Misplacing Morality

As I have been considering my future and employment, I could not help but noticing the moral vacuum that has occurred as religious knowledge has dissappeared from the radar screen of the university.  It’s no secret that the university values knowledge in general, but especially knowledge that has been legitimated by the sciences, particularly the hard sciences.  I’m not going to try to spell that out further, but please insert the condition that the research and knowledge sought would be best and may need to have some sort of empirical tie in order to be legitimate knowledge.  That being said, you can see that religious knowledge is plagued by a variety of challenges.  First, for many religions they are not based on empirical findings or foundations.  The object of worship for many is in principle unempirical.  Second, it is difficult, not impossible, to begin to connect what kind of research could be done that has this empirical factor.  Although I think fallacious, the third factor is getting clear just what is a synthesized notion of religion with the fact that there is such a variety of religions and religious viewpoints.  We might call this the pluralist objection.  These are a few objections, not all.

The point I want to consider is that the removal of religious knowledge from the thought and study at the university begins to undermine the advancement of moral character.  This argument hinges on how tight we want to connect moral character with religious knowledge.  So, if the connection is tight, then it is easy to see how the the removal of religious knowledge as a legitimate pursuit would contribute to the decay of moral character.  This also assumes that our knowledge or beliefs have some kind of effect on our moral make-up.  Both of these assumptions are big, but granting them to be tight allows me to see a potential relation of how a university might have purposely or inadvertantly contributed to the moral decay of their own population and those that this idea affects.  Further, it allows me the opportunity to think about how the promotion, support and justification of religious knowledge is a means to bring about the valuing of moral character within the score of university thought and life.  I happen to think the relationship between morality and religious knowledge is strong, so as much as I help or advocate the promotion of religious knowledge, I promote morality.  The further question is whether this is a symmetric or asymmetric relationship?  Without much reflection it seems that it would be symmetrical.  As we promote the ideals of a moral character, or let’s say virtues, as something we can know and live out and in as much as those are definative of expressed in the variety of religions, we are indirectly supporting religious knowledge as well.


About Mike

I am a husband, father and someone completing my graduate studies in philosophy and have the privilege of teaching philosophy and ethics at a small college. I love the intellectual life, particularly as it intersects with what Jesus, Plato and Aristotle referred to as the "Abundant Life", "The Good" and "The Good Life".
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