the way you do the things you do

Ever since the third chapter of the book of Genesis, man has been blaming others for his troubles.   When God confronted  Adam and Eve upon their having committed the Original Sin, Adam blamed both God and Eve, and she blamed a talking snake.   Throughout mankind’s history this story has been incessantly reenacted.  Life is about both self determination and the power of fate.   To separate the two would be a false dichotomy.    Jean Paul Sartre, the twentieth century existentialist philosopher,  put forth the claim that existence precedes essence.    According to his line of thought, each individual first comes into existence and then determines his specific essence.    This view presupposes that volition is all.    Someone of this mindset takes it for granted that if someone of one sex wants to be a member of the opposite sex, change is permissible.    Life, by this standard, is a bottomless pit of limitless options.   Theoretical existentialism demands a concomitant sense of responsibility, claiming that no one may blame anyone or anything else, other than himself, for his circumstances.    Our current cultural climate shares with this worldview the idea that all is possible and permissible.    In practice though, no one is willing to be held accountable for his actions.   Women, minorities, the sexually dysfunctional, among others, are told that every problem they face has discrimination as its inevitable source.    This is reflected by Garcin’s line, toward the end of Sartre’s “No Exit”:  Carl_Rahl_Prometheus“Hell is other people”.   In Dostoyevsky’s “The Possessed”, one of the characters reminds us that no one ever recognizes his own stink.     In his “The Brothers Karamazov”, one of his characters puts forth the the claim that suicide is the ultimate apotheosis.    Materialistic determinism, inspired by Karl Marx, claims that all is beyond anyone’s control.   According to this understanding of life, everything is dictated by environment and genetics.   Marx’s and Sartre’s worldviews are both intrinsically atheistic.    Many people claim to refer to conscience in order to defend their decisions.  Unless a conscience is carefully formed though, according to certain objective norms, such a claim is entirely meaningless.   As far as I can see, each individual’s fate is determined by many different variables, only some of which are within his control.    Each of us should react to his own behavior, and that of others, with as rightly ordered a combination of justice and mercy as possible.    Each of us is a combination of aptitude, which he can’t control, and behavior, which he can control.    All sorts of other variables, including financial concerns and the cooperation of others, must also be taken into consideration.    Western culture’s theological and philosophical vocabulary is filled with all sorts of references to mortal and venial sin, objective and subjective guilt, vincible and invincible ignorance.    These distinctions exist precisely because of all the variables that come into play in each individual’s life.     The laws that govern morality are exactly the same as those that govern destiny.   In each case, only things that are objectively morally permissible may be done.   The individual’s capacity to understand must be taken into account.   Other people’s participation must be considered.   Environment makes a difference.   In the end, though, each of us is accountable for what happens in his own life.    All possible legitimate care must be exercised in order to affect the best of possible outcomes and to avoid assigning blame to some convenient scapegoat.    Text, context and subtext must work together at all times in order to get things done the right way.    Any extremist position, that puts too much emphasis on either the power of fate, or the control asserted by the individual,  will lead to trouble.

13 thoughts on “the way you do the things you do

  1. Pingback: B.Kaotic

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