Alain de Botton: Values Without Religion

Posted By on June 7, 2019

Posted by Lewis Heart

This article has 33 comments

  1. Haha! I can just imagine a post-religious society and somewhere in it an atheist father talking to his son right before bedtime:

    "…and you shouldn't steal, murder or treat anyone else unfairly."
    "Why not?"
    "Because we should endeavor to be virtuous."
    "What happens if I don't want to?"

    After a long pause, the father tugs at his shirt collar and nervously clears his throat.

    "Well you see, there's this Flying Spaghetti Monster…"

  2. You know in the catholic teaching you are bad at birth. Its called original sin and only through the church can you become good. Yikes

  3. Born in a country where Christ is not that popular. I never understood why America think "without religion, what do you base your morale on?"
    Well… on my humanity? I don't want to harm a person because simply I'm a human. I feel pain when another person is harmed, because I'm a human. It's biology, it's how our specie's brains work. Why would I need a religion to "be human"?

  4. Here are a couple of things we should know about this brilliant and most original thinker:
    1. He has a youtube channel called " The School of Life", with more than 2.5 million subscribers. They pay the best animators from all around the world to make those little films that teach us everything we weren't taught in school! To try the channel, you can start with one of these videos:
    -First world problems
    -Memento Mori ( made with legos! )
    -On feeling depressed

    2. Alain has wonderful documentaries on his other youtube channel. They all have a life changing quality. To find the channel search for this documentary:
    " Status Anxiety".

    3. The most profound and meaningful conversation I have ever heard about love is the interview Alain gave on the " On Being With Krista Tippett" podcast, where he talks about his bestselling book " The Course of Love".

    4. If you want to read one book by Alain, start with " The Consolations of Philosophy". That book is my bible!

  5. but many of those widely agreed upon values are culturally instilled Christian values – which is why so many people agree on them. It's momentum – in the sense that God is dead but the music is still playing. The worry that there are no values is the worry that there's no justification for values. People may agree in groups, which is fine, functional, but philosophically empty in terms of justification. If group agreement is all that justfies a value system then it is truely the arbitrary of collective subjectivism. In our case in the west, mainly Christian values go on.

  6. This chap speaks from a romantic position. Without some religion or faith there can ultimately no agreement.
    He is a dreaming idealist and has no position in "real politic"

  7. Honestly, to make atheism and secularism effective we really need to listen to this man who wants to steal off of religion (btw- something mankind made up) to make these movements more effective. I really wish the new atheists could see this. Btw, I am for ridiculing faith and getting rid of the taboo on supernatural beliefs. Any thoughts? Shoot away.

  8. For me the place where this falls flat is "if someone tells me what I should do, that person is taking away my freedom".

    That's not true. If a person orders you to do something and enforces their will on you so that you will suffer consequences if you do not obey, that takes away your freedom. If you don't like it, use your feet. Walk away. Otherwise, if you take offense, then you are easily offended. That's what this is about. Of course there is the argument about parents wanting their children to grow up believing a certain religious point of view. It is the same as a parent wanting their children to grow up with no religious point of view. But that is a different matter. This is about getting your panties in a twist and taking offense when you are an adult who should be above that. Nobody can make you do anything by simply telling you to do it. Be a man. Walk away.

  9. He never said religion is good or evil he is simply saying there are good sides to religion that we can grasp on. Modern days we became too dogmatic about law, justice and equality and we forgot about how to be happy.

  10. seems to be human nature to be threatened by new ideas or new ways of thinking.. It difficult enough just introducing a new product, sometimes..-we have to hype the dickens out of it with media sensationalism, to get people to check it out.. So it's a form of fear, of something new, different, etc.. Of course, on the other hand, there's all that warm-fuzzies we get from old ways, traditions, good ol' days where stuff stayed the same, little threat from change or new..

  11. I appreciate his teachings. BUT I do disagree with him knowing where he's going w/o finishing vid. There is no system of moral teaching today. There is only one exception to this. There are no Stoic or Epicurean systems that are built anymore. Many say morals can be built without religion only as hearsay and lip service. The remainder of my point is that the Catholic Church is the last and only bastion of moral and ethical teaching today that actual develops virtuous systems based on real world situations. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is an example. Trying to reinvent the wheel just because or perhaps your an Atheist belies sound logic or reasoned argument for which this philosopher is a strong proponent.

  12. With religion you have no agreement on what is wicked/sinful/haram.  How could you possibly expect to? Religions notions don't have to be justified with reasons. They are superstitions. Even within Christianity, churches cannot agree on the wickedness of gay marriage, for example.

    Without religion, you have law. Here, astonishingly, within each country a consensus was found on extremely detailed matters of wickedness.  Law is supposed to make sense. That gives it a huge leg up over religion in being universal/absolute. People had rules of conduct for 100,000 years  before Jehovah was even a twinkle in Jewish eyes.

  13. The Alain de Botton podcast on the subject of, ""What makes us human" is truly inspiring to me.  Thank you Alain for sharing such enlightened and thoughtful philosophies.  It's given me an impetus to challenge my values and personal biases.   

  14. this is full of shit. if a person can take heroin and stay a productive memeber of society(or have the finances to support themselfs after doing so) i m not the one to judge them for their decision, even if it isn't one i would make myself. religious people judge other people for actions that are harmless and make them think they are inherently broken for having their basic needs and nature. yes, too much of anything is bad, otherwise it wouldn't be too much, but needs are needs.

  15. He's describing religion from quite a positive point of view; maybe because he remembers that there were plenty religious households where life was very good.

  16. I have no problem with religion I'll even humor you till your finish but honestly if you really need the concept of a higher being just to prevent your self from stealing are you really so much better than me?

  17. heh.. and speaking of being a grammar nazi… MrHerrJacobsen.. did you mean you couldn't agree with mylightningblues anymore.. ie.. you no longer agree with him?.. or that you really, really agree with him, in which case, .. you couldn't agree with him more (as in, you agree to the fullest extent possible).. and yes.. I am a pedantic twit, I know this about myself 😉

  18. He is a materialist. I am not. If I were I would be nihilist. I mean, like I wanna get ''meaning'' from reading Proust or something ????!!! Actually I'd take to a kind of hedonistic nihilism like a duck to water.


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