This definition of ethics and morals is common but outright wrong in philosophical circles.
But then again, everyday language is full of similar widespread misunderstandings. For example, psychoanalysis and psychotherapy are often confused with each other but really have got nothing at all to do with each other (psychoanalysis is a philosophical enterprise, psychotherapy is a psychological exercise, the first an art form the latter a social science).
All one can do is to constantly repeat the correct meanings of the terms and hope the confusion will finally go away. Just look at how we constantly have to CORRECT people's misunderstandings about Zoroastrianism! But what else can we do?
Spinoza made the original definition of ethics as opposed to morality in the 17th century. It has been used by philosophers ever since, latest as the dominating definitions in the philosophy of Jürgen Habermas (ethics dealing with right vs wrong and morality with good vs evil according to Habermas' definitions).
I recommend that you use the philosophical definitions. In which case, Zoroastrianism is ETHICAL (values are always relating to the identity of the person conducting the act concerned) whereas Christianity, Islam and Judaism are MORALISTIC (values originate from God-The Judge to whom we must obey to be considered good). The difference is both obvious and dramatic.
2008/9/30 Special Kain
- Dölj citerad text -
Dear Ushta friends,
Maybe the difference between ETHICS and MORALS has been exhaustively discussed, but your postings encourage me to come back to this subject matter. Please, don't yawn - read first!
Zoroastrian ETHICS is often constrasted with Christian/Jewish/Muslim MORALS, with Zoroastrian philosophy being more relativistic and Christian faith being concerned with absolutes - such as absolutely good vs absolutely evil. But when searching Yahoo and Google, most articles I end up being flooded with define ethics as the theory of morals, with morals being the practice and application of ethics. This definition doesn't match the comparison mentioned above.
Max Weber could be useful here, as he differentiates between the ethic of ultimate ends and the ethic of responsibility in "Politics as a Vocation". The ethic of ultimate ends is quite religious, because it is concerned with the actor's faith and conscience. You act according to your religious belief, no matter what results come out - as long as you act according to certain rules, everything is perfectly fine, because the ultimate ends are God's business. The ethic of responsibility is concerned with exactly those results. We always have to bear the (possible) consequences in mind whenever we undertake an action.
It's obvious that Christianity conveys an ethic of ultimate ends - for example, always pity the poor, irrespective of the poor guy's poverty's cause and the further consequences of your pitying. Pity is good in itself.
Since Zarathushtra was well aware that things only mean what they cause and Zoroastrianism isn't offering any final answers nor any fixed rules, he (possibly) promoted an ethic of responsibility, since thoughts, words and deeds can only be good in comparison to what they probably cause. And this is Spenta Mainyu, a constructive mentality.
Any comments? :-)
Kind regards, Dino