There Is No Mortal Who Is Purely Moral


By nature man should be either good or bad; or he should be good as

well as bad; or he should be neither good nor bad. There can be no

alternative possible besides these four propositions, none of which

can be accepted as true. Then there must be some misconception in

the terms of which they consist. It would seem to some that the

error can be avoided by limiting the sense of the term 'man,' saying

some persons are
ood-natured, some persons are bad-natured, some

persons are good-natured and bad-natured as well, and some persons

are neither good-natured nor bad-natured. There is no contradiction

in these modified propositions, but still they fail to explain the

ethical state of man. Supposing them all to be true, let us assume

that there are the four classes of people: (1) Those who are purely

moral and have no immoral disposition; (2) those who are half moral

and half immoral; (3) those who are neither moral nor immoral; (4)

those who are purely immoral and have no moral disposition. Orthodox

Christians, believing in the sinlessness of Jesus, would say he

belongs to the first class, while Mohammedans and Buddhists, who

deify the founder of their respective faith, would in such case

regard their founder as the purely moral personage. But are your

beliefs, we should ask, based on historical fact? Can you say that

such traditional and self-contradictory records as the four gospels

are history in the strict sense of the term? Can you assert that

those traditions which deify Mohammed and Shakya are the statements

of bare facts? Is not Jesus an abstraction and an ideal, entirely

different from a concrete carpenter's son, who fed on the same kind

of food, sheltered himself in the same kind of building, suffered

from the same kind of pain, was fired by the same kind of anger,

stung by the same kind of lust as our own? Can you say the person

who fought many a sanguinary battle, who got through many cunning

negotiations with enemies and friends, who personally experienced the

troubles of polygamy, was a person sinless and divine? We might

allow that these ancient sages are superhuman and divine, then our

classification has no business with them, because they do not

properly belong to mankind. Now, then, who can point out any sinless

person in the present world? Is it not a fact that the more virtuous

one grows the more sinful he feels himself? If there be any mortal,

in the past, the present, and the future, who declares himself to be

pure and sinless, his very declaration proves that he is not highly

moral. Therefore the existence of the first class of people is open

to question.