Posts tagged with "ethics"

The Man of Principle vs. The Man of Morals

Give me a man of principles over a man of morals in any circumstance! One is the epitome of virtuous character while the other is a shade cowering before the statue of belief, alternatively in postures of adoration and debasement. The man of principles or virtues is the embodiment of moral excellence. According to Aristotle, the highest good for humans and the highest aim of practical thinking is eudemonia, meaning happiness or well-being. Arete (virtue) is the art of seriously living life well and beautifully. What makes a virtuous character possible? Righteous actions, the development of right habits and a good stable character in which the habits are voluntary. The development is the beauty of the struggle because it requires living, not pondering over dusty tomes, joining a holy order, or martyrdom. Virtues have to be learned; and therefore are a by-product of wisdom, not voluntary ignorance. Fundamentally, virtue begins with the individual and his education of natural principles through experience

Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true. Over time, morality has become conflated with belief. Morality as we know it today did not arise from individual choice but from a collection of human decisions to try and create society. This is also known as social contract theory. Within this political structure the supporting structure of religion as a belief system was universalized. What is then the result? The idea of morality as an amalgamated collection of beliefs “solving” the question of what constitutes the good life. Like virtues, beliefs comprise visions and regulations for an ideal life. Unlike virtues, they are not learned, but engorged through persuasion and fortified through mental exclusion or ignorance. The evolution of cultural morality was originally meant as a way of managing conflict… that is until events such as the Crusades, 30 years war, and the First and Second Intifada illustrated that beliefs or fast-food virtues does nothing but in fact create conflict in the name of pious ignorance.

The evolution of human social instincts overlap with the development of morality as an organizational constraint. The modern concept of morality has conveniently and cheaply provided man with a blueprint of how to live a decent, albeit confused life while depriving him of the tools and wisdom to live life well and beautifully. This is why I have no use for a man of morals, for he is the one merely following the map whereas a man of principles or virtue is the cartographer; depicting life with the brush of reason in thought, speech and action. This is not to say that the two men are mutually exclusive, for the most virtuous people are in fact the most moral people. True moral happiness comes with understanding after all! However, personally id rather find growth in the  beauty of the enlightened struggle , rather than live blindly chained to precepts cheaply bought.