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“Morality’s Filters: Darwin and Marx”
In human consciousness, two possible filters for creating morality were formed in the 1800s. One filter was evolution, according to Charles Darwin (1809-1882), and the other was religion, according to Karl Marx (1818-1883). This Sunday, we will review these 2 filters.
Charles Darwin’s book “The Descent of Man” (1871) covers important topics in human evolution and evolutionary psychology. In Chapter 4, he discusses morality and how it might have been influenced by evolution. He wrote “Man, from the activity of his mental faculties, cannot avoid reflection: past impressions and images are incessantly and clearly passing through his mind. Now with those animals which live permanently in a body, the social instincts are ever present and persistent. Such animals are always ready to utter the danger-signal, to defend the community, and to give aid to their fellows in accordance with their habits… To do good in return for evil, to love your enemy, is a height of morality to which it may be doubted whether the social instincts would, by themselves, have ever led us.”
Karl Marx, a contemporary of Darwin, called religion the “opium of the masses”. How can we get people in society to act ethically, if morality is not rooted in religion? And if not religion, what is the glue that keeps people civil? We will review Marx’s original paper from 1844, where he wrote “The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again… Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification… Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”
Wow! Can’t wait to discuss this topic! Please join StoicDan and Scott this Sunday for “Morality’s Filters: Darwin and Marx”. Our topic will lead into consciousness and identity. If you have time, please read some of the materials below and bring a friend. See you Sunday!
Darwin’s Book Overview
Darwin’s Book Review
Article on Marx and Religion
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