Famous German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, stressed a definition of moral duty uncommon in his time, explaining that those who do good deeds need not do so for their own enjoyment. Kant explains that a person’s sole responsibility is to always do what they know and understand to be right. The categorical imperative that Kant projected suggests that a moral can be defined by something that should be a universal law.
The Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu religious scripture, teaches that morality is a tool, something to wield for good or evil, which is wasted if not spent performing growth stimulating action. The Bhagavad Gita stresses that a mortal life is not the entire journey nor is it significant if it is not utilized to its greatest capacity.
“‘Whoever sits, restraining the powers of action…this deluded self is called a hypocrite. But whoever…engages by the powers of action, unattached, this one is distinguished.”
Lord Krishna explains this concept to Arjuna when he questions his active roll in the battle. Lord Krishna is not only providing a motivational source of encouragement in the current situation, but also, is painting a picture of the Indian culture’s morals and values.
Lord Krishna is instilling a sense of duty to engage in action upon Arjuna. Action and adherence to the Indian cultures ethical and moral beliefs is stressed as rules for self-improvement. The culture’s religion insists that the morality given each individual be used to its greatest extent in active participation. Performance of this action as selfless service to the Gods, Lord Krishna explains to be worthy of great respect and honor.
A moral law that could be deemed acceptable to stress universally by both Kant and Lord Krishna, is the common belief that those of a specific civilization, religion, and culture share the capacity to learn, understand, and adhere to the moral expectations of their society in every given situation. Stressed in this law is the fact that the individual’s beliefs should take precedence over whether or not fulfillment of the expectation provides personal pleasurable.
It is the very presence of a common theme in both ancient literature of a different culture and modern philosophy that proves the universal nature of this concept.