What is the best sort of life a human being can live?
the best life is one in which you get what you want
wants/desires = ‘there’ waiting to be satisfied
truth is that we are often uncertain about what to want
failure: inadequate as a guide to good living
good life is the life of pleasure
advantage in arguments about good and bad
there is no more to life than pleasure
well being as supreme value
well being based on function/end
failure: ignores freedom to transcend our nature
distinct about human beings:
freedom from natural determination
rise above natural constraints
responsibility for their own fate and conduct
utilitarianism: outlines a life of impartial benevolence directed at the happiness of all mankind
The author of morality
Problem: Claims of morality in the competition between personal desire and social obligations
moral rules not as personal ideas but as the rules that people agree to live by
gap between egoism and altruism
aims to make promising or contracting the foundation of social obligation
‘always act in accordance with what rational thinking shows to be your duty’
‘always act with a view to impartial benevolence’
Authoritative will of god
Obedience to the will of God appeals to our rational self-interest
God is creator and loves His creation, if He is both all powerful and all good, what He commands cannot fail to provide both prudential and moral reasons for action
God is perfect; His commandments must also be compatible both with justice and with the well-being of all creation.
Problem: Authenticity of life
freedom is not all that matters
rationality matters as much
‘reverence for the law’
source of moral motivation
failure: to provide an account of moral motivation
Gives pride of place to human happiness
What reason have i to promote the general happiness at the expense of my own personal happiness or the happiness of those nearest and dearest to me?
failure: cannot assert its authority over us
egoism: desire satisfaction is no guarantee of a happy life
hedonism: there is more to happiness than pleasure
naturalism: even happiness is not enough as the sole constituent of a good life
existentialism: we must also recognize the claims of freedom and responsibility
kantianism: a moral life which we only have reason to follow from the point of view of abstract reason.
Doubts & Difficulties
Is there a god who is the sum of all perfections?
Can we ever know for certain what God wills for us?
If we did know the will of god, would this really provide us with a better grounded guide to life than the non-religious philosophies we have been discussing and found wanting.
The Existence of God and the Problem of Evil (Reg)
DOES GOD EXIST?
long and complex history
Questions on the existence of God + Questions on the basis of ethics = Questions on the ‘problem of evil’
The Problem of Religious Knowledge
“If God does exist, can we ever know for certain what his will for us is?
Boils down to the question: “Which religion?”
Characteristic socratic dialogue
takes its title from the name of a man who is supposedly an expert on religion whom Socrates beings to question
claims that he is an expert on what divine law does and does not require
Only what ALL gods agree on can be considered a guide to good conduct
Is something good because God approves of it or does he approve of something because it is good?
If God is perfect and lacks nothing, how can we serve him?
The concept of good or bad is dependent on the will of God (wholly arbitrary) or there is no room for any appeal to God (not wholly arbitrary)
We start to search for answers to ground the claims of morality.
Form of the problem: hypothesis (a loving god exists) and evidence (there is evil in the world.) Experience of suffering and evil make people look to a higher power. Therefore evidence brings about hypothesis.
The form of life religion recommends is distinctive.
The Myth of Sisyphus (sarah)
Philosophers have found it difficult to determine what is meant by the ‘meaning’ in the ‘meaning of life.’
“ Does life have a meaning?” is a question the meaningfulness of which may itself be doubted.
One useful way of exploring these issues involve lies in thinking about the story of Sisyphus
**Story of Sisyphus - a classical myth made famous by Albert Camus’ existentialist essay about the meaning of human life. “The Myth of Sisyphus”
According to Camus and Taylor
The Religious perspective (3sa)
Camus, Taylor and Nagel do not believe that Religion can provide a perspective w/in which we might hope to combine both objective meaning & subjective value.
The Secret of Religious Enlightenment
Suppression of desire
A Systematic elimination of our attachments to the world
Thinks of human beings as
Discounts subjective values
Western Minds: Religious faith as belief and hope that we will be saved from eternal death and live forever.
Eastern Religions: Other things being equal, we do live forever and it is from this dreadful fate that we must look to spiritually save us.
Judaism ,Christianity & Islam
religion of the ancient israelites
essence of Judaism is found in the Hebrew scriptures
everything was ‘without form and void’
test of adequacy is whether God regards them as good from the point of view of his purposes
God creates good
“In the image of God”
Thus man is able to appreciate & use good things created
Creation is followed by the fall
unanimity between God and man
possibility of divergence between..
The 3 Difficulties Reconsidered
The ultimate aim of all human thoughts and activities
different light on the problem of evil
pain and death
overcoming the evil
Problem of religious knowledge = Euthyphro dilemma
Appeal to a religious perspective
Living the good life
“The Divine Economy”
Where true joys are to be found (Aimee)
Religion relieves tension between objective meaning and subjective value
divine purpose -> explanation
fulfillment of God’s purpose = cooperation/willingness of humans
divergence of freedom from God’s ordination
Obedience or to follow the divinely prescribed order
Find the greatest subjective value in the divine purpose
Service of God: Perfect freedom
‘Muslim’ -> Follows the straight path
Christian Religious aspiration
Difficulties/Problems unresolved by religion
Religious thought and language
Religious insight/theorizing Metaphysical Theorizing
Obscurum per obscurius
Example: God-World Relationship
Religious belief: Intellectual inquiry and feeling/experience
Experience gives life to religious ideas
History of Religion (including Christianity) -> hostility to intellectual criticism
How are the egoistic demands of personal happiness and the altruistic demands of morality to be squared?
Is there a good life?
Good life: morally virtuous life or personally happy one?
Religious ideas after resolution
Abstruse & perplexed idea -> Illumination
Life with dichotomy
Attention to personal concerns with some attention to moral demands