Leave Only Footprints

Values, Virtues, & Humanity

"Values are the culturally shaped accounts of the human good that are tenacious but also always in process."  

In the second section of Timothy Gorringe's The World Made Otherwise, he explores the core human values we will need in this period of climate change resilience.

First, he dispenses with some other approaches to ethics (both relativism and absolutism)--"There is not, as Kant seems to have thought, a universal standpoint free of narrative, though this does not mean that there are not values that we rightly argue apply to all humans whatsoever and to that extent are universal."

In response to the objection that there is no universal human nature, Gorringe has a ready response--"The common characteristics all humans share, which include not simply rationality and language, symbolic inventiveness and individuality, but also--and here crucially--a capacity for affection and for humiliation."  From these shared experiences he thinks our common values arise. 

Gorringe points out that "the struggle to establish how value is to be defined is the heart of politics."  Theology is important in helping us see how values transcend politics.  And theology teaches--"The living God is known in giving life: death is the hallmark of idolatry."  So, our core values are what contributes to life.  And what advances death is idolatry.  Our politics, then, should be so oriented.  We cannot build a functioning society around the vices.

The virtues are the "embodiment of values" and both are concerned with "what it means to be human."  The virtues are how we learn to be fully human.

Our goal, or end, then, is human flourishing--"the exercise by all of the creative potentials latent in human beings."



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