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Some Human Sources of the UB (1992)
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16:7 Morals, Virtue and Personality (2011) go
139- Apostles Study Part I (2010)
188:4-5 Lessons from the Cross (2011)

"Morals, Virtue, and Personality" (16:7)
 


I DISCOVERED Dr. Max Schoen’s essay, "A Scientific Basis for Moral Action," as the source for Paper 16's section "Morals, Virtue, and Personality" on November 23, 2009, using www.books.google.com.

The vivid language and mundane concepts of this section - so different from most of the rest of Paper 16 - lent themselves to a source search. I googled variations of the phrase ‘animals learn only by leaping, while humans can learn from looking as well as from leaping’ and came up with a snippet from Schoen’s article. I searched further into the article (only being able to read one snippet at a time, as the full article was not accessible) and came up with other snippets that paralleled passages in 16:7.

The fact that this apparent new source first appeared in 1939 in The Scientific Monthly (a popular American magazine published from 1915 to 1957) didn’t surprise me, as I had already identified two post-1935 articles from this journal as Urantia Book sources. One was a 1942 article on the atmosphere, which was used in Paper 58; the other, also published in 1942, was on neutrinos and supernovae and used in Paper 41. Still, since most of Part I of the Urantia Book appears not to have used many identifiable sources besides the Bible, I was thrilled to come across a modern one.

After obtaining the article from a friend in the United States, I read it a few times and drafted a rough parallel chart. I returned to it almost a year later and am now presenting both the article and the refined parallel chart here. I’d also like to offer a few comments on both the article and how the UB author used it.

In his article, Schoen begins by recommending Socrates’s conception of virtue, summed up as "the knowledge of the art of measurement," as the only valid principle for moral action. He then explains how this principle equates to modern psychology’s conception of moral conduct as "action in keeping with human intelligence." After discussing our unique human abilities of discrimination and insight, Schoen concludes: "A moral act, then, for a human being, is an act in which human intelligence is operating in its complete form . . . and such an act is realized only when the chosen means are prompted by chosen ends. To be moral is to know what you are doing, why you are going there and how you are to get there."

Seasoned Urantia Book students who’ve read 16:7 several times will immediately recognize the similarity between Schoen’s remarks and passages in the section.

But, as the very first row of the parallel chart shows, the UB clashes with Schoen’s insistence that morality and intelligence are synonymous. Morality, the UB says, in keeping with its presentation in 16:6 of the three cosmic-mind-associated inalienables of human nature, can not be explained by intelligence alone. Here we see the author of Paper 16 critically revising the uncited source to fit the conceptual framework laid out earlier (and later) in the paper.

After this initial dispute, the parallelisms continue in a rather easy-to-follow way. The only complication is that the Paper 16 author begins gleaning midway through Schoen’s article and then, at 16:7.6, goes to the beginning and continues gleaning from there.

The UB author refrained from importing the context and color of Schoen’s article - neither mentioning Socrates or modern psychology, let alone Köhler’s pioneering study of the mentality of apes made in the first third of the 20th century - so the section has a dry, abstract quality. But the UB author did supplement Schoen by imparting UB-unique (believers would say "revelatory") information about the cosmic nature of personality and the definition of supreme virtue as "wholeheartedly to choose to do the will of the Father in heaven."

As mentioned above, "Morals, Virtues, and Personality" stands out, in its rather mundane focus, from the rest of the paper. The Seven Master Spirits, after whom Paper 16 is named, are not even mentioned. It is interesting, then, to reflect on the probable fact that the section was a late insertion into the paper. Up until 1939 or later, the manuscript might well have had eight sections instead of nine.

Questions inevitably arise. The obvious one is, why was Schoen’s article considered by the UB author to be so important as to warrant not only its gleaned incorporation into the Urantia Papers, but its late (post-1934) inclusion? The article didn’t introduce any vitally new concepts, being little more than a modern psychological defense of the Socratic conception of virtue. What’s more, the UB’s rendition gives short shrift to Schoen’s thesis, expressed in the first sentence of the article, that "a scientific foundation for moral action is not only possible but that it is the only foundation that can bring about results that are at all desirable." The UB’s endorsement of this thesis boils down to the commonplace, on 16:7.9, that "Morality can never be advanced by law or by force." Further, most of the last half of the article wasn’t even used.

Schoen himself, a professor of psychology and education at Carnegie Institute of Technology when he wrote the article, seems not to have been particularly distinguished, nor does his article seem to have had any decisive impact. A google search revealed that he wrote about a dozen books, including several on art and music, and a psychology primer called Human Nature.

I would wager that one reason the UB author gleaned from Schoen to create "Morals, Virtue, and Personality" is that Schoen focused on our unique qualities as moral beings. Sections 6, 8 and 9 are likewise devoted to outlining our unique qualities, defining them as cosmic-mind-associated, innate capacities. The common denominator in sections 6, 7, 8 and 9 is the true significance and endowments of our human nature. Schoen’s article was, then, relevant to the last half of Paper 16; but the question remains, why was that article chosen over the countless other and earlier sources that were equally relevant?

Meanwhile, in July of 2008, I discovered the probable source for a substantial portion of two other sections in Paper 16 - section 6 ("The Cosmic Mind") and section 9 ("Reality of Human Consciousness"). It’s God in Idea and Experience, or The A Priori Elements of the Religious Consciousness: An Epistemological Study (1931), by Rees Griffiths. A few days ago I also discovered that this book was also used in Paper 196. I will be publishing my work-in-progress parallel chart for Paper 196 in a couple weeks, after which I’ll present the Griffiths-Paper 16 parallels.   up

 
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