August 03, 2010

Ethics and Egoism

Why should I be moral?

What is egoism? Egoism can be divided into two forms: egoism proper (morality consists of a set of objective, altruistic, and simply forbids us to be moral in every cause) and ethical egoism (consisting of ideas to be egoist every time). To understand what egoism is, there was a story:
The story is that he was a shepherd in the service of the ruler of Lydia. There was a violent rainstorm and an earthquake which broke open the ground and created a chasm at the place where he was tending sheep. Seeing this and marveling, he went down into it. He saw, besides many other wonders of which we are told, a hollow bronze horse. There were window-like openings in it; he climbed through them and caught sight of a corpse which seemed of more than human statue, wearing nothing but a ring of gold on its finger. This ring the shepherd put on and came out. He arrived at the usual monthly meeting which reported to the king of the state of flocks, wearing the ring. As he was sitting among the others he happened to twist the hoop of the ring towards himself, to the inside of his hand, and as he did this he became invisible to those sitting near  and they went on talking as  if he was gone. He marveled at this and, fingering the ring, he turned the hoop outward again and became visible. Perceiving this, he tested whether the ring had this power and so it happened; if he turned the hoop inward he became invisible, but was visible when he turned it outwards. When he realized this, he at once arranged to become one of the messengers of the king. He went, committed adultery with the king's wife, attacked the king with her help, killed him, and took over the kingdom.
This story is a quote from Why Should I be Moral? by Plato, consisted on page 55 of the book Moral Philosophy: A Reader.

From this story, it could be understood morality and what is not. This is mostly because one who was moral and had the same ring would have done things differently, helped others in their needs than meeting his own needs. The soul that is made up of three parts: a rational part, spirited part and appetitive or passionate part. One should be divine to themselves, so that the best man can rule themselves, because it is always better to be ruled by divine intelligence. He urges that justice of a human being is what he does towards himself, what he does to himself is just and fair. Thus only the best part of the Self can actually get you to be ruled by it's methods, and not contain any of the traumas from it.

Egoism and the Beginning of Morality

Thomas Hobbes puts on definitions underlaid by Socrates, recorded by Plato. Hobbes main beliefs includes "psychological egoism", "state of nature", which leads us to war in ourselves. The "Laws of Nature" as Hobbes refers to them, are nothing more than the maxims of wisdom in which you become cautious, similar to prudence. He then introduces penalties, stating "covenants without the sword are but words".



He reasons that because of equality, our selves are possessed with fear, because two men desiring the same object consider that they both can achieve that as their possession, but only one can achieve it. Thus, one will fight with power as the other will only fear that power, bringing out fear. There are three principal causes for quarrel: competition, fear and glory. At the first, competition, we invade for gain, then for the second, we invade for safety, and then we invade for reputation.

The natural laws are explained by Hobbes as followed on page 65 of Moral Philosophy: A Reader.
The Right of Nature
The Right of Nature, which writers commonly call jus naturale, is the liberty each man hath, to use for own power, as he will himself, for the preservation of his own nature; that is to say, of his own life; and consequently, of doing anything, which is his own judgment, and reason, he shall conceive to be the best means thereunto.

Liberty
By Liberty, is understood, according to the proper signification of the word, the absence of external impediments: which impediments, many oft take away part of a man's power left him, according as his judgment, and reason shall dictate to him.

A Law of Nature
A Law of Nature, lex naturalis, is a percept or general rule, found out by reason, by which a man is forbidden to do that, which is destructive to his life, or taketh away the means of preserving the same; and to omit that, by which he thinketh it may be best preserved. For though they that speak to this subject, use to confound jus, and lex, right and law: yet  they ought to be distinguished; because right, consisteth in liberty to do, or to forbear, whereas law, determines and binds to one of them: so that law, and right, differ as much as obligation and liberty, which is one and the same matter as inconsistent.
He then gives us some definitions:
  • Renouncing: when he cares not to whom benefit thereof redounds.
  • Transferring: when he intends the benefit thereof to some certain person/persons.
  • Obliged/Bound: A man has in either matter abandoned or granted away his right.
The mutual transferring of right is called contact, changing possession. Covenant is "delivering the thing contracted for on his part and leave the other to perform his part as some determinate time after" and be trusted in the meantime.

What is justice? Justice, the third law of nature, because when there are no covenant to be preceded, there has no right to be transferred and every man has the right to everything and then no action can be unjust. The injustice is not performance of covenant. Thus, the golden rule of ethics come up: "Do not that to another, which thou wouldest not have done to thyself" which may seem common to the Confucius rule but phrased differently.

Similar to the sayings of Sreemadbhagabad Geeta, you are required to authorize and give up the rights of governing myself, to this man with another, have made themselves every one the author, to the end he may use the strength and mean of them all, as he shall think expedient, for their peace and common defense.

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