I have been running this blog since 2012 with one blog/week until last Spring when I took a “leave of absence” to complete the final summary of the blog’s thinking in a short book, which is to bepublished soon. The central thesis is that justice is a collective human instinct that has evolved over the millions of years, a legacy of our ancestral hominin species.
I have been running this blog since 2012 with about a post/week. Last Spring, I went on a sabbatical to finish a short book (soon available) summarizing the thinking in the blog. The central theme of the blog/book is that justice is the defining human instinct naturally selected over millions of years of evolution for permitting the engagement of teamwork, which always has been the decisive human adaptation.
In the book I stay far away from the subject of religion because it is such an automatic turnoff for so many. However, after it was finished, I could not resist throwing into an epilogue this Robert Bellah quote from Religion in Human Evolution:
The essay’s portrait of human nature is not complete without this passage by Robert Bellah in his Religion in Human Evolution (2011) in which he exemplifies a causal relationship between collective instincts for justice and religion. Bellah compares the trajectory of Zeus in Greece and that of Yahweh in Israel:
As a thought experiment, in what might have been we can think of the close connection of Zeus and justice (dikē) beginning, tentatively, in Homer, becoming quite explicit in and central in Hesiod, powerfully applied to his immediate situation by Solon, and reiterated once again in the tragedies of Aeschylus. But although the concern for justice remains central for those we call the Presocratics, the connection with Zeus loosens drastically. We saw in the case of Israel that Yahweh emerged gradually from being one of many other gods, even the greatest god, to the status of the one and only true God. Zeus never underwent that fate, even though the possibility was never entirely lost: witness the Hymn to Zeus of the early third century BCE Stoic Cleanthes (p. 373).
Last three stanzas from Cleanthes’ Hymn to Zeus (translated by E. H. Blakeney):
O Thou most bounteous God that sittest throned
In clouds, the Lord of lightning, save mankind
From grievous ignorance!
Oh, scatter it
Far from their souls, and grant them to achieve
True knowledge, on whose might Thou dost rely
To govern all the world in righteousness;
That so, being honoured, we may Thee requite
With honour, chanting without pause Thy deeds,
As all men should: since greater guerdon ne’er
Befalls or man or god than evermore
Duly to praise the Universal Law.