Dr. Sergey Zagraevsky
NEW CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY
original was published in Russian: ALEV-V Publishing House,
THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
Before the engaging in philosophy, it is necessary to determine initial positions. I accentuate – before the engaging in philosophy, and the determination of “before-philosophic” positions is situated not in the philosophic, but in the personal area.
And since our research is destined for the widest circle of readers, we have to outline personal initial positions very widely.
Philosophy is not only a form of cognition of the world, and not only “the science of sciences”. First of all, philosophy is a worldview, and every human comes to it by his own ways, having lived in the world for a long time, knowing, understanding and feeling many things. Let us name that a “before-philosophic worldview”.
It is reasonable that the spectrum of before-philosophic worldviews of the humanity is extremely wide. Generally speaking, so many people, so many world views. And even more opinions on every question.
Nevertheless, all these minor opinions form some kind of common sense of an epoch, so as billions of people form the humanity. Some “community standards” are drawn up, some “public opinion vectors” exist, and even if it is impossible to divide them into constituent parts, it is necessary to analyze and examine them. Political scientists, and sociologists, and historians, and philosophers are engaged in that.
Furthermore, every human has his own habitual “life world” (Husserl determined it as “the sphere of fundamental evidences of the ordinary consciousness, which are rooted in practical activity and are an unavoidable premise of scientific knowledge”). And we can go far in philosophic research, but each of us has a passport, some certificates of some education, clothes, footwear, some assortment of private belongings… It is possible to enumerate infinitely everything that practically every civilized human has. And we live in some historical epoch, and almost each of us has relatives and friends…
But all things, which we can enumerate from the spheres of our life, health, education, civil rights, duties etc., are constituents of our “before-philosophic” worldview.
This worldview may be named briefly “people among people”.
But to the next question – if God is present in our “life world”, and if yes, what his relations with “people among people” are, – thousands of contradictory answers will be given, and we have to turn from the “before-philosophic” initial positions to philosophy.
The overwhelming majority of European philosophers accepted the existence of God. Many of them named him “the Absolute” – in fact, that is the same. It is impossible to suspect that it was only a “curtsey” towards all-seeing eyes of the Catholic Church, – God-Absolute was an integral part of philosophic systems of Plato, and Aristotle, and Descartes, and Fichte, and Hegel, and Schelling, and Solovyev, and Husserl…
But it is important for us to note that for philosophers, who created their systems on the basis of research of an individual consciousness (for Descartes, Fichte, Husserl), the idea of God was not so necessary, because, in the logical result, every separate individual consciousness acknowledges only itself and is inclined to consider all the rest things as unprovable by rational methods.
And from that point it seems to be only one step to the postulate that in the world nothing exists but the subject himself, and the world is understood as a product of our consciousness – the only thing, which is given undoubtedly. Such point of view is called “Solipsism” (from Latin “solus ipse” – “only myself”). Speaking in the contemporary language, the world is considered as “virtual”.
Nevertheless, the history of philosophy does not know “pure” Solipsism – the complete non-acceptance of the objective existence of the world. If we look attentively at the teachings of all philosophers, who were more or less inclined to “Subjective Idealism”, we shall see that nobody of them carried an abstract idea of the existence of the world only in feelings of a subject to complete Solipsism.
For example, Descartes did not follow the path of Solipsism, though his radical exclusion of every inauthentic thing from our “I” (in the result this exclusion breaks all our connections with the world), became a methodological base for many following generations of philosophers. Actually, Descartes’ “I” builds the doubtless world experience, basing only on the self-perception, but Descartes supposed that “any sane human never doubted about the reality of the existence of the world and the body”.
Even Husserl did not follow the path of Solipsism, though in his Phenomenology he declared the “pure logic” to be the basis of scientific knowledge, and he took out of the context even the instruments of reasoning and traditional philosophic problems. It might seem that the research of the solitary consciousness, which is excluded from the communication, was to lead to Solipsism, but, according to Husserl, the act of supposing of an object is connected with the object itself. And in the last works, Husserl engaged in the research of the spheres of sociality, of a common consciousness, of the “life world” and of the intersubjectivity, having actually come to Heidegger’s postulate of the “unavoidable world”.
