08.02.2018: One Chapter of Nonfiction


Today's soundtrack is Lili Poe: Amours Fragiles.

This afternoon marks my completion of my math course! As such, I'll be adding Khan Academy's math courses back into my Randomizer. I'll now be reading the fifth chapter of Coles Philosophy Questions and Answers, "Ethics."

We study ethics to discover "the life worth living" (p. 18). Ethics is the theory of what conduct is conducive to a good life; morality is ethics in action. Acting against "one's ethical principles" (p. 18) or values is immorality. We call the philosophy of ethics "meta-ethics" (p. 18). The study of the ethics of a group and the politics governing that group is called "social ethics" (p. 18). Two of the early schools of ethics were those of hedonism and those of stoicism: the former, a focus on pleasure; the latter, a focus on steadiness in life and an avoidance of uncontrollable passions. What we now call self-actualization, sometimes called "self-realization" (p. 18), was seen in Aristotle's study which concluded that happiness is the greatest good. In each branch of ethics, there are moral actions (those which lead to the state that is believed to be the highest good) and immoral actions (those that take man in a path away from good).

There are many different schools of thought about what is the greatest good for mankind. We differentiate between morals and ethics; ethics "is a branch of axiology, the study of values" (p. 19).

Schools of ethics:

Pessimists do not say that pleasure is good; they believe man should seek "a life free from torturous desire" (p. 18). Buddhists are a famous example of pessimists.

Pragmatic ethicists say that the greatest good is the solution to the worst problem facing mankind, whatever that problem is. Once that problem is solved, the new greatest good is the solution to the second-worst problem, and so on. So the greatest good is contextual.

The study of what ethics should govern a group is called "social ethics" (p. 19). Karl Marx was a proponent of social ethics.

I've been reading about Maslow's belief that self-actualization is man's ultimate goal. What I've read in Aristotle's Ethics is that man's happiness is the greatest good. Coles Philosophy Questions and Answers says the "school of ethics" (p. 19), to which Aristotle belonged, believed "that the goal of life is the self-actualization" (p. 19). (I would like to look further into what influence Aristotle had on Maslow.)

Hedonism is the belief that that the greatest good for man is pleasure. Both utilitarianism and Epicureanism are kinds of hedonism; adherents to the former believe that the greatest good is found in what is the most beneficial to the most people; however, Epicurus put an emphasis on "spiritual pleasure and avoidance of pain" (p. 19). Epicureans are called qualitative hedonists; utilitarians are called quantitative hedonists.

People who deny the existence of moral values and judgements are called "ethical nihilists" (p. 19).

Ethical naturalists hold the belief "that any object of interest is [of] value" (p. 19).

Evolutionary naturalists say that the greatest good is found in the things that serve to support mankind's survival.

Kant's categorical imperative says that man should at all times "[a]ct in conformity with that maxim, and that maxim only, which you can at the same time will to be a universal law" (p. 19). (To be frank, it seems like a complex of rephrasing the Golden Rule). This imperative is an ethical one, as it deals with morals. Aristotle held a similar view: he said that acting morally was "doing the right thing, to the right person, at the right time, in the right manner, to the right extent, and for the right purpose" (p. 20).

Kant held to the school of "deontological ethics" (p. 19), which indicates a belief that morality is self-evident and that man has a duty to follow his intuition about what he should do.

Ethical subjectivism says that morality is - surprise, surprise - subjective.

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