Part 4: The Theory of Moral Obligation (Moral Necessity)
The basis of causal law is the rational principle of ‘impossibility of preponderant without preponderance’ which means that no possible thing can exist without the reason that makes its existence to be necessitated, or determined.
In the theory of moral, I suggest that in the field of free acts the necessity or determination of cause is not like the necessity or determination of natural actions i.e. ‘the changes of weather, water, dust, stone and others’. The necessity of free action is a special kind of necessity which I call ‘moral necessity or moral obligation’. Every free actor is free only when he deliberates and reflects on what he is going to act, and on the basis of his previous beliefs of goodness or badness, right or wrong, nice or nasty, he will choose and make a decision to act or not to act.
The real free will is that which is derived from the reflection and deliberation on the basis of knowledge about what is good, and what is bad which means that the real individual and social freedom is only achieved by two very important factors:
• Right and correct education that teaches human the true goodness and badness.
• The healthy environment of reflection which provides an adequate opportunity for people to scale and deliberate between different choices to choose the best one.
Therefore the criminals are not the only ones responsible for the wrong deeds which they are involved in, but also the society including, political, educational, economical systems and its management are also responsible.
In my view, it is possible to solve the problem of the relationship between freedom and causality through the theory of moral obligation or constraints.
While accepting the law on the impossibility of ‘preponderance without a preponderant’ (without a criterion for the preference) which forms the basis and foundation of the general causality law, through dissociation of the theoretical intellect field from the practical intellect field, this theory stresses upon the reality that the preponderant in the theoretical intellect field is different to that of the practical intellect field.
The preponderant in the theoretical intellect field is ‘existential obligation’ which means a Necessary Being whereas the preponderant in the practical intellect field is moral necessitation which suggests legislative constraint. Also the problem in the relationship between freedom and causality arises and originates from the confusion between the two theoretical and practical fields and judgement in each of the two fields with the criterions related to the other field.
I shall clarify the theory of moral obligation (constraint) in two main parts:
In part one, I shall explain the generalities attributed to the theory of ‘moral obligation’ and elucidate and solve the problems (with regards to the relationship between causality and freedom).
In part two, I will discuss the conformity of this theory with
1. The will and the acts of the Almighty
2. The will and behaviour of human individual
3. The will and behaviour of man in a community or the human society
4. The moral responsibilities of the human individual towards his behaviour
5. The moral responsibilities of the society towards the social and individual behaviour
6. The moral responsibilities of the Prophets, the parents, the teachers and mentors towards the personality and behaviour of man
7. The changeability of the personality of man
I shall explain the generalities of the moral obligations or constraints with regards to the freedom of man in the philosophical prospective through answering a number of fundamental questions:
First it is necessary to point out the area of disagreement. As it was clarified in the previous discussions, the pivotal point of the philosophical criticism is not in the behaviour arising from the will, desire and tendency.
This is because of the fact that the behaviour of man or any other voluntary agent arises from his will, desires and tendencies as well as the fact that the deterministic nature of the relationship between the will of the voluntary agent and his acts are not in contradiction with the free will of the voluntary agent and certainly there is no conflict between the necessity derived from freewill and the free will itself.
This matter is rather considered as the main subject and its validity is assumed certain. The centre of discussion is in the origin and source of origination of what is defined as ‘will’ or ‘determination’ in the connection between ‘will or determination’ with that ‘origin and source’.
Here, three basic questions exist:
The first question is whether ‘the will and determination of the act’ has any reason and cause in the voluntary agent or does it come into existence without any cause and reason? Is will and determination, which is the origin of the issue and emergence of the ‘voluntary act’, dominated by the ‘law of deterministic causality’? Or does the ‘law of deterministic causality’ not include origination of ‘will and determinism of an act’ in the voluntary agent and as a result, has the general causality law considered the origin of the act of the voluntary agent as an exception?
The second question is: assuming there is no exception in the ‘general causality law’ and considering that it includes the ‘act of the voluntary agent’, of what form will its comprehensiveness and incorporation be? Is it possible to suppose the incorporation of the general causality law with regards to the act of the voluntary agent in a way that the voluntary nature of the act will not be altered? If it is possible, then how?
The third question is: assuming that it is possible to demonstrate an intellectual impression of the compliance and compatibility between the sovereignty of the general causality law and the voluntary nature of the act of the voluntary agent; is this compliance and compatibility enough for solving the problems originating from withdrawing will from the agent? Will problems such as those arising from withdrawing moral responsibilities in ‘rejection of entitlement to the punishments and rewards of this world and those pertaining to the afterlife’ and ‘the equality between the righteous and the felon (offender) in the values of moral criterions’ be solved with the compliant demonstration of the causality law and the voluntary nature of the voluntary agent?
To answer these three questions, I shall first explain the passage of formation of the voluntary act and then separately explain and analyse in detail the answer to each question.
As it was quoted in the previous discussions from the Islamic and eastern philosophers, it is possible to summarize the meaning of a ‘free agent’ or ‘voluntary agent’ in this conditional clause:
ان شاء فعل و ان لم يشاء لم يفعل
The main topic of discussion is how the condition in this clause, ‘if he wants to’ is accomplished? Is this condition dominated by the deterministic causality law so the will and decision of man will be dictated to him as a result of the above cause and man will be subjugated to the above deterministic reason in his decision? In this case, the moral responsibility of man will be questioned, or the mentioned decision is free from the deterministic causality law and will come into existence accidentally, which will create problems in the comprehensiveness of the deterministic causality law.
According to the theory I shall demonstrate here, the mentioned condition which is ‘decision’ will be accomplished in a way that is not in contradiction with the comprehensiveness of the causality law and neither will it reject the moral responsibilities of man towards his behaviour.
‘Decision’ or the will of man is a command that is issued by the soul of man to the organs and powers in his body. This command is a natural and engendering one and its inseparable effect is the movement of the human organs and powers to perform the behaviour that is the command of soul. Therefore, the relationship between the will of man and his behaviour is one which acts upon the basis of the causality law.
