Archive for the ‘Virtuous vs Modern Morality’ Category

Existential Amiss

September 30, 2018

Common sense, Reason, Logic, Causality, Imagination, Morality & Ethics!

 Image result for Pic of Existential amiss

I intended to write this piece in a secular fashion but the overwhelming relevance of the Divine wisdom kept piercing through my thought canvas, hence surrendered making it part of the discourse. Human discourse or argumentation, anyway, barely scratches the obvious externalities of the issues while the Divine wisdom put forth the internally woven realities in a succinct yet aptly simple manner. One may notice the examples of such Subtleties in the course of reading this treatise.

Had Common sense, reason and logic been potent enough to reach the absolute certainty of the conclusions drawn, there would have been no need for the Divine religions to barge in. All of these tools are perceptual or experiential outcomes of human endeavors which; given the deficient nature of human faculties; are incapable of coming even remotely close to the level of Divine Wisdom; Revelation, the only fait accompli. (A subtle hint/deduced from Q, 17; 37) Hence some of the precepts of the religion are above and beyond the realm of human commonsense, causality, reason and logic, exuding perfect certitude and submission. (A state of affairs enormously repugnant and conceptually unacceptable to the secularists, anti-religionists and non-believers)

Note:- similar debate has been going on for long. a brief excerpt is quoted here.

[The innovative Jahmiyyah and Their Relatives from Ahl al-Kalaam Asharis and Maturidis fought the greatest battle and contention between the followers of the revealed Books and the sent Messengers and between the followers of the Hellenized Jews, Christians and Sabeans. Those who contradict the revealed texts with their reason (aql), and think the reason is definitive over the revealed texts].

Common sense is really not as common as perceived. Variegated sense perceptions render it somewhat-common, partially-common, quasi-common or purely individualistic rather than really-common in the true sense of the word.

  Reason and Logic are even more disparate; propitious-reason and logic; sometimes referred to as rationality; are used to justify a conclusion, one is at home with. (Rational bias) A slightest dissension or differentiation would entail disapproval or divergence. Therefore, all these tools may create some sort of near or quasi-convergence but not an absolute or conclusive one. Logic is derived from the Greek word “logos”. In Muslim Philosophy another Grecian alternative “monads”*1 is used instead, to justify a position/stance by distinguishing a good reason from the bad one. It is only the Divine revelation (wisdom, word) which is flawless, absolute and ultimate-truth; authoritative in its perception, understanding and validity…worthy of even blind-Faith.

Kurt Gödel puts it succinctly as follow:- 

The logical axioms that underlie everyday things like arithmetic depend on us accepting as reasonable the notion that infinity comes in several different sizes.

In Islamic parlance, however “pristine-reason” (Haq al Yaqeen); in the absence of a human messenger; is considered to be potent enough for a rational being to come; at least, to the cognition of the existence and oneness of God, hence obviating disbelief. “Pristine-reason” here, is “elevated to the status of a “non-human-messenger” of God, for reason gains an edge when the logic fails rational being. (Deduced from Q, 17: 15)

Contemplative tools; human faculties, given the amiss, may help us reach the level of most probable/likely certainty (in the temporal, ancillary and ritualistic matters) but not that of an absolute certitude (in the core matters of belief/faith); which is only possible by Divine consent/intervention through the heart (Q, 10:100), as in the above case of cognition of God’s Oneness. Here the externality of this intervention cloaked in the garb of; “pristine-human-reason”, is upgraded to the status of “non-human-messenger”

Non-believer’s obstinate rejection of the Divine, religious injunctions and that of hereafter; though based on (tenuous and vitiated) reason, logic and common sense, amply explains their state of affairs.           (Q, 10:100)

*1 Universal Spirit, the first cause, singularity, Divine, Intermediary agent etc.

Imam Ghazali;- “With regard to sense-perception says; it made him very hesitant to accept the infallibility of reason. He believed in the testimony of sense till it was contradicted by the verdict of reason. Well, perhaps there is above reason another judge who; if appeared, would convict reason of falsity and if such a third arbiter is not yet apparent it does not follow that he does not exist.”

When Imam Ghazali could not reconcile the philosophical dispensations with the Divine wisdom, (Obviously there is no comparison between the two; one represents the mundaneness, while the other, word of the Divine) he turned to Sufism.

In quantum physics (Double-Slit) experiment, our act of observing something seems to change what’s observed – we are ourselves part of the experiment. Is this the ultimate problem of self-reference, one that suggests a limit to how much we can ever reason about—our surroundings—the universe?

