In recent editorials I have discussed the picture Zygon is trying to develop: an understanding of human nature in relation to the rest of nature that is both scientifically credible and religiously meaningful. This portrayal is very complex, containing many elements from diverse fields of human inquiry and living. This Zygon issue provides some additional features for the overall picture from the study of moral and religious development, the history of science and religion, and the thought of Confucianism.
The lead article by Lawrence Kohlberg and Clark Power reminds us that, in order to develop an adequate understanding of human nature, we must recognize that each human being has a history. Not only can we speak of humans as composed of two systems of information, one from the genes and the other from the culture, as some Zygon authors have done, but we also must consider that these primary systems of information manifest themselves differently in various stages of cognitive, moral, and even religious development. Phenotypically, the nature of a human being varies through different stages of child- and adulthood. Unless we are able to achieve and use some scientifically grounded developmental perspective—such as that provided by Kohlberg and Power, and by others who are doing research in the fields of cognitive, moral, and religious development—we will continue to do philosophy and theology and to provide moral and religious education under the false assumption of a static view of individual human nature. Many have recognized the diversity among individuals in both societies and species; now we also must incorporate into our thinking and practice the temporal diversity within individuals.
This essay focuses on philosophic and psychological theories of the relation between moral judgment and religious thinking. Philosophic analysis and construction of the concept of moral development must precede empirical inquiry. The same is true for the study of religious development, so we start with a consideration of philosophic issues. Then, because the results of empirical inquiry can confirm, revise, or enrich its initial philosophic assumptions, we report some empirical findings and consider their implications for the philosophic issues raised.¹
The best way to clarify philosophic issues and theories is to begin by considering their implications for education. In this article, we thus will consider the educational implications of two extreme philosophic theories of the relation between morality and religion. The first is the fundamentalist theory that morality is ultimately defined by, or rests on, divine command as revealed by the Bible or other documents of revelation. The second is Sigmund Freuds atheistic theory, stating that morality in part, and religion altogether, are illusions, the products of irrational human fantasies and conflicts. …
¹ For a discussion of the relationship between philosophic analysis, construction of the concept of moral development, and empirical inquiry, see Lawrence Kohlberg, Essays on Moral Development, vol. 1, The Philosophy of Moral Development (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981), pp. 101-89.
Lawrence Kohlberg is Professor of Education and Social Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138. Clark Power is Research Associate at the Center for Moral Development and Education, Harvard University.
The Significance of Evolutionary Thought for American Protestant Theology: Late Nineteen-Century Resolutions and Twentieth-Century Problems by Hans Schwarz
The significance of evolutionary thought for nineteenth-century American Protestant theology is a topic that exceeds by far the possibilities of a single research paper. The reason for this is not simply that there is so much primary and secondary literature to cover but that the impact of evolutionary thought occurred on many different levels. First, one must note that in the second half of the nineteenth century there are at least two significant impulses that advanced evolutionary thinking in the United States, the one connected with the name of Herbert Spencer, the other associated with Charles Darwin and his work. It is difficult to determine which of the two had a more lasting influence. Second, the theological reflection upon evolution was not confined to theologians proper. Any respectable American scientist in the nineteenth century who dealt with evolution also made statements that deliberately transcended the realm of science. Third, unlike where one encounters one or two established confessions, in America the theological scene is highly pluralistic, which again makes it difficult to assess the theologians response to the issue of evolution. If we want to study the significance of evolutionary thought for American Protestant theology in the second half of the nineteenth century we must at least therefore deal with Spencer and Darwin and their impact on the academic community in general and on the religious community in particular. Since the theology of the nineteenth century does not simply vanish with the end of that century but poses a host of problems to be dealt with far into the twentieth century, we must also consider how the nineteenth century extends its issues into our current century. …
Hans Schwarz is professor of systematic theology and contemporary theological issues, University of Regensburg, 8400 Regensburg, West Germany.
Descriptive and Normative Principle (Li) in Confucian Moral Metaphysics: Is/Ought from the Chinese Perspective by Joseph A. Adler
It is often the case in cross-cultural studies that the mere statement of a problem introduces a cultural bias fatal to full understanding. With this in mind I would like to introduce a general observation concerning Chinese religious philosophy, which I hope will orient my discussion in such a way as to minimize the danger of putting wrong questions to the material.
The observation is that, as a functional equivalent to Western religious concerns with soteria and Indian concerns with mokṣa, the indigenous Chinese religions are characterized by a general concern with fulfillment. This, of course, is related to the nondualistic character of Chinese metaphysics and cosmology and the stress on process over stasis. In a system in which what is real is phenomenal change, human beings have access to reality in daily life and there is no need for them to be saved or released from the world as they find it. Rather human beings, according to Confucian thinking, transcend themselves by actualizing themselves and transcend the world by transforming the world—transforming it, that is, by assisting in the transforming and nourishing process of Heaven and Earth.¹ The capacity for self-transformation, or self-transcendence, is immanent. …
¹ Doctrine of the Mean 22, in A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, trans. and comp. Wing-tsit Chan (Princeton, N.].: Princeton University Press, 1963), p. 108. Most of the passages quoted here can be found in this book. Other recommended translations are The Analects of Confucius, trans. Arthur Waley (London: Allen & Unwin, 1938); Mencius, trans. D. C. Lau (London: Penguin, 1970); The I Ching, or Book of Changes, trans. Richard Wilhelm and Cary F. Baynes, 3d ed. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1967).
Joseph A. Adler is a doctoral candidate in religious studies at University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106.
Moral Development, Moral Education, and Kohlberg edited by Brenda Munsey, reviewed by Walter E. Conn