Aquinas Seminar Series: Prof Peter Hampson on ‘Appreciating the fine and discerning the good: toward a theology of affordance’
27th February: 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
People are situated as well as related and embodied creatures; we inhabit physical, social, moral and spiritual worlds each with their action potentials or affordances. Virtue acquisition is thus partly an habitual and social process entailing increasing sensitivity to the moral affordances of situations, the fineness and fittingness of accompanying actions, and their outcomes. It is aided by learning to see the world through the eyes of already virtuous agents. But is there anything (psychologically speaking) beyond such moral competence? What of those who appear to have extraordinarily high levels of moral expertise and spiritual sensitivity? What is involved in such impressive levels of moral mastery, imagination, and creativity? Building on John Lederach’s experientially based reflections on peace-making, I suggest that some already virtuous persons are sufficiently gifted to open themselves more fully to the potentialities of the world, through a process of attentive, passive receptivity. They become able to discern and creatively imagine the good in situations where it is currently hidden from others. In a further move, I briefly outline some possible theological connections with this psychological model, with reference to Cusa’s De Possest, to illustrate the deeper appreciation of the invisible Good (the True and Beautiful) in all that is, seen and unseen.
Professor Peter Hampson, Research Fellow, Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, and Emeritus Professor of Psychology, UWE Bristol
Venue: Blackfriars - St Giles Oxford, OX1 3LY United Kingdom