The Basis of Morality eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 28 pages of information about The Basis of Morality.
women, to infants, to the sick, and to pregnant women”.  Yet the same Manu is supposed to have taken the lowest and coarsest view of women:  “It is the nature of women to seduce men; for that reason the wise are never unguarded with females ...  One should not sit in a lonely place with one’s mother, sister or daughter; for the senses are powerful, and master even a learned man.”  A woman must never act “independently, even in her own house,” she must be subject to father, husband or (on her husband’s death) sons.  Women have allotted to them as qualities, “impure desires, wrath, dishonesty, malice and bad conduct”.  The Sh[=u][d.]ra servant is to be “regarded as a younger son”; a slave is to be looked on “as one’s shadow,” and if a man is offended by him he “must bear it without resentment”; yet the most ghastly punishments are ordered to be inflicted on Sh[=u][d.]ras for intruding on certain sacred rites.

The net result is that ancient Revelations, being given for a certain age and certain social conditions, often cannot and ought not to be carried out in the present state of Society; that ancient documents are difficult to verify—­often impossible—­as coming from those whose names they bear; that there is no guarantee against forgeries, interpolations, glosses, becoming part of the text, with a score of other imperfections; that they contain contradictions, and often absurdities, to say nothing of immoralities.  Ultimately every Revelation must be brought to the bar of reason, and as a matter of fact, is so brought in practice, even the most “orthodox” Br[=a]hma[n.]a in Hin[d.][=u]ism, disregarding all the Sh[=a]s[t.]raic injunctions which he finds to be impracticable or even inconvenient, while he uses those which suit him to condemn his “unorthodox” neighbours.

No Revelation is accepted as fully binding in any ancient religion, but by common consent the inconvenient parts are quietly dropped, and the evil parts repudiated.  Revelation as a basis for morality is impossible.  But all sacred books contain much that is pure, lofty, inspiring, belonging to the highest morality, the true utterances of the Sages and Saints of mankind.  These precepts will be regarded with reverence by the wise, and should be used as authoritative teaching for the young and the uninstructed as moral textbooks, like—­textbooks in other sciences—­and as containing moral truths, some of which can be verified by all morally advanced persons, and others verifiable only by those who reach the level of the original teachers.

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The Basis of Morality from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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