 Role of the religion, therefore, becomes inevitable; for it presents us with flawless and absolute truth; which is perceptually-authoritative and practically valid, engendering “Taqwa”. [Innate reverential-fear (Awe) of Allah (SWT). Distinct from the usual fear of other (agencies)]

An incisive consideration and pondering, on just two of the aspects of the divine religion: 1) Belief in the hereafter. 2) The contentment would vouch for and warrant religion’s inevitability.

Belief in the hereafter is often considered a conceptual absurdity and theological fallacy hence rejected by the non-believers. Belief in the hereafter, however, is the source of immitigable hope and equity, which no atheistic belief/doctrine/philosophy may even, conceives to offer. Unbelief in the hereafter renders one scuttled of many realities. Such as; ultimate-reality; ultimate-hope; ultimate-triumph, and ultimate-Justice. One, without the belief in the hereafter, is like, latching onto the event-horizon of a black hole of hopelessness and despair. The statistics, available on depression/hopelessness resulting in suicide and homicide, is a vindication of this fact. Conversely, in the overwhelmingly religious affluent Middle East, there are hardly any such issues, hence NO mental hospitals needed.

https://shakir2.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/scuttling-the-mental-capacity/

Contentment is a huge blessing for a rational being. When someone (even a non-believer) is suffering; no relief in sight; distressed/desperate, resorts back to God, is blessed with His mercy. (Q, 27:62) Overwhelmed with gratitude, he takes a sigh of relief and the most joyous sense of contentment sets in. (One’s resorting back to God while distressed, means un-recalcitrant-submission; invigorating the innate impulses; meeting the pre-requisites; of belief in Him, His injunctions, including the belief in the hereafter).

Is He [not best] who responds to the distressed/desperate one when he calls upon Him and removes evil and makes you inheritors of the earth?” (Q, 27:62)

“Deprived is the one who has been deprived of the reward of enduring distress”  (Khidr–a.s)                                                                                                                                          Fasting in the month of Ramadan from dawn to dusk is a fine practical example of it; whereby one is patiently content (nafs-al-mutmai’nna) all day long, hoping the accrual of the temporal and divinely rewards at the end of the day.

Faculties of thinking and the exercise of Free-will (choice) are also signs of deficiency on the part of the creation. Allah does not think but intends; for He is omnipotent; causer of both, the cause and the effect. Nothing wrong/bad may emanate from His essence (Q, 48:23); but from His schematic creational activities, such as the creation of rational beings inseminated with good and bad. Indeed, Our word to a thing when We intend it is but that We say to it, “Be,” and it is” (Q, 16:40)   On the other hand; when rational beings would exercise the option of intention; in the similar fashion; (without thinking and deliberations) it is bound to be fraught with pitfalls, for rational beings are created with an existential amiss.

Imagination is of non-local (metaphysical/spiritual) origin; for it traverses both, the local and non-local domain. Therefore, those who accuse believers of worshipping an “imaginary God” are, unwittingly, admitting this reality. God inculcated, in the constitution of the rational beings, two-pronged sense of imagination (topical and non-topical); a schematic molding, hence the relevance and necessity of Divine and Divine religion becomes inevitable. God does not think but “Wills” whereas man’s will (choice) subsists in God’s will whereby He equilibrates it with the elements of hope and fear, (existential amiss) rendering it rationally operative. (Q, 17:57)

People need religion because it is the blueprint for the functioning of the “Soul” in the temporal realm. Voltaire, an archpriest of rationalism, alludes to this inevitability in a mundanely best possible way: “Man would have to invent God, even if He does not exist”

https://shakir2.wordpress.com/?s=inevitable+God

Religious Truth is multifaceted. It is comprised of science, logic, philosophy, history, ethics, and experience all mixed together. It is, in a sense, a different kind of knowing, not ignorant of the other kinds of truths (known and yet to be known), asserting the inevitability of the religion.

https://shakir2.wordpress.com/2018/02/03/scientific-elaboration-of-surah-at-tin-fig-95-verse-4/

 (Hadith) Every child is born on Nature— (his natural disposition/course. Resorting back to/linking with the Creator)

“It is asserted here that fitrah is the essential condition and state of existence in which God fashioned mankind; with innate impulses/urges including the sense of good and bad; fear and safety; pain and relief; cognition of God; submission, transgression and arrogance etc. (existential amiss–Imperfection, tendency/choice to swerve). It is present in the very essence of the creation and is inextricably kneaded into the very substance of the “rational beings” (Q) which is acutely elicited in the following verse.

