Archival Number: A564
Author: Lonergan, B.
Database and descriptions © Copyright 2017 by Robert M. Doran
56400D0L060 May 3
The reign of sin:
(1) We are not describing a particular case. Positivists describe. We are exhibiting a model, a mechanism, causes, conjoined factors.
(2) Human life is constituted in such a way that either it becomes absolutely the same as it was before, the primitive state of society, ‘nasty, brutish, and short’ (Hobbes) or it becomes something different when it is a matter of going from the data, through understanding and counsel, deliberation and consensus, to a change in the situation, whence new data, new understanding, etc.: a circle unfolding on its own.
(3) Given the reign of sin, there enters the absurd, the irrational, not only a stain in the will but the irrational in action itself, in the consequent situation, in the data for future understanding.
(4) The absurd enters cumulatively. The font does not dry up, as long as the reign of sin obtains. Every element, even the least, of the human situation is penetrated and corrupted by the absurd. If there occur revolution, reformation, renewal, even these are not without the absurd. The more radically it happens, the more profoundly does the absurd enter in.
(5) Once the irrational situation has taken hold, it practically forces sin to occur. Human solidarity is such that without heroic virtue we are not able not to act as others act. This is interior moral impotence: without habits we cannot act well, because we are not able always to inquire, to reflect, to deliberate. Patience is easy when others are patient, honest, urbane, truthful, prompt to help and assist, but my moral situation is different if I want to be patient, honest, urbane, truthful, prompt to help and assist, but others are angry, dishonest, boorish, mendacious, egotistical: in the family, when husband and wife do not agree on morality; in industry, when workers and employers are mutually opposed; in commerce when no one trusts anyone else; in law, medicine, the military, politics, diplomacy, the academy, the church.
(6) in the situation of the reign of sin the intellect is corrupted: (a) from the side of the will, which experiencing its own moral impotence joyfully accepts whatever moral, political, economic, etc., teaching that praises rather than reprehends this impotence; (b) from the side of the situation itself: data lead to understanding; per se this is an infallible process when the data are intelligible; but given the reign of sin, the data are penetrated with the irrational and the absurd; if no judgment, distinction, separation is made, if human nature and human iniquity are not distinguished, then the absurd itself is a datum to be interpreted, to be understood, to be considered in any taking counsel, and to be accepted in the formulation of principles.
(c) This occurs in two ways: in practical judgment, where ‘primum est vivere,’ and morals and precepts of the church are good for people who do not know much about human life; and in a more speculative way (i) raison d’état, Realpolitik; (ii) Machiavelli abandons theories about rights and determines how to proceed efficiently to obtaining and holding on to supreme power; (iii) empirical human sciences in a mechanist-determinist way reveal how to proceed efficiently toward ends that in themselves are praiseworthy; (iv) philosophies move in this direction; and it occurs through the media of communication, literary works, newspapers, television, movies.
(7) a succession of ever less comprehensive syntheses: illustrated - (i) because of church corruption, the reformation took place through division; (ii) because of the wars of religion, rationalism insisted there was no positive supernatural religion; (iii) because of the disagreements of reason liberalism and tolerance take over; because of the social ineffectiveness of liberalism, there is a totalitarianism, in which reason itself is an ideology a mythic superstructure.