Morality and Religion | changethru.info
Religion can also serve as a filter for examining other issues in society and other three social theorists attempted to examine the relationship between religion and he held that the source of religion and morality is the collective mind-set of Although Émile was the second son, he was chosen to pursue his father's. In the minds of many people, the terms morality and religion signal two related but A social critic like Marx, for example, viewed religion as the effort to support the moral In trying to understand the relationship between religion and morality , .. only by a careful examination of how conflicts between norms are handled. The relation between religion and politics continues to be an important theme in consensus (both among political theorists and in practical political contexts, such . then it is morally wrong for the state to force them to participate in religious . In addition to examining issues of toleration and accommodation on the level of.
It seems hard to square a benevolent creator with the infliction of physical suffering, the permission of moral evil, the prosperity of the wicked, and the misery of the innocent. I will call no being good, who is not what I mean when I apply that epithet to my fellow creatures, and if such a being can sentence me to hell for not so calling him, to hell I will go.
Why should we follow divine commandments? Must we follow these divine rules out of compunction? If we break them, will we be punished eternally in some fashion? This is surely a powerful sanction for inculcating moral codes. But it also seems to imply that one follows these rules out of fear.
The Basis of Morality
Yet if this is so, what does it say about humans? Are they not capable of taking responsibility for their own actions without constantly looking up over their shoulders to see if God is watching? As Mill pointed out, evils occur even with religion. Why assume that its absence would lead to even greater atrocities? The absence of religion would present an opportunity for people to take full personal responsibility.
If morality, then, is not founded on the dictates of some divine source, from where does it arise? Perhaps it is perfectly natural. In The Descent of Man, Charles Darwin addressed the development of a moral sense from a naturalistic perspective: Yet he avoided public discussions of religion, since he knew that it would be difficult enough for his theory to be accepted by the scientific community.
The general public, weaned on the age-old teachings of Christianity, would be even more reluctant to accept that the human species was not specially created.
In a letter he wrote inDarwin spelled out his own views on religion and science: It has, therefore, always been my object to avoid writing on religion, and I have confined myself to science.
In his Autobiography he repeats the objections to the Divine Command Theory raised earlier. Why, he asks, should one accept the Bible as divinely- inspired, rather than other holy books, such as the Koran, the Analects of Confucius or the teachings of the Buddha? And if one does decide that the Bible is superior, how can it be understood? Are the stories of miracles to be taken literally or only figuratively? He critiques specific doctrines of Christianity, especially the doctrine of hell: And this is a damnable doctrine.
There is certainly much evil in the world, but it is not just evil for humans — why did the deity create so many species and why for millions of years preceding the emergence of humans did they suffer? Some have attempted to explain this in reference to man by imagining that it serves for his moral improvement. This very old argument from the existence of suffering against the existence of an intelligent first cause seems to me a strong one; whereas, as just remarked, the presence of much suffering agrees well with the view that all organic beings have been developed through variation and natural selection.
Both claim that coming to grips with our moral sense involves looking not toward heaven but rather toward our fellow members of the animal kingdom, particularly the three great apes.
Rachels points out that the argument for the co-existence between science and religion is itself a great comedown for theology. Traditional religion drew much of its strength by explaining the universe. Darwin provided a rival theory which gave alternative answers, especially regarding the relationship between human beings and other animals. To men he gave souls, free will, rationality, and moral judgement, the other animals he created as lesser beings.
Against the background of this picture, any attribution of moral qualities to animals would seem impossible. What is needed, in order to make such attributions possible, is the substitution of a different picture. Darwin provided the new picture, and tried to show that once it is adopted the view of animals as at least partially moral beings follows naturally.
We can envision a 3-step process of morality, in which reciprocal behavior spreads to more and more members of a given society: In discussions of morality, Rachels asserts, it is a mistake to hold, as many religions do, that we begin with step 3.
The biblical story of the Good Samaritan is an excellent example of this. The Samaritan belonged to a social group which was on the worst possible terms with its neighbor, the Judeans, yet he freely chose to treat a victimized Judean — complete stranger — as he himself would wish to have been treated had he been robbed and abused. A study by Gregory S.