In spite of a well-known stereotype, even
Perhaps, only some philosophizing characters of the books of Marquis de Sade are more or less consistent Solipsists, but it is difficult to say how much they express the point of view of the author, who was more inclined to eclectic Materialism.
It is no doubt that philosophers were stopped on the way to Solipsism by an insoluble contradiction with “before-philosophic” initial positions, which we have called as “people among people”. And the great quantity of physical perceptions made the “Solypsist” world view abstract, or even absurd.
But since the outward world is accepted as objectively existing, there are questions about its origin, substance, ways of development, – and, in general, why is everything arranged exactly in this way? Is there harmony in the world, and are there universal laws? And if such laws exist, where are they from?
In other words, does God exist?
This question agitated everyone, and a number of philosophers tried to prove the existence of God. Even in the conversation of the characters of Michail Bulgakov’s book “The Master and Margarita” – writer Berlioz and Satan Voland – five arguments for the existence of God were mentioned… So, what were that arguments?
The tradition of the Orthodox Church completely rejects arguments for the existing of God, considering them as harmful for faith. But the Western philosophic thought worked much in this direction, and it is necessary to talk about that.
Bulgakov’s Voland, probably, had in view five arguments mentioned by Thomas Aquinas. But, in fact, such arguments were proposed by many philosophers, and the number of arguments was much more than five.
It is considered that the first argument was elaborated by Aurelius Augustine. His position was the following: a human likes only welfare, and he likes all things only so far there is welfare in them. We like all things differently, therefore it is necessary that our consciousness knows some standard of welfare, and this standard may be only God – as the absolute and unchangeable welfare.
Truth to say, it is strange that Augustine did not carry his idea to an absurdity and did not propose a unit of welfare. Why not, if there is the standard?
However, Thomas Aquinas did not notice the potential absurdity and made of Augustine’s argument a basis of his theological system, having summarized it in such a way: we constantly compare things with each other and use the concepts “more” and “less”, and this method of comparison presumes the existence of the maximum – “absolute” God.
It is incomprehensible though, why Thomas’ comparison presumes the existence of the maximum – “absolute” God. What is then the minimum? The “absolute” devil? And if a poor man has one dollar, and a rich man – a million, then the latter man is closer to God? Absurd.
So called “ontological” argument (based on our ideas of existence) was proposed by Anselm of Canterbury and completed by Rene Descartes. Its essence is the following: I am an imperfect being, but I have an idea of the perfect being and must think that this idea is suggested to me by the being who has all the perfections – by God.
I can not keep from an immediate comment: I am afraid that an average-statistical businessman’s idea of a perfect being is vastly different from the Descartes’ one…
Let us not overload this book with the cosmological, the physic-teleological and many other arguments. In the work “Critique of Pure Reason”, Kant completely smashed up all the existing arguments because the necessity of objective reality is not evident from our subjective thought. According to Kant, there is the insoluble contradiction between our bounded experience and the infinite conclusion.
It is necessary to note that the tradition of Kant’s priority in this item is stronger than facts: actually, even William of Ockham considered that the understanding of God as an infinite being can not be proved by means of reason. Moreover, Ockham also understood the impossibility to prove rigorously the existence of anything in the world, except oneself. The famous “Ockham’s razor” – “Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity”, in theory, leads to Solipsism, because only the existence of a subject himself is necessary to the limit.
However, Ockham did not come to Solipsism, because he made the following conclusion of the possible illusiveness of the world and unprovability of the existence of God: the information about the outward world and God we must take, first of all, from faith. This conclusion sounded quite in the style of Thomas Aquinas, and possibly because of that Ockham, in spite of his opposition to the papal authority, was awarded to the title “Invincible Doctor”.
But if we do not go to extremes (neither to Solipsism, nor to Thomism), “Ockham’s razor” actually lies in some minimal (not the utmost) necessary totality of admissions, which are accepted as axioms.
But an axiom is not a proof. And since there are no rigorous proofs of the existence of the outward world and God, every human, who supposes the objective existence of both, has to examine everything aforesaid from his subjective point of view, basing exclusively on his “before-philosophic” initial positions.
