Following yesterday’s generalizations, I would suggest that liberalism, or rationalism in politics, has mirrored the rise of industrial economy and the growth of the state to be prone to, as Zach states, plans for reorganizing society involving the use of the coercive power of the state instead of people and families and small communities changing their lives and habits, where the truly transformative is located. We need recognition that the human will cannot liberate emotional and spiritual emptiness, and that freedom as a supreme principle is an empty end unless there is an understanding of what it is for – community and communion. We must know, therefore, what is good and true in the human life. There is more to what it means to be human, a relational being, than the pursuit of pleasure. We can in fact be drawn to the permanent things, spiritually, even as notions such as good and true are not easily defined. I think that each person is partly made by language, which present categories through which the world is perceived and motives are developed. Yet humans are also users and makers of language; and in the remaking of life and internal character there is necessarily a shared, collective process. James Boyd White writes that this reciprocity is defined by language – our language is the set of shared expectations and common terms that enable us to think of ourselves as a ‘we’, and that language too can be transformed. Humans, in their communicative acts, create social settings. This is a conduit through which individuals form relationships. Communication is reflexively constituted within the act itself, forming and reforming identity, social relationships, and ideas. The complications of morality and politics – and indeed, all the perplexing aspects of the relational life – are thus encompassed by the field of communication, including the beginning and negotiation of meaning. Persuasion is inseparable from cultural and economic evolutions. Social practices are inseparable from language. In this continuous creation are occasions where an individual might remake what White terms the “shared resources of meaning,” which shapes the scope and direction of public, individual, and communal life. For Catholics, through the center, and through the noise, of these persuasions are many centuries of human consciousness aspiring to apprehend the right order of the soul. From age to age they are expressed afresh, but still sustained by the spirit of faith and the reality of the Eucharist. This informs and reminds humanity of the inherent dignity of our nature.
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