I thought of starting a page on facebook titled the above, but then I realized that it would only become a vicious cycle of argument between those with basic ethics, and those without a clue as to what the word even means. So I decided to simply write something here about it, where possibly no one will see it, and it could be my secret little journal entry, saved for posterity as another illustration of my reasons for self-imposed exile from the world.
From Wikipedia comes this definition:
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. It comes from the Greek wordethos, which means “character”. Major areas of study in ethics may be divided into 4 operational areas:
- Meta-ethics, about the theoretical meaning and reference of moral propositions and how their truth values (if any) may be determined;
- Normative ethics, about the practical means of determining a moral course of action;
- Descriptive ethics, also known as comparative ethics, is the study of people’s beliefs about morality;
- Applied ethics, about how moral outcomes can be achieved in specific situations;
If you want to read the breakdown of each aspect, it’s here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics
I realize, of course, that “morality” is subjective, and is usually defined by one’s upbringing, traditions, and level of experience. Usually, if one grows up in a social bubble, one’s definition is steeped in bias. I believe that we have to seek truth outside of our traditional teachings in order to fully grasp the meaning of ethics.
Dr Samuel Johnson, in his A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), defined honour as having several senses, the first of which was “nobility of soul, magnanimity, and a scorn of meanness.”This sort of honour derives from the perceived virtuous conduct and personal integrity of the person endowed with it. On the other hand, Johnson also defined honour in relationship to “reputation” and “fame“; to “privileges of rank or birth”, and as “respect” of the kind which “places an individual socially and determines his right to precedence.” This sort of honour is not so much a function of moral or ethical excellence, as it is a consequence of power. Finally, with respect to women, honour has traditionally been associated with (or identical to) “chastity” or “virginity“, or in case of a married woman, “fidelity“.
More at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honor
I love that he used “magnanimity” and “a scorn of meanness.” That’s what I think of when I look at the word. Of course, even this definition is riddled with traditional belief. I think of honorable behavior as being that of walking one’s talk. Of keeping one’s word. Of honest appraisal of a person or situation. Of doing the right thing, even if no one is watching. The “right thing” being the humane thing, of course. Of being driven to always seek a higher level of inner strength and compassion and service to this world. And all of this blather about being virginal is a simple extension of patriarchal power, and has nothing to do with being truly honorable. Unless you’re a nymphomanic, of course – then you have problems. Anything in excess is bad for the soul. Unless it’s love.
Then there’s Honesty.
Honesty refers to a facet of moral character and connotes positive and virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness and straightforwardness along with the absence of lying, cheating or theft.
“Honesty is the best policy” is a famous statement. However, it is unclear who coined this statement. Possible authors are William Shakespeare and Benjamin Franklin.
And, last but not least, Integrity.
Integrity is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes. In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions. Integrity can be regarded as the opposite of hypocrisy, in that integrity regards internal consistency as a virtue, and suggests that parties holding apparently conflicting values should account for the discrepancy or alter their beliefs.
The word “integrity” stems from the Latin adjective integer (whole, complete). In this context, integrity is the inner sense of “wholeness” deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character. As such, one may judge that others “have integrity” to the extent that they act according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold.
A value system‘s abstraction depth and range of applicable interaction may also function as significant factors in identifying integrity due to their congruence or lack of congruence with observation. A value system may evolve over timewhile retaining integrity if those who espouse the values account for and resolve inconsistencies.
The more I think about these basic values that have been extolled by the greatest philosophers, artists and literary authors in history, the more I wonder why we, as a collective being, seem to relish the idea of discarding them, joyfully adding them to the category of obsolete, archaic, worthless and dangerous traits. Sometimes I think that we’re all being drugged or something. How can so many feel so disconnected from our own natural evolution into self-reflective beings, how can we ignore the passionate cries of the victims of our sadistic tendencies? How can we make a definitive statement that we are superior to other species, other races, and still retain the ideology that we are honorable and good? I simply DO NOT UNDERSTAND how this kind of self-deception is possible, after we live year after year, taking in knowledge and experience, with daily exposure to war and poverty and the betrayal of innocents for profit and the annihilation of our natural world – turning a blind eye to facts and clinging to some fantasy that we are contributing something good to the world – simply by consuming everything in our path. What is the antonym to the words Ethics, Honor, Honest, Integrity? Rationally, would not those definitions apply to a person who does not practice their counterparts, who ignores all of the information that would force any person who wants to be good to choose to live otherwise, if one was truly good, spiritually evolved, or thoughtful of others?
Direct Antonym of ethical
Direct Antonym of honor
Direct Antonym of honesty
Direct Antonym of integrity
I have gone from one spectrum of emotion to the other over this question about people in general. I am sad, I am hopeful that we will experience a mass awakening; I am disappointed; enraged at the apparently conscious refusal to just be compassionate in their choices. After all is said and done, I have come to some sad conclusions. Humanity is losing the ability for self-reflection. We are devolving into lesser beings. Selfishness and sadism are the new rules of existence, and compassion is a dirty, dangerous thing. I don’t like people any more. Even my closest, life-long companions are petty and shallow to me. Innocence attracts me now. Meanness – I struggle with it. I see it in myself, I see it in everyone I encounter. The possibility that I, too, have lost my soul, scares the shit out of me. I walk the walk of compassion, but I want to hurt those who hurt others, at the same time. I know that it is not my place to punish another. I realize that my path to enlightenment has a huge fallen oak in its way. This obstacle, this judgment of others, is wrong, unethical, hypocritical – so I remain alone.
It all goes back to us, personally – every judgment we make against others is a karmic block to the end of our own cyclic existence. This life has been an important one for me, filled with immense lessons, and I have advanced in leaps and bounds – but the brick wall is intact. I stepped out of the mantle of illusion into the real world, and all I see is destruction all around me. Caused by human hands, happily eating away at all of the rest of life, not caring about what tomorrow will bring to their children, or their grandchildren…pretending that everything is infinitely available, that animals do not feel pain, that war is okay as long as it’s in the national interest (or not in their backyard) – and living in the USA I have been exposed to the most self-entitled, arrogant, narcissistic, selfish, hateful, abusive population on the planet. Without self-reflection, we have destroyed every good thing.
Wow. I’d better stop. I’m too emotionally spent to proof this, so sorry for errors.