Reinhard Huetter - June 2016 Working Group Meeting Topic

Actual Self-Transcendence, or: To Be Good Is to Do the Truth Reality, Good, and the Primordial Conscience in a Thomist Perspective

Abstract and Outline

In this paper I am assaying an account of real self-transcendence from a Thomist philosophical angle. I am contrasting the currently dominant (and ultimately self-destructive) self-transcendence permitted by the “immanent frame” (Charles Taylor) with the actual self-transcendence of real moral agency. Actual self-transcendence as it is characteristic of the created animal rationale presupposes a “frame of genuine transcendence;” in a nutshell, actual self-transcendence can be rendered thus: To be good is to do the truth. The counterfeit of actual self-transcendence is the immanent transcendence offered by the self-image of sovereign subjectivity. In order to unpack this statement, I have to draw upon the metaphysics of being and the good which accounts for the moral constitution of the human person, that is, the primordial conscience as the condition for the possibility of actual self-transcendence. Because of the primordial conscience the human person as moral agent can do the truth, that is, has a truth-capacity in the practical order. And because a good conscience (resulting from doing the truth in the practical order) is the source of the well-being of the human person as moral agent, actual self-transcendence is the condition for the possibility of genuine well-being. But, as we have seen, actual self-transcendence presupposes a “frame of genuine transcendence.” The virtue central to actual self-transcendence and its concomitant well-being is the cardinal virtue of prudence.

1. The Anthropocentric Turn and the Sovereign Self

2. The Metaphysics of Being and Its Three Fundamental Premises regarding Being, Truth, and the Good The Ontological Premise pertain to the order of being The Epistemological Premise pertaining to the order of knowledge The Intellectualist Premise pertaining to the order of action “Reality” as res and actualitas

3. The Eternal and the Natural Law

4. Synderesis—the Primordial Conscience

5. The Primordial Conscience and Its Act, con-scientia

6. Conscience and the Virtue of Prudence

7. The Erroneous Conscience

8. The Erroneous Conscience and the Counterfeit of Conscience 9. To Be Good Is to Do the Truth—From Metaphysics to Mystagogy