In fact, there is nothing terrible in the “subjectivity” of the latter
postulate. Even Kant, carrying on polemics in absentia with
Presently the term “the scandal in philosophy” is used quite often and means the absence of any significant totality of universal philosophic postulates accepted by every professional in this area of knowledge.
However, Karl Jaspers considered the permanent “scandal in philosophy” to be a normal situation, substantiating it in the following way: “An indisputable knowledge, which is accepted by everyone, is not philosophy any more, but becomes a scientific knowledge and belongs to a specific area of science.”
It is difficult to disagree with this, but, unfortunately, this is only an elegant going away from the problem of initial positions.
We can also see the similar going away from the determination of initial positions and from the problem of the existence of God in the works of the majority of modern Western philosophers. But the problem of the existence of the outward world and of God remains extremely actual for us, and we shall understand very soon that we can not go away from it, – not only because we have named this chapter “The existence of God”.
By the way of the solution of this problem, let us remember that it was
interpreted by the Marxian science in the former
The soviet ideological system liked to divide people into “friends” and “enemies”. Philosophers did not survive the ordeal. Nowadays the “fundamental question of philosophy” is already taken as an archaism, but all pupils and students of the Soviet Union learnt by heart something like the following: “The fundamental question of philosophy is the question of the priority of being or consciousness. That one, who considers being as prior, is a Materialist. That one, who considers consciousness as prior, is an Idealist.”
Strictly speaking, such division was made for the first time by Hegel, who considered that philosophy, solving the contradiction between being and thought, “splits into two main forms: realistic and idealistic”. And though Rationalism and Materialism are not the same, the “copyright” for the formula of the “fundamental question of philosophy” should be owned as Hegel’s.
But, strange though, exactly the Marxian ultramaterialistic position will help us go on with the research of the problem of the existence of God.
The fact is that the acknowledge of the priority of consciousness meant in the history of philosophy the acknowledge of the existence of God, and that was not convenient for “historical Materialists”. They could be Soviet, Western or Eastern, but all of them applied the principle of jurisprudence (if something is not proved, it does not exist) to “the fundamental question of philosophy”. And they said something like the following: “The existence of matter – the objective reality of the world – is proved by the totality of our physical feelings, and the existence of God – prove it, and we shall teach religion in Soviet schools! And while it is not proved, we shall teach historical Materialism!”
In fact, this position is nothing more than a speculation on the common sense, because the totality of our physical perceptions is not a rigorous proof of the existence of matter. Each of us knows a number of situations, when physical perceptions (given by five organs of sense) are deceptive – deliriums, hallucinations, mistakes of perception…
We have already spoken about Solipsism. In this way, if we approach to the proof of the objective being of the outward world from the same positions as Marxian materialists approached to the existence of God, we shall come to the “Solipsistic” conclusion: it is impossible to prove rigorously that the totality of physical feelings exists in reality, not only in the perception of a subject. In other words, there is a theoretical probability that the surrounding world does not exist, and it is presented only in our consciousness. Together with our body, family, house, neighbours, the Earth, the Sun…
And this is Solipsism, i.e. a violation of our “before-philosophic” initial positions (which we have named “people among people”) and an attempt to avoid the “unavoidable world”.
The circle has enclosed. Either we are trying to prove rigorously all the manifestations of the objective reality and inevitably come to Solipsism, or we accept something as axioms. In other words, get on faith. For some reason it is often considered that an axiom is a phenomenon of science, and faith – exclusively of religion, but as a matter of fact in both cases we speak only about some starting points.
And if we have the faith in the objectivity of the existence of matter, why shouldn’t we make a next step and have the faith in God as in the source of matter’s structural expediency and harmony? After all, matter really has the structure – atoms, electrons, organic and inorganic materials, cells, blood corpuscles etc., and all that is more or less adequately described by mathematical formulas and the periodic table of Mendeleyev…
Consequently, if we get on faith millions of different manifestations of the outward world, the step to the faith in God turns out to be insignificantly small, and it makes no importance from the logical point of view – if we have made 1000000 admissions, why shouldn’t we make the 1000001st?
