23 January 2009

Henry: Pleasure and Duty Reunited

Here's another fascinating section of Carl Henry's study of Christian ethics. He explains that pleasure and duty ought not to be seen as in antithesis, as in secular ethics, which tends to either place pleasure at the top and neglect duty, or duty at the top (Kant's categorical imperative) and neglect pleasure. Henry writes that Christian ethics

overcomes the tension introduced into the moral life when pleasure and duty are set in opposition. Secular ethics has issued on the one hand in an ethics of duty at the expense of personal pleasure, and on the other hand in an ethics of pleasure which threatens to negate duty. The failure to exhibit the organic relation of pleasure and duty is the deficiency which allows for such miscarriage in moral theory. . . . Actual Christian ethics shows the path of duty to be also the path of genuine happiness, and true happiness as the service of God and man. It reconciles the two - and here proves itself again to be superior to secular ethics.

--Christian Personal Ethics, 171

No comments: