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A Philosophy of Ethics

The Birth of Morals at the Crossroads of Myth and History


D. Wyatt Aiken

Is it really possible to fully define the human animal in terms of the natural Darwinian world? Naturalists say that the goal of the natural order is the survival of that order as a whole. If this is true, then there is inherent in that natural order a type of natural or primitive ethic, the ethic of the survival of the kind. Actions which encourage life are good, and those which provoke death are bad. Yet in the process of setting the human animal against the inclusively natural backdrop which defines him in the natural world, another type of ethic appears which is absolutely incongruous to the natural order, and which, instead of enhancing the human animal's chances of survival, actually seems to jeopardize them. This other type of ethic, or Morals, which is characterized by motivations such as mercy and compassion, clearly did not arise from the natural order and cannot be justified in terms of that order. Since, therefore, Morals do not arise from man's natural History, it is reasonable to begin looking for their origins in the texts of the human animal's «mythic» History.
Contents: Philosophy and wisdom - Ethics and morals - A mytho-historical analysis of the origin of morals - Truth in-the-world.