Sunday, April 19, 2015

Wise and Unwise Goodness

There are certain things which at first sight appear to be acts of goodness, but in point of fact are cruelty; contrariwise, there are certain actions which, when first seen, cause a shock to one's feelings by their apparent cruelty and barbarity; but on being examined more closely, are found to contain the very flower of kindness and of most exquisite love. It is wisdom alone that can lead goodness to its ultimate effect, to its true completion. An unwise goodness which sees but few things and those only close at hand, cannot provide for what does not fall within its mental vision or lies far away in the distance; but a wise goodness whose views are far-reaching and embrace a vast range of things, seems sometimes harsh and neglectful of partial goods, whereas it purposely leaves them aside for the moment in the certainty of gathering them up afterwards increased a thousand-fold in the great whole which it ever contemplates.

Antonio Rosmini, Theodicy, vol. 1, pp. 217-218.


  1. Robert Lennon2:24 PM

    That reminds me of a blogger from several years back, whose name escapes me unfortunately, who argued that God was the only true Utilitarian possible, for only He could see every possible outcome, and work to ensure the best good for all creation.

  2. branemrys10:04 PM

    It's certainly the case that utilitarianism makes more sense as the moral theory of a deity than as the moral theory of a human being. That's actually how it started -- the earliest utilitarians, like Paley, were all theological utilitarians. I think there are reasons to doubt that God is a utilitarian, but if anyone could manage to get it right, He's the one who could.

  3. Greta6:05 PM

    I fell a bit behind in blog commenting and writing, so appologise for the belated comment- but because I jotted this passage down, I wanted to thank you for it. It makes a good case for the importance of developing Aristotelian phronesis.


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