what conscience is …

February 9, 2012

in Bioethics,Spirituality

… conscience is the place where we perceive dependence, where the directive of Another emerges. (At the Origin of the Christian Claim Luigi Giussani p. 88)

 “You must live for another if you want to live for yourself”, the Roman philosopher Seneca said. If you want to live for yourself, if you want to discover the substance and dignity of yourself as a person, you must perceive yourself through the presence of another, you must live for another. But who is this Other for whom you might live? Either you make the choice – and still choose yourself, therefore, according to your criterion and no other – or the choice will be imposed upon you making you a slave – you are a captivus. In only one case is Seneca’s phrase true and worthy of human freedom: if this Other is ontologically the means to your destiny. You can live for yourself in living for another only if this “other” binds you with your destiny. So if you live for this particular Other, you will reach your destiny; and if you do not live for this Other, you are undone by your own hand, you disintegrate, you destroy yourself. We are normally obliged to live for another entity which imposes itself upon us – that means for the powers that be (the mother-father power, the husband-wife power, the boy-girl power, the power of the teacher, the power of the police, the power of the great economic potentates, the Power). Power – this is the enemy of the eyes and of the heart and of the lips that express the heart in words. There is no alternative: either we ourselves choose the other, which means still choosing ourselves (and we will be submerged in the abyss of our insubstantiality), or the choice will be imposed upon us, and that means we are slaves of power; or – and this is the right way – we live for another who by the nature of his being is ontologically the means, the road to our destiny And Only One Other said: “I am the way”. He did not say: “I will show you the way.” (He is if He Changes Luigi Giussani p. 21)

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