 

إِنَّا عَرَضْنَا الاٌّمَانَةَ عَلَى السَّمَـوَتِ وَالاٌّرْضِ وَالْجِبَالِ فَأبَيْنَ أَن يَحْمِلْنَهَا وَأَشْفَقْنَ مِنْهَا وَحَمَلَهَا الإِنْسَـنُ إِنَّهُ كَانَ
نَظَلُوماً جَهُولاً –

 “We did indeed offer the Trust to the Heavens and the Earth and the Mountains; but they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof: but man undertook it;- He was indeed ignorant  and foolish” (Q, 33:72)

 

Ordinary beings, given their basic knowledge of the religious fundamentals, are tested for their weaknesses (existential amiss). The window of forgiveness is wide open for them; even if they have a mountain of mistakes/sins on their back; as long as they keep seeking forgiveness with utmost sincerity and a commitment not to repeat the same. (There is no numerical or time limitation)  This is an esoteric expression of the unbounded mercy of the Creator; for the people of knowledge and intellect who understand.

Men of knowledge (Aalim/Scholar), given the higher degree of knowledge, are tested for the equitable dissemination of the knowledge while acting upon it themselves as is due. Their test becomes harder and their failure attracts equally harsher punishment, for they are given the knowledge as the inheritors of the Prophet (PBUH).

Prophets; given the highest degree of knowledge and the duty of disseminating the message entrusted to them, often face the hardest of the tests for their perseverance, firmness, devotion and endurance instead. They are immunized of the mundanity (existential amiss) to a large extent due to their highest station/status. (Protected from major sins—Asmah/Masoom); which keeps them even from minor sins but some rare slips. (Q, 4:31)

“If you avoid the major sins which you are forbidden, We will remove from you your lesser sins and admit you to a noble entrance [into Paradise]” [Q, 4:31]

Hadith: when a companion asked the Prophet, despite being a Prophet of Allah why do you always keep asking for His forgiveness? He replied; “for any moment passed without His remembrance” This emphasizes the point that one, regardless of his station, should never be oblivious of the innate existential amiss and always keep asking for His forgiveness.

“Cause and effect” is a phenomenon of the sequential morphing of things/ideas in the space-time spectrum. It, however, can’t continue ad-infinitum. It also cannot fully transcend back into the metaphysical/spiritual realm. Therefore, becomes unhitched, regressive, and even ineffective. ‘Ex Nahilo’ is an outright negation of temporal phenomenon of “causality”. God (SWT); the very first (primal) cause, therefore, is the sole cause/causer of the Universe. (Creational activity in the space-time realm is known as “Khulq/Takhleeq” )

“When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is” (Q, 2:117)

In the absence of space-time spectrum, there is but an intention/will (ordinance {Amar}), of the primal cause, for the matter/idea to come into being. In the metaphysical/spiritual realm, contrary to the physical realm, no material/tangible cause has to exist to produce a material/tangible effect. Divine causality, therefore, is inimitable by the rational beings in the space-time spectrum. (Creational activity in the absence of space-time spectrum is known as “Takween”)

Takween is derived from the word “KUN” fayakun. It is beyond and above the physical laws of the universe and does not need the matter, time or space for a thing to come into existence. (Ex Nihilo=Out of Nothing). Bypassing the temporal physical laws or the temporal causality is also called Takween. {creation of Adam and Jesus Christ—PBUT}

 Temporal causality vs. Divine causality

Here are vivid differences.

In temporal causality, a causer may activate the cause but may not have the capability to determine the effect. He would also not have the capability to alter the effect (outcome) of a cause. A rational being may be dealing with a clear cause or INUS (insufficient but non-redundant parts of conditions; which in itself unnecessary, but sufficient for the occurrence of the effects). This distinction would not exist in the Divine causality.

In Divine causality, The Causer of the cause and effect is the same. The Causer is omnipotent to alter/determine the effect(s) as He wills. The Causer is also competent to produce an effect without cause (Ex-Nahilo). The Causer may pre-determine effects or causes in multiple, and then afford the medium (sentient beings) the application of Free-will (Choice) to commensurate effect(s).

