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A Roycean Take on Original Sin

And entering this into dialogue with Reinhold Niebuhr
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  Revising Josiah Royce’s Concept of Original Sin “The fall is not historical. It does not take place in any concrete human act. It is the  presupposition of such acts”-  Reinhold Niebuhr  1 This paper seeks to examine Josiah Royce’s understanding of srcinal sin and its implications for how we understand ourselves in relation to the world. uestions will be raised from the work of Reinhold Niebuhr over the ade!uacy of the conclusions that Royce draws from his account of srcinal sin. "nd then there will be an effort to modify Royce’s description of srcinal sin to meet the criticisms offered in this paper.To examine srcinal sin though is not to suppose the mythic story of "dam and #ve as a historical fact. Rather Royce seeks to define that which seems to be in play in any given instantiation of sin. $hile some may express nervousness with the language of srcinal sin% some account of the conditions from which the problems of human life can  be derived is re!uired if there is to be any solutions which can make a difference for the  better. &iagnosis is re!uired for a cure. 'or this% Royce starts with (those facts of human nature) which can inform us of the background of our actions. * Royce presents a picture of our beginnings as srcinally a mix of instinctual reactions to our environment. +uch reactions are neither informed by some broader  purpose nor are they related to each other in a way% which is reflective of a stable  personality. 'or these actions to be considered a kind of conduct% whether good or bad% they must be done for some end and they must connect up with other actions in a way% which is reflective of the kind of person who has done such acts. , 1  Reinhold Niebuhr% -eyond Tragedy% n.p.% cited 1*/1,/02 3nline4 http4//,9:;7,* *  Royce% <3;% 108. ,  =bid% 10 1  The move from incoherent reactions to stable conduct comes from the ways in which one’s social environment responds and seeks to train the person and their conduct..+uch training is most often found in the sort of limitations that a community places on theindividual. The most pertinent comes from the contrast of what we are and what we aim for and what the community and individuals within that community desires for us. 8 $e begin to have a sense of what we do% why we do it% the meaning behind what we do through (other instances of conduct with which we compare) ourselves. =s one a good clarinet player6 3ne has to see themselves in relations to a group of other players%  by which one can self evaluate one’s self in relation to others.   +ometimes this is found inhow = differ from others% but it also can be found in those areas that = am alike others. 9 "s Royce writes% (;ontrasts% rivalries% difficult efforts to imitate some fascinating fellow being% contrasts with foes% emulation% social ambition% the desire to attract attention% the desire to find myself within the social order% my interest in what my fellowssay and do% and especially in what they say and do with reference to me% such are the more elemental social motives and social situations which at first make me highly conscious of my own doings.) > -ut this complex process is not only done through contrasting ourselves with other individuals but also with the wider community at large. That may be the church% thenation% and any number of communities where we understand ourselves either in agreement with the (general will) of such communities or find ourselves at odds with them. The latter becomes instructive of the problem Royce is going to present us with. ? 8  =bid% 10>   Royce% <3;% 10? 9  =bid% 10? >  =bid% 110 ?  =bid% 111 *  Through the community% one begins to develop the means by which one becomes aware of one’s own individuality and yet it is primarily through the level of conflict that this process is able to take place. " person comes (to self5consciousness as a moral being through the spiritual warfare of mutual observation% of mutual criticism @through taking a more or less hostile account of the consciences of their neighbors.) A =t does not mean that there is also not a mutual taking in of the other% in a positive fashion% but it does mean that to the degree that an individual is created% there will be some level of contention between the individual and the group from which the individual came out of. Thus it is the very social training that% far from producing socially obedient creatures% which replicate the values and beliefs of the community instead produces the individual who becoming aware of their own individuality finds the community a place of limitation and restriction. 10 The more social training is used in the formation of the individual% the more the individual self will is brought forth in opposition to what has produced it in the first placeand there the tension arises. Bow can the individual be that individual without losing the re!uired social cohesion of the community6 "nd how can the community have that cohesion without destroying the individuality% which contributes to the community6=f it was simply an issue that individuality brought the end of social cohesion it may seem as if the community’s interest would be to try to not raise up individuals. -ut this is not an option for the community. 3nce they have sought to train the individual% shape their conduct as conduct and not a bundle of reactions% even the laws and group A  Royce% <3;% 111 10  =bid% 11* ,   pressures cannot help but provide the basis for contrast that serves in the development of individual self5assertion. 11 =t is this training that creates the possibilities of a moral life% one% which develops the relatively unified personality that provides the basis for self5reflection and self5consciousness. "nd yet Royce identifies this as an evil since with this moral life comes the social tension% which makes one enemies% in some degree% with every other individual. This becomes the moral burden of the individual% as far as they are an individualC they are at odds with others. The more developed the individual% the greater the enmity exists between one another. 1* Royce presents us with a dilemma with few alternatives for resolution. =ncreased education only increases the sort of cultivation of individuality% which makes for the  problem in the first place. +ome brute effort to enforce community norms only makes the individual aware of the law% which is not themselves% providing a contrast between themselves and the community. Royce writes (individualism and collectivism are tendencies% each of which as our social order grows% intensifies the other)  1, Royce turns to an interpretation of <aul% in the New TestamentC in formulating another option to respond to this situation. Neither the self5exertion of the individual nor of the community will suffice for the reasons mentioned above in negotiating the tension  between the individual and the community. =nstead we need to turn ourselves over to a (divinely instituted community). 18 11  Royce% <3;% 11 1*  =bid% 11, 1,  =bid% 119 18  Royce% <3;% 11? 8  " divinely instituted community% which Royce will call the universal or beloved community% is different from any specific historic communities that mark the life of individuals. The latter focuses the energies and loyalties of the individual in too narrow of a manner% to that of the family or clan or nation. =f this is not noticed one is likely to  practice a form of idolatry. =f this partiality does become evident to the individual% then such communities cannot sustain the loyalty of the individual. =n such an account% neither more social training nor coercion can coerce such a loyalty. 1 The universal community on the other hand% must be broad enough to be worthy of our loyalty. "nything short of this is neither universal nor worthy of the sort of loyalty%which Royce believes a community needs to solicit if one is to overcome the tension of the individual and communities. 19 This becomes central because instead of coercion from the community or the self5assertion of the individual% the individual is captivated by a kind of love and devotion for the community. =t is one% which solicits the kind of loyalty that is both an expression of one’s individuality even as it seeks to serve the wider community. -ut only if the community is worthy of such devotion and love will such a community become lovable and solicit such a response. 1> Bow does one (love) a community6 " community must also be in some sense a  person. ;ommunities can become persons to the degree that they demonstrate coherence in their activities and are marked by a common history that their members identify with and a common end for which their members strive. 1?  +uch a community must develop a (social will) that reflects the loving devotion of its members. +uch a loving devotion 1  =bid% 1*? 19  =bid% 1,* 1>  =bid% 1*A 1?  Royce% <3;% *8? 
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