Western and Eastern Philosophy Comparison
Within philosophy one will find many concepts which one’s beliefs can relate, but some philosophers are more sound in their perspectives than others. One idea that is found to be compelling is western philosopher Mary Daly’s view on the male-dominated conception of God. Daly does not debate whether God exists; rather she focuses on how society’s beliefs are affected by God being conceptualized as the father (Moore & Bruder, 2008). God is the universal authority that is assumed by most to be a father which is a belief that has been persistent over the years through the preaching’s of various religions (Moore & Bruder, 2008). The problem becomes apparent when it is asked, “If God is father, where is mother?” The labeling of God as father implies relations to the concept that are rarely thought about or questioned; a man can be referred to as uncle, indicating a relationship to his sibling’s children; when man is known as brother, it implies that his mother and father fostered other children besides him; a man with the title of father bares the significance of having created children, but without a mother there could never be a father, for a father must come from a mother if we logically follow the human concept being used. With this in mind, it appears that if God is father there must be a mother. If we are going to apply a human concept to a higher power or deity, the implications that follow from the concept must logically be considered and not blindly ignored!
As is apparent, Daly provided a logical assertion about the implications of the human concept man applies to a perfect and inconceivable deity. In fact, labeling God with concepts that accentuate human qualities and relationships limits the abstract conceptualization of God that is truly needed to understand the nature of the world and universe. Blindly accepting the belief that a male God is father conceals a less obvious belief that is generalized throughout a person’s beliefs about all males; God is father, perfect, and superior to all, therefore the very concept of father includes superiority that automatically associates those qualities to men on Earth.
Moore and Bruder (2008) claim Daly also took conflict with God being conceived of with absolute love and absolute vengeance due to the vitality it gives the double standard of behavior. Thinking of God as a perfectly loving creator that will judge human habits vengefully to determine entrance to heaven produces the idea that a loving and perfect being also maintains undesirably vengeful behavior, which is contradictory of the admirable qualities of absolution all humans strive for. Believing that a perfect God has absolute love for all creations but will not hesitate to pass judgment, implies that God’s admirable love is also accompanied by undesirable vengeance; applying the concept of father to God uses an image of the imperfection of human qualities to rationalize a more easily understood explanation of a creator for the world’s existence. This rationalization has consisted of a superior male creator who is perfect in his love and vengeance which many would not consider a quality of perfect love for human men but in the acceptance of this belief come to assume that even the most perfect being has bad qualities; therefore it is acceptable to exhibit bad qualities since the being that made humans is said to exhibit those qualities and humans are unable to be better than God. Also, “God the father” is not resented for these less desirable qualities which influence how people react in response to men with these human qualities, leaving women of the same qualities to be judged more harshly. Religion’s lack of acknowledging women’s importance and equality, along with a more forgiving nature toward man’s less desirable qualities redirects attitudes toward fewer acceptances for women. Daly effectively revealed how rationalization and conceptualizations of a male God labeled as a father has ignored and denounced the importance of women, and with consideration to the movement of women’s rights that began shortly after her publications, it is easy to assume that much of the world agreed with her perspective.
Of the many Eastern philosophers, Mencius seems to provide the most compelling arguments in his belief that human beings are basically good and perfectible, which is only obtained through opportunities of difficulty and struggling (Moore & Bruder, 2008); only by overcoming these oppressions is one able to develop their true self. Moore and Bruder (2008) claim that Mencius believed that these opportunities of difficulty were the only way for humans to “develop independence, excellence, mental alertness, freedom from fear, and quietude of spirit” (p. 550). Daly’s philosophy can be said to be characteristic of his belief; it was only through difficulty and struggling that women were able to develop independence and freedom from fear. “In the process of perfecting one’s own life, Mencius said, one is put in a position of benefiting one’s family and, through teaching and leadership, society as a whole” (Moore & Bruder, 2008, p. 550); Daly definitely found herself in a position to benefit society as a whole through a deeper understanding of how simple concepts expressed through a single word produced power and control over a select portion of the population.
The difference between the philosophies is that Mencius sought to assert ideas about human nature and developing perfection, whereas Daly’s philosophy is more directed at a specific issue as a result of human nature; she sought to assert how strictly human conceptualizations of God as a father had affected human nature. While I agree a great deal with Mencius’ philosophy, it is more abstract than Daly’s. I must agree most with Daly’s philosophy due to the simple fact that her ideas are the most apparent in reality and are therefore more validated in my immediate consciousness. Mencius’ philosophy is a variation of past ideas on the perfection of human nature that are more difficult to validate from an objective standpoint. Philosophizing about the effects of beliefs on one whole part of the population within the global population provides more conclusive and supported assertions than a philosophy with the intent on providing a universal explanation of the perfect human nature that relies on assertions beyond full immediate human comprehension.
Moore, B. N. & Bruder, K. (2008). Philosophy: The power of ideas (7th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.