The Ethical Experience by 9NtCySy



                                             CHAPTER ONE
                                         “Mapping the Ethical Experience”

                                        EXAMINING THE DIFFERENCE
Ethics                                                 Morality
      Having to do with good character                      Having to do with the customs, habits, and
      Discipline that deals with the nature of the           manners shaping human life
       good, the nature of human persons, and the            The ways in which humans can attain “good”
       criteria we use to make right judgments                (rules, laws, commandments)
      The “good” that humans tend towards.                  Morality is putting ethics into action (ex.
      Ethics guides morality (ex. understanding              practicing musical skills, hitting the right notes,
       musical theory and technique, knowing how to           performing)
       read music)
      Ethics takes priority over morality; when faced
       with a situation, it is the higher good or good
       intent that should be examined. The act is not
       the final word.
      Relate to questions such as: How and when
       does human life reflect what is good? How do
       we aim at the good life? Who determines what
       is good? What is the good life?

                                         The Ethical Experience

                  Ethics and morality become a series of do’s and don’ts imposed on you on outside
                  You may feel like theses obligations are imposing on your personal freedom
                  Ethics/ Morality may not seem personal and “your own”

             #1: The Scream (The Experience of Personal Response)
                  Imagine being in a place of tranquility and peace. You are relaxed and calm until
                   the silence is interrupted by a loud scream. How do you react?
                                 It is a sound that touched you deeper than intellect. It urges you to
                                  not think, but act. It is deeply felt, and you feel the inner tension to
                                  respond. It is not a decision you make, it is automatic
                                 This is what it means to experience an ethical response. It is a
                                  uniquely human experience.

           #2: The Beggar (The Experience of the Other)
                Originated from French-Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas
                All face-to-face encounters remind us of our responsibilities to the “Other”.
                When confronted with a homeless man on the street, there are many emotions that
                 you feel before you decide whether or not you will give the man some loose
                 change. He or she is inside of you in your decision. It is an internal experience.

          In other words, the “Other” has taken you hostage and made you responsible. The
           other person has evoked a response from you

#3: “I Have to…” (The Experience of Obligation)
      Your ethical sense is turned on when someone orders you to do something (i.e.
       Your parents asking you to be careful at night)
      The experience of feeling obliged to obey rule or law has everything to do with
       your ethical side
      It is a debate of right or wrong
      Authority has the ability to convince you to act a certain way; you cannot ignore
       it. The order or wish invades your conciseness and demands a response.

#4: “This is Intolerable! This isn’t fair!” (The Experience of Contrast)
     Occurs when you feel outraged by something blatantly unjust or unfair happening
      to yourself or others
     Generally humans act with anger and rage
     When you feel strongly about an injustice occurring in your world, you have
      empathy for the others around you and are able to see the world the way it should
     It is natural for one to retreat from the destruction they have faced
     This ethical experience is based on contrast; you are shocked by terrible events
      when you expect so much more from fellow humans

                                  Aristotle: 384-322 BC

        Greek Philosopher, born in Stagira, a northern Greek town
        His father, a physician was friends with the King (Amyntas II), Aristotle became
        friends with the King’s son Phillip
        After his parents deaths, at the age of 17, went to Athens to study at Plato’s academy,
        where Plato himself took Aristotle under his wing
        Aristotle learned greatly from Plato, despite being more focused on hands on
        philosophy, whereas Plato was more focused on contemplation
        Aristotle was invited by his old friend Phillip (who was now king) to tutor his son
        Alexander, who would go on to become Alexander the Great
        Aristotle wrote over 360 works, most of which were lost in the destruction of the
        library in Alexandria
        Aristotle created ‘Teleological Ethics’

Teleological Ethics
 The Pursuit of Happiness:
 Focuses on community, not individual, human life is shaped in community
 Happiness is not the same thing as pleasure, pleasure is a momentary feeling,
   happiness is a condition of the mind

       Asks questions such as “what is good for us as humans?” and “what permits us to
       reach our potential?”
    Name comes from Greek word “telos” which means finality
    Humans are intended to be rational
    Intelligence is our greatest capacity
    To act ethically, therefore, is to engage our capacity to reason as we develop
       good character
    The good person is one whose actions are based on excellent reasoning.

Human Excellence
   People develop habits as they seek their purpose
   Aristotle coined these habits, “virtues”
   We choose to deliberately fulfill that which is the most appropriate for us as
     humans, according to our virtues

The Means
    We should avoid excess
    Be moderate in all things
    To be courageous is to avoid some but not all dangers
    Try to stay in the middle, but a middle that suits you, according to your virtues

                         Immanuel Kant: 1724-1804

       Born into a poor, strict, religious family
       Worked as a tutor, then a private University teacher, paid directly by students
       Lived a poor life until the age of 46, when he was hired to teach logic and
       metaphysics at the local University
       Had great difficulty putting his theories into writing, but still had a profound
       affect on western philosophy

Theoretical Reason: clarifying how we as humans come to know things

Practical Reasoning
    Moves beyond scientific knowledge, investigates the moral dimension guiding
       human behaviour
    Humans act not only out of instinct, but also out of conscious choice, based on
    Helps us understand what we SHOULD do
    Example: we know the effects of drinking; we know we shouldn’t drink and
       drive. Therefore it is our MORAL DUTY to not drink and drive.

