Archive for October, 2022
So then, what do you see as the bottom line or essence of humanity?
Aristotle said that the essence of humanity, that which separates us from the other primates, is our ability to think rationally. While this is true, I think the great Aristotle did not go far enough. I think our essence is to consciously and deliberately, through our free will, love others even when it is painful to do so, and to love in this way for the other’s benefit. The Greek word agape describes this kind of love.
When you say that agape is our highest form of humanity, isn’t that too high a goal? The Medieval philosopher, Thomas Aquinas, referred to agape as “charity” and said we cannot fully appropriate this moral virtue without divine grace.
Yes, Thomas Aquinas did distinguish certain virtues, which he called theological virtues, which are so high, so difficult, that we need divine grace in order to appropriate them correctly. People can try agape even if they do not reach it more fully, but grace helps us go higher in this virtue according to Aquinas.
Why do you say that I likely will forgive better if I see the “potentiality” for love in the one who hurt me? To be quite honest with you, all I see is narcissism in the one who abruptly walked out on our relationship.
Aristotle makes the important distinction between Actuality (what is occurring now) and Potentiality (what underlies the current situation, including the capacity for greater perfection, even if we never reach true perfection). The one who abandoned you had the potential within to grow as a person, to develop more goodness within that then can be behaviorally demonstrated outwardly to others, including you. The narcissism of the other is a current Actuality. The person is capable of much more with conscious, deliberate effort to bring out a fuller humanity, a deeper sense and expression of love.
I don’t get it. So what if a person has the potential to be good. If she is not behaving in a good way, which basically is always, the idea of potential is worthless.
I want you to see that you are defining this person exclusively by behavior, not intangible qualities such as being a unique person. There never was another person exactly like her on the planet. In other words, there is more to her than her current behavior. She has a worth that goes beyond her current behavior with you. Your view of her seems to be too narrow.
Even if my view of the one who walked out on me is too narrow, as you say, it is the truth. Why play games with a fantasy of who she might become?
Seeing her as more than the behaviors of walking out on you is not fantasy. I think it is a higher reality than seeing her only in terms of current behavior. As I said earlier to you, would you want all of your family members to define you exclusively by the times when you had a really bad day, with insensitivity to some family members? Do you think this misbehavior is the exclusive truth about who you are as a person?