By John Rawls

John Rawls by no means released something approximately his personal non secular ideals, yet after his dying texts have been found which shed impressive gentle at the topic. a quick Inquiry into the which means of Sin and religion is Rawls’s undergraduate senior thesis, submitted in December 1942, previous to he entered the military. at the moment Rawls used to be deeply spiritual; the thesis is an important paintings of theological ethics, of curiosity either in itself and thanks to its relation to his mature writings. “On My Religion,” a quick assertion drafted in 1997, describes the background of his non secular ideals and attitudes towards faith, together with his abandonment of orthodoxy in the course of global conflict II.

The current quantity comprises those texts, an advent by means of Joshua Cohen and Thomas Nagel which discusses their relation to Rawls’s released paintings, and an essay by way of Robert Merrihew Adams which locations the thesis in its theological context.

The texts exhibit the profound engagement with faith that varieties the historical past of Rawls’s later perspectives at the value of keeping apart faith and politics. in addition, the ethical and social convictions that the thesis expresses in spiritual shape are similar in illuminating how you can the imperative principles of Rawls’s later writings. His notions of sin, religion, and group are concurrently ethical and theological, and prefigure the ethical outlook present in A concept of Justice.

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Extra resources for A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith: With "On My Religion"

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Rawls does not use the terms “Agape” and “Eros” in his own voice,32 but the terminological point does not settle the question to what extent he was following Nygren. Specifically, we can ask whether Rawls uses the terms “desire” and “appetition,” which he associates with the “natural” realm, to sig­nify Eros, and whether the conception of “Christian love” that has an important place in the motivational ideal developed in his senior thesis (250–252) is a conception of Agape. 33 And Rawls contrasts desire and Christian love in a way that clearly has something in common with Nygren’s contrast of Eros and Agape as acquisitive and giving, respectively.

He adds that “such knowledge of God can come only from God,” but does not seem to draw any ethical conclusion from that except that “man must wait for God to speak to him” (224–225). 4. Values and Ends In his senior thesis Rawls does not present a developed theory of value or of the good. He is more explicit in what he denies than in what he af­firms about goodness as such. In what may be the clearest statement in the thesis on this subject, he says, The first concept to go, as we have already suggested, is the concept of the good as an object of desire.

Eventually, bitter polemic broke out even between Barth and Brunner. Rawls’s senior thesis seems rather innocent in relation to these polemics. He appropriates ideas from Brunner, but shows little interest in the controversies in which Brunner was engaged and, indeed, little knowledge of them.  . using the concepts which are derived from Biblical thought,” rather than from “the Greek tradition” (107–108) (by which, like many who said such things, he meant in effect the Platonic tradition). And his conception of the Word of God as God’s act of self-revelation (which I discuss in section 8) is very similar to views of Brunner and Barth.

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