The World Explored, the World Suffered Education Issue Nr. 30 May 2020 - Page 21

the soul, however, retained some universal commitment to universal ideas in what we today would call the ought-system of concepts in which we will to do what we ought to do. Kant incorporated many of the ideas of the Stoics into his ethical theory but he also integrated these thoughts and ideas with the categorical and universal aspects that can be found in Aristotelian metaphysical and ethical theory. There is no substance to the claim that Kant was committed to some kind of relativistic individualism or the kind of consequentialism embraced by the Epicureans. There is much to be said, however, for the view that the individualism of the Epicureans led directly to the consequentialist Pursuit of happiness doctrine of the Utilitarians. Bentham's "two sovereign masters of pleasure and pain", were directly criticized by Kant in much the same terms that we can find in Plato and Aristotle. The teachings of Christ were in no sense theoretical and appealed only to the individual’s relation to God and not to universal argument. He exemplified the simple practical man with only his faith and belief to sustain him. Nothing was mentioned of the history of theoretical thought or the theoretical thoughts of other thinkers in Christ's teachings. There are of course assumptions about human beings but it is a total mystery as to where they originated from or indeed exactly what they were. We know that the Jewish- Alexandrian school played some part in the choosing of these assumptions. With the advent of Christianity, however, we encounter an almost complete substitution of the spiritual for the rational. Knowledge was no longer man's province: it belonged to an all- knowing God who inspired prophets with his messages for the human race. There was no reference to the importance of the state or community to provide man with a higher quality of life. There was a reference to a universal "brotherhood of man" but it is unclear whether if one was not a Christian one could become a part of this "universal" brotherhood. It certainly did not appear to be a cosmopolitan brotherhood. The primary commandment was "love God above all else". There is no mention of the role of knowledge or the importance of knowledge except in relation to "Knowing God". Much of the Greek world was dismantled by the mass-movement of Christianity. It is therefore not surprising that the idea of God was diminished in importance in favour of the idea of Freedom in Kant's metaphysics of morals. This was part of the attempt to restore a Greek attitude to the phenomena concerned. The Enlightenment philosophy of Kant attempted to row the philosophical boat back to the Greek shoreline but Kant's Philosophy too was rapidly overcome by the practical individualistic spirit and theoretical scientific spirit of the Enlightenment. Our Modern World contains the threads of Greek and Kantian thought, and these were revived by the work of the later Wittgenstein, the work of Heidegger and to some extent the work of Arendt. The consequence is that ethical thought in accordance with categorical universalistic dimensions had all but disappeared in the twentieth century and it is no coincidence that this was the century of two world wars and two mass annihilations of civilian