: Origins, Developments, Contemporary Meanings. New York:

Paulist Press, 2002.

Zajonc, Arthur. “Spirituality in Higher Education: Overcoming the Divide.” Liberal

Education (Winter, 2003) 50-58.



                                                Journal  of Readings


Wiley, Tatha. Original Sin: Origins, Developments, Contemporary Meanings. New

York/Mahwah, NJ, 2002.


Preface – Thinking about Original Sin is essential in thinking about our existence.



3- Early Theology to explain why humans are what they are.

            Why OS?

            How does it come through Adam?  A Woman?

            Why do children need to be baptized?

            How do we inherit this evil?

4 OS is essential to the doctrine of redemption and Christ and yet it is the “black hole” in Christian Teaching. We avoid it a lot.


Theology 12th C. Anselm  - Faith Seeking Understanding



5. Patriarchal Stage  Augustine   

            OS as Event   and Condition

12th C. A condition needing healing thru Baptism (but not removed)


CONCUPISCENCE – disordered desire of the flesh remains the condition and punishment left to us by OS.


Theodicy – intell. Arguments about God

            Evil is founded in a human agent not God


            Church mediates   Council of Trent 1543



7- Tertullian  Baptism of Children and RCIA

            idea of inherited sin and high mortality rate

7. Pelagius – opposed OS  - infant not responsible. OS takes away “free will “ and responsibility

Abelard   1142  opposed

Anselm 1109 – OS  needed to show Christ needed to pay back the evil

Inheritance is biological

If so Human nature (8) is corrupt    sex bad? Women?



What reality is OS pointing to?



Genesis 3  - the sin is disobedience

12thC. It is a privation of justice

20th evil is an “inauthenticity” there is a “solidarity in sin.”







13   1st 4 centuries CE   - OS  - universality  of sinfulness to the inheritance of sin in the disobedience of Adam and Eve




70 CE – end of Jewish world as Jesus knew it  - destruction of Temple by Romans


Messianic Jews  - no more???

Rabbinic Judaism – 2nd c. development – no Temple and no home land

Gentiles converted without becoming Jews (Acts 15)

Jewish idea (14) – Evil works thru the community – so – the remedy has to be a community effort.




1st C.Jews – idea that Israel was formedas a people chosen by God

-         a “covenant community”


4 Symbols  of the Covenant of God and Israel

1.      Land  - idea of land that is Israel’s.

2.      Torah

3.      Temple

4.      Ethnic Distinctiveness





-Temple worship important

-Purity and separation from gentiles

-Fidelity to the Torah

-A promised land

2 VOICES  (15)

            1.Priestly  - Law   Israel as HOLY – Provided means of being holy

                        Theology of sin and redemption

                        Gen 3 – expulsion

                        Gen 12 – Abraham – community is redemptive means

                        Exodus 19 Law of Moses – a security “fence

Journal – 16-17 – The Priestly Tradition centered on the Torah, the Temple. The idea is to “get right” with God. The community was formalized by the law. Wrongs were righted through sacrifice and prayer in the Temple.

            The Prophet tradition centered on justice and compassion. They looked for “righteousness outside the Temple. Right doing is more important than the letter of the law.

-         It seems the idea of social sin would come from the prophets sincee Schoonenberg says that legal sin is more individualistic.

Yet – Early Jesus identification is “legal”with the idea of sacrifice. It seems we need PROPHETS IN THE NT OF OURERA to tell us to focus on SOCIAL SIN. IT could be tied up with these IDOLS of Ezekiel and Jeremiah and Isaiah.



Paul – Christ gave himself up for sins  - Letter to Hebrews is about Sacrificial Death.




18- For Jews in OT – Eschatology “Jewish Restoration Eschatology” was not about the end of time, but a renewal of creation.

“NT – “Reign of God” in Mark after baptism of Christ is eschatological

Luke// Isaiah – new life to the poor

19- Continuity of Jesus’s Preaching + missionary sprit in Acts + Praxis of early communities lies in Eschatological ideas. The Acts of the Apostles are rooted in eschatology. The spread of faith must have been because it was obvious that Christ saved sinners by raising from the dead???


Gentile conversion  (turning from sin) circumcision and following law

Debate (20) did you have to be a Jew first?



-         21 – DEBATE – agon  - to be a CHRISTIAN

Follow the Torah?

Be circumcised (22) – really means to be a Torah person completely

Believe in Christ (Paul said this is only requirement        

New – “living in the spirit (22) provides Gentiles a moral way of living in God’s will.


23- no distinction of man/woman, rich/poor, Jew/Greek

Baptism  into a new religion

Diaspora –Jewish communities outside Palestine

Yet – between what was written (equality) and what happened (history) is far apart.

Patriarchy is a domineering system


6. MEETING EVIL (Jews agat Ressurection of Christ (not the concept of R)


Christological Concerns (25) How could a Crucified person be God’s anointed One?

Concept of OS came out of Christological debates.

Images of BONDAGE/FREEDOM seen with EVIL   agst slavery

Gal 3 – Baptism (26)  a “NEW WAY” “EKKLESIA   a political group becomes CHURCH.

27 – Patriarchy  - unjust system of domination

BASILEIA  -??? A model – an alternate society structure to Patriarchy


Symbol of BANQUET as all inclusive – a Jesus idea. (28)


7. THINKING ABOUT SIN (28-9) NT writers and early Christian writers)

            4th C. – a Canon  OT read backward in light of Ressurection.





            Inclination to do good – yester ha-tov

            Inclination to do bad -   yester ha-ra

OT evil is due to an evil heart (29)

Greek translation – EPITHUMIA – evil desire – more negative


Journal – we go fro the Hebrew Inclination to evil (yetser ha-ra) to the Greek evil desire to CONCUPISCENCE.  The OT Hebrews had human nature being both good and bad. We turn to the Greek and we gat concupiscence and the Augustinian idea that it is a punishment. If so, then humankind was at one time free of this sin. Therefore human nature is fallen.


John the Baptiser preaches repentence and John talks of “Sin of the World.” Evil is universal – Power of Spirit engenders a new life (31). For Paul sin is DEATH.



31- Pentateuch – OS

Gen 3 – not the root sin

Exodus 32 – the ROOT SIN is IDOLATRY

Journal – idolatry is the key sin. It will have its forms in the reification process of our ara. The ultimate sin of not being a human being is to “thingies” every aspect of our lives. To want the grade instead of the content. Etc.



            Priestly Source is about Creation

            Jahweh sourcee is about expulsion and the Law and Mosesand Covenant (32).Human existence is ambiguous. Why dowe turn from God? The locus of evil in J is an EVENT.




33- OT

            Sirach accuses the woman

            Wisdom accuses the devil (34)


11. THE FALL (comes into History around 100 CE)

35- It means a before and an after

Fall is with Angels


Conclusion –


Jesus uses Eschatological vision to critique the social order and envisage a restored creation in the”reign of God.”


