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Moral Crisis and Rationality Development*

Moral Crisis and Rationality Development*

By Zainul Maarif**


Moral crisis was one of many terms that crowded the recent discourses world. It usually been correlated with the individual or social behavior phenomena which out of the ethical standard. Then, the bad of the individual or social behavior usually called by the moral crisis.

Furthermore, the discussion about it develops toward the inquiring of the cause of moral crisis. One of many assumptions in this discussion asserts that the moral crisis is resulting of the stagnation of rationality. It means that the human reason has contribution to the building of morality characteristic. And the way of human thinking has the responsibility to the moral crisis happen.

But, it’s not axiomatic theses. Cause, we will face two-contradiction theses when enter to discussing them. First of them said that the moral crisis is correlating with the lack system of rationality, and the second one said that both are not correlate. Moreover, those theses make some big remark questions inside our minds. Does the moral crisis is correlating with the lack of the system of rationality? Or does the development of rationality able to solve the moral crisis problem?

In other word, we will contact with two preferences when we attempt to answer those questions: to answer yes or not, then make some argumentations. And it’s not easy as we consider. Answering those questions require some discursive attempt to get good answer. One of them was conceptual analysis. We should to analyze the concept of moral crisis and rational development. Then, we attempt to find the relation between them by asking the source of morality and by viewing the existence of their relation in the reality. So, we will enter to ontology, epistemology and axiology perspective when study this problem.



            Now, we start our study by ontology perspective. I meant we would analyze the concept of moral crisis and rational development. In the first paragraph, I was said that the moral crisis, according to me, was manifested in the individual or social conducts which contrary to the ethical norms. If the ethical norms were identical with idealism, and the individual or social conducts were identical with reality, then the moral crisis was identical with the contradiction between reality and idealism.

It was evident that honesty, for example, was the obligated norm for all person and all society. Whenever it lost from them, they will automatically enter to the gate of moral crisis. Cause, falsehood been the dominant characteristic. Then, trust to other one been disappeared. And it is one of kind of the moral crisis that we can see it in the reality.

Some of inference appears from viewing that phenomenon. One of them said that the moral crisis is resulting of lack of rationality, as I have mentioned before. This opinion asserts that the moral crisis will never exist when the rationality is developing. It meant that reason could restrain the morality. Till whenever the reason develops goodly, the morality will be good. In other word, this opinion concludes that the relation of morality and reason is very tight. But, it is under estimate cause we may examine its validity with many questions. Some of them was the question which inquiry the source of morality. Does the morality is coming from the reason?



In Islamic tradition, Asy’ariah and Mu’tazilah schools have discussed this problem. Both have debated the source of good and bad or the source of morality. Asy’ariah said that The Divine Command is the source of morality. Human, according to them, will know the good and bad from God. When God said that justice, for example, is good, so it’s good. And when He said that the cruel is bad, so it’s bad. From those postulates, they believe that the morality depends to The God Willing.

Otherwise, Mu’tazilah said that morality depends to rationality. Good is what was good according to reason. And bad is what was bad according to reason. Reason, in other word, is the source of morality. It has the morality standard before the present of command god. Therefore, Mu’tazilah affirms the relation between the reason and the morality when Asy’ariah doesn’t affirms it.

I think discussing this debate makes us more confuse. Cause, we will ask about what is the true opinion, as we still ask, is there any relation between moral crisis and the rationality development.  To clear this problem, I think we must correlate it to the reality by asking does the relation of moral crisis (morality) and the rationality development (reason) exist in the reality?



This question, according to me, needs another question to be clearer. Does a man who usually uses his reason having good morality? I think it’s true. Whoever life with the guidance of reason will be a good human. Cause, reason is the light of god inside every human. And the teachings of god in the revelation are only an addition to the ability of human reason to get the truth. Cause, without revelation, human reason can know what are god and bad. Therefore, there is a tight connection between reason and morality. And the moral crisis, automatically, also has connection with the lack of rationality. Then, to solve the problem of moral crisis, we must develop the motion of reason. Till we never hear again the issue of moral crisis.


Jakarta, March 30, 2004.




  1. Asy-Syahrusatani, Al-Milal wa An-Nihal, Beirut: Darul Ma’rifah, 1997.
  2. Bagus, Loren, Kamus Filsafat, Jakarta: Gramedia, 2002.
  3. Bergson, Henry, The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, Trans. R. Ashley Audra & Cloudesley Brereton, New York: A Double Day Anchor Book, 1954.


* Logic’s paper.

** Post-graduate student of ICAS-Jakarta graduated from Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt.

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