Philosophic thought of the mankind was going to this conclusion, which seems to be simple, for a long time and in a difficult way, sometimes approaching to it, sometimes moving away. The point is that not only material questions appear (how many atoms of oxygen and hydrogen the molecule of water consists of, is there a “black hole” in the center of Galaxy etc.), but also many “spiritual” questions, which are much more difficult. For example, what is a human? What is the humanity? How do we perceive the world? What are our spirituality and soul? What is our civilization and what is its place in the Universe? Do we, people, fit in more or less expedient structure of the world, which is described by natural philosophy? At last, the main question of this book – who are we, where did we come from and where are we going?
And in this case harmony and expedience are called in question. Is the influence of human civilization upon nature positive or negative? And the influence of nature upon the humanity? And upon each of us? In what degree are natural mechanisms of self-regulation and self-reproduction applicable to the humanity? What is the fundamental difference between a human and other natural organisms?
And so on. It is impossible and unnecessary to enumerate all arising questions. Let us try to reduce them to one: falling neither into Solipsism, nor into vulgar Materialism, we suppose the certain structure and expediency in nature. Is it possible to suppose such expediency in a human and the humanity? At least, potential?
Speaking in the context of our book: is it possible to admit the existence of God as the source of structure and expediency not only in nature and the Universe, but also in a human and the humanity?
Of course, it is possible to try to “purify” philosophy from all admittances and subjective positions. But in this case, as we have shown, even Marxism with its faith in the exclusive objectivity of matter does not have the right to existence, and Solipsism remains the only destiny of any “purified” philosophic thought.
Thus, the existence of God-Absolute is not more unprovable than the existence of the outward world. And the laws of logic permit to formulate the words “not more unprovable” in the other way: “no less provable”.
Consequently, the supposing of the existence of God is absolutely justified.
But one more question arises. Our “before-philosophic” initial positions demand to admit the objective existence of matter. But is the next admittance – the existing of God – necessary for us? May be, let us “leave” the material world without God?
To answer this question, let us remember what we have said in connection with the “scandal in philosophy”: the shank of any philosophy is the human and his subjective, personal confidence in either problem. And morality – a significant attribute of a human person – will help us find an answer to the question: is the admittance of the existence of God as necessary for us as the admittance of the existence of matter?
It is impossible to deny the presence of morality in a human. This concept may be interpreted in different ways, but in our book, we shall use the widest interpretation of morality – as the totality of the spiritual positions of a human being.
However, the words “spiritual positions” are too indistinct, and let us carry out a more detailed analysis of that which we call by morality.
We often use the word “immoral” in everyday life, but it is only a metaphor, which is similar to the more vulgar expressions – like “brainless” or “armless”. It is clear that the latter “terms” usually state the inability to think logically or to repair the household goods, but not the absence of the appropriate organ…
Let us accept as the terminology: if there is a human, there is his morality, and it is as inalienable from him as his thought or his mind.
As the base of our analysis of morality, we shall use Kant’s philosophy. In the one hand, Kant considered morality as absolute, universal, generally valid, having the character of general “goodwill law”. In the other hand, he supposed that the principle of our “goodwill” is the wish to turn our maxim (the personal law) into a common law. “Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time wish that it should become a universal law”. Uniting these two points of view, Kant elaborated the basic concept of his “moral metaphysics” – the categorical imperative, which was actually identified with “goodwill”.
As regards “goodwill”, it is impossible to disagree with Kant. But, unfortunately, a great number of people not only commit evil quite sincerely, but so much sincerely (at the level of subconsciousness) wish that their “maxim” should become a universal law.
The same counter-arguments may be brought against the well-known Kant’s postulate that the practical expressions of the categorical imperative can be reduced to the call of duty to the humanity.
It is possible to cite as an example: when children cry because Gray Wolf has eaten Little Red Riding Hood, it is unlikely that their crying is aroused by any call of duty. Nevertheless, that is an exclusively moral phenomenon, which is caused by the categorical imperative.
And there is a reverse example: executioners are usually dutiful, but this profession is scarcely of high moral standards.
Consequently, the call of duty is not the necessary and sufficient practical expression of that spiritual basis of the humanity, which Kant called as the categorical imperative. That is why I propose to use instead of Kant’s categorical imperative the concept of the moral imperative and to understand it as the totality of moral positions in the interpretation of Kant (absolute, universal, generally valid, having the form of general law and “goodwill”).