Paul argues for a positive correlation between the degree of public religiosity in a society and certain measures of dysfunction,  however, an analysis published later in the same journal contends that a number of methodological and theoretical problems undermine any findings or conclusions taken from Paul's research.
Some works indicate that some societies with lower religiosity have lower crime rates—especially violent crime, compared to some societies with higher religiosity. For example, Simon Blackburn states that "apologists for Hinduism defend or explain away its involvement with the caste system, and apologists for Islam defend or explain away its harsh penal code or its attitude to women and infidels".
The Catholic condemnation of birth control, if it could prevail, would make the mitigation of poverty and the abolition of war impossible. The Hindu beliefs that the cow is a sacred animal and that it is wicked for widows to remarry cause quite needless suffering.
You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world.
They condemn acts which do no harm and they condone acts which do great harm. So long as clergymen continue to condone cruelty and condemn 'innocent' pleasure, they can only do harm as guardians of the morals of the young. This does not mean that we have no natural end or telos, but that this end is related to the intention of God in the same way a human artisan intends his or her products to have a certain purpose see Harechapter 2.
Modern Philosophy Europe experienced a second Renaissance when scholars fled Constantinople after its capture by the Muslims inand brought with them Greek manuscripts that were previously inaccessible.
In Florence Marsilio Ficino —99 identified Plato as the primary ancient teacher of wisdom, and like Bonaventure cited Augustine as his guide in elevating Plato in this way. His choice of Plato was determined by the harmony he believed to exist between Plato's thought and the Christian faith, and he set about making Latin translations of all the Platonic texts so that this wisdom could be available for his contemporaries who did not know Greek.
He was also the first Latin translator of Plotinus, the Neo-Platonist. Many of the central figures in the Reformation were humanists in the Renaissance sense where there is no implication of atheism.
The historical connection between Scotus and the Reformers can be traced through William of Ockham d. The Counter-Reformation in Roman Catholic Europe, on the other hand, took the work of Aquinas as authoritative for education. However, Suarez accepted Scotus's double account of motivation. The next two centuries in European philosophy can be described in terms of two lines of development, rationalism and empiricism, both of which led, in different ways, to the possibility of a greater detachment of ethics from theology.
Descartes was not primarily an ethicist, but he located the source of moral law surprisingly for a rationalist in God's will. The most important rationalist in ethics was Benedict de Spinoza — He was a Jew, but was condemned by his contemporary faith community as unorthodox.
Like Descartes, he attempted to duplicate the methods of geometry in philosophy. Substance, according to Spinoza, exists in itself and is conceived through itself Ethics, I, def. Everything in the universe is necessary, and there is no free will, except in as far as Spinoza is in favor of calling someone free who is led by reason Ethics, I, prop. Each human mind is a limited aspect of the divine intellect.
On this view which has its antecedent in Stoicism the human task is to move towards the greatest possible rational control of human life. Leibniz was, like Descartes, not primarily an ethicist. The rationalists were not denying the centrality of God in human moral life, but their emphasis was on the access we have through the light of reason rather than through sacred text or ecclesiastical authority. After Leibniz there was in Germany a long-running battle between the rationalists and the pietists, who tried to remain true to the goals of the Lutheran Reformation.
Examples of the two schools are Christian Wolff — and Christian August Crusius —75and we can understand Immanuel Kant —like his teacher Martin Knutzen —51as trying to mediate between the two.
Wolff was a very successful popularizer of the thought of Leibniz, but fuller in his ethical system. He took from Leibniz the principle that we will always select what pleases us most, and the principle that pleasure is the apprehension of perfection, so that the amount of pleasure we feel is proportional to the amount of perfection we intuit New Essays on Human Understanding, XXI, He thought we are obligated to do what will make us and our condition, or that of others, more perfect, and this is the law of nature that would be binding on us even if per impossible God did not exist.
