Albert Schweitzer aimed to awaken in contemporary society a striving to create a philosophically based and practically applicable optimistic-ethical outlook, considering the main reason for the culture decline in the Western society the absence of such an outlook. However, he believed that it is necessary to abandon the optimistic-ethical interpretation of the world in any form. He thought that world, life, or ethics cannot be justified on the basis of knowledge of the world. He proclaimed the knowledge of the life (ethics) independent of the outlook, pessimism of knowledge and knowledge of optimism and practice. This optimism, as suggested by Schweitzer, is rooted in our will to live, the most immediate and most profound manifestation of which is reverence for life.
Ethics contains the supreme truth and the highest expediency. These were milestones of Schweitzer’s outlook.
A significant place in Schweitzer’s works is given to the ethical ideas and critical analysis of the ethical systems (from the ancient Greece to the end of the XIX century) from the standpoint of ethics of the active improvement and reverence for life, promulgated by Schweitzer.
Schweitzer considered later Stoics congenial to him: Kant, rationalists of the XVIII century in which he traced the development of the basic principle of the moral, contrasting their views over-ethical Hegel and his outlook of reasonable existence.
Ethical pathos permeates Schweitzer’s protest against “the grotesque progress” of modern Western society, hostile to genuine “ethical culture,” loss of ethical ideals bequeathed to it by the Enlightenment and the XVIII century rationalism. Schweitzer’s criticism is a criticism from the standpoint of the abstract humanism; the concretization of his views became his practical activities.
Schweitzer’s views have not received a complete systematic exposition. Practical implementation of the principles of his philosophical interest was him more important to him than their theoretical justification. Therefore, his outlook and his ethics cannot be divorced from his activities.
The internal logic of his beliefs (even if not always coincides with the logic of reality), the passion of his faith in the triumph of good and humanity, selfless service to accepted ideals, charm of his extraordinary personality – all this inspires deep respect for Albert Schweitzer.
However, one must admit that the Albert Schweitzer does not, and for quite obvious reasons, cannot give an accurate diagnosis of ailments of Western culture, does not put its degradation in a direct connection with the crisis of the bourgeois society foundations and sees no real way out of this crisis.
Unacceptable to many ethical mysticism, which Schweitzer proclaimed the only direct and sole deep worldview, a sumption-free logical culmination of rational thinking, as an updater of which he sought to address. Path to the affirmation of life through ethical mysticism and religion leads away from the mainstream of mankind development.
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