And for the description of the practical expressions of the categorical imperative we shall use a more contemporary term – humanism, which postulates the highest, self-sufficient and self-realizing dignity of a human, the priority of his person.
First of all, let us look, what moral positions may be called as humanistic.
A quite full (but still not comprehensive) enumeration of modern constituents of common understanding of humanism was given in the article of A.Pinsky “Mainstream. To the spiritual basis of future education and culture”. These constituents may be called as practical expressions of the moral imperative, and they are named “Mainstream” (main stream) in that article. I quote:
“Mainstream completely sets a number of understandable and basic norms, values, relationships, not always formalized or codified.
It includes 10 following components:
– The value of individual freedom;
– The value of interhuman and intergroup tolerance;
– The inadmissible or, even in forced situations, at the minimum, unsympathetic attitude to violence and aggression;
– The value of property and material prosperity;
– The estimation of the labour;
– The estimation of the life;
– The inadmissibility of any discrimination, the idea of principal lawful equality of people (adjoined with the sense of “equality” – which, of course, does not mean “identity” – of different ethnic and cultural traditions);
– The estimation of real altruism and self-sacrificing;
– The value of natural (“spontaneous”) diversity and, consequently, the feeling of the ambiguity of artificial unifications;
– The comprehension of the merit and value of nature, the “ecological idea”.
Mainstream carries the stable allergy to all ideas of spiritual, cultural, racial, ethnic and other exclusiveness…”
The end of the quotation. But we shall understand with the help of a simple biblical example that we can stop neither at “Mainstream”, nor at the “abstract” humanism.
According to our determination of morality, the people of Sodom, as all human beings, had some moral positions. But let us read:
“But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly” (Gen. 13:14);
“And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Go-mor’rah is great, and because their sin is very previous…” (Gen. 18:20);
“But before they law down, the man of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from any quarter, and they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them” (Gen. 19:4-5).
The paradox is that aggressive “moral positions” of the people of Sodom and contemporary cities and countries, according to the laws of humanism, have the right to existence.
It is a very serious problem. Even the fact that Kant in his moral philosophy took into consideration only “reasonable beings” will not help us. If we call “Sodom people” as “unreasonable” and postulate that they do not have the moral imperative at all, we shall come to the contradiction with our determination of morality as an unavoidable feature of every human.
First of all, let us try to solve this problem in the philosophic area.
Once upon a time at a philosophic seminar, I heard the words: “I trample the categorical imperative under foot”. At first sight, the situation seemed insoluble: if a professional philosopher because of some fundamental considerations “tramples the categorical imperative under foot”, how to make him change his mind?
In actual fact, the question is, as in the case of acceptance on non-acceptance of the existing of matter and God, exclusively in initial positions. Let us examine one more example for clearness.
We can see the most sharp and driven to the logical absurdity form of the antihumanistic positions at some characters of Marquis de Sade’s books. Their “philosophy” may be approximately reduced to the following:
“Let us look at morality – there are no rigorous proofs of the necessity to love people. Let us look at nature – all living beings are gobbling each other up. Let us look at society – it is criminal, corrupt and greedy. Then why must I take care of my neighbour and do any good to anyone? There is no less evil than good in the world, and that is why I’ll kill, rob, rape – I like it more. And if someone likes to help his neighbour – it is his private affair. But God forbid him to stand on my way…”
Don’t we actually see in this position the application of the same principles of humanism, but concerning only the alone, “central” person?
And this means that the main argument against the position of gentlemen like Marquis de Sade and his characters is that one day a potential victim will not agree to be killed, robbed or raped, and will do (at least, try to do) the same with the maniac-philosopher.
The result is that antihumanism comes to the contradiction with itself – the building of the value of one person on the non-recognition of the value of other persons means that sooner or later the value of this “central” person will be called in question by others, usually as the self-defense. Consequently, an inevitable “eternal war” begins and essentially raises the probability of the suffering and death of the antihumanist himself.
So, we see the contradiction with the “before-philosophic” initial positions which we have named “people among people”. And there is the only way for the antihumanist to solve this problem – to declare antihumanism with respect also to himself.