Christ’s grace of (36) of forgiveness is necessary for all. Why????





56- peccatum originas  - event

       peccatum originatum – a condition

57 – influenced by Paul’s conversion – humans unable on their own to carry out what is good – Paul/Aug  sin as death



58- OS needed to explain “moral impotence  or “hostile disposition”

Confessions  398 before the Pelagius debate

59- Traducian or generationist theory  - soul is produced thru biological intercourse

            therefore, OS  transmitted biologically



Cyrian   infant baptism because we thought OS is an entity

Romans 5:12 all united in this sin

Jos. Fitzmyer  focuses on Christ and not sin

causal determination” vs  “principle of inclusion”  Fitz says it (Romans 5:12 ) is more causal and focuses more on Christ than the sin




State (62) of Original Blessedness  -prelapsarian state

State of Fallen Humanity  - why did Adam sin?  Pride

66- Concupiscence – loss of harmony of soul and body – passions control

            Baptism doesn’t remove the stain – removes some guilt etc.??

State of Restored Humanity – bought and brought back






Journal – Augustine will influence Pascal. Human nature is corrupt and we don’t have the ability to save ourselves. We need the grace of God.  Pascal fought the Jesuits here (1650ish). He is part of the JANSENIST movement. It calls for HUMILITY in a scientific age of pride (Descartes). The Jesuits focused on FREE WILL and thought the jansenist doctrine denied it. Pascal accused the Jesuits of “CASUISTY” where they, as confessors” would study the cases of sin and find reason to absolve the sins. Pascal thought they were too lax. He said we needed to be humble and accept our fallen nature.

Pelagius here in 420  is like the Jesuits saying that Augustine is too lax and seems to be ruling out free will and responsibility. (68-70). Pelagius is a stoic and wants to accept responsibility and focus on reason to fight agst the impulses to sin. He saw Aug’s view as too pessimistic on human nature.

Freedom is lost in Augustine.

Grace for Pel. Is the strength to do good and choose good

Grace for Aug. is the necessary(69-70).


6. SIN and GRACE

operative grace (70) – God in us and at work

co-operative grace – the grace for us to choose(he tries to keep free will here)


7. ORIGINS of the SOUL


creationism – God infused us with it

traducianism- we get it biologically with the body in sex intercourse



Carthage 425 went with Augustine’s fallen nature – advocated baptism of children

            BUT the Council rejected the PREDESTINATION part

Orange  - said “free will” was wounded but not killed!!

Agst Pelagius’s optimism


Journal – Conclusions of this chapter show the need for a theology of grace to show how the sacramental life of the Church helps us focus on Christ’s redemption. The need for humility is important as is the concept of baptism which can be a progressive non-entity sacrament linked with reconciliation and confirmation endowing us with power to do the work of the Holy Spirit. We are weak and strong at the same time.

Medieval Theology of Grace will show the metaphysical ontological privation of grace. (74-5)




Ch. 5  MODERNITY    (after Trent and the Protestant Reformation)




-Medieval  - Theocentric – human knowledge in Church –Thomas (103)

-Post-Trent – anthropocentric- secular – sciences and humanism (Voltaire) 104



Erasmus – Renaissance – Textual Criticism

Luther   scholars and humanism but Bible still is source


Science and exegesis will reveal Bible not accurate as historical source

What about doctrine of original sin? (107)

Myth as symbol (Ricoeur)

Myth as non-truth

108- was Incarnation necessary if no Fall



Med. Cath – OS wounded human nature

Protestant Ref- OS corrupted human nature

107 Grace perfects human nature

            Reason perfects human nature (Modernity)

Immanence over transcendance

Journal – Modernity has the main authority shifting from a transcendent supreme being and church to within humankind itself or immanent. However as nation states grow in power they want to gain authority and have their subjects believe in a transcendent authority. The state takes over as a central authority, but the immanent/transcendent nature of authority will be a battlefield up to the present postmodern era. See Michael hardt’s Empire.




109- Pascal  Misery/grandeur of humankind  we are strong  (thinking) and weak (we avoid thinking) – we seem to be fallen from a higher place- Original sin can explain our fundamental weakness

Voltaire 18th C. optimism or encyclopaedic spirit

Schelling (210)


Moderns in general are more optimistic than Augustine. Pascal however is close to Augustine

111- OS unsound on ethical grounds.

Journal – Here Original Sin is ethically wrong. Moderns want to assign agency to acts. They are closer to Pelagius than Augustine. However Pascaal is a great lawyer for Aug’s case.




  1. Rousseau original fault is social – private property cause inequality and evil(112-13) man is born free and good, society puts him in chains and makes him evil 1761 Emile and Social Contract.
  2. Kant 1793 – our natural inclination is both to good and bad

214- Categorical Imperative – when our inclination to do good is raised to a general law.

Inclination to do evil is SELF-LOVE

Journal – LaRochefoucauld, a moralist who did maxims (1660s) thesis is that all human actions are based on self-interest


Kant’s Fall is in Temptation his Adam is metaphorical not historical Meliorism – we can improve.

215 Religion is a recognition of an inner moral law that we have to discover ourselves.




Truth and knowledge was from Church and Revelation

Now T and K from reason alone


1.Early Conformity  (115-16)

Science backed the Church’s dates 19th C. Catastrophism

Paley Genesis still 6 days

2.(117-8) Displacement of Religion- Lyell in Geology –uniformitarianism – it took a long time for the earth to evolve. Darwin 1882 Origin of Species

            Natural Selection – not one common ancestor

            Polygenism – more than one set of first parents

119-2- Problem of evil – shifts to sociology and science



 120 Catholics most resistant to Darwin esp. on the a priori argument

OS necessary in redemption doctrine

Church had a bad start with Galileo

122- End of monogenism puts all of salvation history in doubt

Vatican I defends Monogenism (one set of parents)

122- “Divino Afflante Spiritu  encourages use of modern historical critical methods to study the Bible (1943)

Still Genesis 3 Expulsion story is hard to interpret

Humani Generis” 1950 (122-3) still maintains its Adam’s sin we inherit

1920s Teillard de Chardin – OS in regard to evolution

126-7 Rules in favor of revelation over reason

123 –Rahner changed his mind about monogenism

124 – Piet Schoonen berg

Journal – This is a great page. Schoonenberg says that in the world of Acquinas, everyone believed in the literal Adam and Eve story. Had Acquinas lived in our era he would have used modern critical methods in our new intellectual era. The key is to interpret the meaning of the scripture passages. In this case OS is an evil that has to be overcome with the help of grace etc. An effort is needed to rediscover the meaning of original sin (126).


RCIA shifts Baptismal rite away from enfants. (1969-73 os put back in Baptism for children

Need to rediscover meaning of OS in our new intellectual setting.




