Yes, good question, there definitely is. Ever since Baruch Spinoza defined morality as values emanating from a higher power (basically values of a THEOLOGICAL kind) and ethics as values emanating from causes and effects in reality without the involvement of a higher power (the work of PHILOSOPHERS rather than theologians) the two have been kept separate in the world of philosophy. Morality is now a discipline of theology and ethics is what philosophers are concerned with even if the latter category - just to confuse people - often refer to their work as the art of "moral philosophy".
Jurgen Habermas had made a sensible distinction between morality and ethics in a modern context: He defines morality as the opposition of good versus evil and ethics as the opposition of right versus wrong.
The irony in all this is that it means that the common translation of asha versus druj as good versus evil is outright wrong.
When Zarathushtra discusses asha versus druj he DOES define two ethical principles: Right versus wrong and not good versus evil. Or rather Asha means "constructive mentality" and Druj means "destructive mentality".
Spinoza was an ethicist and not a moralist. He wanted humanity to get rid of moralism and replace it with ethics once and for all. Modern philosophers agree. So should we.
Morality is a concern for the Abrahamic religions (The Ten Commandments in The Bible is moralism par excellence). However, religions of a philosohical inclination, like Zoroastrianism, Brahmanism, Buddhism and Taoism do not have morality, they are all ETHICAL belief systems.
In other words: Here is anothe rimportant reason why we do not want Zoroastrianism to be intertwined with the Abrahamic faiths. We don't even share basis for our values and valuations!
I am a bit perplexed. Is there a distinction between morality and ethics?
----- Original Message -----
From: Special Kain
Sent: Wednesday, December 02, 2009 8:31 PM
Subject: AW: [Ushta] Zoroastrianism and Stoicism
Welcome to Ushta!!! :-)
We don't have asceticism in Zoroastrianism, so we don't share the Stoics' indifference towards existence, since we're ethically obliged to live our lives to the fullest and develop a constructive and co-creative attitude towards existence.
But, however, Stoicism and Zoroastrianism also have many things in common as you have so intelligently discovered: (1) we want to live in accordance with nature, the universe, Asha, (2) Zoroastrian philosophy is purely ethical and not the slightest bit moralistic, (3) Zarathushtra probably was one of the first rationalists in human history, (4) there are Zoroastrian pantheists and panentheists. The first three points sum up Stoic ethics perfectly, but there's this enjoyment of life and a constructive and proactive mentality in Zoroastrianism that can't be found in Stoic philosophy.
Rather than grow indifferent towards the world around us, we want to contribute creatively and constructively to civilization.
Betreff: [Ushta] Zoroastrianism and Stoicism
Datum: Mittwoch, 2. Dezember 2009, 15:34
My name is Tomash, I'm from Serbia (I'm not a Serb however) and I have become very interested in Zoroastrianism after reading the book"Zarathoustra et la transfiguration du monde" by Paul du Breuil, in Serbian translation. Before being introduced to Zoroastrianism I read a lot about Stoicism and thought about becoming a Stoic.
What I am interesting is if someone could help me draw parallels between Zoroastrian and Stoic philosophy, their differences and commonalities. I know for example that Stoics are pantheists and are ruled by a maxim that one should try to live according to nature. They also practice great tolerance and compassion for others. Stoicism has a lot in common with Buddhism actually. It is very logical, a very rationalistic philosophy. But being quite impressed with Zoroastrianism, with Zarathushtra and his teaching, has got me torn between the two philosophies. I have read a Medieval philosopher Gemistus Pletho was also interested in both of them, but his understanding of Zoroastrianism might be just through the teachings of Plato, who he considered to be a reincarnation of Zarathushtra.
I do believe I do not understand much about Zoroastrianism, but I intend to learn as I have been so far.