By John Rawls
John Rawls by no means released something approximately his personal non secular ideals, yet after his demise texts have been came across which shed awesome mild at the topic. a short Inquiry into the which means of Sin and religion is Rawls’s undergraduate senior thesis, submitted in December 1942, previous to he entered the military. at the moment Rawls was once deeply non secular; the thesis is an important paintings of theological ethics, of curiosity either in itself and thanks to its relation to his mature writings. “On My Religion,” a brief assertion drafted in 1997, describes the background of his spiritual ideals and attitudes towards faith, together with his abandonment of orthodoxy in the course of global struggle II.
The current quantity comprises those texts, an creation through Joshua Cohen and Thomas Nagel which discusses their relation to Rawls’s released paintings, and an essay by way of Robert Merrihew Adams which areas the thesis in its theological context.
The texts reveal the profound engagement with faith that types the historical past of Rawls’s later perspectives at the value of isolating faith and politics. furthermore, the ethical and social convictions that the thesis expresses in spiritual shape are similar in illuminating how you can the significant rules of Rawls’s later writings. His notions of sin, religion, and group are concurrently ethical and theological, and prefigure the ethical outlook present in A concept of Justice.
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Extra resources for A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith: With "On My Religion"
The thesis is written from an explicitly Christian point of view, but it contains only a fragment of Christian theology. ” Indeed, the ethical theory of the thesis does not seem strongly connected with any christological view. The primary object of evaluation in this first of Rawls’s ethical theories is not actions but states of mind. He proposes no criteria of right action, but criticizes and commends attitudes and motives. ” In the thought of Luther and other Protestant Reformers, sin is primarily a state of mind, a complex of attitudes and motives, rather than a straightforwardly voluntary act or a pattern of action.
But he remained intent throughout his career on showing that toleration did 30. 28. 21 22 Introduction not depend on religious skepticism—that it was compatible with faith in the fullest sense and could be embraced by people of faith. In developing a specifically political form of liberalism, Rawls responds to the complaint that a liberal political outlook is simply the political department of a comprehensively liberal philosophy of life—secular, skeptical, dismissive of the idea of a moral order antecedent to human will—and therefore hostile to citizens of faith.
That will accordingly be our focus as we turn to consider Rawls’s criticism of naturalism. 3. The Criticism of Naturalism The main historical targets of Rawls’s critique of “naturalism” are Plato and Augustine, whom he discusses at length in Chapter Three. I will focus on Augustine, as the discussion of Plato is less theological and, for reasons just stated, I believe the issue of illegitimate extension of “natural” relations is most fully engaged by Rawls at the theological level. His main objections against Augustine are made clear enough in a summary in the last paragraph of Chapter Three: The natural cosmos is marked by the following characteristics: (a) all relations are relations to objects; even God may be treated as an object; (b) appetitional desires are the energies of all relations, and all love is acquisitive, hence not love in the Christian sense; (c) grace (when the system is Christian) is likewise spoken of in terms of an object presented to the will as an object of desire; and (d) all natural systems lose communality, personality, and the true nature of God, and are therefore not really Christian but individualistic.