March 01, 2005

Ethical basis for life

A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.


Albert Einstein
--New York Times Magazine, 09/11/1930


I've been thinking about this for the last week. Some of the inputs that have colored my thoughts thus include Marx's view on morals as being artifacts imposed on us to maintain the super structure. (I know he didn't quite exactly mean this, but I'm unable to express myself with sufficient eloquence on this point).

The other source of this perturbation is Levi-Strauss' and his views on 'savages'. The idea is that the value systems implemented by the so-called less sophisticated societies can be quite elaborate. I guess the net of this is that it comes down to the Socrates Euthypro conversation - "Are things sacred because the Gods love them, or do Gods love them for they are sacred." Are morals time-less and across societal boundaries. I know, the relativistic view is that they are reflections of the time and society. This answer is not satisfying. It's almost like Kant's synthetic a priori knowledge. Are there some morals that are in fact timeless and incapable of perception in the current times and societies?

Posted at March 1, 2005 03:43 PM



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