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final essay - Determining Ethics and the Self Kyle David...

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Determining Ethics and the Self Kyle David Bowe PHIL 2020, Spring 2006 Louisiana State University Prepared for: A. Conque Johnson Word count: 1,678
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Bowe 2 Throughout history, man has reflected on what is right and wrong. Morals and values have changed with the times. However through both philosophy and theology, our ancestors have searched for a more solid ethical code to follow that would stand the test of time. Many have proposed ideas and those propositions have been dissected, critiqued, quoted, restated, built on, followed, and replaced throughout the years. An idea that is central in many teachings of ethics is that all moral and ethical actions must produce a greater good for the world around you. This idea has also been the most basic teaching in most of the major modern religions. Those of us in any brand or offshoot of Christianity may equate this to the “Golden Rule”, when Jesus commands you “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). Buddhists and Hindus share very similar beliefs that we must care for one another. This solution has not been easily put into place. Philosophers have taught this idea in different formats for ages in attempts to explain why and how it would work as the best ethical maxim. Though many philosophers try to distance themselves from theology, there is an undeniable connection between the two in discussions of ethics. After all, what is religion beyond a moral code? Emanuel Levinas, a great modern philosopher, believes that we have a responsibility and a calling to aid our fellow man. Something a reader of Levinas must understand beforehand is that Levinas was Jewish and born in Lithuania. During World War II, Levinas not only witnessed, but also suffered through the Holocaust in a concentration camp. This would cause an undeniable change in one’s ethical views; and in the case of Emanuel Levinas, strengthened his pacifist ideals and his teachings of responsibility to help the fellow man.
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Bowe 3 “It is banal to say we never exist in the singular. We are surrounded by beings and things with which we maintain relations. Through site, touch, sympathy and common work we are with others. All theses relations are transitive. I touch an object, I see the other; but I am not the other.” (Levinas 58) Relationships are most important in the ethics of Levinas. His role model Heidegger said that we are individualized in death where we are truly alone. Levinas, on the other hand, deviates from such a teaching and states that
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This note was uploaded on 07/15/2008 for the course PHIL 2020 taught by Professor Unknown during the Fall '07 term at LSU.

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final essay - Determining Ethics and the Self Kyle David...

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