“And when We would intend to destroy a township We had sent a commandment (warning) to its people of authority leading easy lives; who yet disobeyed and transgressed; so as a result of our Judgment passed, We annihilated it with complete annihilation” (Q, 17:16)

Note:- (Ghazali’s views on causality, read: http://www.ghazali.org/articles/gz-aylon2.pdf)

Morality, mortified by the psychology of innate fear, sprouts from the Divine religious injunctions. Although it lays the ground-rules for this word, the effects also transcend to the next.

Morality, based on reward and punishment, (retribution) works wonderfully due to the psychology of “innate-fear” of being monitored unimpeded and continuously by the “Invisible”. Religion (Islam) “submission” was enacted simultaneous to the Creation (forbidding Adam and Eve from eating the fruit) and the punishment for its violation was established by the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Heavens. Satan (Lucifer) was also expelled for his disobedience due to his avarice and pride. They were not simply expelled but with specifically (and schematically) mandated rights, roles, and responsibilities; which, in specifically Islamic parlance could be called “Sharia’a” and in everyday parlance “Morality”.

Ethicality is developed by the rational beings, in the light of their past collective experiences. It regulates the immediate, contemporary cultural, societal or communal behavior. It is limited to temporality in scope, optional in its practicality; often floutingly by-passed without compunction. Needless to say that, the resourcefulness of Morality is unsurpassable by the man-made ethicality.

Ethics (Laws) are devised by the people for a community, society or culture; monitoring whereof is also done by people (an agency) employed for the purpose. The compliance would simply depend on either one’s call of the conscience or the fear of being caught by the monitoring agent. The physical absence of the monitoring agency would offer all kind of inducements to flout, as it cannot be established and no penalty would ensue.  This is the weakest aspect of the man-made ethicality.

A distinct difference between Divine law and the man-made law is that Divine Law compassionately seeks avenues to forgive while the man-made law is hell-bent on seeking evidence to punish.

Those who envisage morality, without religion, in fact, misconstrue ethics as morality.

After all, man is created with an existential amiss.

 Innate Fear, Psychology of fear is employed by the Divine to elicit the compliance of the religious injunctions without the presence of a physical watchdog.

  • An infant, when made to hold a bar, would continue clinging to it due to the innate fear of fall and hurt until made to feel safe to let it go.
  • In a situation of distress, “heightened state of fear/anxiety” (even in the case of a non-believer) all boundaries and impediments are dismantled; a connection between the Lord and the distressed-servant is immediately activated, and the call of the distressed is heard by the Almighty. (Q, 27:62)

Innate-fear, therefore, is not just a predicate of punishment, as often complained, but also that of an “SOS” signal, in the situation of distress.   

shakir2.wordpress.com

Topics covered:- Logic, reason, pristine reason, common sense, causality, Temporal/Divine causality, revelation, Divine wisdom, Inevitability of religion, Non Human Messenger, Gazali’s falsity of reason, imagination, Imaginary God, belief in the hereafter, Contentment, Voltaire’s rationalism, Fitrah, khulq/takween, Ordinary,/ scholar/ prophet, Psychology of Innate fear, Morality, Ethics and  The-Distressed.

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? (Suit your Own Caption)

June 24, 2018
Image result for Pic of Nikki Haley with Indian Israeli and US flags behind?
Unconsciously Nicky Haley spoke the truth when pulling out of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) at the behest of three representing;  one by birth, second by choice and the third by association/implication, SAYING:–

“The world’s most inhumane regimes continue to escape its scrutiny” & “disproportionate focus and unending hostility towards Israel–In fact– Palestine”

shakir2.wordpress.com

Scientific Elaboration of Surah At-Tin (Fig) 95, verse 4

February 3, 2018

“We have indeed created man in the best of the moulds”

Image result for pic of microtubules

Sometimes back, I came across a scientific research about the evidence of God through the existence of design in molecular cell’s formation and functioning. The link to which is available below. This research mainly deals with the human development and functioning based on molecular activities. This research explains the above verse with amazing comprehensiveness.

“It is widely known that the DNA is a sophisticated information storage device; encoding complex specified information to make proteins, and directing many highly complex processes in the cell. What is less known, is that there are several other code systems as well, namely the histone*1 binding code, transcription factor binding code, the splicing code, and the RNA secondary structure code. And there is yet another astonishing code system, called the tubuline*2 code, which is being unraveled in recent scientific research. It is known so far that amongst other things, it directs and signals Kinesin*3 and Myosin*4 motor proteins precisely where and when to disengage from nanomolecular*5 superhighways and deliver their cargo. 

