Robert Barron | – Breaking Out of the Prison of Self-Invention

Friends, we must break free of the prison of our own subjectivity, from which we have little choice but to hurl invective at one another. We have to get beyond the valorization of our own feelings and ideas and enter into a journey of exploration together. But this requires that we first recognize the objectivity of truth and moral values.

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About The Author

Bishop Robert Barron These are brief and insightful commentaries on faith and culture by Catholic theologian and author Bishop Robert Barron. The videos complement his weekly sermons posted and podcasted at WordOnFire.org.

Comment (48)

  1. Love you Bishop…. as a retired college professor I know for certain we never would have have cause too assess you as "dumb"….. I wonder why simply minds have almost always personally attacked the object of their disagreement.

  2. What does the word "objective" mean to Bishop Barron? He likes Beethoven and Bob Dylan. So do I. But not everyone does. He finds beauty in Dante. I can't stand Dante. I even hate Picasso. That's my subjective opinion – God forgive me. So what's objective about appreciating Beethoven, Dylan, Dante or Picasso?

  3. Excellency is this not more adequately described as a preference in individual taste? As an example my family is impressed by Santa Cruz CA whereas describe it as IT'S OK whereas I could marvel at the beauty and splendor of a mountain and their reaction would be IT'S OK. I'm sure more people would agree Averill with my family's choice than mine. Another example, I am enthralled by an operatic tenor or soprano especially when they hit the impossibility difficulty of hitting the high notes during the aria and in most cases their reaction would be AH. I sincerely believe people are wired differed so their appreciation level is unique unto themselves. I don't believe education alone can bring forth this change!

  4. With best wishes to the bishop Barron from Poland:)

    "Beauty is a form of love
    As much a man has seen it in the world
    In the great God or himself – the dust
    A child dressed up as the God
    knows and tells as much about beauty –
    Although every has a shade
    of beauty inside
    And every one of us – is the beauty’s dust.
    And any other love without incarnation,
    is ghostly thinking of thinking.

    What is beautiful is not
    What I like or liked
    But what I should like, as
    What is good is not more pleasant
    But what makes me better
    Oh Art, The rainbow of eternal
    Jerusalem
    You are the bow of covenance –
    after floods
    of History

    What do you know about beauty?
    It is a shape of Love
    Thus, as a prophet starting from
    The conscience
    With truth, for truth burns like a flame
    So a poet starts from the sense
    of beauty
    (And beauty is a shape of Truth and Love)
    Starts from weaving and when has woven,
    Defines the profile…therefore,
    We seek virtues in a poet – and all poets
    Started from adoring beauty.
    Beauty is to delight
    For work – and work – to make one resurrect

    And thus, the greatest poet is
    the simplest people
    Who hums and their hands
    brown with soil,
    And thus, the best historian
    is Caesar,
    Who dictated from his horse
    not desk,
    And Michelangelo, who
    chiseled marble on his own…"

    fragments from “Promethidion” by Cyprian Kamil Norwid

  5. It brings to mind my days as a Day Care provider. I used to joke that my job was essentially to take the toddlers from "I'm all that matters," to Real People, who would see the Whole World, and not just their fistful of crayons. Indeed, if we do not see beyond our own petty likes and needs, we are trapped within tiny those tiny prisons.

  6. Who says Shakespeare is objectively good and to be enjoyed? I find aesthetics to be all about subjective value. I don't understand how economics breaks into religion. I know they like to discuss the value of an object but to put it into religion is kind of meh and doesn't seem to fit into the divine.

  7. Wow, this is a tough topic to think about. As you were speaking about the waterfall story, I wasn’t sure which way I was convinced.
    At first I thought about the fact that there are some things (movies, books, etc.) that I recognize aren’t objectively good but I enjoy them anyway. I thought about that longer and realized that there must be at least some aspects of those creations that are objectively good in order for me to really like them. Thank you for the food for thought.

  8. Mr. Barron doesnt seem to understand that the objection of objective value assume it as a narative from which its subscriber derives their life principles from it. Of course the narative exists but the narative only takes place in the head of its subscribers. Of course every human has a narative to subscribe to because as a species we share common behavioral pattern (the use of naratives to derive principles from). Unless mr. Barron can proove that dolphins also have naratives, then he cannot claim the universality of this narative as "objective value". My personal objection is that what mt. Barron proposing and defending is the supremacy of his own narrative over those of other people's. People arent divided by "feelings" but rather by their desire to dominate others, just like as what he is constantly trying to do, which is to dominate others through his narratives.

  9. Most of the time, I love your sermon Bishop, but this topic sounds more like a Compromise to what's subjective value.
    Can this be apply in what's going on inside the church nowadays?Isn't that the reason why we are where we are today, because church leaders are not united ?To be " locked in" on that prison you're talking about is also what Jesus calls Faithfulness/Hot believer.

    I still love you as Jesus lead shepherd.

    PS……the spirit within prompted me to comment, because this topic has something to do with what I'm doing here on you tube.

  10. A free running cold river in southern Alaska. The salmon are spawning, making their way upstream, but the boulders make it difficult. Many of the salmon reach their destination to lay eggs then die. The elk crossing downstream take no notice of the salmon. The bears look at the stream and see fish jumping, periodically grasp one and rip the flesh off the bones. A fisherman is casting rhythmically and pulls in one for his dinner. The hikers upstream see the same river still covered in snow and ice and worry about drowning as they try to cross… The objectivity of truth and moral values will always be relative to the perspective of the observer. Our individual human perspective (worldview) is no more valuable than any other, though we will destroy whole cultures and firebomb cities to defend those perspectives. Human vision is chronically myopic. That will never change. Actual transcendent God-thought is the only objective value. There is not a God-thought among us. We only pretend.

