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The Human Action

刊登日期: 2013.10.27
作者: Fr. Thomas Au 區耀邦神父  


Having looked at some basics of truth, we will turn to living, or acting, in truth. As human beings we do not simply act spontaneously or compulsively. Because we are capable of thinking and deciding before acting, we call ourselves rational beings. A human act consists of 3 basic parts: motive, means and consequence.
( In this article, it is important that a teacher using this should prepare appropriate examples. )
Motive(動機)– What do I intend to achieve? I am hungry. I would like to satisfy my hunger.
Means ( I think the term may be 模式 ) – How do I achieve what I intended? To satisfy my hunger, I eat.
Consequence(後果)– What actually happened? Did my hunger get satisfied?
Let us change that a little bit.
I want my mother to be happy. She would be happy if I have good grades. I study very hard and get a good grade. She is happy.
I want my mother to be happy. She would be happy if I have good grades. I cheat in my school work to get a good grade. She is happy.
If all I want is for her to be happy, then it does not matter how I get the good grade.
We all know that is wrong thinking. Yet, in our time, many think in muddy ways. I will try to illustrate a couple of them.
Consequentialism(結果 / 成果主義)– “The end justifies the means.” Since what I do brings out something good, it does not matter how I did it. It is good.
So, if my mother is happy, it does not matter that I cheated in my school work. This is often used in many situations. For example, an unmarried woman is pregnant and thinks it will ruin her life. So she should have an abortion. It matters not that an innocent life is killed. The focus is on the woman. Another example would be a person is suffering tremendously because of illness or old age. So to allow the person to die with dignity, the person should be helped, by a doctor, to kill himself. This is called physician assisted suicide. The whole focus is to find an excuse that sounds good enough to do something otherwise immoral.
Proportionalism(相稱主義)– “The lesser of the two evils.” What I do is wrong but it is not as bad as...
For example: I only shoplifted. I did not use a gun to hold somebody up. It is better to abort the baby than to have the woman’s life ruined. The focus here is comparing what I do with someone else doing worse. Young people often say to parents that other young people do worse things than they do. So they don’t think the parents should make a big deal out of it or, even worse, they say the parents should allow it.
There are other just as misdirected reasons being used today to deny that there is such a thing as Truth. And, again, this Truth is a person, God. To deny the Truth, to give in to a lie or a wrong-doing, is destructive, self-destructive. No good will ever come of it.
We as human beings are meant to be good. In the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament and more specifically in the Wisdom books, there are two types of people. Those who are wise and those who are foolish. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” ( Prv. 10:9 ). “The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no god.’” ( Ps 14:1 ). “The wise build on rock and the foolish build on sand.” ( Mt. 7:24-27 ).

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