Truth is a sort of goal or end so far as it is always convertible with goodness. The end of speculative things is to be in the intellect, but the end of practical things is the concrete act being done. For this reason, practical truth consists not in knowing what ought to be done, but in the doing of a concrete act. Knowledge alone does not suffice to do a concrete act, since knowledge of what ought to be done is common to the sinner and the saint. Practical truth, as truth, therefore also requires desire or appetite to action, and without this right appetite, there is an absence of practical truth, that is, an error or falsehood.

Practical truth requires right appetite, that is, virtue. No matter how clever, sophisticated, or shrewd some leader or organizer might be, so far as he lacks virtue his decisions are, properly speaking, incorrect.

If a good leader could make good decisions and yet lack virtue, then correct decisions (truths) would not be good; for if truth and goodness are joined, then leading to practical truth requires an appetite to the good on the side of the one leading.

1 Comment

  1. AT said,

    August 22, 2009 at 3:12 am

    Prudence seems to be the virtue that apples the universal truths of right and wrong to concrete circumstances. So if it’s not a matter of right and wrong all other decision making is not properly the exercise of prudence. It’s cunning, or shrewdness or just the exercise of some skill in a game, etc.

    However, in the modern world, nothing is a matter of right and wrong. For example, Capitalism (von Mises): “There is no standard of greater or lesser satisfaction other than individual judgments of value, different for various people and for the same people at various times. What makes a man feel uneasy and less uneasy is established by him from the standard of his own will and judgment, from his personal and subjective valuation. Nobody is in a position to decree what should make a fellow man happier.” (Incidentally, von Mises is one of those idiots that thinks God caused himself: “Since time immemorial men have been eager to know the prime mover, the cause of all being and of all change, the ultimate substance from which everything stems and which is the cause of itself”)

    Unlike, say, a Christian, whose unrepentant sinning will eventually result in the cessation of the practice of the faith and then loss of belief, in whole or part, there is no crime that an atheist can commit which would invalidate his acceptance of atheism. The reason? Atheism does not have any moral or ethical content. Aren’t we all “practical” atheists no matter what we claim to believe (count the cars in a Wal-Mart parking lot on Sunday and compare it with the count of cars in your church parking lot)?

    Throw in relativism (each man is his own standard of right and wrong – a clear effect of capitalistic ideology, among other causes) by which everyone lives and it’s easy to see that right and wrong have no place in society and any political decision has nothing to do with prudence.

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