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Comparison is not always about determining which is "better," but rather, in order to compare two things as opposed, they need to have something in common, a third thing, through which the comparison is made legitimate.

My post, briefly, was to avoid the dangers of illegitimate comparison by assuming the absence or presence of any related system of ethics-moral programmatic in either camp. These terms, morals, ethics, objectivity, etc., are not Indian terms, they are English terms with a heritage. Simply translating them, by using them, into a different context obscures a) the Buddhist system and b) our utilization of these terms.

Since you're a student of philosophy interested in Buddhist ethics, you ought to think about taking some religion courses that teach this kind of critique.

I think there are some flaws in the way you are describing the difference between western moral philosophy/ethics and Buddhist ethics.

First, the notion that there would be no objectivity in Buddhism to which one could compare the soundness or moral value of one's actions is just inaccurate. There are objectively wrong things to do: eating meat for example. The larger idea of an objective framework in which the individual finds him or herself confronted with the discrepancy between desires and expectations is universal, as I see it. It is the problem of individual and society, my wants versus my duties.

I think what needs to be separated for a good comparison between western and eastern ethical system is religion from the culture. *edit That is, we should separate religion from culture when thinking about comparing cross-cultural ethics: so we can compare American ethics to Indian ethics, but we should compare Christian ethics to Buddhist ethics. When studying the religion in particular, that is, just studying Buddhist ethics, we can never really separate the religion from the culture, since it is the surrounding culture that informs the ethical system of the religion./end edit First, we can call into question the division between west and east altogether, but let's just take it for the sake of conversation that there is such a distinction.

Western ethics has been associated with Judeo-Christian values, monotheism in particular, a set of legalistic codes and doctrines that one measures one's worth against how well they live up to these expectations.

Eastern ethics has been associated with a more diffuse, pantheistic, polytheistic, open-ended kind of "ethos" wherein the individual finds self-interpretation in the community and the local deities/practices/rites to which they ascribe.

Both of these descriptions are rather orientalist, and misleading, because they do not attend to the ways in which western religions have developed over time, they presuppose a fixed idea of "Judeo-Christianity" that is predominately Protestantized. The eastern description gives in to fantasies of the east wherein things are exotic, fluid, cyclical, "mystical," and so on. Both of these are caricatures that serve to re-intrench our understanding of ourselves and the other.

The more I think about it, the more it may be difficult or impossible to actually compare Western and Buddhist moralities because it seems like an apples and oranges situation. But I mostly came here to say that Buddhism does offer objectivity in ethics, the idea of "objectivity" can be called into question. Also that Buddhism does rely on mythology, of course, the Buddha was enlightened, and his story is of course the foundational myth that gives birth to the "religion."

Cue scene from Orange is the New Black: "You can handle that all by yourself, honey?" "I think I can fix it if I focus extra hard with my lady brain.""

Edit: pretty sure I really messed that quotation up, but I can't find a clip >:O

I hate to be "that" person recommending Nietzsche, but I'm working on him for my dissertation, and he's all I'm thinking about lately. One of his thoughts revolves around the task of ceasing to being ashamed of yourself. In order to do this, self-affirmation is necessary. It becomes the key to achieving what goals you have set for yourself. Shame is a product of an internalization of what we perceive the world around us to expect, require or demand of us. It's different from guilt, in that guilt is internally motivated: for example you may feel guilty about being grouchy at someone. But shame is the feeling that you are not worthy or that you are distasteful to others in some capacity. Overcoming shame becomes key to achieving your goals, because if you are constantly hung up on shame, it is going to be rather difficult to focus on the self-who-has goals, the self-who-acts and seeks out their destiny in the world.

Goals are difficult to achieve if you are constantly thinking about how you look, how people are judging you, etc. I know that when I'm out and about, that is also what I think about: I start imagining that people are judging me. I remind myself to cease being ashamed for whatever it is I think they are judging me about. So, I walk funny, even if it's true, I should embrace this, self-affirm it: I am a funny walker. All of these people walk the same, but I walk different. That is me.

What I really appreciate about Nietzsche's works is beyond the stereotypical kind of associations people have of him, he's an astounding observer and investigator of human nature. He is fascinated by what makes humans tick psychologically, and how these psychical forces produce and reflect in their behaviors, including large scale societal make ups. I find that focusing on this kind of work also helps me get out of my skin a bit, because I can redirect my hyper-intensive analyzing brain to something, you know, actually kind of useful, or at least not soul-sucking and depressing (i.e., social anxiety).

So pickup a copy of The Genealogy of Morals and The Gay Science and have fun :)

Did we create the Nazis in the same way we have contributed to the creation of radical Islam, including the Taliban?