The Dynamics of Doing: The Last Three Boxes
You have a formulation of a possible choice or possible choices. Now we focus on the complex sequence of events in the last three (of seven) boxes in our diagram.
Box 5: Is-to-do?
Spontaneously, your wonder is focused on “what” questions in an “is-to-do?” stance. Of the possible plan(s) to which you have consented, which1The word ‘which’ emphasizes choice, even though ‘which’ and ‘what’ are often interchangeable in every day usage. plan is most worthwhile to put into action? What are the implications and consequences of each possibility? What possibility inspires the most confidence? In short, which plan do you prefer?
This sequence is extremely complex. There are many variables at play involving your mood, temperament and background that condition how you weigh and evaluate one or more of your formulated plans. Do you play it safe? Do you take a leap into the unknown?
You are a desire to grasp which of the approved entrées is the best dinner plan. So, during these deliberations, all relevant is-to-do questions continue to surface until they have been exhausted. There is a rapid back and forth movement, as you sift through each plan in a continuous interaction of known facts, creative imagination and memories of tastes, scents, textures and after-effects, all of which establish the conditions for goodness that need to be met. This is your reflective ‘weighing of evidence.’ You aren’t satisfied with just any plan; you want your plan to be good. You want to make the best possible choice, the most responsible choice. In other words, you are a desire for goodness.
Which plan will fulfill all the conditions of your desire for goodness?
Box 6: Is-Insight
Rapidly or slowly, there comes a leap to a practical insight that fulfills all the conditions of your desire for goodness. Thus, your preference for, or choice of, one entrée is settled.
Box 7: Judgment of Value
You express a judgment of value.
“Yes! I am happy to proceed with my preferred plan!”
A judgment of value combines two distinct judgments:
A first judgment expresses the good-to-be-achieved:
“I have made the best choice, here and now!”
A second judgment expresses your satisfaction at having made the best choice:
“I am happy with my decision!”
From receiving the menu, to ordering with a good end in sight, we conclude our elementary journey into the dynamics of doing. We encourage you to repeat this exercise often to deepen your appreciation of the layers of complexity that make you what you are: a desire to do that which is good.
Further Observations …
Various expressions are used interchangeably to describe the process and goal of the dynamics of doing. We decide or choose or plan, with a desire to do that which is good or responsible, or worthwhile, or of value, or best, or practical.
It is very important to note that what is good always means what is good, here and now.
What is good, always is concrete.2Bernard Lonergan, Method in Theology, 27.
Yet, in doing this exercise, one may make the error of adding the unknown consequences of a choice, good or bad, happy or sad, after the fact. We cannot tell the future. We don’t know the consequences of our choices until we act on them.
The best laid plans…oft go awry.3The saying is adapted from a line of “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns.
While every decision we make intends a good and happy consequence, we don’t always get the good and happy result we desired. Previous results of good deeds or misdeeds are embedded in your complex background at the time leading up to a decision. And whether or not your prior deliberations are lengthy or brief, the fact is, it is in our nature always to choose that which is good and practical, in the moment. As for the unknown consequences? Que serà, serà!
The drive to value rewards success … with a happy conscience and saddens failures with an unhappy conscience.4Method in Theology, 35.
When a decision results in a bad or unhappy consequence, often we learn (or fail to learn) ‘the hard way’ (sometimes at great cost) from our misdeeds, disappointments and regrets. That result would then be included in our personal store of known facts and memories as a factor in future decisions.
Finally, regarding our initial reflections on the dynamics of knowing and the dynamics of doing, please note there is a clear distinction between a judgment of fact and a judgment of value. The orientation of the former is a desire to reach correct understanding, while the orientation of the latter is a desire to do that which is good. Aquinas makes this distinction with the expressions, ‘reason’ and ‘will’ respectively:
… choice is substantially not an act of the reason but of the will: for choice is accomplished in a certain movement … towards the good which is chosen.5ST, I – II, Q13, A1