The Personalist Project

Accessed on August 05, 2020 - 12:30:02

Gaps between theory and practice

Katie van Schaijik, Jul 12, 2012

According to my habit of mind, the discussion about unprincipled forgiveness has given rise to several spin-off trails of thought.  I have been busy mentally composing several further posts on the theme, or related themes.

One has to do with the often unrecognized gap between what we profess with our minds and how we live in practice.  

The fact that we see an error on the theoretical level is no proof that we're not guilty of it in fact, though we often imagine it is. 

So, for instance, I know men who grant that women are equal in dignity, but behave or speak in a way that plainly reveals chauvanistic tendencies. If I were to say of a particular instance of it, "That's male-chauvanism", they might indignantly reply, "How can you accuse me of chauvanism, when I just published an article on the complementarity of the sexes?!"

I know people who acknowledge, in principle, that St. Thomas Aquinas is not infallible, but who, in practice, treat any philosophical disagreement with him as outrageous impiety.

I may, in theory, readily grant that I am a sinner in need of mercy and forgiveness, but still have a very hard time taking personal responsibility for concrete offenses I've committed. 

I know some who see clearly that puritanism is a a false approach to sexuality, but who, in their dealings with the sexual sphere reveal themselves prone to it.  Same goes for bigotry.  

When it comes to the problem of "unprincipled forgiveness," too, we may grant it in theory and still fall into it in practice.

Recognizing an error as an error is an important step in avoiding it, but it's by no means sufficient.  Knowing the truth is not the same as living the truth.