The ‘will of man’ is the very command of soul, and forms from the belief of man in the obligation of certain behaviour. This belief in certain behaviour is what we define as ‘moral preponderant’. It is on the basis of this belief or ‘moral preponderant’ that the command of soul is formed and then the behaviour is accomplished. The existence of the ‘moral preponderant’ is inherent. The potential talent for understanding this moral preponderant exists in the primordial intellect of man.
The Prophets have come to actualize this talent and to awaken and guide this primordial intellect and to prevent its errors. In this direction, through the guidance and programmes they brought, they have enacted a very good role. This kind of moral obligation which benefits from the support of primordial intellect and Prophetic guidance is the ‘true moral preponderant’.
In majority of cases, humans replace true moral preponderant with false moral beliefs based on the inclinations of soul. They will place these false beliefs or ‘false preponderant’ and lies as the bases of their ‘will’ and as a result choose their behaviours based on ‘false preponderant’. This ‘false preponderant’ is the very baseless ‘musts’ that are in opposition with the true beliefs and preponderant based on logical reasoning. The only foundation for these false preponderants and beliefs is the inclinations and whims of soul.
Therefore the foundation of ‘freedom of behaviour’ is the ‘freedom of will’ and the foundation for the ‘freedom of will’ is the power of man over choosing the ‘moral preponderant’ on the basis of which the soul of man will decide.
This moral determinism is enough for preponderance of the existence of ‘will’ and in the general causality law which is firm on the principle of impossibility of ‘preponderance without a preponderant’ this amount of preponderant is enough for coming into existence of will and it fulfills the need ‘contingent’ to the ‘preponderant’.
After this introduction I shall engage in answering the questions I raised:
The answer to the first question: I shall answer the first question in several stages:
Stage one: in this stage I shall explicate the relationship between the act of the voluntary agent and the will of the agent. The general causality law is not exceptionable. The principle of the impossibility of ‘preponderance without a preponderant’ is comprehensive and includes any contingent being. In order for any being that is contingent in itself, that is, it does not have existence or non-existence in its essence, to come into existence it must leave its contingency state- i.e. the unnecessity of non-existence and existence- through the agent of its essence. Leaving the contingency state - that is the unnecessity of non-existence and existence - means creating the necessity of existence in the object.
This general principle will also include our voluntary acts. As long as the act emanated from the voluntary agent is not made obligatory through the agent, it will not come into existence. This is because the act is a contingent affair and does not own necessity of existence and non-existence in its essence. By the condition of insufficient cause for existence, non-existence is necessary, and by the condition of sufficient cause of existence, the existence in necessary. As it is not possible to imagine more than two states of existence or non-existence for the act, as long as sufficient cause for the existence of the act are not brought about then the act of voluntary agent will not be achievable. It is through achievement of the condition of sufficient cause for the existence of that act that will make its existence necessary.
If all the other arrangements for the existence of the act have been made, the will of the agent will be the adequate condition for the existence of the act and will cause the necessitation of the act of the agent and then its existence and emanation of that act by the agent.
There are four groups of oppositions towards the generalization of the causal necessity to the voluntary agent; the first group are people such as Hume who is one of the western philosophers that basically does not believe in the causal necessity relationship between the cause and the caused and refers them to the habit of mind or the association of the ideas of mind. The second group are people such as the Asharites who are among the Islamic intellectuals that interpret the relationship between the cause and the caused as divine habit in the involuntary agent and as acquisition in the voluntary agent.
The third group are the speculative theologians other than the Asharites, who are Mu’tazila and the Imamiyah and they consider the essential preponderance of the existence to be enough for the existence of the caused. The fourth group are the Usooliyyoon (the scholars of the principles of jurisprudence) such as Muhaqiq Na’ini and the martyred master Sadr who with regard to the voluntary agent, reject the necessity relationship between the efficient cause and the caused. They consider the sovereignty of the agent over the existence of the act to be adequate for its existence.
In previous discussions, in response to these oppositions, I pointed out two main reasons:
First reason: After the will of the agent and preparing other arrangements for the existence of the act, if the non-existence of the act of the voluntary agent is still possible, this will mean that the possible contingency in itself is enough for its existence. This suggests the contingency of absolute chance and coincidence and the possibility of existence of object without a cause, the nullity of which is obvious and manifested.
If the description of ‘the contingency of the existence and the non-existence’ no longer applies to the act of the voluntary agent, it will mean the necessity of existence and the impossibility of its non-existence.
Previously, in response to these oppositions who consider the non-existence of the necessity of the cause despite the prepared complete sufficient cause, we pointed out two main arguments:
First argument: This is what the oppositions claim
Despite the prepared sufficient cause with all its components including the perfect volition of the sufficient cause, the existence of the causes is still non-essential and its non-existence is still possible. This matter necessitates rejection of the power and freedom of choice in the voluntary agent which is a manifested and presumed absurdity.
Regardless of the will of the agent and the preparation of all the arrangements for the existence of the act, if the existence of the act is not certain and essential and similar to its existence, its non-existence is contingent, this will mean that the voluntary agent does not have the power to create since no matter how much he tries and whatever effort he puts on the preparation of the arrangement of the act, the existence of the act is only contingent just as its non-existence is. As long as it only possess the possibility of certainty, the non-existence of the act is possible just as its existence is. There is no reason for its existence to be achieved and its non-existence not achieved.
Second argument: According to the claim of the oppositions the complete cause will not cause the necessity of the existence of the caused neither on the assumption of the existence of the caused will its existence be evident from the sufficient cause nor on the assumption of its non-existence, its non-existence will be evident from the non-existence of the sufficient cause. The conclusion is the existence and non-existence of the object is possible and achievable without a cause and through a coincidence which will necessitate the rejection of the definite causality law and annihilation of the basis of science and the destruction of the foundation of the human intellect and reasoning.
