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Scott O.
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In another area of this site, there was a recent discussion on ethics that evolved into a topic that probably belonged here.
I received a copy of a commentary by Charles Colson that deals with the subject of ethics, and, while I canít paste it in it's entirety here, I thought I would share portions of it.

He begins by mentioning the recent bankruptcy of Enron Corporation. It is being referred to as a scandal because the stock dropped in one year from $90 to less than $1. However, Enronís accountants apparently signed off on financial statements that grossly understated the companyís losses. Then the accountant firm allegedly told Enron to destroy the records on which the statements were based.

During this time Enron executives apparently sold 160 million dollars in Enron stock, but they simultaneously reassured employees and shareholders of the companyí bright future. The result was that the executives walk away with millions of dollars, but perhaps thousands of employees lost their lifeís savings and retirement accounts.

Charles Colson then goes on to sum up the lessons that should be taken from this:


Quote:

"As I see it, there are two lessons we must learn from the Enron affair. First, human nature doesnít change. . .
Scandals like this have been a recurring theme throughout American history.

The desire for wealth can always drive some men and women to cut corners and take advantage of others, which is why the Bible says what it does about the love of money.

The other lesson involves the distinction between right and wrong in an age that has ceased believing in moral absolutes. If you go to the nationís top business schools, youíll note very little is said about morality or honor. I discovered this when,
a decade ago, I lectured on ethics at the Harvard Business School. The school, at the time, offered a course on ethics that I found to be pure pragmatism:

Donít do the wrong thing because itís bad for
business. I found the students hadnít a clue about real ethics.

You see, ethics, classically, are unchanging
standards which derive their authority from a
transcendent Authority. Well, the problem is if you teach permissive ethics, youíll turn out the best and brightest, into permissive businessmen who cut corners and think they can get away with it. . .

But weíd better learn a lesson as well. When you fail to teach right and wrong, donít be surprised when people do wrong."

[to view the original document go to http://www.pfmonline.net/transcripts.taf......PT&_

UserReference=C7B84A387BD0BBA93C485C9B ]




I found Mr. Colsonís summation well thought out, and I merely wished to share this with the magic community which seems to never tire of the discussion of ethics.


Scott Smile
Do not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time you will reap a harvest, if you do not give up. Galatians 6:9
Paul
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Nice post. But the fact we never tire of discussing ethics HAS to be a good thing.



Paul.
BroDavid
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Thanks Scott,



When it comes to straight talk about real baseline life issues, it is hard to beat Charles Colsen.



Thanks for sharing that!



And Yes Paul, it is good that we never tire of discusing it. I just hope we are equally fervent in our application of it.



Thanks for your excellent observation too!



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Burt Yaroch
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Quote:

On 2002-01-18 12:30, Scott O. wrote:


You see, ethics, classically, are unchanging
standards which derive their authority from a
transcendent Authority.




The flaw in Mr. Colsenís comments is that he seems to be basing ethics on the writings of theologians and religious figures. Ethics, as a division of philosophy, utilizes philosophical methods to develop ethical positions and not the faith in a higher power. Human reasoning is the basis of these positions. Ethics is not religion, and religion is not ethics. I find it hard to believe that someone lecturing at Harvard on the topic would not know this.

Further, to say that ethics is unchanging is to imply that humans, and our capacity to reason is unchanging. I think even a casual glance around you at the advances being made in nearly every field of study would prove otherwise.

Nice sentiment, but completely off the mark IMO. I could be wrong.


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Paul
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No, not off the mark, isnít your interpretation, your take on his use of one word? Transcendent?

My little Oxford dictionary describes Transcendent as:
Of supreme merit or quality; (of God)
existing or not subject to limitations of, material universe.

I feel pretty sure that the word was just used to highlight that ethics should not be flexible for material gain.

But then, thatís just MY opinion.


Paul.
Jeb Sherrill
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Yak,

I think I see what youíre saying here, but to say that ethics is based solely on philosophy, I think is too strong a statement. For one, in the old days, (classic Greek for instance) philosophy and religion were intertwined to the point they sometimes became interchangeable. Of course ethics has a basis in morality.
As philosophers (and Iím a theosophist so I bend them together quite a bit), we separate ethics from morality, but in the broader sense they are the same thing. We only separate them (as philosophers) by their basis (theos and philos etc.) and that is an academic matter. When the tree is shaved down however, they are the exact same concept. I would separate the terms for discussion purposes, but I understand where others might not.



