Religious Beliefs

Is there a distinctively Shinto ethic?

Some have characterized Shinto as a type of naturalistic humanism that begins with the conviction of innate human goodness. When evil gains the ascendancy, it is not because of some inherent or inherited human tendency. Evil advances whenever human beings lose their concentration on life at its simplest, most basic level. As an ethical ideal, the concept of makoto means something like genuineness or authenticity. An ethical person is one who characteristically makes choices unspoiled by ulterior motives. Purity of intention thus takes precedence over adherence to any specific set of commands and prohibitions. Scholars refer to an ethic of this kind as “contextual” or “situational.” All acts derive their moral value from the overall setting in which people perform them. A virtuous person is one who enjoys maximum harmony with the totality of the powers of nature.


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