Explanation: Based on the negation of the necessity of the caused through the cause (rejection of the causal necessity), if we assume a natural phenomenon comes into existence or the involuntary agent shows a certain behaviour, there is no reason for us to base this behaviour or phenomena on this cause and say this phenomena or the agent of that certain behaviour are the origin of the advent of it. This is because after the emergence of the cause, the existence of that phenomena or behaviour will not find necessity through that cause but rather only benefit from the possibility, and the possibility of the existence of that behaviour or phenomena was achieved before the emergence of the cause, and so there is no need for the cause because of this achievement.
If we assume that phenomena or behaviour will not come into existence after the emergence of the complete cause, clearly this non-existence of achievement is not based on the non-existence of the cause since we are assuming that the cause has been achieved.
From what was said, it is well clear that in order to explicate the relationship between act of the voluntary agent and the free will of the agent, there is no other way but to admit to the ‘causal necessity’ and that the free will of the agent – in case of achievement of other conditions and arrangement- will make the existence of the act obligatory. Since the obligation of the act originates from the free will of the agent, not only does it not contradict with freedom of choice and free will, it also does not make sense without the freedom of choice of the act of the agent.
Stage two: In this stage, I shall explicate the relationship between freewill of the voluntary agent and the arrangements of its emergence:
This stage is the most difficult stage of our discussion and this is where the root of the problem in the relationship between freedom and causality lies.
The choice of the act is analysed and explicated in any manner through the agent of the choice. A phenomenon is a contingent being and similar to other contingent beings it needs a cause for its emergence. In other words, it is dominated by the general causality law. Therefore the question raised here is that despite the existence of general causality law and its dominance over the free will of the agent, how can one assume the freedom of choice of the act of the voluntary agent?
To answer this, we need to first explain a number of different issues:
First issue: The principle of the impossibility of ‘preponderance without a preponderant’ which is the base and foundation of the principle of general causality has a definition in the field of the involuntary phenomena and behaviours.
The interpretation I have demonstrated from the principle of the impossibility of ‘preponderance without a preponderant’ is one that is compatible with the meaning of this definition in the field of involuntary and non-volitional behaviours whereas the rational meaning of this principle in the voluntary and volitional behaviours is another meaning. The meaning of this principle in the field of voluntary and volitional field is that any voluntary behaviour originates from a ‘command or order’ of the agent itself. This command or order is a consequent of the belief of the agent in the preference and superiority of what he commands to.
Therefore wherever a voluntary act is achieved, two main rudiments are present:
The first rudiment is the confession of the agent to the superiority and preference of the existence of the act over its non-existence. This superiority and preference is what we define as preponderance. Here preponderance means the reason for the superiority of the act over its non-existence. The confession of the agent to the superiority of the act arises from the reason that is enough in the view of the agent for confession to this superiority.
The second rudiment; after the confession of the agent to the preference and superiority of the act, the ‘command or order’ is shaped inside the agent by his ‘soul’. This order is issued from the soul of voluntary agent such as man to the organs and forces under his power. After the issue of the ‘command or order’ from the ‘soul’ of the agent, his organs and forces immediately carry out his order, unless the power of the act has been taken away from them through an external cause. However, despite the power and the conditions for achievement of the act, the emanation of the act by the agent after the issue of the ‘command or order’ is definite and infrangible.
The preponderance we pointed out in the first rudiment which is followed by the ‘command or order’ of the soul of the agent to his organs and forces, is a moral preponderance. This means a preponderance which persuades the soul to the obligation of that behaviour and the issue of the command and order to the organs and forces for the purpose of its performance.
The moral preponderance through which soul commands the necessity of issue of certain behaviour can be comprehended by the functional or practical intellect of man.
The practical or functional intellect is the intellect through which the agent distinguishes the superiority and necessity of the act. The functional or practical intellect may weaken or encounter misleading recognition. Naturally in this case, the command issued by the soul based on its recognition, corresponds to the weakness and diversion that the practical intellect is encountering.
This meaning of ‘preponderance’ is different to the theoretical meaning of preponderance in the field of involuntary behaviours and phenomena. Reminiscent of what was clarified by the above explanations, the purpose of preponderance here is ‘moral preponderance’ or the criterion for the judgement of the practical intellect based on which it issues verdicts to the superiority and necessity of the act and following this, the command or order for the origination of that act is issued by the soul.
According to what was said, after the formation of the first rudiment of the voluntary act, the order of the soul (which is related to the formation of the command and order of the soul to the organs and forces for performing the action) is emanated. Here, the command of soul is an engendering command and thus the issue of the command by the soul to the forces and organs for the purpose of emanation of the act, is the preponderance for the existence and achievement of the act. The preponderance here is an engendering preponderance or the very preponderance that means ‘the necessity of existence’.
The command of soul to the forces and organs will make the emanation of the act by the forces and organs obligatory. By means of the preponderance the act is achieved. The meaning of preponderance here is the previous meaning of it present in the principle of the impossibility of ‘preponderance without a preponderant’ which is the foundation of the principle of general causality.
Therefore, there are two preponderances in the cases of achievement of the act of the voluntary agent:
Moral preponderance which will not cause the negation of contingency and causation of the existence. Rather it is nothing other than the judgement of the practical or functional intellect to the superiority and preference of the act with respect to its non-existence.
Engendering preponderance which is the very order by the soul followed by the necessitation of the act. The engendering preponderance is related to the stage of existence of the act. In this stage, the law of causal necessity based on the impossibility ‘preponderance without a preponderant’ results in the necessity of existence of object before its existence. In the vein of clarity, the existence of the contingent object is based on the existence of this preponderant and without this engendering preponderant the existence of the contingent object is not rational.
