Introduction to Moral Activity
The Moral Value of Human Activity
The Supernatural Value of Human Activity
Introduction to Moral Activity
Man must strive for his end through his own acts. It is in this strenuous use of all the talents received from God that life is affirmed and developed. It is clear then how important and fundamental is the concept of human activity, considered in its moral content and supernatural aspect that proportions that activity to the ideal to which man is actually destined.
The human act is a voluntary and deliberate act. Insofar as it is voluntary, the human act, is not reducible to impulse, to instinct or any other movement of the sensitive appetite, and is opposed to any form of compulsion (pressure). Insofar as it is deliberate, the human act is distinguished both form spontaneous acts determined solely by its natural tendency to good and those acts that result from an intrinsic necessity of the same will. Hence not every act of the will can be said to be free and therefore human. The deliberate will is, at least ordinary, preceded and conditioned by the spontaneous act of willing in which the indeliberate (not intended) attractiveness or pleasure of the good is actuated before the good is freely accepted and willed.
Free activity is an essential characteristic of an intelligent being, and constitutes one of the most fruitful resources that God has given to man and it is, at the same time, the necessary presupposition of the morality of his acts. Not every action in nature is free. Man does not will freely good or evil unless first he has felt an indeliberate attractiveness towards them, and the attractiveness is made actual in a spontaneous desire or movement of the object.
The essential condition for the action to be deliberate is the presence of the object in the consciousness of the subject, and the advertence to the action with which the object is pursued. We cannot will without knowing what we are willing and we cannot will freely without being agents and therefore conscious of the act that we perform. Therefore, we can conclude that the act is more of less voluntary.
In the free act it is necessary to distinguish the causes from the motives of the willing, or rather the subjective from the objective cause. The subjective cause of the act of the will is the free will itself, and the reason of this freedom is its active indifference, which is due to the fact that it is not a will determined to act except by the absolute good. The objective cause of the act of the will is not solely the pleasure that accompanies the act but any good whatsoever that is known and judged by the subject as his own proper good.
The human act in the living actuality of the spiritual life, assumes different developments, contents, forms and expressions. Moralists usually distinguish the voluntary act into:
Perfect and Imperfect, according as there is full advertence or not and full consent of the will; 2.
Voluntary simply as such, according as it is a question of the efficacious will or of simple, ineffective aspiration; 3.
Actual Voluntary (if it proceeds from the present deliberation of the will), Virtual Voluntary (if the action is placed by virtue of a previous deliberation that still persists in its effect), or Habitual Voluntary (when it is a question of a previous act of the will, not retracted, but one that does not exercise any actual influence on the present action); 4.
Positive or Negative Voluntary, according as it terminates in an action or an omission; 5.
Explicit or Implicit Voluntary, according as the object is explicitly or only implicitly willed, or as a determinate act is implicitly contained in another action explicitly placed; 6.
Voluntary in se, in which the intention of the will directly terminates, and Voluntary in cause, when it is a question of an effect not intended but permitted as...
Bibliography: LANZA Antionio – PALAZZINI Pietro, Principles of Moral Theology, General Moral Theology, I, translated by Rev. W. J. Collins, M.M., Boston 1961.
PESCHKE Karl H., S.V.D., Christian Ethics. Moral Theology in the Light of Vatican II, I, Evesham 2000.
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