• ClayG
    If a religious teaching denies the self, then it makes people believe that they are passive agents in their life. To deny the self is to deny the active agent in a persons being. In this case, that denial of the self means to claim that the self does not exist. This postulation implies that, like a rock falling down a hill, the person (all but their self which does not exist) is simply a passive thing that reacts to causes. The earth shakes, the rock is dislodged, it rolls down the hill. In no part is this rock taking an active role in what is happening to it. It cannot take an active role since it does not have any active agency over itself since it does not have a self to act as that agent.

    If this passive rock rolls down the hill and kills a child, the rock is not morally responsible for the death of the child since it is a passive thing. If a thing does not have active agency over itself, then that thing cannot be morally responsible for any atrocity it causes. So if a person believes that they are not an active agent in their life, they will not believe themselves to be a moral agent either.

    Certain religious teachings involve a denial of the self. Of course, I should clarify, since there are two things people mean when they say denial of the self, and I would not like them to get confused here. Firstly, the denial of the passions of the self, or desire. Secondly, to deny that the self exists at all. That the ego itself exists. It is easily brought to mind certain religious teachings that include either form of self-denial. although, as for this argument, I am simply talking about the latter.

    If this is all the case, then it follows that there are certain religious faiths that allow for the belief that it is morally neutral for one to commit atrocities. That is to say, if it is morally neutral for a rock to roll down a hill and kill a child since it is a passive agent, then it follows that a teaching that believes people to be passive agents (through the denial of the self) in their lives must also believe that it is morally neutral for them to commit an atrocity such as killing a child.

    [Edited to add paragraph breaks (Jamal)]
  • invicta
    Hi ClayG,

    It’s a little off putting to read blurbs of text like that without any paragraphs …drove me to go to other topics.

    Some teachings knowledge have to a certain extent to the potential to be dangerous in the way it is applied. For example the invention of gunpowder can create useless stuff like fireworks but also the gun.

    Essentially some scientific ideas can create even more dangerous things such as atomic bombs.

    In relation to your moral neutrality most religions have some sort of framework or rules to live by such as the 10 commandments in Christianity which says that thou shall not murder.

    So even if the Christian believes in the Holy Spirit and is but a vessel of god, then the aforementioned rules place some restrictions on what they can or cannot do if they are true followers of Christ.
  • Vera Mont
    Certain religious teachings involve a denial of the self.ClayG

    Please elaborate on the religions that do this, and the context in which their teaching is applied.
    I am not aware of any religious dogma that regards the faithful as unconscious, selfless entities and does not hold individuals responsible for their actions.

    It is easily brought to mind certain religious teachings that include either form of self-denial.ClayG

    That is an entirely different matter and better understood as self-abnegation; submission of self to the higher power.
    Asceticism is rejection of indulgence, creature comforts, the luxury of physical pleasures or material goods beyond what is necessary to carry out the work one is assigned by the deity.
    It is not a denial of the existence of a self, but a rigorous discipline of the self. It is not a pretense that the self has no passions, but an injunction to either overpower those passions or subsume them entirely in religious zeal and dedicate them to one's calling.
  • ClayG
    Perhaps I should have said instead of "it is easily brought to mind certain religions," "such a religion is easily imagined," for it might not be obvious what religions are like this. I should have said this only because, for what I am trying to say there is no need for a real religion to be like this (though it is my opinion that there are religions like this.) my argument is simply, if there is a religion that denies the self in such a way, Self-abnegation as you put it, then that religion would open the door to morally permissible atrocities in the minds of its followers.
  • Vera Mont
    then that religion would open the door to morally permissible atrocities in the minds of its followers.ClayG

    The monotheistic ones do, anyway - without any need for self-denial. All you need is for a god to give people permission to behave as badly as they secretly wish. So does political zealotry.

    Voltaire said:
    Those who can induce you to believe absurdities can induce you to commit atrocities.

    This is a true of Pope Urban II as it is of Hitler.
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