XVII century – the continuation of the processes that began during the Renaissance – Reformation, there is a radical break with the spiritual heritage of the Middle Ages. Science is rapidly developing and coming to the forefront, which orientes a person not to turn to the Holy Scripture, but to “read the book of nature.” The future is associated with the improvement of the human mind. 17th-century philosophers are “advocates of human nature,” who are destined to act according to their natural laws, accessible to a reasonable understanding. Historical perspectives are presented as optimistic. The concept of “social progress” is being developed.
In spiritual life, the attitude towards “practical philosophy” dominates, where practicality is understood not in the ethical, but in the technical sense. Knowledge is needed to remake the world. Theology, in essence, is excluded from philosophy and natural science, there remains only a deistic idea of God as the creator of the universe, who no longer intervenes in the life of his creation. The cognitive ideal is mathematical knowledge. The humanities should be built according to the type of mathematics, then they can guarantee the practical purposeful individual the correct behavior.
The search for the foundations of morality in the ethical reflection of the New Age
The greatest philosopher of the New Age, who had a great influence on ethical knowledge, is the English materialist Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679). Hobbes was a versatile thinker whose interests extended to issues of world order (life is subject to the laws of mechanics), and to problems, consciousness and thinking (he develops a symbolic concept of language), and to themes of morality and the state. Hobbes considers ethical issues in works
“Leviathan, or Matter, the form and power of a church and civil state,” “On freedom and necessity”, in the trilogy “Fundamentals of Philosophy”.
In his ethics, Hobbes affirms the unchanging nature of man: man is a rational being, the subject of morality and politics. Following Machiavelli, he says that man is a natural egoist, he is initially oriented towards violence and domination. These views of Hobbes, of course, are an expression of the objective state of society, when the mechanism of bourgeois competition began to work at full strength, clashing among themselves individuals fighting for social survival.
“Man to man is a wolf” – this Hobbes thesis concentratedly expresses his idea of man. People are initially in a state of “war of all against all,” and the threat of mutual extermination forces them to conclude a kind of “social contract”: they organize a constantly functioning state and begin to abide by the “golden rule of morality”: do not do what you don’t want yourself. Thus, the natural need for survival leads to self-limitation of the initial egoism, in which everyone believes that he has the right to everything. Mutual hatred and fear create the basis for relative equilibrium.
The society that emerged as a result of a universal agreement is not at all a happy realm of harmony and affection. The treaty forcibly pulls together atomic individuals who are attracted by their interests in different directions. This is very similar to the mechanical force of gravity that natural science has discovered in nature. The established order is an order of force imposed on the majority, as it were, from the outside, violence and oppression – its normal manifestation. But this is the only sensible path that leads humanity out of the destructive primordial enmity. Leviathan in biblical mythology is a huge sea monster of gigantic power. Hobbes calls Leviathan a state that overcomes the aggressive aspirations of people. Hobbes shows that the ultimate violence of individuals in relation to each other at some point should result in a reasonable agreement. It is the mind that leads a person out of a wild “natural state”.
For Hobbes, morality appears as a special kind of connection between egoistic individuals drawn together by the hoop of a social contract. All moral manifestations also turn out to be essentially selfish, even those that seem to be far from self-contained interest, such as fidelity to a social contract, sociability and sympathy. The generating model for moral relations is value relations. Moral personality traits are not its subjective properties or a reflection of certain transcendental principles, they are the value or value of a person in social life. And value, in turn, is the price of human qualities, which depends on the needs of other people and which they determine and appoint. Morality is a system of mutual utility.
The ultimate goals and higher blessings, which all religious-idealistic ethics speak of, do not exist for Hobbes. He believes that people simply invent objective moral ideas, which in fact are only the result of their self-knowledge. Not general concepts of good or virtue are real, the concrete value of one or another of our quality is real in the eyes of other subjects of communication. Dignity, for example, is the price that is given to a person by the state.
Hobbes’s morality grows out of the desire for power over other people: it is morally valuable that it respects others, and respect is an expression of power (to obey means to show respect). Love and fear of others are also associated with power relations, as well as frugality, justice and other properties of a moral individual.
Speaking of morality, Hobbes notes that man is driven by passions. Here the philosopher departs from his strictly rationalist principle. Emotionality, passion, he believes, are the engine of human behavior, it is they who make individuals tirelessly strive for their own benefit, wealth, fame, power. Thoughts are scouts and scouts looking for the way to the desired things, they are guided by human passions and desires.
Morality is a concept by means of which, in the mental and practical experience of people, the customs, laws, deeds, characters expressing the highest values and obligation are identified, through which a person manifests himself as a rational, self-conscious and free creature.
Political ethics is a special component of public morality, social ethics. It began to take shape at the turn of the New Age, when as a result of the disintegration of a previously cohesive society and the emergence of functional subsystems, politics became autonomous in the form of multi-level specialized activities with their own institutions, goals, norms and values, formalized relations and personnel.
The golden rule is the principle: “(do not) do things to others the way you (do not) want them to do things towards you”, which has historically appeared under different names – a short saying, principle, rule, commandment, basic principle proverb, precept, etc. The term “Z.P.” it was entrenched from the end of the 18th century.
Egoism (Latin Ego – I) is a life position according to which satisfaction of a person’s personal interest is considered as the highest good and, accordingly, everyone should strive only to the maximum satisfaction of their personal interest, perhaps even ignoring and violating the interests of other people or a common interest.
Moral reasoning is a train of thought, the logical consequence of which are moral judgments (evaluative or imperative). The normative principles that make up the content of any life-teaching that has a moral meaning usually appear as the result of some thoughts about the world and man; specific moral assessments and imperatives are also for the most part the result of certain rational-logical actions, including the comprehension of a given situation and the application of general principles and norms of morality to it. In general, moral reasoning is an important and organic component of a sufficiently developed moral consciousness, which seeks to develop and / or substantiate moral values.
Good – the condition and condition of perfection, the fulfillment of being; the leading concept of the Mediterranean-European (Judeo-Christian) culture, one of the traditionally accepted names of the divine principle in it. In contrast to synonymous goodness, the concept of which is dominated by the motive of absolute moral duty and volitional choice, B. ontologically belongs to the cosmic context.
Love – in the most general sense – is an attitude towards someone – or something as unconditionally valuable, unification and connection with someone (what) is perceived as a blessing (one of the highest values). In a narrower sense, L. (if you do not take into account the various emotional states associated with attachment or passion for various things, states and experiences, e.g. voluptuousness, love of money, love of power, any wisdom, etc.) – this is precisely the attitude to another person.
Justice – a concept denoting that which creates and preserves the good (happiness) of society, the main virtue of public institutions; general moral sanction of people’s life, considered mainly from the point of view of conflicting desires, interests, duties or a morally acceptable measure of the conflict of human relations in all their socially significant varieties (from interpersonal sphere to international relations).