127- Moderns are a danger to the Christian conception of the Mystery of Divine Salvation



Either we deny the new ideas or reject the “real” Adam and Eve story but keep the idea of an originating alienating evil (128)



(129-30) Biblical Revelation is questioned

Classical Interpretation is that OS clled for the Incarnation and Redemption by Christ

Now- we look at Adam and Eve’s INFIDELITY as Israel’s infidelity esp. in the Old Testament canon. When the

Journal – Am I right? The OT was canonized around 200 BCE and the NT along with the OT was Catholicly canonized by the Church Fathers somewhere around 300 CE. This would mean that they the later put Adam and Eve and OS in the context of Christ’s necessary Incarnation.


3.EXEGETING PAUL  (he works back to Adam from Jesus)


130 – It is not SIN but DEATH. Adam caused DEATH to come into the world. We have “solidarity in sin” not “original sin.”

Romans 5:12

Focus is on Christ’s redemption and not the cause of evil.

Paul is not into historicity.


4. FINDING OTHER FOUNDATIONS  (Theologies of Redemption)

 Matthew Fox denies OS – for a Theology of Goodness

Others say we are grounded in SIN (131)



133-4 Agst the Juridical Condition of SIN   the Roman Legal Aspect

A “crime” is a breaking of the LAW  Legal categories make sin more personal wher you can apply blame.

The OT and the Hebrew prophets were into Social Sin

Journal – (134-6) Schoonenberg focuses on what he thinks SIN really is (he is a Jesuit theologian) SIN is a failure of people to seek and love God. Sin is personal and social. We do not seek God’s love and God’s LOVE as groups too.

Sin is not a loss of some pre-existing goodness. This would go against the rationale of evolution.  (136-7) God is offended when his people do not love each other. This was the OT prophet’s message. Sin in the OT was social. Schoonenberg is an existential philosopher. We are SITUATED IN a world of bad faith. He calls it BAD EXAMPLE. (Pelagius’s 5th Century idea). We can also be SITUATED IN good example. John 4 gives us examples of this  good faith.” Schoonenberg is joining Pelagius’s and Augustine’s good points. We need to act , but be aware of our inclination to evil. We are in a SITUATED IN a world that refuses to love God and neighbor, but we must find good examples and good grace and avoid the bad examples (Rahner does this struggle of our 2 inclinations (to good and to bad) too).

IDEA – Can we have BAD GRACE attracting us and empowering us to do evil? Or is that “power” another name???




1. Sin is at the Center      egotism (137) if we talk about ethics and existence

            sin/egotism //injustice

Individuals and groups are not capable of rising above self-interest

GOOD is “other regarding tendencies

EVIL is “self-regarding tendencies.” (At GROUP level this is “tribalism.”

Collective egoism and egotism is big sin


Journal – Original sin is the persistence and universality of humankind’s self regard. What is (137-9) is the difference between EGOISM and EGOTISM??? When Stendhal uses egotism it is a positive term where self-interest is really a desire to study the self as being. Egoism is the selfish word.


2. Evaluating Traditional Elements of Doctrine


140- he rejects OS as literal. Original Sin  and the Fall is a true existential internal event.

The origin of evil is in the dichotomy of the “OUGHT” and the “ACT.”


141-3   Original Sin is Mythic

             Original Goodness is mythic

Fall is when the ACT doesn’t come up to the OUGHT


Journal – There is a Paul Valery poem called “The Steps,” where the poet/lover is waiting for his lover, but wants to put off the real lovemaking/poetic creation. He wants to stay in the state of anticipation where the anticipated kiss (poem) is as real as the finished one.  It takes willingness to pain and lots of love to start the real work which could end in defeat. There may be a connection here with Niebuhr.


Reason is not corrupt with Niebuhr. Otherwise we couldn’t transcend.

OS  is an ideology of knowledge for self or group interests.

142-3    Luther and Augustine are too “defeatist” for Niebuhr There is Loss of the Image of God. Egotism is natural.

For Niebuhr  egotism is unnatural. Sin may be inevitable, but it is not “natural.”

Sin is psychological.     It is human failure to meet “mutuality. The truth of OS is in human nature.


3. Sources of Truth

-         Scripture

-         Selfhood – phenomenology

-         144 – Matt 8:35 “Those who want to save their life lose it etc.”

Undo self concern is self-defeating.

145- Niebuhr is between the pessimism and optimism of Augustine


Egotism – self regarding acts

Mutuality – other-regarding acts

Humans are egotists which is contrary  to their essential nature.

145-6 Insecurity leads to a will to power to a rejection of mutuality which leads to “isms” like nationalism, racism, classism. Reason justifies privileges of the power group and sinful self realization is an injustice.

Journal- Kwami Appiah says that another source of these selfish isms is in “racialism,” which is the seemingly non evil act of grouping people.


4.  Redemption and Society     SOCIAL ETHICS deals with

                                                                        Collective Mutuality

                                                                        Collective Egotism

146-8 JUSTICE pre-supposes sin

The conflict of egoism/mutuality is really OK.

147 – This conflict is the area where we rise above our egotism.

            We do it through the GRACE and MERCY of God  who forgives the contradiction of egotism and love.

OS is a SYMBOL that points to our EGOTISM.

148-    Some say Niebuhr was really a “traditionalist” That he really saw OS as an original state of man’s sinfulness. But here Niebuhr’s “symbol” is a real current psychological defect.He combines Luther’s “corrupt view  with his egotism, with the Catholicview of OS being the privation of original natural gifts. Both states were always in human nature.


7.  STARTING from LIBERATION  (previous numbers 1-4 were for Niebuhr).


148 Metaphysical Theology for Sin  (Personal Sin is too legalistic for Pol Theo)


Political Theology Metz, Moltmann, Guttierez  - Liberation Theology

Political Theolgy best explains poverty, oppression, and injustice.

John Paul 1984

            Personal Sin is actual.

Original Sin is an actual sin that is inherited and indicates an essential flaw in human nature.


            Liberation Theologians say this OS is legalistic and privatizes sin.

            Social Sin is needed as a concept to show how Social Systems perpetuate evil.

Journal – In Dandysm, the dandy wears nice clothes and jewelry to correct nature. The dress is a sign of the inner perfection. We may be able to use this doctrine to show how Niebuhr and these political theologians can rise above the evils of social structures and create a “poetic” system that works justice for more people.


150-1 Dutch Catechism – brings in social sin as an original evil

            John 1:29  Sin of the world.

Gal 1:4 “evil age”

College of Cardinals in 1993 saw this Catechism as too Pelagian. It saw that some might interpret this as us not needing the grace of God



Genesis 3  - pre-existing goodness    - metaphysical concept of evil – Trent continues this dialog. Augustine says human nature needs grace.

Social Sin is more concret. Our alienation from good is in our social structures.  





Ch. Goal   - analysis of origin of male domination     - recovery of Jesus’sredemptive vision in preaching and activity of early community




How does gender influence the appropriation and understanding of religious realities?