Kant’s Ethics
   Primarily concerned with the certainty of principles

         Ethics presents us not with rational, cognitive certainty, but with practical
         3 practical principles: GOD, FREEDOM, IMMORTALITY
         Humans are in pursuit of the supreme good
         GOD: humans cannot achieve the supreme good without God.
         FREEDOM: we must be able to do what we ought to do
         IMMORTALITY: it is impossible to achieve the supreme good in just this life

The Good Will
    Kant proposes how individuals attain the good
    A good will should be prized above else
    The “good will” is the will to do our moral duty, for no selfish motive
    Kant’s ethics are commonly referred to as “Deontological Ethics”
    Deontological, from the Greek word “Deon”, meaning buty
    Due to impulses and desires, we are easily drawn away from our duty
    Moral worth is not measured by the results of moral actions, but by the motive
      behind them.

Kant’s Moral Maxims
   Maxims are very similar to Aristotle’s virtues
   A person’s duty is determined by their maxims
   Encourages people to live by the rule, “I should act in a way that I want other
      people to act”
   Everyone has certain obligations to fulfill that come before personal desires

The Person as an ends, not a means
    Kant DOESN’T say we should NEVER treat people as a means, i.e, a worker is a
      means of production
    He says people shouldn’t be treated only as a means
    It would be unethical to take advantage of a worker with little power. For
      example, it is unethical for a coach to take on 12 players, while only intending to
      pay 6 of them
    Kant was a utopian dreamer, he came up with a world in which people would live
      according to his 2nd maxim

                        Emmanuel Levinas: 1905-1995

       Was born in 1905 in Kaunas Lithuania to Jewish parents
       At 17, he moved to France to study philosophy at the University of Strasbourg
       Levinas had begun to experience a profound contrast between Western philosophy
        and his own which is much more deeply rooted in Jewish faith

The Sameness of Things

        Perceived the Western philosophical tradition attempting to overcome all
         difference and diversity by grouping everything under an all-encompassing
         unity which it called ‘Being’
        Everything carried a stamp of sameness
        Westerners think out of a unified totality
        It thinks away difference

The Singularity of Things
       The Hebrew tradition gloried in the singular
       It gives things its identity
       He contrasted the Western notion of ‘totality’ with the Hebrew notion of
       During WWII he was mobilized in the French army
       He was captured by Germans
       His family died in the Holocaust
       He later learned the ways of the Jewish Talmud through his teacher Mordachai
       At 55, he completed his doctoral thesis, ‘Totality and Infinity’
       Offered a chair in philosophy at the University of Poitiers and was later named
        professor of philosophy at the Paris school named the Sorbonne
       He never forgot his Jewish roots and even when he was supposed to lecture on
        the Sabbath he did not show up
       He continued to write until illness prevented him
       Pope John Paul II holds great respect for Levinas and uses similar ideas

The Good is Infinite
       Levinas’s philosophy is ethical
       He is in search of the good
       He went against Western philosophies of the ‘Being’
       Believed that ‘Being’ is dangerous because it takes away from reality what is
        its most fascinating quality that each person or thing is incredibly unique
       The ‘Good’ is interested not in what is common among things but in what is
        absolutely unique about each person or thing
       Unique things and persons are ‘traces’ of the Good or God
       Everything we encounter is finite
       A trace says that God was there but is no longer there, God has gone ahead.
        The Infinite One is always one step ahead of us

The Face as Witness of the Good
       Levinas says that the face is the most naked part of the body. He lashes out
        against make-up
       He sees it as hiding
       The eyes can never be made up. They penetrate every mask. In others eyes we
        make direct contact
       In the eyes of the other you meet a stranger, one whom cannot be reduced to
        being you

                 She or he is ‘Other’. The ‘Other’ calls you not to reduce his or her face to being
                  the same as any other. This persons face is a ‘No’: a refusal to let you reduce it
                  of uniqueness

        The Face as Ethical
               The superiority of the face comes from elsewhere: the Other is a stranger who
                is defenseless and uprooted
               Levinas refers to the Book of Deuteronomy (10.18), where the Israelites are
                told to love the stranger as themselves because God watches over the stranger
               Other’s depth of misery or humility is what makes the command or appeal of
                the face ethical.
               The face of the stranger demands that you recognize it and provide it with

        Made Responsible by the Face
              This responsibly is our human vocation, our calling
              The search for Good ends
              God touches us through the face of the Other who begs spare change of us
               God leaves only the trace in the face of the Other.
              Goodness, The Infinite One, translates into responsibility for the Other and sets
               no limit

        The Human is Ethical
              Aristotle, Kant and Levinas will help point us towards an understanding in
               what it means to be ethical
              They convince us that the ethical is indispensable for humanity

                           RECAP OF ETHICAL THINKERS

        Aristotle                                  Kant                                   Levinas
1. Humans find happiness in          1. Ethics is matter of ones inner            1. The central question in
   communities                          conviction and autonomy                      philosophy is: where is
2. To be happy humans must           2. A human act is good when it is               the good?
   live well and do well                done for the sake of moral duty           2. Each person is a unique
3. Human activity aims at            3. The use of reason is central to              expression of the good
   achieving the good                   moral life- duty is determined by         3. The face of another calls
4. Since the highest capacity           principals                                   me to respond
   of humans is to be rational,      4. Humans must act in such a way             4. Goodness translates into
   the highest form of                  that the principles according to             responsibility for the
   happiness is based on                which they act should become                 other
   rational behaviour                   universal law
5. Be moderate in all things

                            Remaining Key Terms
Autonomy: the freedom to be able to decide for yourself what you will believe in by
using your own reasoning abilities

Obligation: what one is bound to duty or contract to do.

Responsibility: Being morally accountable for ones actions.

Revelation: The way God reveals himself to mankind. God reveals himself through Jesus
Christ, the scriptures, and through creation

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