spirituality - lesson 9: ethics / morals
as individuals our central and very human desire is to lead a happy life. we aim tofunction from day to day in a happy manner and enjoy being able to exercise our personal capacities whilst fitting into a social context. in terms of the collective,how can a mass of people all enjoy happiness without upsetting any individual? ithas been through morals that people have tried to come to some sort of resolution of the problem!
good and evil / right and wrong; these are fairly obscure constructs, each withwavering boundaries that set them apart. their definitions, however, are importantin the pursuit of self interest and have an establishment that goes back to theearliest times of human society. we can all agree that 'good' brings aboutbeneficial results and that 'bad' brings about negative results. this the basis of auniversal standard of judgement.ethics are primarily concerned with principles of right and wrong and how theygovern behaviour of the human character. ethics are thus internally defined andadopted, whilst morals tend to be externally imposed on other people. there is a
long tradition in ethics that places great importance on the ‘kind of person one is’.we not only want those around us to ‘tell the truth’ but also to be honest. bo
tharistotle and aquinas emphasized this aspect of ethics by highlighting the role of
what we would today call ‘character’ in their discussions of ethics. a practical
consequence of this view is that the education of, for example medical doctors,should include the cultivation of virtues such as compassion, discernment,trustworthiness, integrity, conscientiousness as well as benevolence (desire tohelp) and nonmalevolence (desire to avoid harm).