Westphal - What do the philosophers think?
Westphal - What do the philosophers think?
True religion should be governed by reason alone. Not about trying to please God or performing rituals, it is living a life according to the moral law that we discover through reason. Moral life is the sole object of religion.
God is not needed for us to obey the moral law, only reason. Morality does not depend on religion, but it does lead to religion because in order for us to be moral, we use the possibility of immortality and existence of God as motivation.
Like Hegel, distinguished between pure world of reason and the world of the senses. Humans do bad things and are immoral because they are slaves to the passions and the senses. Living a good moral life comes from accepting and using reason. Involves thinking in the abstract. Therefore, truly religious thought should be governed by reason. God exists in the realm of reason. The highest form of life is the moral life lived according to reason.
For humans to live moral lives, they must discover the moral law using reason and live according to it. Humans do not always do this (radical evil - humans freely choose to act according to evil, rather than good). Examples of morally perfect prototypes (people who follow the moral path) e.g. Jesus. Not concerned with whether Jesus existed, but used him as an example of a morally pure human being.
Religion: a community devoted to living morally perfect lives. Describes invisible church and visible church. Invisible church (ideal) is where humans exist under divine rule and live the moral life. Visible church is actual group of humans trying to live according to the moral law as best they can. Ideal church would be free of superstition and division - meaningless ritual (fetish-faith) and differences between religions would disappear.
Accepted that there is a human need for things that senses can grasp hold of, so the visible church may need rituals and scriptures, but they must exist to help people discover the moral law. Objected to 'priestcraft' where clergy keep aspects of religion mysterious and make rituals more important than moral law.
Non-physical things have higher, purer existence than physical things. A finite thing can only become free when it has become infinite, because finite things are determined by their boundaries. Religion helps us to achieve this, but it needed reform.
Against deism (the belief that God is beyond human experience and cannot be known). Disliked fact that humans were being denied the opportunity to think about, let alone experience God or the transcendent.
Believed instead that humanity should embrace a movement to a position of 'absolute spirit', where humanity is based on reason, has complete freedom and is not a slave to the passions. Humans who are free are happy and moral and can see the world as it is objectively, not subjectively.
Religion presents the world through images, symbols and metaphors. Philosophy however uses reason, and deals with pure thought and pure concept. Hegel believed that pure thought and concept, absolute spirit, reason and God can all be known by humans. Wrong to argue that God is beyond our understanding.
Only one true substance in the universe (God). Everything in existence is somehow in God. God is impersonal. No personal relations or experiences.
Determinist: all human actions were determined by prior causes. Not possible for humans to be fully free - only God can be fully free. To be free, we have to fully understand what causes us to act, in order to overcome our passions.
Knowledge of the universe could be achieved through exercising reason alone. Universe is logically arranged in a rational order, but cannot be comprehended fully by the senses.
Argued against idea that morality, aesthetic awareness and reason alone were enough as a basis for human life (making religion unnecessary). Believed religion was a profound and essential part of being human: 'essentially an intuition and a feeling.'
Religion was a reflection of the universe as a whole. The universe is not to be understood through cognition, thought or reason, but through feeling and self-consciousness.
Therefore, religion comes from immediate experience, not mediated through the mind or intellect. 'Direct awareness'.
Hume, Marx and Nietzsche
- not content to simply differentiate the husk from the kernel. Instead rejected the entire kernel of discussion. Each sceptical about real reason for religion.
- belief is an escapist fantasy encouraged by the exploitative.
- religion is a snare which traps you in illusory thought patterns of the past.
- sees religion not as loving a God but as seeking advantage: material blessing by adoring the God of nature (self-interest, not divine compassion)