- Added by: Francesca Bruno, Contributed by:
Abstract: In this chapter, we examine a few potential problems when inquiring into the ethics of medieval Christian and Islamic mystical traditions: First, there are terminological and methodological worries about defining mysticism and doing comparative philosophy in general. Second, assuming that the Divine represents the highest Good in such traditions, and given the apophaticism on the part of many mystics in both religions, there is a question of whether or not such traditions can provide a coherent theory of value. Finally, the antinomian tendencies and emphasis on passivity of some mystics might lead one to wonder whether their prescriptive exhortations can constitute a coherent theory of right action. We tackle each of these concerns in turn and discuss how they might be addressed, in an attempt to show how medieval mysticism, as a fundamentally practical enterprise, deserves more attention from practical and moral philosophy than it has thus far received.
Comment: This paper would work well as a secondary/overview reading in a course on medieval ethics, with a section on mysticism, focusing on mystic women or comparing different religious traditions (such as Christian and Islamic). For example, the course could focus on the topics of virtue and happiness, including the views of St. Augustine, Aquinas, Avicenna, Maimonides, and women mystics (such as Mechthild of Magderburg).Export citation in BibTeX formatExport text citationView this text on PhilPapersExport citation in Reference Manager formatExport citation in EndNote formatExport citation in Zotero format
- Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:
Chapter Introduction: Almost all religions contain a code of morality, and in spite of the factthat there are moral codes and philosophies that do not rely upon anyreligion, it has been traditionally argued that there are at least threeimportant ways in which morality needs religion: the goal of the morallife is unreachable without religious practice, religion is necessary toprovide moral motivation, and religion provides morality with itsfoundation and justification. These three ways in which morality may need religion are independent, but I argue that there are conceptual connectionsamong the standard arguments for them. I identify reasons for resistance tothe idea that morality needs religion and then turn to arguments for each ofthe three ways in which morality may need religion. All three are related toclassic forms of the moral argument for the existence of God. I conclude bycomparing classic Divine Command Theory with my Divine Motivation Theory andargue that the latter has advantages over the former in the way it providesa theological foundation for ethics.
Comment: Useful to teach this after soliciting intuitions about whether religion is a suitable basis for morality – and the general relationship between religion and morality. Could perhaps follow a unit on Divine Command Theory and the Euthyphro Dilemma. Could lead to a nice seminar debate around the question of something like ‘Is Religion a Suitable Basis for Morality’? It seems students are more inclined to answer ‘no’, but perhaps this article can do more to motivate debate from the ‘yes’ group of the debate.Export citation in BibTeX formatExport text citationView this text on PhilPapersExport citation in Reference Manager formatExport citation in EndNote formatExport citation in Zotero format