What it is to be a Substance? and What it is to Exist? We need to establish knowledge about the man and the world on a firm basis and the information it provides must be tested for its accuracy and consistency with an external reality. We have to make the fundamental distinction between the living and the non-living matter. The scientific advances of the 19th and 20th centuries reinforced the materialistic position concerning the basic similarity of organic living and inorganic physical matter. The man is viewed as a product of natural evolution and is thought to be subject to the same laws of Physics and Chemistry or mechanistic principles.
We need a methodology to study philosophy and to understand philosophical statements. Logical Positivism, also known as Scientific Empiricism aims to clarify concepts in both everyday and scientific language. It describes analysis of language as the function of philosophy. This analysis of language and of concepts is important to understand questions of belief and ideology which affect what we think we ought to do individually and socially. I would use this method of ‘Applied Philosophy’ to analyze the moral nature of the man and its relationship with his material or corporeal substance.
The man is a Spiritual Being and is constituted as a Moral Being. The moral nature of the man is a spiritual attribute and at a fundamental level the ability called moral discernment is related to the spiritual function that makes the man a conscious, sensible living entity. The function called consciousness contributes to the awareness to know the nature of actions performed and to make the distinction between right and wrong. Sometimes, the man is driven by an external stimulus or desire to perform an action and later the man reviews his own action to determine the good or evilness of his own act. The Science called Anthropology refers to the systematic study of all the dimensions of the man. Anthropology prefers to use direct observations of human beings, their activities and their products rather than using documentary accounts. Since Anthropology and all other Natural Sciences have not defined man as a Spiritual Being, I am using a different methodology to make my observations using documented accounts of human behavior and human nature to explain facts which can also be established by direct observations of living human beings. In this context, to know man as a Moral Being, I would like to share the story of Judas Iscariot and his betrayal of Jesus that is recorded in the Bible and most of my readers are already familiar with this story. I would like to remind my readers that at the time of this story, during the life of Judas Iscariot, there was no established religious faith or belief called Christianity and the actions of Judas strictly reflect upon his own intrinsic spiritual nature and his mind was not influenced by any concern about Salvation, Everlasting Life and acknowledging the truth about Jesus. The other disciples of Jesus were very doubtful and they waited until the fact of Resurrection to clarify their disbelief. None of those disciples were seen following Jesus while His earthly mission was coming to its conclusion by the act of crucifixion.
JUDAS ISCARIOT – THE BETRAYAL OF HUMAN NATURE:
Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon is depicted as the arch-traitor who betrayed Lord Jesus Christ. His surname of ‘Iscariot’ is a word thought to be from the Hebrew ‘Ish Kerioth’, that is, ‘a man of Kerioth’.
Kerioth is a place in Southern Judah and is mentioned in The Old Testament Book of Joshua, Chapter 15, verse# 25. Judas joined the disciples of Jesus on his own and his name is always mentioned last among the twelve apostles. It may be noted that the other eleven disciples of Jesus came from Galilee. He was appointed as the treasurer or keeper of the money bag for the disciples (The New Testament Book of John, Chapter 12:6, and 13:29).
Apparently, Judas got disappointed after his hopes for a high place in an earthly kingdom of Jesus were dashed.
Jesus spoke while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum and said, “This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:58)
These words were too hard to swallow; on hearing it , many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching, Who can accept it?” (John 6:60)
Jesus was aware of the fact that his disciples were grumbling about his teaching and knew that one of the Twelve would eventually betray him; Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil !” (John 6:70)
Later, when Jesus was anointed at Bethany with about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; Judas expressed his sense of indignation; “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a Year’s wages” (John 12:5 and Mark 14:3-9).
Judas was being hypocritical and his pretended indignation, his zeal for the poor could be really due to covetousness. By that time, Judas was already a thief and got used to help himself with money that was put in the money bag (John 12:6).
It is apparent that Judas was not influenced by the teachings of Jesus and in my view, Judas was estranged or alienated from his own true or real spiritual nature, the divine attribute of the living matter or living substance that provides the capacity to exist as a man with conscience.
The New Testament Book of Mark records this moral predicament of Judas; then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over (Mark 14:10-11).
The agreement made by Judas to betray Jesus is recorded in The New Testament Book of Matthew, Chapter 26, verses 14-16; “Then one of the Twelve – the one called Judas Iscariot – went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” So they counted out to him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.”
At the “Last Supper” Jesus revealed that one of the Twelve would betray him (John 13:26-27); “As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.” Jesus promptly instructed Judas to do what he had already planned to do.
At that time, Jesus had allowed Judas to act according to his own conscience and did not instruct him about the true or real spiritual nature of man.
The New Testament Book of Matthew, Chapter 26, verses #47-49 describe the arrest of Jesus at Gethsemane, a place near the Mount of Olives; “While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man, arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi.” and kissed him.” It did not take too long for Judas to recognize the enormity of his sinful conduct.
The Book of Matthew, Chapter 27 records in verses #1-5 as to how Judas responded to his own transgression; “Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death. They bound him, led him away and hand him over to Pilate, the governor. When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.” Apart from admitting his sinful act, Judas lost interest in seeking material wealth, and without any hesitation he had discarded those silver coins that he had initially coveted.
AKELDAMA – THE POTTER’S FIELD – THE PLACE OF BLOOD:
The New Testament Book of Matthew, Chapter 27, verses # 6-10 give a detailed account of the purchase of the ‘Field of Blood’. “The chief priests picked up the coins and said , “It is against the law to put this into treasury, since it is blood money.” So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial-place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter’s field as the Lord commanded me.”
The statement in The New Testament Book of Acts, Chapter 1, verses #18 and 19 is a parenthesis, an explanation by Apostle Luke and is not a part of Apostle Peter’s speech; “with the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field.”
It is apparent that the chief priests had made this purchase in the name of Judas and Judas made no attempt to gain profit from the bribe he had received for betraying Jesus. Judas had experienced a severe inner conflict when he contrasted his true nature with the action he had performed. There was no consistency between the two, between the nature and the behavior that he had expressed. To resolve this mental conflict and to assert his true nature, Judas decided to extinguish the life of the Physical Being which acted as if it is independent of its inherent moral nature.
CONSCIOUSNESS – A MORAL EXPERIENCE – SPIRITUAL ATTRIBUTE:
Consciousness is a biological condition and its characteristics include the awareness of behavioral actions performed and their nature. Consciousness could be explained as a moral experience. Consciousness is the attribute of a conscientious person. Conscious behavior is often described as conscientious action that is scrupulous, characterized by or done with careful attention. Conscience describes awareness of one’s own acts and the application of knowledge to discern an act as right or wrong, good or evil, selfish or altruistic. Man has the intrinsic ability to recognize his acts of transgression or sinful conduct. Man is a creature with ‘Conscience’ and hence exists as a Moral Being.