He saw no problem about the connection between virtue and happiness, since both of them result directly from our perfection, and no problem about the connection between virtue and duty, since a duty is simply an act in accordance with law, which prescribes the pursuit of perfection. His views were offensive to the pietists, because he claimed that Confucius already knew by reason all that mattered about morality, even though he did not know anything about Christ.
Crusius by contrast accepted Scotus's double theory of motivation, and held that there are actions that we ought to do regardless of any ends we have, even the end of our own perfection and happiness. It is plausible to see here the origin of Kant's categorical imperative. His idea was that we have within us this separate capacity to recognize divine command and to be drawn towards it out of a sense of dependence on the God who prescribes the command to us, and will punish us if we disobey though our motive should not be to avoid punishment Ibid.
The history of empiricism in Britain from Hobbes to Hume is also the history of the attempt to re-establish human knowledge, but not from above from indubitable principles of reason but from below from experience and especially the experience of the senses. Thomas Hobbes — said that all reality is bodily including Godand all events are motions in space.
Willing, then, is a motion, and is merely the last act of desire or aversion in any process of deliberation. His view is that it is natural, and so reasonable, for each of us to aim solely at our own preservation or pleasure.
The second precept is that each of us should be willing to lay down our natural rights to everything to the extent that others are also willing, and Hobbes concludes with the need to subordinate ourselves to a sovereign who alone will be able to secure peace.
He argues for the authority in the interpretation of Scripture to be given to that same earthly sovereign, and not to competing ecclesiastical authorities whose competition had been seen to exacerbate the miseries of war both in Britain and on the continent Ibid. John Locke — followed Hobbes in deriving morality from our need to live together in peace given our natural discord, but he denied that we are mechanically moved by our desires.
He agreed with Hobbes in saying that moral laws are God's imposition, but disagreed by making God's power and benevolence both necessary conditions for God's authority in this respect Treatises, IV. He also held that our reason can work out counsels or advice about moral matters; but only God's imposition makes law and hence obligationand we only know about God's imposition from revelation The Reasonableness of Christianity, 62—5.
He therefore devoted considerable attention to justifying our belief in the reliability of revelation. Frances Hutcheson — was not a deist, but does give a reading of the sort of guidance involved here. He distinguished between objects that are naturally good, which excite personal or selfish pleasure, and those that are morally good, which are advantageous to all persons affected. He took himself to be giving a reading of moral goodness as agape, the Greek word for the love of our neighbor that Jesus prescribes.
Because these definitions of natural and moral good produce a possible gap between the two, we need some way to believe that morality and happiness are coincident. This moral sense responds to examples of benevolence with approbation and a unique kind of pleasure, and benevolence is the only thing it responds to, as it were the only signal it picks up.
It is, like Scotus's affection for justice, not confined to our perception of advantage. God shows benevolence by first making us benevolent and then giving us this moral sense that gets joy from the approbation of our benevolence. To contemporary British opponents of moral sense theory, this seemed too rosy or benign a picture; our joy in approving benevolence is not enough to make morality and happiness coincident.
We need also obligation and divine sanction. Joseph Butler —, Bishop of Bristol and then of Durham held that God's goodness consists in benevolence, in wanting us to be happy, and that we should want the same for each other. He made the important point that something can be good for an agent because it is what he wants without this meaning that the content of what he wants has anything to do with himself Fifteen Sermons, — David Hume —76 is the first figure in this narrative who can properly be attached to the Enlightenment, though this term means very different things in Scotland, in France and in Germany.
Hume held that reason cannot command or move the human will. The denial of motive power to reason is part of his general skepticism. He accepted from Locke the principle that our knowledge is restricted to sense impressions from experience and logically necessary relations of ideas in advance of experience in Latin, a priori.
From this principle he derived more radical conclusions than Locke had done. For example, we cannot know about causation or the soul. The only thing we can know about morals is that we get pleasure from the thought of some things and pain from the thought of others. Hume thought we could get conventional moral conclusions from these moral sentiments, which nature has fortunately given us.
