Foundations[ edit ] Beginning with ancient philosophy, Epicureanism claims humans live to maximize pleasure. Humanity performs altruistic, honorable, and virtuous acts not for the sake of another or because of a moral code but rather to increase the well being of the self. In modern philosophy, Jeremy Bentham asserted, like Epicurus, that human behavior is governed by a need to increase pleasure and decrease pain.
Ancient Greece Ancient Greece was the birthplace of Western philosophical ethics. The ideas of Socrates c. The sudden flowering of philosophy during that period was rooted in the ethical thought of earlier centuries.
In the poetic literature of the 7th and 6th centuries bce, there were, as in other culturesmoral precepts but no real attempts to formulate a coherent overall ethical position.
The Greeks were later to refer to the most prominent of these poets and early philosophers as the seven sagesand they are frequently quoted with respect by Plato and Aristotle.
Knowledge of the thought of this period is limited, for often only fragments of original writings, along with later accounts of dubious accuracy, remain. He appears to have written nothing at all, but he was the founder of a school of thought that touched on all aspects of life and that may have been a kind of philosophical and religious order.
In ancient times the school was best known for its advocacy of vegetarianismwhich, like that of the Jains, was associated with the belief that after the death of the body, the human soul may take up residence in the body of an animal see reincarnation.
Pythagoreans continued to espouse this view for many centuries, and classical passages in the works of writers such as Ovid 43 bce—17 ce and Porphyry — opposing bloodshed and animal slaughter can be traced to Pythagoras.
This term was used in the 5th century to refer to a class of professional teachers of rhetoric and argument. The Sophists promised their pupils success in political debate and increased influence in the affairs of the city. They were accused of being mercenaries who taught their students to win arguments by fair means or foul.
Aristotle said that Protagoras c. They regarded themselves as imparters of the cultural and intellectual qualities necessary for success, and their involvement with argument about practical affairs naturally led them to develop views about ethics.
The recurrent theme in the views of the better-known Sophists, such as Protagoras, Antiphon c. He argued that, while the particular content of the moral rules may vary, there must be rules of some kind if life is to be tolerable.
Thus, Protagoras stated that the foundations of an ethical system needed nothing from the gods or from any special metaphysical realm beyond the ordinary world of the senses. He explained that the concept of justice means nothing more than obedience to the laws of society, and, since these laws are made by the strongest political group in its own interest, justice represents nothing but the interest of the stronger.
Presumably he would then encourage his pupils to follow their own interests as best they could. It is not surprising that, with ideas of this sort in circulation, other thinkers should react by probing more deeply into ethics to see whether the potentially destructive conclusions of some of the Sophists could be resisted.
This reaction produced works that have served ever since as the cornerstone of the entire edifice of Western ethics. Yet, unlike other figures of comparable importance, such as the Buddha or Confucius, he did not tell his audience how they should live.
What Socrates taught was a method of inquiry. When the Sophists or their pupils boasted that they knew what justice, piety, temperance, or law was, Socrates would ask them to give an account, which he would then show was entirely inadequate. For those who thought that adherence to the conventional moral code was more important than the cultivation of an inquiring mind, the charge was appropriate.
By conventional standards, Socrates was indeed corrupting the youth of Athens, though he himself considered the destruction of beliefs that could not stand up to criticism as a necessary preliminary to the search for true knowledge.
In this respect he differed from the Sophists, with their ethical relativism, for he thought that virtue is something that can be known and that the virtuous person is the one who knows what virtue is.
SocratesSocrates, herm from a Greek original, second half of the 4th century bce; in the Capitoline Museums, Rome. He believed that virtue could be known, though he himself did not profess to know it.
He also thought that anyone who knows what virtue is will necessarily act virtuously. Those who act badly, therefore, do so only because they are ignorant of, or mistaken about, the real nature of virtue.
This belief may seem peculiar today, in large part because it is now common to distinguish between what a person ought to do and what is in his own interest.
Once this assumption is made, it is easy to imagine circumstances in which a person knows what he ought to do but proceeds to do something else—what is in his own interests—instead.
Indeed, how to provide self-interested or merely rational people with motivating reasons for doing what is right has been a major problem for Western ethics. In ancient Greece, however, the distinction between virtue and self-interest was not made—at least not in the clear-cut manner that it is today.
The Greeks believed that virtue is good both for the individual and for the community.
He also took over the Socratic method of conducting philosophy, developing the case for his own positions by exposing errors and confusions in the arguments of his opponents. He did this by writing his works as dialogues in which Socrates is portrayed as engaging in argument with others, usually Sophists.
PlatoPlato, marble portrait bust, from an original of the 4th century bce; in the Capitoline Museums, Rome. Suppose a person obtained the legendary ring of Gygeswhich has the magical property of rendering the wearer invisible.
Would that person still have any reason to behave justly? Behind this challenge lies the suggestion, made by the Sophists and still heard today, that the only reason for acting justly is that one cannot get away with acting unjustly.
Plato maintained that true knowledge consists not in knowing particular things but in knowing something general that is common to all the particular cases.This ethical egoism essay is an example of how an essay on such a topic can be organized. It includes intro, thesis, body, and conclusion.
This essay will explain the relation between psychological egoism and ethical egoism. It will examine how someone who believes in psychological egoism explains the apparent instances of altruism.
[tags: Ethics Psychological Egoism]. Ethical Egoism essaysEgoism: Develop the criticism that ethical egoism is an inadequate moral theory because it does not resolve moral conflicts.
Recall that ethical egoism simply denies that theories must do this. I will be arguing that ethical egoism is an inadequate moral theory because it doe. The Great Gatsby is No Love Story - The Great Gatsby is No Love Story Many argue that F.
Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is an example of the "great American love story", but it is not.
aesthetics. Branch of philosophy that studies beauty and taste, including their specific manifestations in the tragic, the comic, and the timberdesignmag.com central issues include questions about the origin and status of aesthetic judgments: are they objective statements about genuine features of the world or purely subjective expressions of personal attitudes; should they include any reference to.
Jul 19, · 10 Artificial Enlightenment. Some believe that Buddhism is the religion best suited for coping with the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), since Buddhism doesn’t necessarily prescribe a central role to the human species in its belief system.