(154) God, Grace, redemption, Sin faith and church


Sum of questions

            What was effect of classical doctrine of OS?

            What would women have thought themselves?

            Did the doctrine of OS by early theologians help or hurt women?

            What would women have done with a more modern view


Rosemary Radford Ruether  - ROOT sin is sexism and patriarchy (155)


1. Explaining Sin by Gender


Naming the ROOT SIN is essential to theo analysis

Genesis 3  has 3 interpretations

1.      Woman is inferior creation

2.      She is cause of evil

3.      male rule is a divine origin


Timothy 2:12-14   Women should be in silence and submission. Her children are what gives her her salvation.

156 – Early writers like Tertullian will use Timothy

ROOT SIN –is  sexism, power and domination

John Crysostom – male privilege


2. The Purpose of Feminine Theology


157 – Ruether says purpose is to undo the Victim- blaming theology of sin

Patriarchy – massive historical domination system of victimization of women

Patriarchy means DOMINATION


Leads to false ideologies of domination

Schussler Fiorenza – a scripture scholar tries to undo scriptural references

            And the revelatory presence of male domination

Male writer has given us an ANDROCENTRC lens


II.  The Emergence of Patriarchy


Patriarchal societyhas a history thru “socialization.”

OT – use of land and oppression built up male dominance

Rousseau –private property


1. Social Order


(160) household is property owned by the male

gender rule is oldest in history

Males are first elites   - it is “NATURAL”

Aristotle – fetus is misgotten male        Acquinas accepted   female as defective human nature (161)


2. Anthropology  2 groups – the dominators and the dominated


Gender ideology set by 5% of males   Arisitotle and Timothy 2 set the stage

Men associated with reason and good    Women – irrational and evil

Evil is not women (false dualism) but patriarchism  or gender dualism


3. Religion  - no separation of Church and State

OT Circumcision just for mean  paul not under all laws

NT – Timothy but not Galations   3:28


III. The World Transformed Thru Jesus’ Teaching

Modern theologians – Object of Jesus’s message was disclosure of Divine Identity

            And salvation is “other worldy.”

“REIGN OF GOD” is a symbol of a new social order    agst DOMINATION

sin – social order – redemption     - new interps


1.  God’s empire  or Jesus’s Empire vs. Rome’s

Jesus’s empire is compassionate for sinners. And for the poor/


2. Jesus and Patriarchy


Mark 3:34-5  Jesus’s family  - “no father mother etc.” a new family without domination

Journal- I have heard this interpreted as forgetting all earthly ties and commit yourself to Christ. BUT I like this interpretation. It is very SOOTHING for alienated and adopted children to realize that the REAL family is the one they make through Love and friendship.


167 – women were part of gender neutral groups that followed Jesus.


Jesus’ exclusion of paterfamilias

Walter Wink  - cites Jesus calling women “daughter of Abraham” (spinal cure)

And he acknowledges blessedness of women more than just bearing children


4.      Following Jesus  -


Journal – The womens point of view is much like LIBERATION THEOLOGY – this theology shows how Jesus is against domination of all sorts. Tis domination is the root of all oppression and exploitation.


Paul   Galations 3:28   no longer Jew or Greek etc….

Did you receive the spirit by doing the commandments or believing???

LAW vs Faith

169- Gentiles are not under the YOKE of Jewish law   neither are women.

Root sin is prejudice

New family is EKKLESIA (Chrurch)


170 DEUTERO_PAUL in Timothy is patriarchal

but original Paul in Galatians is not





170 – Theology of OS in Early Church to show

1.      need for Christ’s saving grace

2.      universal nature of human’s sinfulness

3.      role of the Church in salvation


Journal – Good line – while man fell from grace in Eden he gained a privileged status over women!!!!!!

I am thinking of Camus’s The Fall where his narrator is a “judge-penitent” who uses self-condemnation first and then becomes a judge over others thus maintaining superiority.


Crysostom blames Eve

172- Augustine says slavery is a punishment for sin. Therefore woman’s sin has made her be subjugated to men??????

172 – Pandora (Hesiod) //Eve except that Eve is a “Divinely Revealed History” – woman blamed for the universality of sinfulness

Phylis Trible – Biblical scholar Yahwist story of Gen. 2 the Hebrew word os Haddam  or earth creature. Woman wasn’t necessarily created second – but she became associated with second creature with qualities of materialism, carnality irrationality – things that debase the spirit (173).

Ruether says the myth of Eve is a victim-blaming ideology.


The Real Fall was into Patriarchy. Woman not the cause of evil, but the victim of it


There is a central agon or conflict in Paul

Timothy 2 is a bassis of subordination of women

Galatians 3:28 renounces subordination as evil.

The Early Church, according to Schussler Fiorenza slowly interpreted women into an inferior place and eliminated gal. 3:28 from Church teaching.




175 – Sin is never individual – it is always social (Ruether)

Rom 7:18-19  Paul – we seem to do what we don’t want – a divided self acting agst our desires and interests.

Irony – we inherit historical systems of culture and don’t realize we are hurting ourselves. Schoonenberg says we are “situated in” a social sin(176).

Biases control our thinking.Modern theologians have helped us see our biases. The patriarchy was legitimated in Language and symbolic structures that encourage “domination, privilege  and hierarchy and eliminate mutuality. All our praise of individualism and HERO worship turn us away from communion with others .


Wink 0 177 – we choose evil

Ruether  the rationalization of other as inferior leads to exploiting them

ME- Racialism of O’Connor

Violence  suffering imposed on the victims

Christ took initiative to come and rescue us from this domination


Violence added to the root sin of domination and patriarchy


CONCLUSION – 178 – The early EKKLESIA was for life giving relations free of domination – not an escape to the other world.

OS Theology calls for us to study the dymanics of power and ideology





Modern theology of sin (psy, soc., phil) has replaced the medieval notion of metaphysical sin.. This ch. Deals with Lonergan’s historical/anthropological view. The new view ofhumankind has to bring up a new view of OS. (179)



Journal – In Methodical Theology (as opposed to Metaphysical theology) this is the new name for Original Sin. It is the Infidelity to live in accordance with the goals of self-transcendence – to keep a sustained development (see p.196)


179 – this chapter will do Lonergan (phil and theologian) anthropological/historical view of OS .


I.A METHODICAL THEOLOGY  (agst Metaphysical [medieval/Greek)] Theology (180)


Metaphysical Terms  (too abstract





            Sanctifying grace   (religious conversion180 –“being in love )

            Original justice

            Original perfection

            Original Sin


Anselm – OS is a “privation of original justice.”

Too abstract – not experiential and empirical enough to deal with real life


Metaphysical Theology -  grace of justification

Methodical     Theology     grace of conversion (181)


CONVERSION – (Lonergan) existential development- C is a change from one way of thinking to another

1.      Intellectual Conversion – it refers to the discovery of self-transcendence in coming to know - to finding truth based on evidence and not the personal or group bias

2.      Moral Conversion – self-transcendence in decision making going from satisfactions to values

Journal – Moral Conversion is decision-making based on values rather than immediate satisfactions. In economics this might be considered long run rather than short run.

3.      Religious Conversion – this deals with commitment to decisions and is based on LOVE. “Being in love with divine mystery is a key. We need to experience this love.


Journal – INTENTIONALITY  - a big word in this chapter – It has to do with what we used to call sanctifying grace. Our intentions or desires have to be motivated by a self-sacrificing love which we used to call sanctifying grace.


182 – Love diminishes biases – holiness


            Sin reinforces biases   - hate


Peccatum Originale Originatum  - absence of religious conversion – of being in love

POO in Acquinas was alienation from God (too abstract)


183- OS is in the incapacity for sustained development.


Journal – OS is an absence of intellectual, moral and religious conversion which keeps us from seeking what is good for ourselves and our community (culture). The absence of these conversions is an absence of love and a desire for power which will cause cultural decline.  POWER INTENTIONALITY IS SIN



(accidentals and existential realities need to be kept in Acquinas’s “Metaphysical” theology)


184- Soul for Acquinas is abstract – it is a sum of our habits, potencies and acts)

Lonergan has a more dynamic view.

Soul is human becoming, human process, development, self-transcendence and subjectivity.

SOUL is “AUTHENTICITY in being human. It has to do with INTENTIONALITY which has to do with our desires for development. AUTHENTIC INTENTIONALITY  is the goal. Consciousness of intentional activities of knowing and doing might be the “soul.” Authentic here is like Sartre’s Good Faith. It is also agst reification or bad faith.  IDOLS of the OT.


Methodical Stages of COGNITIONAL and Moral Activities (see 185 – these are reflexive)


1.      Decision – evaluating judging what is of value (deliberating) deciding , loving. What should I do? Who is responsible? Is it good?

2.      Judgment – reflecting, weighing evidence. Is this so? Is my understanding correct. Looking for a universal truth. A bigger truth.

3.      Understanding – inquiring – imagining – formulating. What is this? How? How do I make sense of the experience?

4.      Experience – 5 senses 

Our desire to know can get self-transformed into a desire to do good.

INTENTIONALITY are our desires at the above stages of self-transcendence/development.

 186 –


            Metaphysical Anthropology starts with nature and common substances

            Empirical Anthropology starts with SUBJECTS

The above levels of acting are “dynamism of interiority”


TRANSCENDENTAL NORMS (187)are demands intrinsic to intelligent. Empir. Reasonable and responsible consciousness.

  1. MORAL SUBJECTIVITY – deals with the Decision-making. What should we do? Who is responsible?Is it good?

Norms – exigencies or demands to do the job

 Be holy   (188) be open to mystery and the divine

            Be loving (191)188-

            Be responsible- be CONSISTENT

These are “existential operations – the goal is self-transcendence

  1. RATIONAL SUBJECTIVITY – Judgment level – is my understanding correct?

Norms – Be reasonable – “Real” being is reached here – here we sort out biased material(188)these are cognitional operations


            3.INTELLIGENT SUBJECTIVITY  - Understanding  What is it? How? Why?

                        Norm – Be intelligent  look for insight and not oversight


            4. EMPIRICAL SUBJECTIVITY   - Experience Level

                        Norm – be attentive

The above order is descending starting with 4. They probably are reflexive and can be in any order???

Cognitional intentionality – be aware of the desires to be judged- Rational subjectivity

Existential Intentionality – getting ready to make a choice  - moral subjectivity


The corresponding evil or sin of the above are inattentiveness-oversight-irrationality – irresponsibility

189- judgments of fact vs judgments of value (more subjective

Consistency needed between what is known to be responsible and what is done.

190- Historical Progress – is when we go from the individual to the social sphere

Cooperation is the word when it goes to the social


Ultimate HUMAN INTENTIONALITY is the desire for unrestricted meaning, truth, goodness and love. To give yourself over completely to the OTHER to the Divine Other

JOURNAL – To give yourself over to the “DIVINE OTHER. “ WHAT DOES THAT MEAN????????I gotta get to understand that. Does it mean giving yourself entirely to others in self sacrificing love??? Can I love someelse like that? Surely I can love my daughter who is a special needs child. She is a beautiful human being. BUT can I see others like I see her?? Is that giving your self to divine otherness?? I think it is. If so, let me start with one “other.”


CONVERSION- is when we change our way of thinking in the 3 subjectivities (empirical, intelligent and rational that gets us reading to make a decision to do good because we “love “ it. This conversion to love is the old word “grace.”

Faith is the acceptance of love.  I start a research project on a film I like. I have faith that it is a good film. This faith makes me like it which opens open the film to many areas of interest and research.  Can I have faith in human projects – like helping people to read?


191 – sin is privation of love

            moral evil is ?????

Why do people deprive themselves of love?

Abyss between aspiration     and performance

192 Paul  - sin is infidelity to the intrinsic norms

Authenticity is living to self-transcend




Cognitional self transcendence – understanding correctly

Moral              “””””””                deciding correctly

Affective                                 loving fully


Inauthentic self responds to immediate desires (short run)

Authentic self  looks for long run values (192)

Attentiveness             inattentiveness

Intelligence    - oversight   bias

Reasonableness    - unreasonablness

Responsibility and love   - irresponsibility and hatred   


He right is the dark side where NO PROGRESS in human development can be made


Practical intelligence  - bad – a quick solution for a group (bias)

Spontaneity  - bad  - concupiscence or short run pleasure


194-5 Development = letting questions rise – desire for insights – receive new ideas – open to solutions.

Journal – INTEREST is a bad word as its egoism breeds personal, group and genral “common sense” biases. Pascal and LaRochefoucauld saw biases as a hindrance to a good moral life as well as a good useful life.


John – biases – interest = “darkness of the world   Aug. “moral impotence.’

Journal – the condition of society being run on self-interests and biases is called the social surd.

SOCIAL SURD – surd means deaf. Absurd comes from it. Surd can mean an absences of a voiced sound. A voiceless sound. The metaphor is tricky. Bsurd could mean against the sound or against the voiceless sound. Or running contradictory to the sound. Surd itseld means mute or deaf too. The social surd is the current existence of society being run to its own self interests. It blinds us from what is right.

This is our BASIC SIN – we inconsistent with what is right to do and what we decide. 196 – ideology takes over. We are in a state of sustained inauthenticity unaware that we are doing what will keep us from full love and self transcendence. I NEED AN EXAMPLE HERE.


196-7 With Racine – original sin was traditional – the will couldn’t overrule the passions of jealousy and hate. But I think Pascal is not blaming the BODY. He accuses our inability to use our mind. We sekk divertissement rather than think.


Concupiscence is the absence of long range cognitional, moral and effective self-transcendence. 197 Sum od ascending interiority of experience-reflection-understanding deliberation. We are subject to failure due to concupiscence.



198- we need a theology of sin to get a theo. Of redemption.

AGON – sustained development vs. self-group-common sense egoism

Journal – The OBJECTIVE SURD is like reification. We have a tendency to reduce all reality to the visual and egotistic so we can consume it and be comfortable.


Remedy of OS in medieval – SG  Sanctifying Grace

OT   - hardened heart  needed a new heart or spirit (Ezekiel)

NT – Paul – a new spirit

Medieval (200) Operative Grace – comes from God

            Cooperative grace – when we accept responsibility

Methodical – operative grace is RELIGIOUS CONVERSION – being in love


Authenticity religious wise is to have the seelfsacrificing love of Christ


It is important to remind ourselves of our sinfulness

This is very existential in a Sartrian way. We have to see our bad faith so we can rise above it each day and assume our lives subjectively.

Love can restore declines

202 – Religious faith better than secular faith because it makes us VALUE the human side way more.

Sustained authenticity keeps us cooperating with God in the realization of the universe. We have to stay faithful to this realization.



OS in th OT is a heart closed to God.

204 – Medieval – OS is a privation of an original justice

Modern – OS is interference of biases

OS is “sustained inauthenticity” it is a structure . It is not something one person did.





205 OS is the organizing principle of Church doctrine.

Human beings are responsible  not God

Absurd – Paul – I do the evil that I don’t want to do!!

Church fathers – bondage to sin – moral impotence- metaphysical notion of sanctifying grace

Sustained inauthenticityLonergan

207 – Psy and Lit took over from “history.” Lit gets into “symbol.”

Thomas etc- too “legal.”

Human being is a becoming

Augustine – OS transmitted sexually

Now – personal and systemic evils

208 – OS traditionally put the blame outside the Chrurch – fostered male domination

Journal – Jameson says we are all politically unconscious failing to see the political in daily acts. Eg. “It’s a Wonderful Life” really promotes home ownership!!Wiley make me think we are “sin unconscious.” We don’t look in the right places for the origins of sin and evil. They are in our own biases.







O’Keefe, Mark.  What Are They Saying about Social Sin. Mahwah, New York: Paulist Press 1990.


Introduction  - Vat II worried about sense of sin and moral responsibility.


Journal - *Good people begin to see the possibility they might be implicated in social injustices which are now called”sin.” (2) This reminds me of the older brother in the Prodigal Son parable who probably is guilty of not seeing that he too is a sinner in need of forgiveness.


p. 3  Scope of book

1.      definition of sin

2.      metaphors to help understand sin

3.      Theology of social sin

4.      How soc. Sin works  // individual responsibility

5.      theology of soc. Sin and conversion    (me conversion// conversation [dialog]

6.      Church’s role




Journal  - there is a need to “APPRECIATE” sin’s social aspects and see how the Church got away from social sin. APPRECIATE means to “value” to “appraise  to see the worth of. It also means to comprehend. It is also a word of thanks. “I appreciate your kindness” tells a person that you value their actions. The word appreciate makes for a nice complex of understanding the extent of our evil and putting a value on the “price” necessary to undo the evil, like a racist attitude.



I.                    Reclaiming the Tradition

                  p.6 in OT and NT scriptures. In early RCIA rites


Journal - p. 7 ***solidarity  in sin  - The mystery of sin is seen in the concept of original sin. There is something in sin that transcends the individual sin. We all inherit it.  (ME)  - We are born into it and yet we have a choice.  We seem to be connected to God and goodness and to the opposite too. This is an example of the ABSURD condition of existentialists. We live in “bad faith” treating ourselves as objects and yet that is the only way we can talk about ourselves. We are tied up in the negative aspects of our existence.


II.                 Trend to Individualism –

Private confessions in 6th (8th?) centuries

 O’Keefe neglects the positive values of private confession (see Bausch)

NOMINALISM – what does it mean???

            Notion of paying back  with grace


III.               Individual Sin in Manuals – confession guides

10- harder to see social aspect of sin with the 3 requirements of gravity, knowledge and consent.


Journal – The requirements of personal serious sin can make us blind to the overall social evils of poverty, racism, prejudice, sexism and greed.


      IV. Contemporary state of the Question  - the new interest in social sin

                        Biblical scholarship

            There is an emphasis on STANCE , state and orientation with sin

P. 14 – Latin American bishops at Medellin with Liberation Theology studies the world structures of oppression

15- need for PRAXIS – an attitude that is also an action in transforming yourself and your group.

Journal – Praxis is a word that means an attitude and a practice at the same time – like studying feminism and gender all at the same time of doing practical things to promote  a movement to equality.


pp. 16 25    see class notes

Henriot says Social sin is neglected

1.      Emphasis on acts

2.      Inculpable ignorance

3.      existentialism and individualism

4.      legal/moral blur


V. How radical a Re-interpretation?   4 ways of interpreting social sin.

1.      SS is the effect of personal sins – a ripple effect (not adequate to explain SS says O’Keefe

2.      SS is the embodiment of personal sins  (see Haring)

3.      SS and Personal Sin are Co-essential

4.      SS as the primary sin  (gets us close to denying free choice and responsibility.


Journal  -  In no. 4, there is a DANGER OF DENYING FREE WILL. If we are all predestined to a social sin we may not have adequate will to do good. Social Sin as primary would then lower HUMAN DIGNITY. It seems the 3d Re-interpretation of Social Sin and Personal Sin as co-essential might be the most valid to study if we want to keep ourselves accountable for the world’s evils.




I. Terms and definitions

            “Sin of the World” (26) Piet Schoonenberg – being situated in a sinful world


            “Sin-solidarity  (27) Bernard H¬ring


Journal - Sin-solidarity represents the mysterious union of persons in sin

“Sin of the world” is more of an outward manifestation of sin. It is the social manifestation of the inherited disorder we call original sin.


            “Social Sin  Peter Henriot and Greg Baum – a complexity here but a good term

These sins are structures that oppress, they promote selfishness and don’t pinpoint responsibility.

1.      systemic – world hunger

2.      cultural/religious symbols – like free market ideology

3.      false consciousness – we don’t see the ideology

4.      collective decisions made by corporations


Baum – sin is objective seen in the evil acts, but it is also subjective  committed by the community as subject.   (30)


                        “Structural sin  Schindler and Kerans

                                    Here we have sinful social structures


Journal  -##We are biased and engrained in these structures. SOURCE is a good word to study here. The word SOURCE means a point where water starts. Here the “SOURCE” is a structure where greed and oppression can grow and grow. We get an unquenchable thirst for these sources and we don’t even know where they originated. The word source in French means a spring. It is a “point d’eau.” This could mean a point of water where water starts, or “no water.” The word SOURCE than could be an actual spot of beginning or a “no place” where the river started from. Like original evil it starts from somewhere, but when we try to find it, it is nowhere.


p. 35 These structures are so DEEP that we don’t see them


The goal of LIB Theology is a CONSCIENTIZATION of these structures.


Journal – a praxis would be what Michael Novak (33) calls “structures of virtue.” We should encourage these structures (needs examples like a “Democratic capitalism) to counter balance the structures of sin. Piet Schoonenberg says we are “situated” in the sinful structures and can’t see them. CONSCIENTIZATION

is a goal. Eg. In Liberation Theology, religious thinkers expose the structures of capitalism that enslave the poor.


II. Metaphors for Social Sin – these help us see the reality of sin


Sin as addiction (McCormick)


Journal “Slave-will” shows the tension between evil and free will. There is IRONY because we freely give ourselves to the bondage of sin (eg. we think we are free but we’re addicted to choices like making $ is good.) We collaborate with sin.

collaboration” (36) or  freely collaborate with sin is TRAGIC IRONY. We don’t see the addiction to greed, for example, will keep us from pursuing the real pleasures of living like friendship, physical exercise and sports, intellectual pursuits of the knowledge of our being.


“SCOTOSIS” unconscious process


reign of sin” (38)


world” in Bible means the material world  or sin


after seeing social reality of sin ch. 3  O’Keefe will go into the soc./theo foundations





Journal – Peter Henriot says we need a sociological interpretation of the structures of sin and a theological interpretation of the meaning of sin (p.41). Sociology will set up the structures we live in and the options we have to live in the world. Theology will provide the meanings of our actions when “legally” they might conform to social norms, but “religiously” they might be wrong.


Luckmann and Berger talk about the “Social Construction of Reality,” or the way and manner in which knowledge is  socially manufactured.


I. THEOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY  - man is personal and social


42.    Struggle of SIN/GRACE

JUSTICE pays attention to the soc., pol., and eco. Structures.

SOCIALIZATION is the development or how we increase in social structures.




Journal – (43) Irony – we make society and all its “things” and society and its things in turn create us or form us.  This is a Balzac idea when he studied the Bourgeois Restoration Society in France in the 19th Century. The following in this chapter will show the process through an external objectivation-reification of structures that turn and influence us and become internalized in us.


A. Persons make society


1. EXTERNALIZATION- pol.and soc. Structures become second nature to us.




45- REIFICATION – structures objectivate and become second nature to us.


Journal – Reification here is the extreme form of objectivation. The products of human activity become so “thingized” that we cease seeing them (school system, pol. Form of govt, capital exchange system) as human. They take on the nature of having always existed, and as non-living things they are impervious to change. Reification, according to Frederic Jameson, a postmodern Marxist critic, is the tendency to reduce all reality to the visual in order to consume or “buy” it. It is a sin similar to the “bad faith” of existentialists who reduce all reality to what you can buy. For example the grade at the end of the course takes the place for what was experienced in the course.


3 Levels

1.      Structures are patterns of relations – political power, economic production,          and cultural dreams ,myths and symbols

            2.. Institutions – patterns of actions where human conduct is patterned (marriage,

                        religion, education.

3.      Systems are the complexes of structures and institutions

4.      Situations are the “totality”of the environment at a given moment


B Society Makes Persons




Journal – In a reflexive relation the structures that humans create turn and form the individuals in their values. We learn our values from the society we made. Alice Walker’s “Temple of My FAMILIAR” comes to mind.


51- we are blind to these values and confuse ideological with real values.

52- society works

1.      From the outside

_thru fears of violence (police) and loss of job.

2.      From the inside

A.     Thru role playing and games (53) – we are born into roles of wife, mother, professor etc.  and we have rules of conduct in these games.

B.     Sociology of knowledge (55) IDEOLOGY is where are morality is learned from the society we live in. CONSCIENTIZATION is our effort to (55) distinguish “real/human” values from ideological values (like profit, ambition?) We exercise our FREEDOM in choosing our values and can make bad choices.

C.     Reference Group theory (56) – peer pressure and collective opinions have to be examined.

Journal (56-7) We have a freedom, but it is always qualified. We have to study the dialectic of the individual person and the society she lives in. What is the extent of our freedom in the choices we make. It is THERE where SIN and EVIL are  located. Ch. 4 will show how sin operated in the dialectic of the human being and society.



            Sin – things that oppress people


I. FROM INJUSTICE (civil) to SIN (theological)


58-9 How does injustice get related to God?


Journal – God is the other that we must love. If we don’t love our neighbors, we don’t love God. SIN is an absence of love. The “immanent” part of sin is when we fail to love others. This failure in our world becomes a “abstract” or “transcendent” failure to love in general. This “love” is God.


II. SOCIAL SIN at WORK   - (60) persons make social sin


61- origins of social sin are hard to find so we make up stories or myths

62- Society makes persons sin


Journal – we have to study (conscientization) the “ethos” of our group. We can be lulled to sleep by the habitual patterns that we accept. We have “institutional temptations” like materialism, greed, envy etc. We are “politically unconscious” to our daily actions and can commit social sins without realizing it.  We need GRACE to see the real political structures in our acts. This is existential good faith. Bad faith is accepting the image we have of ourselves from the ideologies of our society.


(64-5) Racism and slave labor in the Declaration of Independence and is “rationalized.”


Journal – Greed and prejudice perpetuate each other in a reflexive pattern. After slavery was called “illegal,” we used other hidden forms of slavery to keep people at low wages and in poor housing. (66) Subtle racism is the hardest to see and combat especially in ourselves. The bishops in 1979 called us accomplices in social sin.





67- Fuchs and Curran have a “Theology of Compromise” agst the Sin of the World. We work thru a dialectic of sin/grace to see “the reign of God” partially realized in a “Normative”?? Morality.

B. Haring sees the need of “goal-commandments” – some moral norm bases to do positive action in “cooperating” partially with evil to make some progress (69).


IV.INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY for SOCIAL SIN (to help us undertake responsibility for change of structures.)


70-1 – being passive doesn’t excuse us. We are responsible for our ignorance.Selfishness blinds us.


Causal Responsibility – (Kenneth Himes) a non-moral cause. A comment may “cause” laughter.


Moral Responsibility – Here,there is blame involved.


Liability (72) – we have to give restitution because of our action.




Journal (73-5)AGENCY is a big word now a days. If we are liable, then we caused the injustice.  The fact that we are “selfish” can mask the motives of our actions.  We may have enjoyed the benefits of social sin (being white males for ex.) without noticing. Our personal guilt may be mitigated but our social guilt carries responsibility to make restitutions.  The goal  here, I think, is not to give us more guilt, but to give us more awareness so that we can start social change. We need HUMILITY. Augustine and PASCAL and JANSENISM may say that human nature is corrupt and needs the grace of God to be saved, but the real message is to be aware of our weaknesses, be humble, so that we can have the grace to seek social and personal transformation. The older brother of the Prodigal Son could use some humility.



(76- Patrick Kerans)




77. BIAS (def.) the tendency to eliminate data that might endanger our comfort and stops us from transcending our limitations.