And this is the same logical absurdity as Solipsism, but it lies not in the theoretical, but in the practical area and because of that has much more wide spectrum of “life’s” negative consequences – from more or less inoffensive masochism to a mental hospital or even to the suicide.
That is why both the philosophic logic and the elementary understanding of “neighbourhood peace” dictate us contemporary humanism as the practical expression of the moral imperative. And anti-humanism, which we have reduced to the logical absurdity, ranks with Solipsism – these phenomenons are of one order and one, quite unenviable, historical destiny.
The arguments against the philosophers, who try to “trample the categorical imperative under the foot”, are the same.
Furthermore, these arguments permit us to speak about humanistic morality as the base of one of most important concepts of modern philosophy – Intersubjectivity.
We could have stopped at that and, as the majority of “post-modern” philosophers, could have started to examine various aspects of Intersubjectivity. But, unfortunately, “life philosophy” of the “Sodom people” lives and works, and millions of contemporary people more or less follow it.
It is impossible to disregard this practical reality, and that is why we must go on with the examination of the existence of God. And we shall have to speak in our book about the sources and the historical perspectives of “Sodom philosophy” very often, in parallel with the examination of the sources and the historical perspectives of the moral imperative.
And now we must return to theoretical questions and examine, what (to put it more precisely, who) is the source of the moral imperative.
Let us remember the words of Bulgakov’s Voland about the “sixth argument” for the existence of God, – the argument, which was elaborated by Kant. Most likely, Voland mentioned the following “moral argument”: even if it is impossible to prove the existence of God, it is possible and necessary to accept it. A human aspires to the perfection and happiness, which are unachievable in this world, and that is why the moral considerations demand to acknowledge that the harmony of the perfection and happiness may be achieved only under the conditions of the immortality of soul and the existence of God.
In actual fact, this Kant’s argument has not gone far away from Descartes’ ontological one, and that is why the first counter-argument is the same: “Sodom people’s” understanding of the perfection and happiness may be vastly different from Kant’s and Descartes’ one.
And the second counter-argument is that the harmony (even in the interpretation of Kant and Descartes) may never be achieved because the future life, which is provided by God, may be found much worse than this one...
It is unlikely that Kant needs a defense. Nevertheless, I would like to mention that in this book we are going to show the groundlessness of these two counter-arguments. But meanwhile we have not brought it out clearly, we have no right to use Kant’s “moral argument”.
But we can remember one more “moral argument” for the existence of God, – the argument, which was proposed by Blaise Pascal a hundred years prior to Kant. The tradition of Kant’s priority is again stronger than facts…
Pascal’s “moral argument” is much more simple and frank: because of the limits of our consciousness we can not know, if God exists or not, but we can choose one of two versions. We have something like a lot: “guess right – guess wrong”. What to choose? Undoubtedly, the existence of good, almighty and just God, because in the case of “winning” we obtain eternal harmony of perfection and happiness, and in the case of “losing” we actually lose nothing.
Of course, the moral aspect is not the rigorous logic. But, having spoken about the “fundamental question of philosophy”, we have seen that, in the determination of the basic positions, the rigorous logic is found powerless, and we can expect nothing but the permanent “scandal”.
Then we have to follow Pascal and take one of two sides.
Reasoning from everything said about humanism and anti-humanism, we must accept the existence of God as necessary.
Thus, we have trusted to the moral considerations and have accepted as an unavoidable axiom that God is the creator of the Universe, the source of the world harmony and expediency, and that the acceptance of the existence of God is as necessary as the acceptance of the existence of the outward world.
And since we have determined the moral imperative as the totality of moral positions in the interpretation of Kant (absolute, universal, generally valid, having the form of general law and “goodwill”), let us accept as one more axiom: God is the source of the moral imperative.
There are no internal contradictions in this postulate. That is why for the present let us trust the “humanistic intuition”. In this book we shall constantly “trust but check”, and if any logical contradiction with our initial positions appears, we shall notice that at once.
So, together with the faith in the material world we have the faith in God – the creator of the Universe, the source of the world harmony and the source of the moral imperative.
