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Forum: The Newer Testament

Topic: Mysticism and Morality by Arthur Danto

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Post #: 25

One of the best discussions I've read of the orthodox and heterodox schools of Indian philosophy, especially in his explanation and comparison of karma-yoga, Buddhism, and Taoism.

He states in his preface that his aim is, "to discourage the hope that a way through our moral perplexities is to be found in the Orient." At that, I believe he succeeds admirably, and in doing so helps reveal the difficulty of the moral problem in philosophy.

As the philosophical problem articulated by David Hume (1711 -1776) is often stated, you can't derive an ought from an is. Philosophers have not been able to logically derive a moral system from observational facts. The results is dramatically different moral beliefs in different cultures. A man in Arabia might have 4 wives, and be considered an upright citizen, while the same man in the USA would be arrested for bigamy. Conversely, a man in the USA might exercise his right to free speech to express his religious beliefs, while the same man in Arabia would be condemned to death for blasphemy.

As Danto puts it, "...both in the domains of factual and of moral theory... there is an inexpungeable creative leap... a system of moral beliefs... is the imposition of a certain structure upon the world. These structures are only negatively controlled by facts. If our factual beliefs are false... our moral beliefs have no application."

I would state the philosophical problem thus: moral beliefs are more based on feelings and emotions than on reason. See the forums on vices and virtues for a discussion of The Church of Art's moral beliefs.

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