Science, in consequence, has been accused of undermining morals—but wrongly. The ethical behavior of man is better based on sympathy, education and social relationships, and requires no support from religion. Man’s plight would, indeed, be sad if he had to be kept in order through fear of punishment and hope of rewards after death.
One cannot prescribe to anyone whether he should follow an ethic of absolute ends or an ethic of responsibility.
Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.
In law a man is guilty when he violates the rights of others. In ethics he is guilty if he only thinks of doing so.
I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it.
I believe, indeed, that overemphasis on the purely intellectual attitude, often directed solely to the practical and factual, in our education, has led directly to the impairment of ethical values.
An ethic of ultimate ends and an ethic of responsibility are not absolute contrasts but rather supplements, which only in unison constitute a genuine man — a man who can have the ‘calling for politics.’[Gesinnungsethik und Verantwortungsethik nicht absolute Gegensätze, sondern Ergänzungen, die zusammen erst den echten Menschen ausmachen, den, der den »Beruf zur Politik« haben kann.]
A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.