However the emergence of this engendering preponderant that is the ‘command and order of the soul to the emanation of that act’ is dependent upon the first type of preponderant which was the very moral preponderant. This means in order for the soul to issue the command for existentiation of the act through the forces of power of man, it is necessary for the moral preponderant to convince and persuade the soul regarding the necessity of issuing the command. The persuasion of the soul is only possible through the moral preponderant.
Through the admissible beliefs that the soul regards as the criterions for moral preponderance, it approves of certain behaviour as the ‘superior behaviour’ and believes their superiority. As a result of this belief, an inclination towards this behaviour is created in the soul. There may be other opposing inclinations confronting this inclination in the soul of man but in the rivalry field, contradicting inclinations of this idea and belief towards the superiority and preference of inclinations are what compels the soul towards the issue of the command for origination of the suitable behaviour for this inclination.
Therefore the role of the moral preponderant is origination of inclination towards certain behaviour or a superior tendency towards a certain behaviour in the cases where contradicting desires exist, and as a result convincing the soul of the ‘necessity of emanation of the act’ followed by the order and command to his organs and forces for the origination of that act.
It is necessary to point out that the soul may commit errors in its moral judgements. This means it may reckon what is not superior as superior and think of what is bad as good. It is also sometimes possible for the soul to encounter deceit and delusion. Also sometimes the soul may deceive itself which means it may presume what is bad as the superior i.e. close its eye over the atrocity of behaviour and falsely assign it as good (‘false moral preponderant’) and in conclusion it assumes an indecent behaviour as decent.
That is to say whatever he believes in his primary instinct to be wicked and foul, will suppose as good and appropriate and show affections towards it. However he will never be exempted from the rule that says his behaviour is arising from the ‘command of his soul’ where this command is shaped from believing in the ‘moral preference’ of this behaviour and the desire evolving from it.
In the religious culture, ‘Satan’ has been introduced as the ‘origin of errors and deceits’ in the moral beliefs of the soul. On the opposite side, the Prophets have been introduced as a secure shelter for rescue from this deceit and their leadership and guidance as concrete and firm assurance in the beliefs and judgements and as the criterion for distinguishing right from wrong.
The second issue: The meaning of ‘freedom of choice in act’ or so to say ‘freedom of behaviour’ was clarified from what we said in the first issue. Free behaviour is one that originates and arises from the command of soul which emerges from the moral preponderant of soul and the convincing of it to the necessitation of the act.
Therefore the criterion in the ‘freedom of behaviour’ is one which has emanated from the command of the soul, the command which originates from convincing the soul of the necessity of the act.
Based on this definition, since the behaviour that has emanated because of ignorance and lack of heed of the soul, is not originated from the moral preponderant, it cannot be recognized as a free behaviour. The behaviour of the skilled criminals, even if crime has turned into a natural habit, is a free behaviour since it has originated from moral preponderant and to say the least, their behaviour at the beginning and before it had turned into a natural habit was a free behaviour.
This transformation has taken place with their choice and the moral preponderant of their soul. On this basis also the behaviour of people such as an addict person or a thief, who is identified as a thief by nature even though we do not belief in the existence of a thief by nature and it is better not to characterize such a person as a habitual thief, (the testimonial explanation of the argument of this preponderant is not possible here) is a free behaviour.
In reality, the behaviour of such people in spite of the apparent basis which shows occurrence without thinking and contemplation, is not so. This group of people decide upon committing a wrong act based on a false moral judgement. This is firstly because; the transformation of this criminal act to a natural habit has taken place with their choice and secondly as a result of their wrong behaviour transforming into a habit and second nature, their moral judgement of their error has also turned into a second nature and is acting automatically.
The third issue: The fact that the agent is showing certain behaviours based on a moral preponderant means that the agent is accepting the moral responsibility originating from it, and this is regardless of whether the moral preponderant of the agent (on the basis of which he has caused the origination of a behaviour) is the right and well founded preponderant or the wrong and unjust one.
Explanation: According to what we said, before origination of the act, the agent will morally judge certain behaviour and prefer that behaviour and based upon this preference he will obligate himself to its performance. Therefore, in the cases where certain behaviour has been condemned with wickedness and preference of non-existence, and regardless of this, the agent decides upon its origination and commits it, he has placed himself prone to moral conviction by his own choice. Thus naturally his behaviour is morally condemned and is worthy of any form of punishment originating from the moral responsibility of his mentioned behaviour.
After clarifying the threesome issues, I shall now answer the second stage question:
The question was, how is the act of the voluntary agent presumed despite the existence of the general causality law and its dominance over the will of the agent?
Based on the explanation given in the threesome issues, the answer to this question will become clear.
It is the existence of the behaviour of the agent which is a contingent-being phenomenon that is dominated by the general causality law. Based on the general causality law, this needs a justifiable cause which means a cause that will give necessity of existence and then existence. The cause that will grant the existing ‘free behaviour’ existence, is the moral preponderant through the achievement of which, the soul will ‘oblige’ itself to the issue of command to the organs and forces. By issuing of the command of the soul to the organs and forces, the existence of the act will become necessary and its existence will be achieved.
The first preponderant is the preponderant of practical intellect or the moral preponderant which means the cause that convinces the soul of ‘the necessity of existence of the act’. Consequently, the soul will find itself – in the prospective of the logic of practical intellect- obliged to originate the act and issue the command for it to the forces and organs.
This ‘moral preponderant’ is enough for obliging the soul and rather there is no other way for ‘obliging the soul’ to issue the command of origination of the act to the force and organs other than this ‘moral preponderant’. This moral preponderant which means the ‘the reason for convincing the soul of the necessitation of emanation of an act’ is in no way in contradiction with the ‘freedom in behaviour’ and rather the ‘freedom in behaviour’ is not rational in any way other than this.
It is the ‘free behaviour’ that benefits from moral responsibility that is emanated from the ‘faith and belief of the soul in the necessitation of the act’ and then the ‘command to the forces and organs concerning the origination of the act’.
