ETHICS
         

"Remember that right is still right, even if nobody is doing it.

Wrong is still
Wrong even if everybody is
doing it"

(Al Gore)

 

Greek philosophy

Socrates was one of the first Greek philosophers to encourage both scholars and the common citizen to turn their attention from the outside world to the condition of man. In this
view
, knowledge having a bearing on human life was placed highest, all other knowledge being secondary. Self-knowledge was considered necessary for success and inherently an essential good. A self-aware person will act completely within their capabilities to their pinnacle, while an ignorant person will flounder and encounter difficulty.

To Socrates, a person must become aware of every fact (and its context) relevant to his existence, if he wishes to attain self-knowledge. He posited that people will naturally do what is good, if they know what is right. Evil or bad actions, are the result of ignorance. If a criminal were truly aware of the mental and spiritual consequences of his actions, he would neither commit nor even consider committing them. Any person who knows what is truly right will automatically do it, according to Socrates. While he correlated knowledge with virtue, he similarly equated virtue with happiness. The truly wise man will know what is right, do what is good and therefore be happy.

Aristotle posited an ethical system that may be termed "self-realizationism". In Aristotle's view, when a person acts in accordance with his nature and realizes his full potential, he will
do good and be content. At birth, a baby is not a person, but a potential person. In order to become a "real" person, the child's inherent potential must be realized. Unhappiness and frustration are caused by the unrealized potential of a person, leading to failed goals and a poor life. Aristotle said, "Nature does nothing in vain." Therefore, it is imperative for persons to act in accordance with their nature and
develop their latent talents, in order to be content and complete. Happiness was held to be the ultimate goal. All other things, such as civic life or wealth, are merely means to the end. Self-realization, the awareness of one's nature and the development of one's talents, is the surest path to happiness.

Aristotle asserted that man had three natures: vegetable (physical), animal (emotional) and rational (mental). Physical nature can be assuaged through exercise and care, emotional
nature through indulgence of instinct and urges, and mental through human reason and developed potential. Rational development was considered the most important, as essential to philosophical self-awareness and as uniquely human. Moderation was encouraged, with the extremes seen as degraded and immoral. For example, courage is the moderate virtue
between the extremes of cowardice and recklessness. Man should not simply live, but live well with conduct governed by moderate virtue. This is regarded as difficult, as virtue denotes doing the right thing, to the right person, at the right time, to the proper extent, in the correct fashion, for the right reason.

However, Aristotle's method of observing the present state of things and drawing social conclusions from them, led him to propose a rigid hierarchy of human beings, in which Greek aristocrats were at the top, and women and slaves were akin to 'domestic animals'.

Ethics is one of the individual virtues that can be grouped into one of four categories of values: ethics (virtue - vice, good - evil, moral - immoral - amoral, right - wrong), aesthetics (unbalanced, pleasing), doctrinal (political, ideological, religious or social beliefs and values), innate/inborn. According to Aristotle, virtue is defined as a balance point between a deficiency and an excess of a trait. The point of greatest virtue lies not in the exact middle, but at a golden mean sometimes closer to one extreme than the other. It requires common-sense smarts to find this golden mean. In Aristotle's sense, it is excellence at being human, a skill which helps a person survive, thrive, form meaningful relationships and find happiness.


Ethics
, major branch of
philosophy, encompassing right conduct and good life. It is significantly broader than the common conception of analyzing right and wrong. A central aspect of ethics is "the good life", the life worth living or life that is simply satisfying, which is held by many philosophers to be more important than moral conduct.

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In 2007 NEXUS Institute enlarged her activities by organising masterclasses and a seminar. The seminar was held in October 2007 in the Venice International University University, situated on San Servolo, an island in the Venetian Lagoon.

Treated was the real meaning of compassion in moral, artistic and social respect. On one side askings and questions were at the centre. On the other side five intellectuals, thinkers of universal stature, spoke about the theme in depth on the basis of examples:

  • Ilias (chapter 24),
  • portraitures (piéta's) of the body of Jesus on Maria's lap,
  • the "durch Mitleid wissend"-motive in Wagner's opera Parsifal and
  • compassion concerning cancer and aids.
George Klein and Ingrid Rowland George Steiner and Nexus director Rob Riemen
 
Courage, wisdom and moderation
 

The four classical Western virtues are:

  • prudence (wisdom, good sense)
  • justice (righteousness, honesty)
  • temperance (self-control, moderation)
  • courage (strength, tenacity, firmness)
 
justice
 
Daniel Barenboim
Being a pianist and a conductor he excels in the most universal language: music. Barenboim displayed his talents as a pianist during numerous concert tours. Nowadays he is considered one of the greatest conductors of our time.

 

His books and lectures show his unshakable faith in the humanistic message that irridiates from art in general, and music in particular. In his Nexus Lecture he continued his lifelong search for the meaning of music by trying to answer the question: what is the true imperative of beauty?

Music is a powerful art, that people can unite. But how is it possible that monsters as Hitler and Stalin could be moved by music? Daniel Barenboim raised the question during the Nexus lectureThe Ethics of Aesthetics’,

The two dictators were not able to connect aesthetics with ethic. Music can bring together people, however, when conscience is quiet, also music is powerless. But for Barenboim there is no doubt that art without ethic cannot exist (fragments from Brabants daily paper by M. van Eck).

 
Friday 7 September
2007:
Masterclass
by
Michael Sandel
at University of
Tilburg, organized
by
Nexus Institute
Michael Sandel (1953) is a contemporary political philosopher. He is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University and was educated at Balliol as a Rhodes Scholar, studying under Charles Taylor, after graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Brandeis University in 1975
Sandel subscribes to the theory of communitarianism (although he is uncomfortable with the label), and in this vein he is perhaps best known for his critique of John Rawl's A Theory of Justice. Rawls' argument depends on the assumption of the veil of ignorance, which allows us to become "unencumbered selves."

Sandel's view is that we are by nature encumbered to an extent that makes it impossible even in the hypothetical to have such a veil. Some examples of such ties are the ties we make with our families, which we do not make by conscious choice but are born with them already attached. Because they are not consciously applied, these ties are impossible to separate from someone. Sandel believes that only a less-restrictive, looser version of the veil of ignorance can be possible. Rawls's argument, however, depends on the fact that the veil is restrictive enough that we make decisions without knowing who will be affected by these decisions, which of course is impossible if we are already attached to people in the world.

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St Benedict, main patron saint of Europe
THE RULE OF ST. BENEDICT (written as a guide for individual, autonomous communities)

"Listen, O my son, to the precepts of thy master, and incline the ear of thy heart, and cheerfully receive and faithfully execute the admonitions of thy loving Father, that by the toil of obedience thou mayest return to Him from whom by the sloth of disobedience thou hast gone away."

(Cloisters were adopted from Copts by Benedictus)

"... an epitome of Christianity, a learned and mysterious abridgement of all the doctrines of the Gospel, all the institutions of the Fathers, and all the counsels of perfection."