Probably he included premises about God's will or nature or action. This does not mean he was arguing against the existence of God. Some scholars take this remark like similar statements in Hobbes as purely ironic, but this goes beyond the evidence. The Enlightenment in France had a more anti-clerical flavor in part because of the history of Jansenism, unique to Franceand for the first time in this narrative we meet genuine atheists, such as Baron d'Holbach —89 who held not only that morality did not need religion, but that religion, and especially Christianity, was its major impediment.
He accepted from the English deists the idea that what is true in Christian teachings is the core of human values that are universally true in all religions, and like the German rationalists he admired Confucius. Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, famously, that mankind is born free, but everywhere he is in chains The Social Contract, Ch. This supposes a disjunction between nature and contemporary society, and Rousseau held that the life of primitive human beings was happy inasmuch as they knew how to live in accordance with their own innate needs; now we need some kind of social contract to protect us from the corrupting effects of society upon the proper love of self.
Nature is understood as the whole realm of being created by God, who guarantees its goodness, unity, and order. Rousseau held that we do not need any intermediary between us and God, and we can attain salvation by returning to nature in this high sense and by developing all our faculties harmoniously.
Our ultimate happiness is to feel ourselves at one with the system that God created. Immanuel Kant — is the most important figure of the Enlightenment in Germany, but his project is different in many ways from those of his French contemporaries. He was brought up in a pietist Lutheran family, and his system retains many features from, for example, Crusius. But he was also indebted through Wolff to Leibniz. He accepted from Hume that our knowledge is confined within the limits of possible sense experience, but he did not accept skeptical conclusions about causation or the soul.
Reason is not confined, in his view, to the same limits as knowledge, and we are rationally required to hold beliefs about things as they are in themselves, not merely things as they appear to us. In particular, we are required to believe in God, freedom and immortality.
Kant thought that humans have to be able to believe that morality in this demanding form is consistent in the long run with happiness both their own and that of the people they affect by their actionsif they are going to be able to persevere in the moral life without rational instability.
He did not accept the three traditional theoretical arguments for the existence of God though he was sympathetic to a modest version of the teleological argument. But the practical argument was decisive for him, though he held that it was possible to be morally good without being a theist, despite such a position being rationally unstable.
In Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason he undertook the project of using moral language in order to translate the four main themes of Biblical revelation accessible only to particular people at particular times into the revelation to Reason accessible to all people at all times. This does not mean that he intended to reduce Biblical faith to morality, though some scholars have taken him this way.
Humans have an initial predisposition to the good, which is essential to them, but is overlaid with a propensity to evil, which is not essential to them. One key step in departing from the surviving influence in Kant of Lutheran pietism was taken by Johann Gottlieb Fichte —who identified as Kant did not the will of the individual with the infinite Ego which is ordering the universe morally. He thought that Geist moves immanently through human history, and that the various stages of knowledge are also stages of freedom, each stage producing first its own internal contradiction, and then a radical transition into a new stage.
The stage of absolute freedom will be one in which all members freely by reason endorse the organic community and the concrete institutions in which they actually live Phenomenology, BB, VI, B, III. One of Hegel's opponents was Arthur Schopenhauer —the philosopher of pessimism. Schopenhauer thought that Hegel had strayed from the Kantian truth that there is a thing-in-itself beyond appearance, and that the Will is such a thing.
It is, moreover, one universal Will that underlies the wills of all separate individuals. The intellect and its ideas are simply the Will's servant. On this view, there is no happiness for us, and our only consolation is a quasi-Buddhist release from the Will to the limited extent we can attain it, especially through aesthetic enjoyment. Right Hegelians promoted the generally positive view of the Prussian state that Hegel expressed in the Philosophy of Right.
Left Hegelians rejected it, and with it the Protestant Christianity which they saw as its vehicle. In this way Hegel's peculiar way of promoting Christianity ended up causing its vehement rejection by thinkers who shared many of his social ideals.
Feuerbach thought religion resulted from humanity's alienation from itself, and philosophy needed to destroy the religious illusion so that we could learn to love humankind and not divert this love onto an imaginary object. Karl Marx —83 followed Feuerbach in this diagnosis of religion, but he was interested primarily in social and political relations rather than psychology.