The second preponderant, is the preponderant that is known as the origination of existence. After the acceptance of the necessity of emanation of the act by the soul through the moral preponderant, it will issue ‘origination order’ to its forces and organs. This command is similar to switching on the light key, the pressing of which (as long as the other arrangements for switching on the light are in order including connection to the mother board and the functionality of it and the functionality of the bulb) makes the switching on of light definite and necessary.
Therefore, all the arrangements for the emergence of the volition of the act which are the very command of soul are necessary arrangements. However those arrangements related to the first preponderant are those which create the ‘moral obligation’ and the arrangements related to the ‘second preponderant’ are those arrangements which make the ‘necessitation of the act’.
Not only this kind of necessitation which originates from ‘the moral necessitation and obligation’ is not in contradiction with ‘freedom in behaviour’, but also the ‘freedom in behaviour’ is subsistent on these two types of arrangements. Negating any of these two will make the ‘freedom in behaviour’ impossible and irrational. Negation of the ‘moral preponderant’ will make the issue of the command of soul or the will impossible. The negation of the ‘origination preponderant’ or the necessity of the existence of the act after the will and issue of the soul, will cut the connection between the agent itself and the will emanated from him, despite the external achievement of the act, on the other side and will destroy the power of the agent over the origination of the act.
The compatibility of ‘freedom in action and behaviour’ with the general causality law was made clear through what was said. The causality law means the impossibility of the preponderance without the preponderant and through the picture that was demonstrated from ‘free will and behaviour’ it is obvious that not only ‘free will and behaviour’ is not in contradiction with the law of impossibility of the preponderance without the preponderant but the achievement of ‘free will and behaviour’ is not rational without this law.
Stage three: In this stage I shall explain the relationship between the will and the voluntary agent:
In the second stage and up to now, it is comprehensible that the ‘will of the volitional act’ means the issue of ‘the origination order’ by the soul to the forces and organs concerning the origination of the act. It was also made clear that this ‘command or will of the soul’ arises from the belief of the soul in the necessitation of origination of the act and stems from the ‘moral preponderant’.
Now I will be discussing how this ‘moral preponderant’ is brought into existence and what is the source of its origination?
There are two kinds of discussion here:
First discussion: This is talking about whether in reality there are any moral preponderants before the stage of comprehension and recognition of man? In other words, can the actions and behaviours be intrinsically described by characters such as good or bad, decent or indecent, ugly or beautiful, in the stage before the cognition of man akin to how each worldly creatures benefit from intrinsic characters and descriptions? Or are the ‘moral preponderants’ the product and outcome of the mind and does the mind of man play the role of creator and originator of goodness and wickedness of things, and not only the passive role of discoverer and discerner?
During this discussion, other subjects such as; the presumption of the authenticity of the moral preponderants, the manner of their essential and real existence and their main criterion and standard are put forward. In this written work, there is no time to engage in these topics and they are beyond our topic of discussion.
The second discussion: How does man’s recognition of moral preponderants come into being? What is meant by this question is that does the belief of man in these moral preponderants benefit from specific logical regulations or does the emergence of belief in these moral preponderants originate from coincidental causes that are not based on logic and principles?
The reality is that all the beliefs of man, whether the moral beliefs which are related to the field of ‘practical intellect’ or the scientific beliefs which are related to the field of ‘theoretical intellect’, are logically admissible, that is, they are examinable and assessable with the logical reasoning criterions.
Naturally, the assessment criterions in the conceptual or scientific beliefs are different to the assessment criterions in the moral and functional beliefs. In the conceptual or scientific beliefs the assessment criterions are the scientific and conceptual evidences and certainties and in the moral and functional beliefs the assessment criterions are the moral and functional evidences and certainties.
Therefore in response to the question; ‘how does man’s recognition of moral preponderants come into existence?’ it must be said; in his moral beliefs, man can accept his moral beliefs through logical methods and choose his moral beliefs without observing logical methods. Man is responsible towards his choice in this field and all the consequences that follows it. The conscious of man makes clear judgement that man should observe logical criterions in the acceptance of moral beliefs and must admit to moral beliefs based on logical methods.
This means he must assess the moral propositions and admit to those propositions concluded and compatible with principles of logical deductions driven from the evident and certain moral beliefs. He must reject those propositions which have not been driven by the method of logical deduction originated from the certain and definite basic moral criterions and not compatible with the main moral criterions which are the very moral certainties and not admit to them. In my view, recognition of moral certainties and evidences is not a difficult task and engaging in discussing them is out of the boundaries of our topic here.
However I shall point out that one of the most logical and simple ways of accessing true moral criterions is; after proving the existence of the most perfect and the absolute Just and true God and the claim of the Prophets for being sent from the Just and most Perfect lord; in all aspects, one of the best criterions for distinguishing the moral propositions is the teachings the Prophets have offered to man from Allah.
These teachings can be a very fine support from the logical prospective, for distinguishing the good and bad, the ugly and the beautiful, the decent and indecent, for all the issues and propositions man will face.
The answer to the first question was clarified from what I said. This is what the first question was:
Does the will and determination of the act come into existence without a cause or is it dominated by the general causality law? It is understandable from the previous discussions that; the will and determination of the voluntary agent which is the very ‘origination order of the soul’ is dominated by the general causality law. The reason for the issue of the origination order of the soul or the will of the agent is the belief that is formed in the soul of the agent regarding the ‘moral necessity’ of the act, which was previously described.
It was also made clear that the belief of the soul in the moral necessity also takes place in accordance to the causality law which means the soul of man can place the logical criterions as the base for his moral beliefs and as a result form the ‘moral preponderants’ in his mind and soul based on the ‘moral beliefs’. He can also submit to illogical issues and place the illogical causes as the base for formation of his moral beliefs and preponderants which are the source of origination of his will.
