I am serializing ‘Philosophical Perspectives on Religion, Ethical and Moral Values’ in 12-piece articles. Starting today is an Intro to the topic. Some philosophical questions are agitating my mind and autoflowing into my thoughts. These questions are:
- Could humankind live a good life without the ideals of ethics and moral values?
- Is knowing God of religion the determinant for good morals, or can we have ethics without religion?
- How are ethics and moralities sustained and transmitted?
- Is morality universal?
The answers to these questions are my focus. I look at ethics in history and culture in understanding its evolution, cultural appreciation or/and cultural appropriation. A peep into ancient philosophers’ thoughts and writings gives perspectives on the significant themes. I am advocating the sustainability of religious belief, ethics, and morality to meet the challenges of the 21st century in political, economic, and cultural contexts. I examine philosophical ideas and intensely religious concepts on morality and ethical values. God has designed the world to be, first and foremost, an environment that enables and facilitates each individual’s moral and spiritual development.
Religion’s prerogatives are approachable in two ways:
- Logical analysis and the scrutiny of the evidence on the one hand.
- And on the other, an emphasis on faith, passion, and the will to believe.
Philosophy of religion in the twentieth century explored these two paths. On the one hand, debates on the verifiability of religious doctrines. And the rational justification for belief in God, and the other hand, attempts to understand religious theory and practice as an entirely different enterprise from what is done in the objective world of scientific theory.
Plato (1982) sets out a vision of justice for the state and the individual. The dominant element in that vision is a conception of a life lived by reason. Where goodness and virtue flow from an intellectual understanding of reality. And where the enlightened philosopher-rulers devote their lives to the contemplation of truth and the state’s service. Plato raises the issue of whether goodness and virtue are worthwhile for the individual. Most offenders think they could get away with immoral conduct, and the offender risk getting caught, and most religious teaching promises the wrongdoer punishment in heaven. For this kind of religious teaching, it is prudent to act morally; this does not mean that the virtuous life is inherently valuable for its sake.
Aristotle’s vision of the good life was informed by reason and characterized by moderate desire patterns, neither excessive nor deficient. The Stoic thinkers who followed Aristotle seemed clear that the life of reason was in constant danger of being blown off course by human emotions’ turbulence. Consequently, in place of the Aristotelian ideal of metriopatheia, moderate desire, they advocated a life of apatheia – a life entirely suppressed the potentially harmful passions. Spinoza (Ethics c. 1665) made the conquest of the passions the central theme of his writings. Spinoza equates the life of virtue with a life lived by rational nature: pursuing what reason perceives as genuinely beneficial means acting freely and virtuously. When in the grip of the passions is like a servant acting at the behest of some external power. Spinoza’s remedy against the passions is essentially a cognitive one: the use of reason enables one to understand all things’ inevitable causes. The good life, for Spinoza, is essentially a tranquil and harmonious one, and this links up with the chief reason one should overcome humankind’s passions – they are responsible for disharmony and discord, both in relations with other humans beings within oneself.