The Art of Moral Choice

Light of Truth

Edmund Husserl says: “The world originates within us, as Descartes led men to recognize.” This is a turn to interiority, the ‘inside is better’ as St Augustine says. Religion is what you do with your own interiority. Interiority is life of freedom. “Freedom… is not a quality added on or a property of my nature. It is very exactly the stuff of my being.” The subjectivity that we have thus arrived at, and which we have claimed to be truth, is not a strictly individual subjectivity. “Every man who adheres to determinism is a dishonest man,” …“This inability to not make a choice is absolute.” If man has once become aware that in his forlornness he imposes values, he can no longer want but one thing, and that is freedom, as the basis of all values. The ultimate meaning of the acts of honest men is the quest for freedom as such. Kierkegaard wrote that “Sickness is the natural state of the Christian.” In man there is an irrational hole. Sickness is the burden of living others’ values. My plan of life is always a journey of becoming, which means there is a nonbeing ahead of me. I am always catching up with my non-being. I am not becoming something altogether different. This change is clearly not a change in essence, but in being. But this non-being which the subject of becoming leaves behind must be of not-yet.
“Being is simply the condition of all revelation.” If world originates within us and revelation also originates within us – they are gifts and revelations. Life is not something found in our path such as a purse and of which we decide to or not to avail ourselves. Awareness of one’s self as living is indeed to be aware of a former existence, and the role of reflection is here to recognize the prior participation with a reality which consciousness cannot encompass. There is I and someone else, unity and plurality, abstract identity and historic becoming. It can only be thought of from an angle of depth, where the now and the then, the near and the far, meet. We have a confused feeling that the man who steps aside from these ways, or even from the idea of these ways, is in danger of losing himself in a sort of no man is an island where the difference between truth and error even between reality and dream tends to vanish away. It is, however, this very image of truth as something smelted out that we must encounter critically if we want to grasp clearly the gross error on which it rests.
“Bad faith” means, for Sartre, dishonesty. However, dishonesty without any moral criteria, simply means a certain inconsistency in the face of “reality.” The coward makes himself cowardly, and the hero makes himself heroic. There is no doctrine more optimistic, since man’s destiny is within himself, but the within is a world of gifts which includes the consciousness of the gifts. It here man bows and kneels and prays. This is the finding of oneself in God, which is a finding of the grammar of life. Man must accept the situation in which he finds himself, and yet he is responsible for this situation. Every man is aware of what he is, and the full responsibility of his existence rest on him. Every action of man is subject to a moral interpretation. Nothing is excusable, man is responsible for his passion. Moral choice is to be compared to the making of a work of art. In choosing his ethics, man makes himself. There is a universality of man, but it is not given, it is perpetually being made.
Man is able to look beyond the written words of Christian dogma and the snares of secular society and begin the inward journey to the true self. Man seeks “the idea for which I am willing to live and die” in addition to the solution to the “riddle of life.” Money, power and sex attempt to penetrate into the “hearts and minds” of individuals – the two places that have yet to be commoditized. There is the moment when the art of moral life becomes the art of deception of performances.

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