A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith: With "On by John Rawls

By John Rawls

John Rawls by no means released something approximately his personal non secular ideals, yet after his loss of life texts have been chanced on which shed striking gentle at the topic. a short Inquiry into the that means of Sin and religion is Rawls’s undergraduate senior thesis, submitted in December 1942, in advance of he entered the military. at the moment Rawls used to be deeply spiritual; 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 historical past of his non secular ideals and attitudes towards faith, together with his abandonment of orthodoxy in the course of international battle II.

The current quantity comprises those texts, an creation via Joshua Cohen and Thomas Nagel which discusses their relation to Rawls’s released paintings, and an essay by means of Robert Merrihew Adams which locations the thesis in its theological context.

The texts reveal the profound engagement with faith that types the heritage of Rawls’s later perspectives at the significance of keeping apart faith and politics. furthermore, the ethical and social convictions that the thesis expresses in spiritual shape are similar in illuminating how one can the imperative rules of Rawls’s later writings. His notions of sin, religion, and neighborhood are at the same time ethical and theological, and prefigure the ethical outlook present in A concept of Justice.

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12 Neither Brunner nor Nygren, however, assigns a central theoretical or polemical role, as Rawls does, to a conception of “naturalism” de­fined in terms of relationships. In the end we must look, not to such precedents, but to what Rawls says about naturalism, for an understanding of what he meant by a term he said he was using in an unusual sense. An initial statement suggests that Rawls conceives of the difference between natural and personal relations simply in terms of the nature of the terms of the relations.

Theological Ethics of the Young Rawls view is not attractive. ­Shouldn’t we love our neighbors for their own sake? Christians might well think that Christians themselves, and not just God, can and should be active subjects of such a love. With debatable consistency, Nygren too seems to suppose in many contexts that in some sense that is so, and that human beings sometimes love their neighbors in the sense of Agape. ”25 Unlike Eros, which is essentially a response to perceived value, Agape is to be “unmotivated” in the sense that it finds no motive in the value of its object.

He meant by this a common space of political argument that could be inhabited with comparable ease by reasonable adherents of different religious con31.  151. 32.  140. Introduction fessions and moral positions, and that was not itself de­pen­dent on a comprehensive philosophical or religious view. Like all of his work, this proposal has attracted strong opposition. But its motivation, like the motivation of his liberalism in general, does not come from devaluing religion, but from an understanding of its ultimate importance.

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