Sable

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Burt Yaroch
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Paul, actually I interpreted that from two words: transcendent Authority. I think his use of the capitalization of the second word is intended to imply reference to a diety (but perhaps this was an error). When following the word transcendent I think my interpretation becomes most accurate. His preceeding reference to the Bible I think helped lead me there.



Sable very astute observation. I would tend to think, however, that anyone lecturing at one of the most prestigous universities in the U.S. would be speaking of ethics in the academic.



And I agree with you, that because of their similarity, the theos with the philos, they may be interchanged. But to say ethics is derived from God is still swinging too far to one end of the spectrum, I think with a purposeful agenda.
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BroDavid
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Hello Yak.

I think you were right when you
"interpreted" Colsenís "Transcendent Authority" as him believing that Morals and the applications of them as Ethical standards of behavior comes from God.
I firmly believe that is what he thinks, and that is exactly what he intended by his wording.

In response to that notion, you said "But to say ethics is derived from God is still swinging too far to one end of the spectrum, I think with a purposeful agenda."

Ok, for the sake of discusion, letís say that on the other end of the spectrum, Ethics, Moral, a sense of right and wrong, do not come from God.

So, if accept the argument that it doesn't come from God, since a sense of Ethics, Moral right and wrong, seems to exist in EVERY culture in the world, (but so as not be radical - instead of EVERY, let me say most cultures...) And I would guess that you would agree that it exists - or we wouldn't be discussing it in the first place.

So, where does it come from? What tells a man not to rape a woman if he feels like having sex? What tells a woman not to kill her newborn baby if she already has too many mouths to feed? What says that knocking down an old lady and taking her purse is wrong?

Just where does all this STUFF come from?

Thanks for helping to raise this question.


BroDavid

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Jeb Sherrill
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Yak,

Well you do have a point there. He was lecturing at Harvard.



Sable

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Burt Yaroch
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BroDavid, I think the proof to my postulate may be found in your querry:


Quote:

So, if accept the argument that it doesn't come from God, since a sense of Ethics, Moral right and wrong, seems to exist in EVERY culture in the world, (but so as not to be radical - instead of EVERY, let me say most cultures...) And I would guess that you would agree that it exists - or we wouldn't be discussing it in the first place.




I agree that every (nearly every) culture has this sense of right and wrong. But not every culture is monothestic and there are some, persons and entire cultures, that do not believe in a higher power at all. But as we have already agreed, they still have this sense of right and wrong, sans God.
So without God (or god or gods) they must have developed this belief system through reasoning and the continued teaching of this reasoning. Academically speaking, philosophy. They "do unto others" not because they have read it in a book or because of their belief in the authors of said book but because their capacity for higher thought has led them to this conclusion.

Even the theosophists (and correct me if Iím wrong here Sable), a study where religion and philosophy have become intertwined, built of philosophy a religion and not the other way around.

To me, saying ethics is based on religion is akin to explaining Big Bang Cosmology with the book of Genesis. Iím not claiming that one is right and the other wrong (although I will over a beer) Smile just that one is science and one is religion. (Unless, of course you mash the two together and call yourself a Scientific Creationist, which is an entirely different beat down session, again, one for the beer).

And BroDavid, I have gathered from your username and your profile that you are a man of God and I completely respect that and I hope I havenít offended you with my opinions (I was purposefully trying not to). Religon, to me, is a very personal belief system and is why it is on the "donít ever talk about" list. This is precisely why my hackles are raised whenever someone attempts to interject thier religious beliefs into my philosophy, cosmology, geology, anthropology, archeology or any other ology (except, I guess, theology).
We are discussing ethics as it applies to magic and suddenly I am forced to tiptoe through the discussion so I donít offend anyone just because Mr. Colsen wanted to use philosophy as a vehicle to subtly impress his religious beliefs upon me. No thank you.

