ethical space

Tuesday, March 29th, 2005

Jessica Lonergan asks in a comment on a prior post

If we have already completed our lives and are in heaven, does what we do NOW matter? Have our lives and fates been predetermined, already played out? Is the thought of us already being in heaven comforting or does it take away motivation? Or is that a copout?

The question goes to the “theory of heaven” having to do with mortality, change, and temporality. But it’s also a spatial question in keeping with the issues we dealt with in Blit.

We talked about conceiving of social and cultural actions and phenomenon in terms of their spatial dimension. Cultural space, as in Mexico as juxtaposed to the United States, or ethical space concerning considerations of decorum across venues or forums. I.e., talk on email calls for a different ethic than a report to the board, both being spaces where things pass audience to audience.

The answer to Jessica goes to how we “conceive” and judge the ideas we’re talking about. No matter the consequence of the “heaven theory,” we can’t confirm the idea, thus how it shapes a response is a tricky question. Does our behavior have consequences beyond the immediate? Of course. In the grand scheme, do we have cause beyond eating and sleep?

That’s where “meaning” comes in, I’d think. Duns Scotus would probably say that heaven is “beyond” us and to dig into the notion of the beyond without the aide of the spiritual will lead to dead ends. But we do it nontheless. And that’s what I find interesting.


One response to “ethical space”

  1. I think Jessica’s questions are akin to the idea of “predestination.” This idea was central to Calvinists in Europe and America. It taught that God had already decided (before you were even born) who was going to heaven and who wasn’t. Your fate was sealed. This way of thinking has the side effect of destroying any notions of free will. If your fate is already decided, what does it matter what you do on Earth?

    It is necessary for a society to survive that people believe that what they do every day has a purpose. In a capitalist economy what you do ultimately affects your finances, but this idea imposes no morality on the actions of people (which is quite obvious in some forms of advertising.) It is my opinion that most people must think their everyday actions effect the fate of their soul, otherwise there would be complete moral bankrupcy and hostility. Or, maybe there is something soceity instills in us (besides laws) that keeps us well behaved and moral…

    -Brian Harrison