Saturday, December 6, 2008

Nativity -- Day 9

Perry from Energetic Procession has written an interesting post entitled: The Plurality of the Good and the Heart of Capitalism, in which he relates ideas found in St. Maximus to economic theory. Here is an excerpt:
A common occurrence in socialistic models is large scale apathy and eventually poor workmanship. Humans for some reason don’t flourish in these contexts. In the Soviet Union, a popular saying was that the state used to pretend to pay the workers and the workers used to pretend to work. The political rhetoric is that socialistic models kill incentive and ingenuity. But why? I think that Maximus’ thought on the gnomic will and the plurality of the Good can help explain why capitalism on the whole does a better job with human nature.

The gnomic will is a particular use of the human power of choice. It is a use of the power of choice that is not yet fixed or congealed with the good that is the telos of human nature. The gnomic will is a use of a natural power that is “between” good or evil. As character formation occurs and the character of the agents “gels” the gnomic will falls away like one of Wittgenstein’s ladders. The gnomic will, like other uses of the will entails the plurality of objects of choice or alternative possibilities. In sun, this is why the gnomic will entails the possibility of evil acts.

The Ochlophobist has also written a thought provoking post related to economics, entitled: wealth, usury, and the lack of those beat-up clowns Rouault loved to paint. The excerpt:
I am particularly taken with the phrase "the virtue of suffering and poverty" and the contrast of this virtue with the quotidian praxis one finds in virtually all of American Orthodoxy - the unquestioned embrace of bourgeois lifestyles by folks who like to talk and hear about ascesis. It is no surprise that converts, virtually all of whom come from the middle classes, and immigrants, who came to America largely in order to achieve a middle class lifestyle, would embrace bourgeois banalities. What is something of a surprise is the number of these who live a bourgeois life, even defend a bourgeois life, and then have the gall to wax on and on about the Orthodox ascetical life. Just this morning I read a bit by a fellow (who for all I know may not live a bourgeois life) who was writing about how Orthodox mission, unlike that of other faiths, starts with the ascetical life of the would-be missionary or evangelist, and the life of the mission is rooted in that ascesis. I agree with this outline of things missional.

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