Manners and Violence

Manners and Violence

Manners and Violence

Manners and Violence


Gotz examines a major cause of violence in society--the loss of respect for our neighbors evidenced by the decline of manners and courtesy. A major focus is the school's failure to instill respect and its promise as an instrument for its recovery.


The preceding chapter explored the function natural law has played and the fundamental way in which this function can be duplicated today. It also analyzed in some detail the experiential content of what it means to be human and compared it to Kant's formulation of the categorical imperative. the content of our fundamental insight is the immediate experience human beings have of being worthy, or, in Kant's terms, of being ends-in-themselves. I think this sense of the human can functionally work for us today as the basis for respect and manners.

At this point I must seek to discuss in greater detail the awareness itself through which this content becomes manifest. the question here is largely one of moral epistemology or moral knowledge, and therefore I will center my analysis around the notion of conscience.

On connatural awareness

As I have indicated, the knowledge of the normality of human functioning is hazy, in the shape of dynamic schemes -- very general and very indeterminate. the three Propositions presented earlier were constructed loosely in order to take into account, even structurally, this indeterminacy. the indeterminacy is due to the fact that the primary mode of cognizing the content of what it means to be human is not conceptual or discursive but is much more intuitional, a kind of moral sense, a veritable GefühL. Plato and Aristotle gave expression to this moral sense in their discussion of the way moral virtue is acquired -- by example, that is, and by repetition of acts such as would be deemed moral by all. Bradley picks up this sense excellently in the following passage:

To the question, How am I to know what is right? the answer must be, By the aisthêsis [feeling, sentiment] of the phronimos [the sensible, wise person]; and the phronimos is the man who has identified his will with the moral spirit of the community, and judges accordingly. If an immoral course be suggested to him, he "feels" or "sees" at once that the act is not in harmony with a good will, and he does not do this by saying, "this is a breach of rule A, therefore, &c", but the first thing he is aware of is that he "does not like if", and what he has done, without being aware of it, is (at least in most cases) to seize the quality of the act, that quality being a . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.