He became suspicious of theory for example Hegel'son the grounds that theory is itself a symptom of the power structures in the societies that produce it. Marx returned to Hegel's thoughts about work revealing to the worker his value through what the worker produces, but Marx argues that under capitalism the worker was alienated from this product because other people owned both the product and the means of producing it. Thus he believed, like Hegel, in progress through history towards freedom, but he thought it would take Communist revolution to bring this about.
Kierkegaard mocked Hegel constantly for presuming to understand the whole system in which human history is embedded, while still being located in a particular small part of it.
On the other hand, he used Hegelian categories of thought himself, especially in his idea of the aesthetic life, the ethical life and the religious life as stages through which human beings develop by means of first internal contradiction and then radical transition.
Religion and Politics | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Kierkegaard's relation with Kant was problematic as well. On the other hand, his own description of the religious life is full of echoes of Kant's Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. Kierkegaard wrote most of his work pseudonymously, taking on the names of characters who lived the lives he describes.
This life deconstructs, because it requires in order to sustain interest the very commitment that it also rejects. The transition is accomplished by making a choice for one's life as a whole from a position that is not attached to any particular project, a radical choice that requires admitting the aesthetic life has been a failure. But this life too deconstructs, because it sets up the goal of living by a demand, the moral law, that is higher than we can live by our own human devices.
Friedrich Nietzsche — was the son of a Lutheran pastor in Prussia. He was trained as a classical philologist, and his first book, The Birth of Tragedy, was an account of the origin and death of ancient Greek tragedy.
The breaking point seems to have been Wagner's Parsifal. Nietzsche saw clearly the intimate link between Christianity and the ethical theories of his predecessors in Europe, especially Kant.
It is harder to know what Nietzsche was for, than what he was against. This is partly an inheritance from Schopenhauer, who thought any system of constructive ethical thought a delusion. To return to Britain, Hume had a number of successors who accepted the view which Hume took from Hutcheson that our fundamental obligation is to work for the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Four are especially significant. William Paley — thought he could demonstrate that morality derived from the will of God and required promoting the happiness of all, that happiness was the sum of pleasures, and that we need to believe that God is the final granter of happiness if we are to sustain motivation to do what we know we ought to do The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, II.
Jeremy Bentham — rejected this theological context. He thought he could provide a scientific calculus of pleasures, where the unit that stays constant is the minimum state of sensibility that can be distinguished from indifference.
Discarding the theological context made moral motivation problematic, for why should we expect without God more units of pleasure for ourselves by contributing to the greater pleasure of others? John Stuart Mill —73 was raised on strict utilitarian principles by his father, a follower of Bentham. Unlike Bentham, however, Mill accepted that there are qualitative differences in pleasures simply as pleasures, and he thought that the higher pleasures were those of the intellect, the feelings and imagination, and the moral sentiments.
He observed that those who have experienced both these and the lower pleasures, tend to prefer the former. He realized that his education had neglected the culture or cultivation of feelings, of which hope is a primary instance Autobiography, 1. Mill did not believe, however, that God was omnipotent, given all the evil in the world, and he insisted, like Kant, that we have to be God's co-workers, not merely passive recipients of God's assistance.
Henry Sidgwick — in Methods of Ethics distinguished three methods: Intuitionism which is, roughly, the common sense morality that some things, like deliberate ingratitude to a benefactor, are self-evidently wrong in themselves independently of their consequencesEgoistic Hedonism the view that self-evidently an individual ought to aim at a maximum balance of happiness for herself, where this is understood as the greatest balance of pleasure over painand Utilitarianism or Universalistic Hedonism, the view that self-evidently she ought to aim at the maximum balance of happiness for all sentient beings present and future, whatever the cost to herself.
- MORALITY AND RELIGION
- Religion and Morality
- Religion and Politics
Of these three, he rejected the first, on the grounds that no concrete ethical principles are self-evident, and that when they conflict as they do we have to take consequences into account in order to decide how to act.
But Sidgwick found the relation between the other two methods much more problematic. Each principle separately seemed to him self-evident, but when taken together they seems to be mutually inconsistent. He considered two solutions, psychological and metaphysical.