 Here is the link to the site to read through.

Molecular biology of the cell

http://reasonandscience.heavenforum.org/t2096-the-astonishing-language-written-on-microtubules-amazing-evidence-of-design#3669

 

“We have indeed created man in the best of the moulds.”

The term “taqweem” means to form something into an appropriate shape and in a moderate regulation. The capaciousness of the meaning refers to the fact that Allah has created malt proportionately in all respects; from physical point of view; spiritual and rational point of view, because He has settled all faculties in him and prepared him appropriately to cover a great path towards a perfect development. Although man is a ‘microcosm’, He has set the ‘macrocosm’ in him and has promoted him to such a high position that it is said: “We have honored the sons of Adam…” (17:70)

This assertion has been aptly explained in another research paper which is as follows.

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project (that mapped the human DNA structure) said that one can “think of DNA as an instructional script, a software program, sitting in the nucleus of the cell.”5

Perry Marshall, an information specialist, comments on the implications of this.

“There has never existed a computer program that wasn’t designed…[whether it is] a code, or a program, or a message given through a language, there is always an intelligent mind behind it.”6

Just as former atheist Dr. Antony Flew questioned, it is legitimate to ask oneself regarding this three billion letter code instructing the cell…who wrote this script? Who placed this working code, inside the cell?

It’s like walking along the beach and you see in the sand, “Mike loves Michelle.” You know the waves rolling up on the beach didn’t form that–a person wrote that. It is a precise message. It is clear communication. In the same way, the ing in our cells?

The reason why man is given such a coveted status and endowed with unparallel qualities is because the whole universe revolves around him. He is endowed with characteristics which are like that of the God Himself, such as knowledge, power, Hearing, sight, speaking, compassion and Wisdom. This has been elucidated in Surah Al Qiyamah,# 75, V-2 saying “Lo! We Created man from a drop of thickened fluid; so we made him hearing, and understanding” means endowed him with intellect and consciousness for the test. (The word “Taqweem” signifies setting something on the best of the foundations). Word “amshaj” (thickened fluid) in this verse expresses the combination of human cardinal humors/fluids, blood, phlegm, choler and melancholy, constituents of human semen (sperm).

Human beings rank higher than the Angels. A quote from my article “Mysteries of Creation” published on 02/04/2008. “There is very distinct and subtle difference between Human and Angels. The former bear the mysterious knowledge of the Creator and His Essence, along with the tendency to transgress. Whereas Angels have, only the knowledge of the entire spectrum of the creation with absolute servitude without any free will or desires” It is aptly summarized in Surah Bani-Israel 17, V-70 “And we bestowed dignity to the children of Adam (R.A)” “Dignity” in this verse implies the widest range of attributes and characteristics. Speech (with requisite eloquence for praising his lord) is one such attribute which distinguishes man from the rest of the creations. If a man knows God for thousands of years but does not confess would be virtually an infidel. (Not undertaking the pronouncement of the Article of faith). God has bidden all believers to give thanks and praise Him, rehearse His bounties, supplicate; He would answer the supplicants.

Yet another reason, which signifies man’s special position in the Universe, is his makeup:

Man is made of 10 constituents, 5 of which belongs to the Realm of the Divine-Ordinance (Aalame-Amar) and other 5 belongs to the Realm of Divine-Creation (Aalame Khalq).

These are Heart, Soul, Mystery, Secret, Secret of Secret—-&—–Dust, Water, Air, Fire and Self (Nafs).  This special formation of man endows him with the capacity to absorb the light of Divine Guidance; hence worthy of being vice regent of his Creator to whom angels were asked to prostrate in gratitude to their Lord, who created such a marvelous being.

It can be elaborated further by quoting parts of sufic interpretation of this verse.

“Mankind is the substance and the revolving (spheres are) his incidental (qualities).9

 “O you (man) (in regard to whom) reason, deliberations, and understanding (are) your slaves, why do you sell yourself (so) cheaply as this?1
“(Since) service toward you is an indispensable duty for all existence, how should a substance seek help from an incidental quality?” “You are the ocean of knowledge hidden in a dewdrop; you are the world hidden in a body three cubits long”
13 

