Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Gifts and Graces

We need not, indeed, think of goods which are totally and in principle apart from experience, e.g. a world of beauty inaccessible to any and every mind, finite or infinite. Such a world could be neither beautiful nor a good. But it is true that in considering the characters of perfection we are driven more and more to recognise how far the roots of a finite mind extend beyond itself; and morality, goodness, the affirmation of fundamental values, passes continuously into gifts and graces due to nature or history. We should not like to make health or good luck a part of moral goodness, though they are certainly not unconnected with it. Yet if we try to rule out from goodness all external gifts and graces, physical endowments, education, age and country, ability to learn and to act, we shall find that we have ruled out moral excellence itself. The conclusion is forced upon us that morality, even if expanded to the compass of all mental and bodily excellence, is still only a relative point of view, one which cannot be pushed to the point of conceiving the finite creature, in, by, and of himself, as fully equipped with the conditions and constituents of goodness. Goodness passes continuously into goods, and goods into gifts.
The individual, though responsible, has nevertheless his roots deep in the universe beyond him.

Bernard Bosanquet, The Value and Destiny of the Individual, Lecture 10

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