Based on what was said, the behaviour of man and his will are dominated by the causality law and by the explanations given, it was made clear that not only this causality is compatible with the free will and desire of man but it is necessary and obligatory for the rationality of the will and desire of man as well as his moral responsibility towards his will and behaviour.
The answer to the second question:
This is what the answer to the second question was; according to the inclusion of the act of the voluntary agent in the general causality law, how is the compatibility of it with the freedom of choice of the act of the voluntary agent assumed?
The following is the answer:
As it was made clear in the answer to the first question, the act of the voluntary agent is emanated from his will which is the very command of the soul and this emanation is dominated by the causality law. It was also clarified that the will or the command of soul originates from ‘the moral preponderant’ and this moral preponderant is the caused by the reason that is based on the agent of the ‘moral preponderant’ who has accepted the goodness and decency and the necessity of binding act.
Up to here, it is clear that the chain of the reasons continues and the law of caused determinism is dominant among the parts of this chain of causes and every cause will necessitate its caused thing necessarily and every caused thing will necessarily be issued from its cause.
Based on what we said, the last loop of the chain of the causes of voluntary behaviour are the ‘moral preponderants’, the base of which is ‘faith’ or confession and submission of man to the criterions that specify the good and bad, decency and indecency of the behaviour.
Here we must add that the personality and identity of man is formed through these moral criterions which are the base of formation of the ‘moral preponderants’ and then the will of the soul.
As Mowlawi says regarding the individual personality of man:
ای برادر تو همین اندیشه ای نی همین یک استخوان و ریشه ای
It seems that what is meant by thought is the functional intellect of man in which the moral beliefs are formed.
Also as the Arab poet says:
و انما الامم الاحلاق ما بعيت فان ذهبت اخلاقهم ذهبوا
This human identity and personality is formed by the accepted moral values and beliefs and man will shape and form his identity and personality through accepting these moral values and beliefs. This power of creation which is the very power of soul and the organs and forces is the exclusively incomparable character of man and it is this character that has got man to the status of ‘divine vicegerence’.
Here I am slightly getting close to the theory of Mr Chisholm and its completion by Mr O’Connor differing in the fact that I have described the chain of causes until the existence of the personality of man in a different way. I also regarded the existence of the personality of man to be the caused thing of the free will of man which is dominated by the ‘will of God’ which means man receives his creational powers from ‘God’ and it is through the divine will that ‘man’ is capable of shaping his identity and personality and choosing the moral beliefs and values desirable to him which are the base of formation of his voluntary behaviour.
On the other side, I got slightly close to the ‘theory of sovereignty’ of the martyred master Sadr as I considered the ‘moral preponderance’ to be enough for the emergence of ‘free will and action’.
However the difference between my theory and the ‘theory of sovereignty’ of the martyred master is that I regarded the generality of the causality law and the impossibility of preponderance without a preponderant and included the ‘free will and behaviour’ with it, giving the explanation of ‘considering the preponderant’ in the will and action of the voluntary agent, to be a moral preponderant, where this moral preponderant is regarded as the origin of the existence of will and obligation of free action.
Therefore it’s the moral preponderant that fills the existential need originated from the ‘existential possibility’ in the possible essence and prepares enough intellectual justification for the preference of the pan of its existence over its non-existence and makes its existence a necessity and obligation.
Therefore I agree to the ‘theory of sovereignty’ of the martyred master Sadr on the grounds that ‘will of the agent’ is not dominated by determinism in the voluntary agent. However the indeterminism does not mean ‘not obligatory’ and thus I do not agree with the ‘theory of sovereignty’ of the martyred master Sadr in this ground and agree to the ‘theory of necessity’ of Mulla Sadra in which ‘necessity’ does not mean ‘determinism’.
Thus we believe that it is the ‘moral preponderant’ that convinces the soul of the necessity of the act and on this basis the issuing of ‘will or order’ by the soul becomes obligatory. However since this obligation has originated from moral preponderant, it does not mean ‘determinism’.
Therefore the deterministic emergence of ‘will’, meaning the above cause will obligate and force the soul to ‘choose’ one option, is most certainly annihilated since this is similar to when a person forces another person to choose a specific behaviour using the threat of a weapon. The conscious internal feeling testifies that there is no such compulsion force involved and on the other side the ‘choice’ will not take place without rules.
The ‘choice’ of the soul is formed based on the convincing ‘moral preponderant’ of the soul, and by accepting the ‘moral preponderant’ and the convincing of soul upon it, the issue of ‘will’ and the command of the soul becomes certain.
From what I said it is clear that man can always change his route of choice and selection by changing the ‘moral criterions’ which are acceptable to him, since it is these accepted moral criterions which are the base for convincing the soul of deciding the will of behaviour.
The capability of changing the ‘moral criterions’ acceptable to the soul is an essential character of the soul. Accepting a moral criterion means submission of soul to that moral criterion and showing abasement and obeying it. There are no external causes that force the soul to submission and humility towards a moral criterion. The external causes can play the contriving or encouraging role for the soul of man to choose and submit towards a moral criterion. But the deciding role here is exclusive to the soul of man.
According to what can be obtained from reflection into the inner conscious of man, and what is approved by religious sources and experience, there are two essential inclinations inside man, one is towards ‘the innate moral criterion’ where the intellectual logic testifies to its truth and reality, and the other inclination is towards the opposite of these criterions that is the false and forged moral criterions, and man can choose to which group of these moral criterions he wants to submit to. Each of these two groups of moral criterions benefit from special support and incentives, that will help man make his final decision of submission.
The answer to the third question; it is well clear from what I said in the answer to the first and second questions that the procurement of the will of man is in his hands and it is him who decides upon his obligation of ‘wanting’.
Therefore he takes the responsibility for his acts. When man takes full responsibility of his acts, it does not mean other causes which prepare the ground or encourage and help in directing the will of man are free from responsibility, rather other causes such as parents or teachers or the social environment or the mass media or any other cause that can play the role of orienting and encouraging and preparing the grounds for choosing a moral belief will have a share in the responsibility originating from the behaviour and the will emerging from that moral belief.