As we have determined, the moral imperative postulates the highest, self-sufficient and self-realizing dignity of a human, the priority of his person. And a human and his personal confidence in either problem are the shank (at the minimum, the initial positions) of philosophy.
Consequently, we can make the following conclusion: the moral imperative, directly or indirectly, is the shank of any philosophic system (except Solipsism). In the case of vulgar Materialism (Marx, Feuerbach), matter itself plays the role of God, and the role of the moral imperative is played by the socio-economic relations and the cultural and historical tradition. But we have already determined that the admission of the existence of God is as necessary for us as the admission of the existence of matter, thus vulgar Materialism is as unacceptable for us as Solipsism.
Now we can turn again from theory to the practical expressions of the moral imperative.
First of all, we must formulate the postulate, which is the most important for us: today there is no equal alternative for religion as a practical expression of the moral imperative, and the research of philosophic problems in the moral aspect sooner or later leads to theology.
Generally speaking, the concept of the moral imperative is wider than any religion, even of the scale of Christianity, Islam or Buddhism. In theory, the moral imperative does not need religious features at all. But if we want to turn from theory to practice, we can not do without religious aspect.
Let us explain, why.
The most universal determination of religion is the acknowledgement of the human connection with God. This connection is acknowledged in a great number of aspects, but at this moment, the moral aspect is the most important for us.
Kant considered religion to be the cognition of our duties in the form of divine prescriptions, not as arbitrary, occasional orders of some outside force, but as the essential law of free will. Let us aid to all said about religion one more thing – “the worldview”, and we shall understand that we can speak about religion as about the moral basis of person.
The same we have determined for the moral imperative. It is possible to say, having done an elementary substitution: in theory, the turning from the general-philosophic context to the religious one in the limit of moral aspect is possible and appropriate.
And in practice, having turned to the religious aspect, we obtain the convincingness and common-accessibility.
The last statement may draw on me accusations of “populism”, and we have to examine the question of the necessity of the bringing our research to the common-accessibility.
The point is that against “abstract” humanism there is a serious argument, which was expressed by Boris Rezhabek in his review of my book “Jesus from Nazareth: the life and the teaching.”
There were the words in that book: “The 20th century was unable to discredit the ideals of humanism by all genocides. Let us avoid mixing up humanism and democracy: the “value of democracy” for the time present shows its efficiency far not everywhere. The main achievement of humanism may be expressed as the following: the life and the person of every human is sacred, and everyone has the right to his own opinion.”
Boris commented this in the following way: “This formula is the source of all pathologies of “humanism”. An attempt to protect otherwise-minded, alien and weak, but creative members of society, which is noble by the declared intention, automatically spreads the concept of a “human being” also to those, who knowingly, or submitting to the natural attractions, exclude themselves of the humanity and choose the way of the eternal perdition. And liberal opinion gives them a pat on the back, until they do not bite off a finger or something else to this liberal.”
We have already faced the same problem in this book, having understood that, according to the laws of humanism, the aggressive “moral positions” of the “Sodom people” and of billions of their followers have the right to existence, however it is paradoxical.
That is why in Boris’ position there is no anti-humanism. There is the realization of the fact that in the contemporary world, which is far from the perfection, every humanist finds himself surrounded by “Sodom people”, and this humanist, who proclaims something “strange” concerning the humanistic values, becomes one of priority objects of their aggression.
This “life opposition” is insoluble at either historical stage because “
So, there is only one way for the humanists in the historical trends – to put their teachings in common-accessible forms, to make it able to penetrate into hearts of millions – if not of the inhabitants of legendary Sodom or contemporary “Sodom people”, then of their descendants.
It is, at the minimum, an historical chance. How real it is, we shall examine in this book. But for thousands years of civilization the mankind has not thought out a more convincible and common-accessible expression of the moral imperative than the religious expression, and it is unlikely that something more convincible and common-accessible will be thought out in the foreseeable future.
That is why in this book (as in the others), I refused of the usage of “scientific” language.
That is why I do not use in principle special philosophic terms, which can be adequately replaced with commonly used expressions.
That is why we turn our research from the moral imperative to religion, i.e. from philosophy to theology.
Sergey Zagraevsky © 2004