Human Flourishing is Flabby

Here’s another reason for thinking that the language of human flourishing (HF) is a cliche on the order of w-w:

“If you care about the flourishing of persons, especially the vulnerable in community, you will care about freedom of religion,” claimed Crouch. He continued to explain why this is so, because religion and the practice thereof, is “one of the deepest forms of human flourishing.” Religion is distinctive to humans, no animals nor all of nature practice religion or seek to find answers about life and God. All humans across history past and present seek to understand life and their situation in it. Further, all humans search for meaning and attempt to attach themselves to something bigger than themselves, constantly searching for significance and fulfillment. Inevitably, we all seek religion and devote worship, even the Atheist, though denying God’s existence, forms a set of beliefs to understand reality and worships something or someone (quite possibly themselves).

Therefore, Crouch explains “being denied religious freedom, being prevented from acting out your deepest commitments in public, is one of the deepest denials of human flourishing.” The test then to know if religious freedom and therefore the common good is being protected, “Is how it protects religious minorities,” claims Crouch.

What does this view of HF say to someone who thinks that blasphemy and idolatry are part of destructive living (DL)? But if you give people freedom to practice any religion, you also permit blasphemy and idolatry. Maybe the resolution is to say that in the interest of genuine devotion to God we also need to allow DL so that government doesn’t become tyrannical. But let’s not kid ourselves that freedom leads to HF. It has costs and benefits that require not chanting “winning” like Charlie Sheen but sobriety and moderation.

Crouch’s view of HF also seems to follow the pack in regarding as impossible or disloyal any effort to leave behind one’s “deepest” commitments when entering public life. But again, it’s a pretty, pretty, pretty good view of public life to think that everyone bringing their deepest commitments to the table will result in HF for everyone. Wasn’t the reason for leaving behind one’s deepest commitments when serving in public life that one’s deepest commitments might be at odds with the common good? After all, if a Calvinist brought his deepest commitments to a policy proposal for building a Roman Catholic parochial school next to First Presbyterian Church, wouldn’t his deepest commitments prompt him to vote no? Where’s your HF now?

After fifty years of culture wars shouting matches, people are still so naive to think that uplifting thoughts will prevail over contested points of view?

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4 thoughts on “Human Flourishing is Flabby

  1. My high school brother sent me this article the other day. I was impressed.

    “One of the strengths of science,” writes the philosopher of science David L. Hull, “is that it does not require that scientists be unbiased, only that different scientists have different biases.” Another dirty secret is that, no less than the rest of us, scientists can be dogmatic and pigheaded. “Although this pigheadedness often damages the careers of individual scientists,” says Hull, “it is beneficial for the manifest goal of science,” which relies on people to invest years in their ideas and defend them passionately.

    http://www.jonathanrauch.com/jrauch_articles/in_defense_of_prejudice/

    And then concerning public policy, problem solved if there’s no public policy. Now we’re talking real freedom.

    Like

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