The responsibility of other causes is because of the role they play in levelling the way of ‘desire or will’ and this levelling and preparation of grounds is an influential support that encourages man in the direction of submission and humility towards ‘moral criterion’.
In places where the moral criterion is a true moral criterion and in agreement with natural and intellectual reasons and coherent with the guidance of the divine Prophets, the involvement of the causes for preparation of grounds, is a positive involvement and is worthy of praise and applaud. In places where the criterions involved are false and forged ones, the involvement of the causes for preparation of grounds is one that fits scolding and reprimand and it is rather worthy of discipline and punishment.
Based on what was said, ‘The voluntary agent’ is in no way divested of authority so problems regarding the tolerance of the moral responsibility of his behaviour or the eligibility for punishment are intervened.
Now after explaining the generalities of the theory of ‘moral necessity or obligation’ it is time to engage in the second part that is adjusting this theory with the seven cases we put forward previously:
Previously I said that I will engage in adjusting the theory of moral obligation or necessity with the cases that are discussed among the western philosophers, in part two:
The first adjustment: is adjusting the mentioned theory to the will and action of the essence of the Almighty creator. Since the essence of the Almighty creator is the very truth, righteousness, virtue and perfectness, thus the main origin of the ‘true moral criterions’ is the essence of the Almighty. It is on this basis that the ‘true moral criterions’ are not merely a collection of abstract and mind thoughts. Rather they benefit from a real and true assistance which is the very ‘true essence of the Almighty’.
Here I am not trying to argue the existence of such an essence, I shall only point out that it is only on the assumption of existence of such a being that the authenticity and stability of the true moral criterions will be guaranteed. On the presumption of rejecting the existence of such an essence the true moral criterions will be deprived of this real and true assistance. This way, the route for hesitation in the actual existence of true moral criterions or mistaking between the true and false moral criterions will be leveled.
According to the theory of moral obligation or necessity, any voluntary act originates from a ‘command’ or a ‘will’ where that command or will has risen from a ‘moral preponderant’. Based on what was said, the true moral criterions originate from the Essence of the Almighty, thus the ‘true moral preponderants’ are a sparkle of the Essence of the Almighty and in fact united with the Essence of the Almighty.
Nevertheless, considering the fact that the Essence of the Almighty is an eternal essence, the true moral preponderants will also be a sparkle of his everlasting Essence and it is these everlasting moral preponderants that will be the foundation of his everlasting will. It is on this basis that the Holy Quran has given the title ‘Unique command’ to the command issued by the Essence of the Almighty:
This Unique order is the very eternal and everlasting order of God which has originated from eternal and everlasting moral preponderants united with the Essence of the Almighty.
On this basis, it is possible to say that any will that is formed in the soul of man, if it has not risen from the true moral preponderants, it means humiliation of the human soul towards the will of the Essence of the Almighty and if it originates from false moral preponderants, it will indicate disobedience towards the Essence of the Almighty and step over the boundaries of the order and command.
The second adjustment: Adjusting the theory of moral obligation and necessity to the behaviour of human individual.
Previously I said that the identity and personality of the human individual are shaped by the moral criterions accepted by him. This is because the accepted moral criterions will form the will of the individual and his will is followed by his behaviour and by repetition of the behaviour (that has risen from a certain moral belief) and the personality of man is shaped.
Therefore, it is not only the ‘will’ of the human individual and the behaviour that emerges from that will, that have risen from the ‘moral preponderants’ or in other words from the ‘accepted moral beliefs’, but also his individual identity and personality also originate from this source.
The individual man must first receive his moral beliefs from his parents and then as a result of intermixture in social paragons such as school, media, friends and relatives and etc., thus he will start changing, bolstering and stabilizing those moral beliefs. By bolstering and stabilizing these moral criterions in the nature of the individual human, the human personality and identity is shaped and becomes solid. Stabilizing the individual behaviours that have originated from these moral criterions and beliefs are the foundation of the formation and bolstering of the individual personality.
Therefore, not only is the individual man responsible towards his behaviour, but he is also responsible for shaping his moral personality and characteristics and dispositions.
The third adjustment: Adjusting the mentioned theory to the will and behaviour of human in the society or the human society.
When a group of humans have gathered around one another, imperatively their behaviours will slowly harmonize.
The harmonized behaviours resulted from moral beliefs are in harmony. The harmony of moral beliefs means the unity of moral beliefs that direct the will of men. The unity of moral beliefs will instigate the emergence of the group will, and the emergence of group will is the origin of the emergence of group identity and personality. For this reason the harmonized societies benefit from group will and a united group personality. This group personality is responsible for the group behaviours that originate from the group will.
From what I said above it is clear that the process of free group behaviour is similar to the process of individual free behaviour. Just as how the individual man is responsible towards the ‘true moral criterions’ (which means his functional intellect and moral conscious and ‘God’, who is the real source of true moral criterions, will obligate man to submit towards the moral criterions) the human society who benefits from a united social personality is also responsible towards the ‘true moral criterions’, and is duty-bound in the court of functional intellect and the moral conscious, as well as towards ‘God’, to get orders from the true moral criterions in his group will, and the behaviours that originate from it and not to submit to false moral criterions.
The personality of the human individual is first shaped in the family environment and once he steps into the society and starts his social life at school and other social environments, he becomes familiar with the social personality of his society.
If the social personality of the society was in harmony and the same direction as the individual personality, that is if the atmosphere of the social personality was dominated by the accepted personal criterions in the atmosphere of the individual personality which is the foundation of the shaping the individual personality, and the group will of the society was getting orders from the same moral beliefs, then the individual personality of man will ablate in his social personality and he will benefit from a strong personality that is bound by the moral criterions ruling the society.
