The Origins Of Morality And Religion -- By: H. L. Latham

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 090:360 (Oct 1933)
Article: The Origins Of Morality And Religion
Author: H. L. Latham


The Origins Of Morality And Religion

H. L. Latham

Character Research Service, Pleasant Hill, Ohio

The quest for sources still enchants not only the curious youth, but the seasoned thinker, as well; and this because a possible “revelation” may disclose what has not been discovered through a survey of the more immediate facts.

A tenth edition of the book means that Henri Bergson has contributed a real treasure in his “Les Deux Sources de la Morale et de la Religion.”1

This book embraces within the scope of 346 pages a philosophy of ethics and a philosophy of religion. In each the author penetratingly treats of the interplay of individual factors and of social influences which together produce on the one hand morality and on the other religion.

Probably no reader will demand or expect a new apocalypse of metaphysics when he opens this treatise; he will not find it. If he seeks a cautious, suggestive and authentic explanation of ethics and religion based on Bergsonian principles he will read with growing satisfaction and understanding.

The excellence of treatment lies in the exposition of the numerous phases of these two momentous experiences rather than in the conclusion arrived at on the last page. The results of the inquiry indeed are interspersed throughout the discussion. They are answers to such questions as: What creative element appears in morality? What is the effect of reflection on moral standards? What part does fictional invention play in religion?

As a further inducement to the reading of this noteworthy treatise we add a summary of certain topics selected largely from the earlier pages.

We obey parents and teachers because we sense the influence of society behind them. Then habit comes to carry a part similar to that played by necessity in nature.

The numerous obligations are interdependent and in fact attain organization that indicates their unity with the order of nature. The student of nature is impelled to speak of factors “obedient to the law of nature,” giving to natural law an imperative force. Likewise moral obligation acquires the status of a law of nature.

Religion, whatever its origin, plays a social role. It supplements and rectifies the administration of justice in society. Society molds individuals into an organization analogous to the relation found between natural objects.

Thus far we have been discussing the structural analogies between nature and society. We turn now to view the individual in society. Although we are closely engr...

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