Moral Imagination…the Weight of Glory?

Anna Speckhard

Moral imagination is not a term I latched onto right wholesale jerseys away. I’m still not sure I completely understand it, but here are my attempts.

At the Postmodern Conservative blog Jonathan Jones defines moral imagination Post as “a uniquely human ability to conceive of fellow humanity as moral beings and as persons, not as objects whose value rests in utility or usefulness.” There is much more to his definition, but this is the part that got me thinking. When I interact wholesale mlb jerseys with someone else we are interacting on several levels: economic, emotional, aesthetic, educational, Раскрутка biological, I don’t even know how many, but we also affect each in other in a moral way. I think this dimension is best described by C. S. Lewis, expiration and he does it so exceedingly well I am going to quote him at great length:

It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. (“Weight of Glory”)

And even though nations, cultures, arts, and civilizations are mortal, they interact with and shape immortals, too. I cheap mlb jerseys may build a building, and it may eventually crumble, but in the intervening years it matters very much what kind of building it is. And ge?ffnet! certainly civilizations shape immortals cheap jerseys for better or worse. While Imagination we need to be ever mindful of the immortals that we marry, snub, and exploit, we Arnold also need to be mindful wholesale jerseys of the culture that we create. We need to make things fit for the immortals we know.

That to me (so far) is moral imagination. Being able to see the moral dimension, invisible to the naked eye, and taking IDEA it into account in all of our affairs, with everyone we meet. I am terrible at this. But I am practicing.


  • August 12, 2009

    Christina Crippen

    I think, Anna, that this is perhaps how I would define the moral imagination:
    I would say that the moral imagination is a seduction of human desire; an attraction which lures the mind farther from the confinements of inference into the realm of reality. This reality is the incarnation of truth in an incomprehensible universe. It is a relationship between being and becoming. The moral imagination births a consciousness, and from this consciousness comes a cognizance that formulates a proper response to the context of the seduction. It is through the moral imagination that relevance presents the presence of transcendence.

  • August 29, 2009

    N.P. West

    It is nice to see that a new generation of conservatives is embracing the phrase “moral imagination” which Burke coined so many years ago. You might like to know that conservative godfather Russell Kirk had employed it time and time again over the course of his lengthy literary career as well. In fact as Burke’s ideas are suddenly becoming popular it would seem that a Kirkian traditionalism is bubbling up in the conservative movement. Now it would seem that finally thinkers that Kirk invoked like John Adams, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Orestes Brownson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Henry Newman, Benjamin Disraeli, Irving Babbitt, and T. S. Eliot may finally get noticed and a more reflective conservatism can come to the fore!