Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Why we do what we do

Saw a post about whether spiritual practice makes people compassionate. It was a Catholic post so the Aristotelian idea that 'habitually doing good works means that you are a good person' came up. I feel there's something fundamentally wrong with this idea - I think compassionate people are people who do good works not because that's what good people are 'supposed' to do, but because they can't help themselves, because it hurts too much not to help, because they feel empathy or love. I think most Catholics don't like basing good works on emotion because they have a pretty negative view of human nature ... emotion cannot be trusted ... but in a way that's what the Spiritual Exercises is about: know Jesus, love Jesus, follow Jesus.

I looked online for some backup ;) and I came across a really interesting TED talk - "Tony Robbins: Why we do what we do". At first I wasn't sure it was relevant because it wasn't obviously religious (though it did end up getting spiritual), but he got right to the heart of the matter: why do we do what we do, including good works? He says many people think we do such things out of principle, but he believes we instead do them out of emotion. That's what I think too. Anyway, here's the talk - it was really interesting! :) ...


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