This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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Act, intention, and the problem of subjective morality

The problems of conscience we have mentioned above, and the moral incoherence that results from a misunderstanding of its nature, tend toward what can be called “subjective morality.” Earlier we mentioned the danger of considering the physical world as secondary or “less real,” and imagining the “inner life” as what “really matters,” particularly when it comes to the determination of right and wrong. This tendency toward subjectivity finds little to check it in the modern mentality of abstraction, and it inevitably leads to the dangerous notion that, because a person intended good to come from his actions, then these actions are automatically rendered moral, or, at worst, pre-moral. Even if these actions have been judged by the Church as “intrinsically evil,” some would claim that, so long as there was a “good intention,” then the individual cannot be considered morally culpable. Such a way of thinking seems reasonable at first glance, but it amounts to the denial of any objective rule by which actions can be judged. It becomes entirely subjective, and this subjective morality ends by severing the connection between body and soul, conscience and concrete reality. To remedy this problem, the Church continuously insists that the “morality of the human act depends primarily and fundamentally on the ‘object’ rationally chosen by the deliberate will,[1] meaning that it is the object (the concrete act) and not the subject (the person acting) by which the rightness of the act is to be judged. The object is the not the far-removed end that the person had in mind—their “motivation”—but is the concrete act itself. In other words, the end cannot justify the means. Thus, the goodness of an act is objectively determinable without reference to one’s intention.

[1] VS, 78.

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