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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, No. 24. October 1, 1968

why ideals?

why ideals?

In the face of this total situation, too, it would appear a good question to ask just why does man have these movements of morality and rationality within himself, and the desire to live authentically. Answers to these questions could give us a clue to the possibility or non-possibility of solving these basic dilemmas.

I assert that in confronting the dilemmas outlined above, we can choose one of three possible directions in which to move.

(1) There is no rational answer. One wishes to place a restriction upon those questions which have rational answers, and to limit such investigation to these areas. To put it another way, one moves out of the ego-centric predicament only partly, and from there makes a leap of faith. It would appear that much current thought accepts this framework in some form or other. However, one inevitably asks, where do we draw the line? How do we know which questions have answers and which have not? If one believes, a priori, that certain questions have no rational answers, then the logical thing is not to bother looking for them, and quite possibly to refuse to accept them if they are offered. Logically, however, when one confronts the predicament of whether or not one can apply one's rational categories to the world, and one begins to pick and choose purely subjectively, one is moving in a direction which if carried to the end should abandon rationality in all areas, with the result that all science would cease, and all places of higher learning be disbanded.

(2) One could say that man's movements after religion and/or morality are, in fact, an illusion, and are to be explained upon some other basis, such as a Freudian Oedipus complex, Marxian Economics, or Biochemical determinism. This should then logically lead to the abolition of all religious and/or moral language, and of all institutions associated with the same. For example, if Posivistic Sociology insists that no factual meaning can be ascribed to religious or moral statements and still insists on saying that man needs institutions which cater for these needs, then the sociologist can be charged with inconsistency-practice does not conform with theory. This explanation of the phenomena of morality and religion does not satisfy the requirements of a rational explanation, with the result that we have to go back to (1) or move on to some other explanation.

(3) There is a basis upon which religious and/or moral statements can be given real rational content, and there are answers to these basic questions; but either these have been departed from or else not found yet.

I would like to consider the historic Christian position in this perspective, whilst acknowledging that there are other candidates. They all have to be judged in the light of how well they answer the questions before us.