Moral convictions driving innovation

The vision of Saint Ignacio de Loyola at Seville Cathedral
The vision of Saint Ignacio de Loyola at Seville Cathedral

One of the most ancient philosophies, Chinese one, has got a very interesting concept: yin and yang. It represents how opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.

An example in history was the development of Reformation and Counter-Reformation in Europe. Bertrand Russell thought that Reformation was mainly a political revolt against the power of Pope in Italy. The Counter-Reformation was a revolt against the intellectual and moral freedom of Renaissance in Italy.

Reformation was German, Counter-Reformation was Spanish. They were the germen of wars of religion between Spain (that was the main military power in Europe in that time) and its enemies. The initial protestant success was limited due to the creation of the Jesuit order by Saint Ignacio de Loyola. Loyola had been a soldier and every Jesuit was to consider himself as a soldier against heresy. The Jesuits acquired prestige especially in the Far East. They work on education, and where theology was not involved, the quality of the education they provided was the best obtainable.

Reformation and Counter-Reformation imposed different moral conceptions in Europe. Protestants believed in predestination and salvation was a matter of faith, in front of Catholics that believed in free-will and salvation was a matter of both faith and works.

The effect on European culture was important due to their consequences instead of their philosophies. The diversity of creeds and the fatigue from ideological warfare produced in the next centuries more interest on reason and learning, especially mathematics and science.

Moral convictions always had been a matter of faith and they can change over time as the epoch of Reformation and Counter-Reformation shows.

Moral convictions have got a great importance for the way that innovation is driven in our societies, especially because they are linked to many prejudices. For instance, before Reformation activities related to lend money in exchange of some interest were considered something ignoble and not Christian; however, nowadays, the world is driven, among many other things, by the rate of interest defined by central banks.

With the evolution of societies over time, many moral prejudices have been overcome and it has been possible due to the increasing interest in science and the use of reason to solve discrepancies and social problems.

Reformation and Counter-Reformation produced two sides of the same coin as Yin and Yang. This coin with head and tails is present today in the Occidental culture although we are not aware of it.

Although occidental culture is based on the Christianism, moral convictions linked to predestination and free-will are slightly different and they have an effect on how people look at common activities like the innovative and productive ones.

The classic idea that Southern European people (in Catholic countries) are more imaginative and passionate can be real and they may be related to these moral convictions. Free-will implies a vision of multiple ways to find a solution and an optimal one in front of predestination that paints a world of only one color (one way). On the other hand, protestant people are freer of guilty feeling. They have less fear to be wrong because the error would be produced by destiny.

Both competences (imagination and fearless to be wrong) are required in the innovation process. That is reason why, like yin and yang, Northern and Southern European people rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.


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