The Essence of Ethics

The notion that we humans are self equipped with instinctive qualities for ethical thinking is evidenced by our natural aversion to suffering for self and others. It seems to me that we are born with the former and that we develop the latter quite early in life through the most basic of natural experiences. Mencius’ illustration of our aversion to the suffering of a dog is a prime example of our natural sensitivity for the suffering of others. Our moment by moment quest for comfort seems to be a kinetic illustration of our natural discomfort in general.

It seems to me that such basic human qualities are the basis for ethical thinking, which in turn should translate to subsequent ethical behavior.

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2 thoughts on “The Essence of Ethics

  1. Too bad so many have put Money as their main motivator, which they believe makes them comfortable. Greed has replaced need. So somehow we must now also over come the idea of greed in so many. Hugs

  2. Re “It seems to me that such basic human qualities are the basis for ethical thinking, which in turn should translate to subsequent ethical behavior.” I think you are spot on. All social animals are averse to the suffering of others in their tribe/pack. Unlike schooling fish who reap a benefit from there being a large number of their like for predators to eat, maybe missing this or that individual, social animals cooperate on a much larger scale. This means rules of cooperation need to evolve: freeloading needs to be eschewed, reciprocity is good as a form of storage (of food and good will), etc.

    There are some religious spin doctors who want to hijack our innate ethical sense and claim it comes from their god. The only people who benefit from this are school kids whose answers on school science test are either “God did it” or “because God wanted it that way.” Every test an A in a religious school. The religious idea stems from “everything comes from god, therefore this came from god, that came from god, etc.” It follows … logically, you see.

    I don’t completely agree with Scottie (a rarity!) as I think our “pay as you go” culture is part of a control mechanism the elites use to keep the masses under their thumbs. I don’t think it is greed that is a motivation so much as a learned to the bone feeling that if you want any thing or want to do anything, you need money to pay for it. The Chinese say “No money, no life.” Precisely!

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