  11. WOW Your 100 percent right Bishop Barron, we are locked in these mental prisons of subjective value. This prison affects and can even cripple are daily lives. It definitely prevents us from reaching our divine potential. I don’t know if I will be able to achieve objective, moral value with others on everything. But after watching this video I do see how silly, childish and destructive this prison is 8:02 . Thank you for showing me the bars around my mind that I didn’t even know were there.

  12. A virtuous life should spring naturally from a life of prayer and intimacy with Jesus. A man should be conscious of his sins and bothered by them. He should be trying very hard to live out the supernatural virtues infused at his Baptism: faith, hope, and charity; and to develop the intellectual virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude.
    Human formation includes instilling the virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. It includes developing humility, constancy, sincerity, patience, good manners and hygiene, and truthfulness. A man who has received good human formation can relate to others, even perfect strangers. He is a man of affective maturity, who works well with others, is free of prejudice, and who is a good steward of material possessions.
    All fears can be overcome by increasing one’s faith, hope, and love. In fact, it is not overly simplistic to state that every problem known to man can be fixed by these three theological virtues
    From the book
    "To Save a Thousand Souls" by fr Brett Brannen

  13. I think the problem is that you have to posit something akin to 'God' or a 'realm of the forms' or some other higher plane in order to sustain the reality of the existence of objective values.

    If you don't, the enterprise starts to unravel. In what does the objective beauty of an object or situation or person consist? What physical properties describe the totality of beauty? There is no such description, which is why people who are unconvinced of God are also suspicious about objective values.

    For the record, I like Mackie's Error Theory of Ethical value; namely our ethical language and thought processes are arranged as if there is an objective value, but there is no such thing (hence we are constantly 'in error').
    I am unaware of any compelling argument for the objectivity of beauty; and anthropology seems to indicate it fluctuates based on culture and fashion.

    Truth is trickier. There is a delineation between those inquiries that have a definite answer, and those answers that are knowable. Some objective facts might only be knowable subjectively; at which point it's just not possible to determine the difference *prima face*.

    Obviously, if you start with "P1) there is a God", you can of course ground all sorts of strange metaphysical entities in his existence; but I find it disheartening that people dismiss the quite serious philosophy that has been and will continue to be done around these complex notions.

  14. The person should have listened for at least 41.6 seconds. ..ok ok. Dumb joke. ..or am i being too subjective!?!?!?. .keep up the work of Our Lord..Jesus probably laughs alot more then we think when observing us…remember do not be easily offended. .May Our Lord's PEACE be upon us and may we always think about Him first. .the rest later

  15. Thanks for your opinion on this matter, especially since it was based on the greats of philosophy. I agree with what the Bishop has said, but with reservation. The Aristotle quote is truth, but there is more to what he said.

    "Education is identical with helping the child realize his potentialities. The opposite of education is manipulation, which is based on the absence of faith in the growth of potentialities and the connection that a child will be right only if the adults put into him what is desirable and suppress what seems to be undesirable." – Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving.

    In other words, children who are subjected to an authoritarian education tend to lose a moral compass. The individual must silence, or may even disable, his conscience because he doesn't have the freedom to do as he ought. He becomes morally paralyzed because he doesn't receive the self-esteem of guiding his/her own edcuation. The person who insulted Bishop Barron probably has a worldview that when opposed becomes an attack on his self-esteem, because his esteem is so weak. People who base their logic on their emotion are often people with unmet emotional need.

  16. So how do you handle the person who thinks with his emotions? You have empathy for him, and recognize his suffering. Show him some respect, and ask him how he would explain objectivity, and the difference it has to feelings. Tell him that he is very interesting, and you need his advise on the matter. I would bet that you would at least set him thinking objectively!

  17. But isn't the claim that we can understand and grasp objectivity definitively and exostively a bit blasphemous. Shouldn't we be humble enough to accept that we who babble a lot of logic and reason are not necessarily at a better position than our ''dumb'' fellow human beings.

  18. Beautiful explanation of that “outside, 3rd dimension” – objectivity. The lack of recognition of this dimension is likely the root of society’s inability to find agreement.

    Another beautiful point – our “subjective feelings are a reaction to objective reality”. Therefore, our feelings cannot be the truth, only a shadow of the truth. And the further we get away from the truth, the more distorted our shadow.

  19. The problem that Bishop Barron is overlooking is that objective values must be discerned and announced by either someone or some organizational entity and that very announcement is often tainted with subjectivism this is why all objective values must be recognized it is specified context in order to have true meaning

  20. Bishop – only thing you fall short of is your judgment on others… You use your platform to demean others that demean you and you use your articulate counter circular argument – maybe use common sense of what your doing is wrong?

  21. For me, the life is very simple since I accepted the existance of two kinds of truth- objective and subjective. Objective truth is reality, and subjective is how do we see objective truth through our subjective lence. We all have our subjective perspective, therefore no one has the right to claim to know ultimate reality. Ultimate reality belongs onley to God, it should stay untached on the Tree of knowlege. We are coming closer to it when we open our heart and give all our subjectivity to God. Will and ultimate Truth belongs to Him, my choice is onley to accept it or not.

  22. I think this explains well where Western society is at now and the agitation we see everywhere. A good follow up book is "How To Destroy Western Civilization" by Peter Kreeft.

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