If not, that is if the personality of the society is at discord with the individual personality and the criterions governing the individual personality are in contradiction with the criterions governing the personality of the society, there are three ways in front of man; the first is to insist upon his individual personality and remain loyal to the decisive moral criterions that are the base of the formation of his individual personality.
In this way he is imposed to resist the personality of the society and gradually turn into an objecting person to the social moral beliefs and the group will and personality. The second way is to abandon his individual personality and turn away from his previous moral beliefs and harmonize his individual personality with the social spirit of the society and the group will arising from it and submit to the governing moral beliefs of the social personality of the society.
There is also a third way that is selected by a few individuals which is to choose a contradicting and binary personality, which is; when in the society environment, the individual will choose behaviours in agreement with the governing moral criterions in the society and show a personality that is in harmony with the social personality and when in his inner environment, he will remain loyal to his individual personality and moral criterions and choose his private conducts based upon his personal beliefs.
The individual living in the society has these three ways facing him and choosing any of these threesome options is only dependent upon his decision and determination and it is for this reason that he will be responsible towards the moral consequences resulting from this choice. This means as a result of his choice, he will act upon the behaviour suitable to that option and gradually achieve the identity and personality appropriate to that option.
If the chosen option is in harmony with the true moral criterions, it would be worthy of praise and applaud and reward. If the chosen option does not correspond to the true moral criterions and is secured over false and forged moral criterions, he will bear the consequences resulting from it and become worthy of scolding and reprimanding and in some cases discipline and punishment.
The fourth adjustment: It is clear from what I said in the previous discussions that the individual man is fully responsible towards the behaviour he shows as well as the personality and identity that is shaped in his being as a result of this behaviour.
This is because, even though in the family environment, the inheritance causes and the behaviour of the parents play an important role in dictating the acceptable and decent moral criterions, but when facing this group of causes, the functional intellect and the inner moral conscious of man on one side and the divine Prophets and their guidance and enlightenments and messages and teachings on the other side will level the way for the judgement and choice of man and if the individual is forced to choose the false moral criterions under the pressure of the moral environment of the family, no matter how substantial this pressure is, it will not be enough to completely turn off the inner call of the moral conscious and the functional intellect and the outer call of the Prophets and their followers.
As a result, man is always facing two calls; the call of the false moral criterions which takes place through the family pressure causes and the call of the true moral criterions that takes place by the functional intellect and moral conscious as well as the divine Prophets. It is up to man to accept one of these two calls using his judgement and give a positive response and submit himself, and thus it is also him who has to answer for this choice and tolerate the moral consequences arising from this choice.
Here I must point to the responsibility of man towards his identity and personality. From what was said in the third adjustment it is clear that man has three options towards his social personality and identity and it is his decision that will write his destiny with each of the three options. Thus he will take the responsibility for the consequences surging from choosing one of these three options.
The fifth adjustment: The responsibility of the society towards the social and individual behaviour.
I conclude from the previous discussions that the social personality of every society will be responsible for the social behaviour of that society. This does not mean the social personality of the society is not responsible for the individual behaviour of man but rather the social personality of the society is responsible for the individual behaviour in accordance with the social personality.
The explanation to this is that as I said, the social personality of the society can influence the individual personality of man and force him to accept the social personality and submit to the moral criterions and values that are the basis of the formation of that social personality.
When man submits to the decisive social values and moral beliefs of the society which shape the foundation of identity and personality of that society, he will choose those criterions for sculpting his individual personality and not only is he responsible toward this choice and the consequence rising from it, but the society is also responsible. What is meant by society is; all the social and individual organs that have a share in shaping the social personality of the society. The organs and the people who have shaped a suitable social personality by accepting a type of moral criterion are all responsible towards the consequences arising from this, including the individual behaviour following this social personality.
The sixth adjustment: Based on what was said in the fifth adjustment, all individuals who influence the shaping of the social personality of humans are responsible towards it, to the degree of the capability and level of influence they have on shaping the social and individual personality. The Prophets are responsible to explain the divine teachings that have been revealed to them and encourage people to bind by the true moral criterions.
The teachers, coaches, parents, the political, the economical, and cultural influential authorities are responsible to rise for supporting the divine Prophets and show their utmost effort and endeavour in obeying them and directing and familiarising people with true moral criterions and shaping their social and individual personality based on those criterions and preventing confusion between true and false moral criterions, and protecting the boundaries between them, and encouraging people to bind by the true moral criterions, although as I said in the previous discussion, the final decision on accepting or not accepting the true moral criterions is owned by the individuals.
However, if the influential elements in the shaping of the individual or social personality, show any negligence or fault or betrayal which would result in the individual or the human society choosing the wrong path, and thus resulting in the personality being shaped on the basis of corruption, oppression, betrayal and crime, in the same way that the personality itself is responsible towards its betrayal, oppression and crime, the influential elements will also be responsible in this regard, as they have levelled the way for the formation of this corrupt and felon character and his criminal and oppressive behaviours, by showing negligence and betrayal.
The seventh adjustment: shaping of the individual and social personality of man based on a type of decisive moral criterions does not mean man will always remain submitted towards these criterions and it does not mean that the doors of changing the route of his life and making another choice are always closed to him.
At any instance in life, man can be someone he was not a minute ago, despite all the internal and external causes that have encouraged him to submit to a collection of moral beliefs, and the personality he has built and tended to, based on those criterions. He can change his decisive moral criterions and beliefs and resist submitting to the previous moral criterions that are the foundation of forming his character, and turn away from those criterions and turn towards new criterions and show submission towards them and choose a new personality and behaviour based on the new moral criterions.
Not only has this reality been proven in social and individual experiences, but rather it is possible to realize this conscious reality with only a slight reflection. The salubrious man always, very clearly, feels the reality in his inner self that he has the power to change his way of life and transform his behaviour and personality, it is only his decision that is the final determinative in this regard.
- 1. The Holy Quran, Chapter 54, verse 50