How do we seek the truth with our whole soul? (Part 1)


Consider the following extreme premises (principles/virtues/worldviews/truths).  

  • Western civilisation is better than other civilisations.
  • Men are better than women. 
  • White people are better than people of colour.  
  • Educated people are better than those with no formal education. 
  • The clergy is better than the laity.  

Could someone holding these views undertake a See-Judge-Act (a decision-making method)? 

They could, and they could conclude with actions (Act) that could be devastating.   

It is important to remember that the See-Judge-Act is a systematic method for decision-making, but absent the correct values/principles/worldviews/truths, the outcomes could be devastating. 

The Judge aspect provides the principles or the virtues for the individual or group to decide (the Act). In the Christian context, the Gospel and Catholic Social Teachings provide the principles/values/ worldviews/truths. This, however, won’t be easy. We know how divided Catholics are on many issues, including understanding the Gospel values and teachings, let alone Catholic Social Teaching. Look no further than Vatican II.

The philosopher of the see-judge-act (as Stefan had christened  Léon Ollé-Laprune) said it himself.  

To see clearly is not easy; to judge, that is to say, as Bossuet said, “to pronounce within oneself with respect to what is true and what is false,” is perhaps even more difficult; to decide, it seems, is the most difficult thing in the world for some people: even when the premises are there, which call, which claim, which impose a conclusion, they cannot decide or conclude.

The key (to quote from yesterday’s reflection) is ‘to seek the truth with our whole soul.’ 

“…That motto, borrowed by Ollé-Laprune from Plato, was “il faut aller au vrai avec toute son âme” – “we have to seek the truth with our whole soul.””

This is where the challenge lies.

How do we develop within ourselves, our communities, our parishes, and our schools… individuals who are constantly seeking the truth with their whole soul

I do not have the answer, but I seek it with my whole soul.

Image source: Plato’s sculpture by Leonidas Drosis. Photo was taken by George E. Koronaios / Wikipedia / CCA BY SA 4.0