chapter  6
19 Pages

Myth and moral philosophy

ByJames Wetzel

The biggest myth in moral philosophy is arguably the biblical myth of the Fall. I mean biggest in the sense of most influential. The idea that the moral life is to be measured against a lost beginning, a time when human beings were better than anyone is now in a position to remember, is one that has haunted the moral imagination of the West for millennia, mostly in its biblical form. There are other ways to read the biblical myth, of course, and other ways to mythologize a lost beginning. I will want to take a good look at one of these other ways – Plato’s – before I offer my considered thoughts on why the biblical myth has been such a source of vexation and insight for moral philosophy. My way into the thick of the issue between myth and moral philosophy is through Kant and, more particularly, through Kant’s moral interpretation of Genesis in one of his last and most controversial works, Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason (hereafter referred to simply as Religion).1 As a moral philosopher of influence, Kant is big enough for my purposes.