  1. “We have honored [the sons of Adam]’: Qur’an 17:70. Here, the One God speaks in the “royal plural” tense– a verse interpreted by the Sufis to mean honored above all creation, including the angels, who did not know the “names” [the Names of God, according to the Sufic interpretation], which Adam knew, but the angels did not (Qur’an 2: 31-33). 
  2. “Primary aim [`araz](beseeching)… incidental (qualities) [gharaz](need): Nicholson translated, “Man is the substance, and the celestial sphere is his accident.” He explained the “celestial sphere” means “the world” [Footnote]. These two terms, which rhyme, refer to the philosophical difference between the essential substance of something and its “accidental” or external aspects which happen to manifest. Here, it means that the saintly man or woman is the primary end of creation,
  3. and the planets, stars, and the rest of the creation are secondary aspects”. 
  4.  “Why do you sell yourself (so) cheaply as this: Nicholson referred to another verse of the

Mathnawi (which he translated), “Man has sold himself cheaply: he was satin, he has sewn himself on (become attached) to a tattered cloak.” (III: 1001) And he explained that “a tattered cloak means “the body and the carnal nature.”.

At another place in Qura’an, in Surah Abas (Frowning) 80, V 16, 19 God questions man “Of what material have you been made, A drop of semen?” It is reminder of his humble beginning; then He declares how he destined him with attributes, faculties, and limbs and then made his way easy from that stage till his death. It is said that during the pregnancy a child is pre-destined of 4 things, sustenance, age, life style (sinful or pious) and his state of leading a happy or sad life. (H) The word “Qaddarahu” means everything granted to him was well calculated, measured, balanced and made to suit the purpose of his existence. A child is conceived and developed under three layers of darkness:  the belly, the womb and amniotic membrane.(whole process of conception revealed has been verified by medical science). 

 One of the wonders of man’s birth is that a few moments before the time of nativity the child is so located in the mother’s womb that usually its head is right side up, its face is to the mother’s back and its feet are toward the down side of the womb; but when the time of birth comes, the child turns upside down so that its head is downwards, and this very position makes the birth (process) easier for both the child and its mother. There are, of course, exceptions where some children are born under various complications therefore, their mothers encounter many difficulties.

 After studying the research presented and the above passages there should remain no doubt in any rational being’s mind about the God’s existence, His omnipotence, and Human-being being the most high in the chain of creation; which He has described as His vice-regent on the earth. (For, Man is not what eats, drinks, and suffers decays but a Divine mystery, of which body is the vesture, situated in the interfusion of natural humors and in the union of body and spirit). 

*Definitions of scientific terms used in this piece.   

Histones:–are highly alkaline proteins found in eukaryotic cell nuclei that package and order the DNA into structural units called nucleosomes.

Tubulinin molecular biology can refer either to the tubulin protein superfamily of globular proteins, or one of the member proteins of that superfamily.

kinesinis a protein belonging to a class of motor proteins found in eukaryotic cells.

myosin. (mī’ə-sĭn) A protein found in muscle tissue as a thick filament made up of an aggregate of similar proteins.

nanomolecular(not comparable) Describing any nanoscale process that involves the manipulation of individual molecules.

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Which Morality—Modern or Virtuous–is Right?

September 1, 2017
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (by Shakir Mumtaz January 2017)

(Morality based on common sense! Can common sense be trusted? Ethical Egoism says that “One person’s common sense may be another person’s naïve platitude” It is also called “revisionist theory” for it declares that “our common sense moral views may be mistaken, therefore, need to be changed”)

Morality predicates every facet of human life. It has always been, fervently, debated by the scholars and thinkers of almost all the societies, as to what constitutes morality, what should be its source and how its parameters should be determined and so on. I have therefore embarked on this interesting but multifarious topic to explore; by consulting various perspectives and sources, and present a cogent picture for the readers; to make up their own mind, after weighing for and against reasons and arguments.

Modern morality (or moral philosophy) has a rich and fascinating history. A great many thinkers have approached the subject from a wide variety of perspectives and have produced theories that both attract and repel the thoughtful people. Almost all the classical theories developed by philosophers of undoubted genius are, however, vulnerable to crippling objections. Hence, one is left wondering what to believe?

Derek Parfit, “Reasons and Persons” 1984 put it very aptly as “Non-religious ethics (Morality) is the youngest and least advanced” Thomas Hobbs, foremost British philosopher of 17th Century tried (unsuccessfully) to provide an alternative to Divine Philosophy*1 by arguing as follow. “Suppose we take away all the props for morality. We assume, first, that there is no God to issue commands and reward virtues; and second, that there are no moral facts built into the nature of things. Moreover, we deny that there is any sort of universal altruism built into human nature—we see people as essentially motivated to pursue their own interests. If we cannot appeal to God, moral facts or natural altruism, is there anything left on which morality might be found? After all this, he suggests an alternate, in the form of “Social contract” and commonly accepted mechanism (Govt.), to enforce the terms of the contract. Then he conjectures an untenable “state of nature”, insinuating absolute chaos, to support his hypothesis. “State of nature”*2 is governed by “the Laws of Nature” and Laws of Nature not only describes “how things are” but also “how things ought to be” as well. Things are always as they “ought to be” solemnly serving their natural purposes (Theory of the law of nature). He replaced God with altruism and moral facts and His command and control by an indispensable Government. Mundane and temporal end-result suggested was— “the gain of the benefits of social living”. This outrageous endeavor could simply be classed as a “Blatant Hobbesian Intellectual Egoism”{Dishonesty/Arrogance). After close scrutiny of this hypothesis, Thomas Hobbs is also found to be guilty of defying “the minimum conception of morality”. (By the way, Islamic theology makes use of “minimum conception” with respect to the performance of basic obligatory rituals, ensuring the salvation of the believers in the hereafter).

It might be of interest for the readers to know, that morality is not an issue as such in most parts; especially in predominantly monotheistic and polytheistic societies, of the world at all. Centuries-old religious ethos shaped their cultural traditions and social practices in consonance and the life goes on smoothly. The issue of morality, for the most part, arises when an equitable and just resolution is sought in the face of conflicting interests. It is generally thought that formulation of morality started from the Greeks. This treatise, therefore, would start from there; foregoing the issue of the actual origin of morality, which according to some sources goes back to Prophet Adam. Greek philosophers such as Pluto, Aristotle and Socrates and some other eminent scholars resorted to reason in formulating the moral laws of their time; while counting on the character to establish the virtuous traits of a man. Questions were framed as “What is the good of man?”, “What traits of character make one a good man?” This was happening 400 years before the time of Jesus Christ. With the spread of Christianity however, a new idea of “Law Giver” and “Obedience to His commands” was introduced. St Augustine, the most influential and prominent thinker of 4th Century, however, “distrusted the reason” and taught that virtuous life rests in the unwavering subordination to the commandments. From here on when the Christian Scholars, philosophers discussed the issue of virtues; it was within the context of “Divine Law”, and theological virtues including “Obedience” occupying the central place. On the contrary, Greeks gave “reason” the center stage. They viewed the “reason” the source of practical wisdom. Virtuous life for them was inseparable from the life of reason.

After renaissance, however, morality took another turn and Philosophers stopped turning to the Greek way of reasoning or Christian way of obedience to “Divine Law” but to its secular equivalent called “Moral Law”. “Divine Fiat” was replaced by “Human reason” and by following its directive would decide which actions are right? The question was changed from “what traits of character make a good person” to “what is the right thing to do?” “Virtue” was replaced by secular ‘rightness of actions” & “obligations” thereby promoting the element of individualism and self-interest (selfishness). Human reason gave rise to the conception of Hubristic “ought” as a standard for most advantageous actions; petrifying the Human-reason with inconsistency; hence similar reasoning was acceptable in one situation, but not in the other. Later moral theories from the seventeenth century onward; such as “Ethical egoism”, “Utilitarianism”, “Social Contract Theory”, all were developed and promoted in the same vein of individualism and self-centeredness.

Utilitarianism, in particular, proved to be the harbinger of Religion divested morality. A theory presented by David Hume (1711-1776) formalized by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), vehemently advocated by John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) and his son James Mill. After the 18th and 19th century’s series of upheavals, America was a newly developing country and traditional morality was up in the air. Bentham’s conception of Religion divested morality; in conscious opposition to Christianity; especially for those escaping the Church of England’s persecution, proved to be a boon. He argued “Morality is not a matter of pleasing God, nor is it a matter of faithfulness to abstract rules. Morality is nothing more than the attempt to bring about as much happiness as possible in this world” Bentham was also given the assignment of reforming the laws and constitution of England along utilitarian lines. Needless to say that despite huge influence utilitarianism had severe flaws. One of its more developed forms, Act-Utilitarianism, recognized it to be a “radical doctrine” “that implied that many of our moral feelings may be mistaken” Ethical Egoism, as a “revisionist theory”, also asserted the same theme.

