Video – Conferences #112: Newman Scotus – Sr. Ingham Keynote Re-fashioning the Imagination around Love

By December 4, 2010January 5th, 2019Conferences, Newman-Scotus DC 2010

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Ave Maria!

The keynote address for Newman-Scotus Symposium the is given by Sr. Mary Beth Ingham who advocates for a shift of our concept of rational activity from an intellectual centrality to that of the will along the lines of  Scotus who is the most famous of the Franciscan masters.


Anselm comodi and justistia two desires of our rational self. Comodi for personal health, happiness. Justisia is a desire for justice, good for goodness itself. both of these things need to be pursued. Anselm and Scotus believe that these two must work together in order for us to be different from the animals.

Scotus takes this a step further.  Justisia must be developed like any other discipline. To act, not to act, and choosing not to decide. This choice not to decide is key to Scotus' moral teaching. This option to not decide is built into our very metaphysical being and gives us the ability to love good for goodness sake itself (justistia) and this is key to being able to transcend oneself.

To love God above all things is first principle of praxis, moral action. Love for God (the greatest good ) is the thing that will bring us the greatest good, happiness. Moral living is thus harmonized with happiness. And even though this harmony is damaged by original sin it is still largely intact, but requires great balance.

Ethical beauty and artistry

Primacy of moral beauty. In a morally good act can see proportion of beauty. Known in pagan worlds. Stoics. Morality has a harmony with the will like harmony of beautiful music. And moral evil is a discord. Relating to spiritual discernment. A well trained spiritual director can pick up a spiritual discord very easily like a piano tuner. Moral training should involve this aesthetical. Moral pedagogy should be a taste for beauty, not just good taste but rational beauty, moral living. Instead of legalism we need Scotus the Franciscan.

Three dimensions of Moral Judgment

  1. Love for God above all

  2. Principle of moral science (derived from above and contained in the Decalogue)

  3. Learned Moral experienced

Expanded notion of rational and ordered right loving. Perfection of right loving, which means loving the right thing but also loving these things in the right way.

Global and economic morality can have impact of distributive justice and environmental stress will be resolved by self restraint. The restraint then will have benefits for the spiritual in that we have moral rectitude but all the physical and social problems will be resolved.

Moral discernment, right loving, self mastery and restrained use as we do with Franciscan poverty. This has ramifications for solving social and environment issues.

This has affinity to Newman. Challenge of this kind of moral artists is to widen the moral issue.

Cor ad cor loquitor, (Heart speaking to heart) listening for God's voice. The way to really discern.

Moral instruction can be reformulated in the terms of beauty. Thus it avoids the two extremes of rigid legalisms and arbitrary personal caprice. And this will open the way to international and inter-religious dialogue.

Question 1 -  What form does the apprehension of this beauty take?

Beauty is one of the Transcendentals closely akin to God and so the apprehension involves an imitation of Him, an ongoing conversion.

Question 2  - Is this idea of beauty and goodness in Scotus?

It is. And he gives an example of tonal discord at least in sense of the idea of the infinite being is not discordious with our intellect.

Queston 3 - Sr. Pat Hutchison, OSF, Ed.D reflects on how Sr. Mary Beth Ingham's ideas have been well received by her community and university.

Sr Ingham responds that this is very well received in general by the post modern world and there will be more discussion of this coming up. This discussion must be given an objective basis so the the aesthetic does not become mere subjective preference.

Question 4 - Fr. McCurry asks if this notion of morality can be transferred to theology with the tota pulcra of the Immaculate Conception?

She says this is very possible. This is in line with Scotus' "potuit, decuit, ergo fecit", ("God could do it, it was fitting that He did it, and so He did it") and being generous always by erring on the side of generosity with regard to attributing to God glorious works. (These are the general concepts upon which Scotus based his defense of the Immaculate Conception)

Ave Maria!

For more of this Symposium

For the book that is the final fruit of this Symposium:

Audio (MP3)


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