Volume 88, 2014
Dispositions, Habits, and Virtues
Elizabeth A. Murray
Compunction and Passion
Two Moments of Moral Conversion
This paper is a critical examination of Lonergan’s notion of moral conversion. Conversion in general is described as a mode of self-transcendence and distinguished from development. Then moral conversion is contrasted with the two other basic forms of conversion, intellectual and religious. Next, I propose that there are two distinct moments of moral conversion: a negative moment of rational compunction, which is more Kantian in nature, and a positive moment of passionate transcendence, which is consonant with Scheler’s value ethics. I draw on philosophical accounts of the initial awakening of moral consciousness, and argue that it is possible to make this first movement yet fail to make the second movement.