If you wish to discuss religion with me, great (just please not here, for everyones sake Smile). And if you wish to discuss philosophy, I think I can hang with you there as well (perhaps not with Sable). Just please donít ever try to blindside me with a diety (theyíre all very big and Iíll see it coming a mile away). Smile
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Peter Marucci
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Let's make this simple:



If you have to stop an action and ask yourself if it's wrong, then it probably is.



cheers,

Peter Marucci

showtimecol@aol.com
Jeb Sherrill
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Well Yak,

Yes and no. Theosophy (though somewhat debated by those of us referring to ourselves as such), is really a weave of religion and philosophy starting from the middle. Of course most of us do have one or the other as a starting point.

Contrary to popular belief however, the Higher Power idea as it were, has nothing to do with monotheism unless you want it to.
"Higher power" in a broader sense can refer to the Jewish monotheistic God, the Christian polytheistic/monotheistic blended trinity, the polytheism of many religions and even the broader belief in the universe as believed by some other religions. Hinduism and Kabbalic philosophy are excellent examples where very physical God/s do exist, but are ultimately understood to be emanations of the all-encompassing universe.

The point most try to make when stating that morality/ethics is based on a "higher power", may be stating it from a very limited understanding of only their own personal God, but it certainly does have a basis regardless. Confusiousism is certainly based on philosophy, but youíll find it's ethics quite similar to other "God" based religions. The Theosophical point brought from this is that no matter how your belief system is based: whether on a deity proper, an all encompassing force or the logic inherent to your psyche; they will turn out the same, bent and twisted somewhat by your culture and personal tendencies. Therefore in a larger sense, there really is no difference between saying morality is handed down by God, or ethics is brought about by reason. Reason and God/the universe/the gods, are synonymous.


Sable

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Burt Yaroch
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See, I'm not the smartest guy on the planet. It's Sable!



I think we better go have that beer. Smile
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Jeb Sherrill
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Yak,

Pass me one of those cold ones, my brain hurts. Smile



Sable

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Scott F. Guinn
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If I may interject here:

Ethics were based in religion BEFORE they were based in philosophy, as people had ethics based on their religious views long before the discipline of philosophy came into being. Therefore, to argue that ethics must remain philosophical and not be "brought in" to religion is a flawed premise.

Also, regarding the idea that it is silly to lecture on a religious viewpoint at Harvard is also a flawed premise. Harvard was originally founded as a Christian school, dedicated to training young men to serve God in every professional occupation. Clearly, it no longer follows this mission (although this mission does, in fact, still remain in the original charter). However, I would say that those who changed this mission and made discussions about matters like ethics a "non-religious" matter are the ones who were off course.
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Burt Yaroch
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I think we may be mired in semantics here but as the origins of ethics (ethics the moral social instinct) predates recorded history the "chicken or the egg" argument is rendered moot. In either case, which came first has no bearing, in my opinion, on from which perspective the academia should be qualified in modern times.



And I'm sure Harvard, when founded, was still teaching that the Earth was the center of the universe as Galileo's findings to the contrary were deemed heretical at the time, as they were in contradiction with God. Again, historical beliefs have no bearing on the argument and, thankfully, the religous dogmas were eventually removed from the curriculum otherwise all Harvard alumnus would still be Geocentrists.



Lecturing from a religious viewpoint in and of it self is not what I was condemning. It was the interjection of religious viewpoints into studies where theology is not the topic to further a religious agenda. As Sable pointed out there are divisions of ethics (the academic pursuit) that have coalesced with theology. But if you claim that ethics "derive their authority from God" in an academic setting you might as well go on to stress how God created short muscle fibers in my anatomy class, and the heavens and the earth in 7 days in my cosmology class. All great sentiments for christians worldwide but sentiments that do not belong in the classroom.
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BroDavid
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Wow! Sounds like some pretty interesting perspectives here. Where else could you get this kind of dialogue without nastiness and name calling?

No Yak, I am not offended. Thanks for your consideration in that area. But in fact, I find that I am offended far less by other peopleís beliefs (or lack of beliefís), than most of them are by mine. Smile

And I hope that I have not offended you. My intent in asking the question was to find out what you thought. And I see that others have thoughts there too. Very Interesting!

My goal is never to offend; (anymore than is necessary). But you wouldnít believe how intolerant some people can be, when you talk about absolute and unchanging truth.

Thanks for an interesting discussion!


