The Mediation of Discord

It is a socially guaranteed privilege to consider the “objects” under one’s power as exceptions from social life.  One’s status as an owner and one’s property are necessarily individual, and the attempt to treat this relative point of reference as the absolute results in the irrational misrecognition of the conditioned for the unconditioned.  Such irrationality is immoral because it produces a universal concept of social unity that mediates only discord. (22-23)

Joshua Davis | Waiting and Being: Creation, Freedom, and Grace in Western Theology


Nature, Grace, and Criticism

Despite these extraordinary developments toward understanding created existence as a social relation, Aquinas does not submit the immediate intuition of the hierarchical order of being, as enshrined in the order of charity, to critique.  He does not question the authority of his actually existing social relations, but rather presumes they are natural expressions of the divine order of reality.  Not only does this exclude any critical dimension from the exercise of charity, and thus reinforce the illusion of the “natural” order of his social relations, but is precludes the possibility of linking that critique to the theology of grace.  The maxim “grace perfects nature” will continue to be conceived not as a substantive transformation of the order of nature but as the reinforcing of the illusion that the existing social arrangement is coincident with the order of charity. (107)

Joshua Davis | Waiting and Being: Creation, Freedom, and Grace in Western Theology

Bourgeois Subjectivity

The modern subject’s consciousness of itself as free and self-determining is an illusion produced by the bourgeois notions of property that mediate its self-awareness.  This bourgeois property right is the incoherent attempt to universalize, either transcendentally or ontologically, the Roman jurisprudential distinction between a person (persona), who as a subject of the empire (civis) and is invested with the legal right (juris) to ownership (dominium), and a thing (res), which is an objective property owned by a person.  Western subjectivity is nothing more than the social determination of selfhood refracted through this distinction.  A nonobjective “personal” knower and an objectively known “thing” are the epistemological inflections of this Roman legal definition. (22-23)

Joshua Davis | Waiting and Being: Creation, Freedom, and Grace in Western Theology