An Australian philosopher J.J.C Smart (1961) published a monograph, challenging the common sense (morality) as it cannot be trusted. His assertion challenges us to rethink matters that we have taken for granted. To accentuate the point further, here is the opinion of a Swedish Sociologist Gunner Myrdal which he gave after his classic study—American dilemma in 1944 ”There must be still other countless errors of the same sort that no living man can yet detect, because of the fog within which our type of Western cultures envelops us…”

Bentham and Mill were leading a revolution as radical as Marx and Darwin of 19th Century. To understand the radicalness of their theory an excerpt is quoted as “Gone are all references to God or to abstract moral rules written in the heavens. Morality is no longer to be understood as faithfulness to some divinely given code or to some set of inflexible rules” The concept of individualistic worldly happiness—known as “Hedonism”– was promoted. Mills introduction of the notion “Individual is sovereign” pushed it even further.

Kantian morality although, hovers around religious lines but; he seems to have circumvented God and religion; probably to prove that besides; all- encompassing God’s commands notion; there are rational and logical grounds on which Divine Morality could be asserted with the same potency. Kant however, abjured the serpent-windings of the Utilitarian theory because, he said, the theory is incompatible with human dignity. (God confers “dignity” to human—Qua’an 17:70). His formulation of “hypothetical Imperatives” VS “Categorical Imperatives” exposes the vainness of Modern Morality. It can, therefore, safely be deduced that most of these Religion-Divested Moral theories provide only plausible answers to the difficult questions, but lack the potency and conviction of Divine Morality– providing definitive solutions built in the rigor of observance of its rules and rituals. (All classic theorists, needless to say, hold not only opposing but critical views about Divine Morality).

Recent thinking on morality is ready to take yet another turn. Philosophers are debunking the ”Moral Law” theory as bankrupt and advocating radical idea to go back to virtue based Aristotelian Morality to salvage the subject. This idea was first floated by a British Philosopher G.E.M Anscombe in 1958; suggesting that modern moral philosophy is misguided because it rests on an incoherent notion of “law” without a “Law Giver” She further elaborated that the very concepts of obligation, duty, and rightness, on which the modern philosophers have concentrated their attention, are inextricably linked to this nonsensical idea. Therefore, she argued, we should return to Aristotelian approach, and virtue should once again take the center stage.

Philosophers in this camp share the opinion, that virtue-based morality is 
superior to the other kind of (Religion divested) morality because of the 
following reasons. 

1) Moral Motivation. Virtuous Morality is appealing because it provides a natural and attractive account of moral motivation while the other kind of morality falters on this account. It can be explained in terms of an example quoted, in Journal of philosophy in 1976, where the value of merit of morality was juxtaposed duty. In this case, a patient was visited by some friend; that made patient delighted but: when he found out that the visitor was just doing his duty and did not really come for him, the visit turned cold and bereft of moral value. The desire to do the right thing for the right reason and doing it out of an abstract sense of duty is not the same. 2) Ideals of Impartiality. Virtuous morality can accommodate partialities very well since it recognizes that some virtues are partial and some are not. It also recognizes that love of family and friends is an inescapable feature of the morally good life. Ideals of Impartiality in modern moral philosophy, however, do not add up. John Stewart Mill put the point very succinctly when writing about Utilitarianism that “Utilitarianism requires (the moral Agent) to be as strictly impartial as a benevolent and disinterested spectator”. A mother loves her children and cares for them in a way that she does not care for other children. “She is partial to them through and through”. Same is the case with friends and family members.

3) Divine Morality provides a pleasing practical “fit” between; – a) Impartiality of reason. b) Adherence to set rules for life, serving everyone’s interest. c) Fulfillment of our natural inclination and moral duty to care about others. Making morally behaving a natural dispensation. 4) An Anthropocentric view of Aristotle (and of many philosophers of ancient); which modern philosophers and scientists vehemently refute, has been categorically asserted in Qura’an. This assertion, in the same vein, also refutes the accusation of the human being as “vein-species”. https://shakir2.wordpress.com/2016/03/21/the-anthropocentric-character-of-the-universe-special-status-of-man-and-yet-his-denial-of-god/ Conclusion A trajectory of traits of both the schools of Philosophy has been presented above, making it easy for the readers, to weigh and decide for themselves.

  • 1Divine Philosophy—means virtue/religion based philosophy.
  • 2Always serving their purpose regardless of our favorable or unfavorable understanding of their operations.
  • 3 Moral philosophy and Modern Morality are interchangeably used.

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