  1. Dramatic bias – tendency to eliminate data from a decision
  2. Individual bias – outweighs the needs of others (ego) – may lead to crime and prevention of growth
  3. Group bias – Tendency to want quick pragmatic answers (78) The dominant group is blind to the needs of other groups.
  4. General bias – impatience of common sense that wants pragmatic answers and doesn’t want to wait.

79- we stay in biases for fear of change. We and society can’t grow.

Patrick Kerans – soc. Structures are sinful


Journal – George Soros and other stock traders makes use of our biases to read the stock market. When Soros spots a “prevailing bias” about some stock (internet stocks or currencies) he will try to predict when reality will set in. He can then make much money if he can tell when the reality (the crash of the particular stock which went higher because the public’s bias made the stock without sufficient fundamental value) soar.  My point is that it is usually the rich and powerful which profit from the biases of the less powerful.We have to be conscious of our real values in order to make progress.




80- only CONVERSION and praxis of AGAPIC LOVE can break the hold of bias.


1.      Intellectual  - to see thru the myths 

2.      Moral – change our values from satisfaction to real value

3.      Religious – self-surrender to love

Nancy Ring 81 – more than common sense needed

82. Christian Conversion – go from individual to group to community to history

Lamb – biases overcome in prayerful encounters.


Journal – The cognitional theory helps us see areas of social decline. We can then be ready to maybe start some areas of improvement. This complex of awareness and action is called praxis. (83-4)


Ch. 6  SOCIAL CONVERSION (redemption from sin is the focus of Christian Ethics)

How to we go from Social Sin to Conversion?  (85)




86- Jerome Theisen – sin/original sin has to do with disunity and self-centeredness

Grace of God is Community

need for GRACE of God to have a spirit of COMMUNITY and NON-ALIENATION

eg. Feminist groups alienated by social structures and false ideologies


Journal – Theisen uses “false ideology” when I think the word “ideology” is negative to begin with. (86) Althussar a French Marxist thinker says ideology is the set of beliefs that the ruling powerful class want the lower classes to have. These beliefs are the values of that ruling class like greed, ambition and winning. These values or ideologies have nothing to do with real values like charity and friendship.


The “poor” (87) likewise need awareness of the structures that keep them down. SOLIDARITY is a good first step.

Haring proposes “SOLIDARITY for SALVATION”


Journal – A French sociologist (Bourdieu or ? proposes solidarity to substitute for “fraternity” in the slogan “liberté, égalité, fraternité.”



God initiates human conversion

1.      Preferential option for the Poor – starting point for Gospel values to be seen in how we traet the marginalized: poor, aliens, widows etc,

2.      Conscientization – movements like Liberation Theology can make us aware of injustices (88) in structures that debase human dignity.

3.      Social analysis -  to show how social structures work thru the power of MONEY and how religious myths are used to advance political ends.

Journal – a recent sacrilegious note is seen when the NCAA decides to continue the games in spite of the war because it is the proper National and Spiritual thing to do to fight our enemies showing our way of life continues. Some skeptics might be appalled at using nationalism and religious spirit to advance financial gains!

            Other symbols  roots of disease”  “money Talks”

4.      Group community action – Political parties, church groups and labor unions can combat social sin (89).

5.      Political Action, Conflict, Violence (90) democratic structures needed esp. to combat “institutionalized violence.”




Peter Henriot  3 elements

1.      Prophetic word – (90-1) read the scriptures, try to see the eschatological vision of the reign of God. Have hope in the process.

2.      Symbolic witness – the Church’s own internal life is sacramental and an exampleof how to live.

Journal – (91) This idea of sacrament is very important. Baptism and Eucharist the key sacraments in the initiation process (Confirmation is with Baptism I believe). The Eucharist is our unity together and with Christ. The Church is Christ. Baptism here is an on-going process of where we plunge into the waters of death and disunity to leave somehow more united with each other, our vocation, and God. Reconciliation is part of the on-going Baptism.  This one big sacrament is Christ which unites us to God . The Church Community is Christ or at least has the goal of being Christ.


3.      Political Action – in discussion (92) need to give people more power to input.




93- Moltmann – the two have to be combined


materialist conversion illusion – we are a structure without a soul

idealist conversion illusion – we are a soul without a social structure (94)


We need to see the two views in a reflexive way and study how each one operates.


BIG STRUGGLE – human hearts in the face of big social structures that need change.


Journal – Liberation Theology’s focus is more on change of the big social injustice structures, but we still have to show change in individual human hearts. Literature can give us examples where we can go from individual examples to the outward big general ideas.



Theology and Sociology  of Social Sin (96-8)

These disciplines allow us to study the myths, symbols and linguistic roots of social sin. Action is needed to get these disciplines out of the academy and into the world.. Education still needed and personal conversion too.







Garrett Hardin. “Living on a Life Boat” Bioscience Vol  24:10 1974. pp. 561-8 .

_________. The Limits of Altruism.Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1977.

_________. “Ethical Implications of Carrying Capacity. 96htm (1977)             

Ocean liner   sinks in North Atlantic

30 people in a lifeboat designed for 20

Officer asks for volunteers to go into the water as the boat will soon capsize

Other survivors are swimming to the boat


What are the rights of those in the boat?

Those in the water?

What is the moral thing to do?

Can we enunciate some principles?

Some relevant questions?


Do the ones in the boat have first rights?

Do we save the weak first?

Do we want optimum chances for the most people?


Universal absolutist ethics vs. Situational/practical ethics


Journal – If it is just a lifeboat, I think we have to keep as many people alive for as long as possible. The “religious” individual response, I hope, would be to volunteer to die. The “ethic” response would be to weigh the pluses and minuses of whom should be accepted and turned away. Wow!

As a metaphor of the overcrowded world, we need bio-ethical studies to help us us the earth in a conservative manner. This would take a central world authority on the line of the UN or a World Bank. 


Metaphor                  The Ocean liner is the World

The lifeboats are the rich nations

The people in the water are from the poor nation boats that have sunk.


Tragedy of the Commons – the air and water are like a “well” from which the whole

            World can share. If left uncontrolled it will run out.

            Technology speeds up use

            Immigration creates the commons – cheap labor supply that will eventually cause supplies to dry up

            India 1970 stopping grain aid made them selfsufficient.


Carrying Capacity -  the land on the earth is like a pasture. Each pasture has an ideal                        

carrying capacity. Disasters occur when  carrying capacity is ignored

            Signs – malnuitrition and the weather environment deteriorates

                        Cattle population of the Salel

                                    Western economy forced them to overpopulate the cattle

                                    Cash crop forces to overplant

Space ship  - a frugal economy where we all share – no one is in control – eventually all the supplies are used up

World Food Bank etc. encourages people to use up supplies without teaching them how to farm

Life boat – we have a “captain” who controls the population – people are sacrificed for posterity.

Altruism  vs egoism