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Scott F. Guinn
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Quote:

On 2002-01-21 18:48, yakandjak wrote:

I think we may be mired in semantics here but as the origins of ethics (ethics the moral social instinct) predates recorded history the "chicken or the egg" argument is rendered moot. In either case, which came first has no bearing, in my opinion, on from which perspective the academia should be qualified in modern times.



And I'm sure Harvard, when founded, was still teaching that the Earth was the center of the universe as Galileo's findings to the contrary were deemed heretical at the time, as they were in contradiction with God. Again, historical beliefs have no bearing on the argument and, thankfully, the religous dogmas were eventually removed from the curriculum otherwise all Harvard alumnus would still be Geocentrists.



Lecturing from a religious viewpoint in and of it self is not what I was condemning. It was the interjection of religious viewpoints into studies where theology is not the topic to further a religious agenda. As Sable pointed out there are divisions of ethics (the academic pursuit) that have coalesced with theology. But if you claim that ethics "derive their authority from God" in an academic setting you might as well go on to stress how God created short muscle fibers in my anatomy class, and the heavens and the earth in 7 days in my cosmology class. All great sentiments for christians worldwide but sentiments that do not belong in the classroom.

Actually, the Bible teaches that the earth is round and that it travels around the sun!



EVERYONE has an agenda! If you are not a Christian, you put forth views to prove that you are right, and how things contradict the Bible (whether intentionally or not). In the manual on teaching evolution, given to teachers from the National Educator's Association (which I have a copy of in my library, given to me by a close friend who is a teacher), over and over you will find phrases like: "The purpose of the Theory of Evolution is to prove there is no God, and that secular humanism is the philosophy which should be ascribed to." If THAT isn't an agenda, what is?



We will have to agree to disagree, Burt, but if evolution can be taught as a means to prove there is no God, why not offer an opposing view? Same for ethics? That's what we're doing here, after all, and, at least so far, it has been very civil and captivating. I'd hate to see America become like communist countries, where the "official" theory was taught as fact, and no dissenting views were allowed.
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Burt Yaroch
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Quote:

On 2002-01-22 00:21, greatscott wrote:

Actually, the Bible teaches that the earth is round and that it travels around the sun!



This is what I refer to as Biblical Backpeddling. Interpreting the bible to conform to the fundamentals of the era. Much like when Archbishop Usher declared the age of the universe after adding up all the begits and begats of Genesis. Iíve got dirt older than 5000 years in my back yard.

So your statement would be more correct if it read, "the Bible NOW teaches..." Iím not saying one interpretation is right and the other wrong. I would just hate to think the father of astronomy spent his final days under house arrest, his findings largely unpublished, because the church-leaders of the day were misreading the Bible.


Quote:

EVERYONE has an agenda!



Amen to that brother. Iíve got a replica of the skull of Piltdown Man on my bookshelf to remind me of that (for those who may be interested, a link to "the man that never was":
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/piltdown.html
I donít like it either way in my academia.


Quote:

But if evolution can be taught as a means to prove there is no God, why not offer an opposing view?




To quote Dr. Hawking, "This doesnít prove that there is no God, only that God is not necessary."


Quote:

Iíd hate to see America become like communist countries, where the "official" theory was taught as fact, and no dissenting views were allowed.



I think weíll all agree here. One beautiful thing about America, you can always find some common ground. Smile

And for the record, Iím a Christian. Smile
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Jeb Sherrill
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Quote:
I would just hate to think the father of astronomy spent his final days under house arrest, his findings largely unpublished, because the church-leaders of the day were misreading the Bible.




Well Yak, Iím afraid it wouldnít be the first time. The men in power at the time read it the way they were accustomed and hated anyone who disagreed. Of course, the Earth doesnít revolve around the sun anymore than the sun revolves around the earth. Relativity kicked both Newtonian physics and preconceived ideas out the window, but even that is just a perspective.



Quote:
To quote Dr. Hawking, "This doesnít prove that there is no God, only that God is not necessary."




I always laughed when Hawking said that, but it would take an hour to tell you why. The scientific view can be so short sighted it sometimes reminds me of Christian dogma. Man this thread is interesting. Smile



Scott

Quote:
Iíd hate to see America become like communist countries, where the "official" theory was taught as fact, and no dissenting views were allowed.


This felt like it came from left field and Iím not sure what it really had to do with the thread, but I do indeed agree.



Sable

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