"Using logic in the search for supreme values:" Review of
Love, Power and Justice: the Dynamics of Authentic Morality
Author: William S. Hatcher
Publisher: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, Wilmette, Illinois, 1998
Review by: Brad Pokorny
What is Justice? What is Truth? What is right and wrong? Is there a God?
These questions have engrossed philosophers and thoughtful people everywhere
since ancient times. The answers have come in great variety, from Plato's
theory of ideal forms to more recent concepts of cultural relativism and
The relevance of these questions today is highlighted by discussions about
the need for a new paradigm of global ethics and the accompanying search
for universal values. These discussions are perhaps most heated in areas
like human rights, where there is continuing disagreement over the degree
to which all possess the same rights or whether cultural and religious factors
give rise to different rights for different groups of people. But the questions
- and the answers they generate - also loom large in the background of contemporary
debates over the environment, educational methodology and media ethics -
not to mention more straightforward issues like military intervention and
For these reasons even the most hardheaded of policy makers, as well as
thinking people in virtually any culture, will find new and important ideas
in the latest book from William S. Hatcher, an American-born mathematician,
philosopher and educator at Laval University in Quebec, Canada.
Love, Power and Justice: The Dynamics of Authentic Morality
a bold and creative philosophical framework for understanding these great
questions and more. Quite specifically, the book seeks to define the nature
of "authentic morality" - a term that Dr. Hatcher uses to describe a moral
system that conforms with "an accurate perception of the structure of reality."
In the process, Dr. Hatcher outlines a series of philosophic constructs
that assert with convincing logic the existence of an all-powerful Creator,
the ultimate nobility of the human being, and the necessity for viewing
altruistic love as the guiding value in human relationships. Dr. Hatcher's
work also defines the legitimate use of power and the prerequisites for
The logic he employs goes far to prove the universality of such values and,
by extension, to establish the universal nature of human rights, the downfall
of cultural relativism and the demise of situational ethics. Another by-product
is a stunning critique of some of this century's most vibrant ideologies,
including fundamentalist religion, collectivist economics and the currently
reigning idea that individualistic competition promotes society's best development.
The book begins in a straightforward and direct manner, with the simple
assumption that the ultimate source of all intrinsic values is God, "for
He is the Creator who has alone determined the inner structure and degree
of refinement of each entity in existence."
As the supreme value in existence, the Creator by definition becomes the
ultimate end and goal of all human moral striving, Dr. Hatcher says. Further,
he asserts, "[b]ecause the 'reality of man' (the human soul) is capable
of reflecting all the attributes of God, the human being is the apex of
creation" and "the highest created value." He continues that since "the
God-given value of humankind is inherent in our essential nature, it is
intrinsic and, since it is shared by all humans, it is universal."
This, of course, is all quite similar to what has been taught by most of
the world's religions. And such ideas have also been hotly disputed by materialistic
philosophers who argue that there is no God (or no reliable proof of God)
or any evidence of the human soul, and so on. Yet it would be wrong to say
that Dr. Hatcher, who is a Bahá'í, looks to the past for his ideas, and
that his call for the acceptance of absolute truths and universal values
is a return to traditionalism.
Rather, Dr. Hatcher says he has drawn on and been inspired by the Bahá'í
writings for the insights that have led to his new formulation. Further,
Love, Power and Justice
is distinguished for its almost exclusive
reliance on pure logic for its conclusions.
Indeed, what makes the book so important is its use of new forms of logic,
based on mathematical concepts discovered within the last 100 years, that,
in subsequent sections, are used to prove the existence of a universal,
unique and uncreated Creator [see below] and, by logical inference from
that, the existence of a supreme and universal system of values. Dr. Hatcher
reasons, for example, that since God is the unique, universal Cause, God
must also be the most refined entity in existence and, accordingly, the
most valued entity in existence.
With these conclusions established, Dr. Hatcher then fills out the rest
of his book with an exposition of what such a reality must mean for human
morality - deriving what he considers to be "authentic" morality from this
hierarchy of values.
Authentic morality begins with our relationship with God, as the highest
value in the universe, and our relationship with other humans, as the highest
created value. "Since the human being is the supreme value in creation,
it is our interactions with other humans that have the greatest degree of
moral implication," he writes. "So much is this so, that we can say that
the most specific goal of morality is to establish authentic relationships
with other human beings.
"The mark of authenticity in interhuman relationships is the presence of
self-sacrificing love or altruism. Non-authentic relationships are based
on various forms of egotism and self-interest and are characterized by conflict,
disharmony, manipulation, cruelty, jealousy and the like."
In examining further what such a concept of authentic relationships must
mean in terms of moral actions in society, for example, Dr. Hatcher takes
a look at other models of reality and finds them deficient. He is especially
concerned with any ideology or system that holds ideas or things to be more
important than human beings.
For example, he writes, although all religions have taught of the necessity
of authentic relationships (such as Christ's commandment to "love God with
all thy heart and thy neighbor as they self"), he concludes that many religious
groups have become more concerned with doctrine, rejecting authentic morality
and instead defining morality as a set of rules or beliefs that must be
accepted above all else, even if doing so means harming others.
"Indeed, militant and exclusivist fundamentalist ideology seems to have
become predominant within many of the world's major religions in these closing
years of the twentieth century," he writes.
Dr. Hatcher likewise examines various humanistic ideologies. Communism and
other collectivist ideologies were doomed to fail, he suggests, because
they hold that the only possible source of individual value is what may
be attributed by society, rather than the intrinsic value that stems from
the God-created soul. "We must each conceive of ourselves as having value,
for to consider oneself worthless is to perpetrate spiritual or psychological
suicide," Dr. Hatcher writes. Since the only source of self worth in a collectivist
society is, by definition, the value attributed to the individual by society,
the individual soon realizes, whatever the rhetoric, that his or her value
is determined by his or her position in the status hierarchy.
In this situation, he writes, "[p]ower and authority allow us to compel
others to recognize our worth." Hence the tendency to seek dominance over
others, which causes great unhappiness and inherent instability.
The ideology of individualism in the West is also flawed, Dr. Hatcher believes.
"Recall that individualism gives value to personal ability that is demonstrably
above the perceived norm in society," he writes. "Individualism is the supervaluation
of the special. In a society where all accept the individualistic notion
of value, we can avoid the self-perception of worthlessness only by demonstrating
special ability in some way. This is done primarily through competition,
i.e. by constantly striving to outperform others and thereby to demonstrate
our superior ability in a given area of endeavor."
One problem is that sometimes the optimal strategy for winning a competition
is sabotage or corruption - and, without authentic morality, there is in
the end no ethical reason to abstain from such behavior.
A value system based on authentic relationships - and in particular an authentic
relationship with God - gives rise instead to the pursuit of excellence,
whereby one's self-worth is measured not through competition with others
but by the degree to which an individual improves his or her talents (or,
rather, strives to develop one's God-given qualities).
There is much more to this book than outlined here. Dr. Hatcher spends considerable
time looking at how his theory of authentic morality applies to questions
regarding the pursuit of power and the creation of justice. Power should
be used only to promote justice, never for revenge or for purely selfish
motives, for example.
In contemporary philosophy, then, the metaphysical theory outlined in
Love, Power and Justice
is in a category virtually by itself, diametrically
opposed to the dominant schools of post-modernistic relativism, materialism
The book adds up to a powerful exposition on global ethics - even though
it has none of the usual set of "dos and don'ts" that one usually associates
with other attempts to formulate a universal prescription for living. Rather,
Dr. Hatcher presents us with something much more intriguing: a new framework
for ethics that he believes can be logically proved to be universal and