Thursday, October 15, 2015


Self and Society

Carl Trueman:
Perhaps the key figure in Siedentop’s narrative is Duns Scotus who carefully distinguished between the freedom of the will to act and the notion of justice. Freedom to act was a necessary condition of moral behavior but not a sufficient condition: Acts also needed to be in conformity with what was just. Scotus thus gave conceptual clarity to the relationship between the individual human agent and the common standards of moral action rooted in shared human nature.


The Civil Rights movement was built on the egalitarian assumption that African Americans shared with those of European ancestry a common humanity which transcended and ultimately undermined racial categories; by contrast, LGBTQ politics assumes that self-determined individual sexual identity trumps everything. It is thus built not on the foundation of a common humanity but on the priority of the individual’s will.

This is not a stance unique to LGBTQ activists. In fact, it is one of the major assumptions in the contemporary political climate. Much of modern politics—right and left—operates with an impoverished, solipsistic definition of selfhood. The result is that we have lost the classic liberal balance between the constraints rooted in the concept of a shared humanity and the rights of the individual. The late modern self would seem to be understood primarily as a self-determining agent whose desires are curbed only by the principle of consent when brought into relationship with the desires of another self-determining agent.
Read the whole thing.


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