Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gratuitous Goodness

Hans Urs von Balthasar:
There may be people who, for some reason or other, have become used to doubting the existence of intrinsic goodness. On their view, what is called good or appears to be so in everyday life can be explained away in terms of mores, changing customs, unconfessed laziness and selfishness, a natural will to power concealed under various guises. If, however, such people came face to face with the evidence of a selfless act that another, say a friend, performs for its own sake, and they realize by their own inward experience that the naked overcoming of self is a really attainable possibility, they forget for the moment their entire theory and bow before the simple fact of goodness. Their theory now has a breach in it; they may stop it up later, but for now they have stepped through it, naked and undisguised, into the presence of the Good.
[Theo-Logic, Vol. 1, p. 35]

2 comments:

Jill said...

Professor Jonathan Haidt won the 2001 Templeton Prize for his "discovery" of a new emotion - Elevation.

Haidt defines elevation as that warm, uplifting tingling feeling in your chest that you feel when you see unexpected acts of human goodness, kindness, courage or compassion. Elevation makes a person want to help others and to become a better person himself.

Gil Bailie said...

Jill,
That is a beautiful discovery! It's a wonderful echo of what von Balthasar was trying to get at.
Thanks for it.