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Ethics

A Thematic Compilation by Avi Sion

Blog posts November 2017

Contents

 

Table of Contents

 

1.         Chapter One

1.         Basic Properties

2.         Complementary Factors

3.         How to Count Mitzvot

4.         Commanded vs. Personal Morality

 

2.         Chapter Two

1.         Ka…

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1. Chapter One

 

Jewish tradition assigns various technical characteristics to the concept of mitzvah. In this chapter, we will try to clarify some of them, and analyze their formal implications, making comparisons to natural ethical logic.[1]

 

1.         Basic Properties

 

The term mi…

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2. Chapter Two

 

1.         Karmic Law Denied

 

Finally, let us consider Nagarjuna’s comments on the moral principle of ‘karma’ (as we commonly call it). He denies karmic law – for him, “necessary connections between good deeds and rewards, and bad deeds and punishments” are, as Cheng de…

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3. Chapter Three

 

1.         Harmonizing Justice and Mercy

 

Just as God’s existence cannot be proved (or disproved), so also His attributes cannot definitively be proved (or disproved). If an attribute could be proved, that to which it is attributed would of necessity also be proved. (If all a…

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4. Chapter Four

 

1.         Knowledge of Volition

 

There is little mystery left as to how to theoretically define causation and how we get to establish it in practice. A mixture of epistemological and ontological issues is involved, which are resolved with relative ease. Causation in general …

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5. Chapter Five

 

1.         The Consciousness in Volition

 

Volition as an inner effort of the soul requires some degree of consciousness – else it would not be volition but mechanical movement. But the question arises: ‘consciousness’ of what? There are several answers.

Firstly, ever…

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6. Chapter Six

 

1.         Influence Occurs via Consciousness

 

An important and complex concept in causal logic, and specifically in the logic of volition, is that of influence. This refers to the impact on one’s volitional act, before or while it occurs, of some cognized natural event(s) an…

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7. Chapter Seven

 

1.         Some Features of Influence

 

We defined influence as the relationship, to the action of a volitional agent, of contents of consciousness that make his exercise of will easier or harder. To ‘make easier or harder’ means that: in the presence of these objects, provide…

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8. Chapter Eight

 

1.         Volition and Biology

 

It is interesting to note, to start with, that biology textbooks may refer to voluntary and involuntary processes without ever admitting volition or asking questions about it. Yet (I would say), volition is central to many issues in biology.

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9. Chapter Nine

 

1.         Cognition, Volition and Valuation

 

Our ‘soul’ is the core of our selfhood and of all our personal ‘life’. From an ontological perspective, the soul has a variety of abilities of activity, or functions, which may be classified into three broad groups: cognit…

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10. Chapter Ten

 

1.         Valuation

 

Let us now look more closely at the main affections or appetites, which are among the major influences on volition. Our increased understanding of volition and influence can help us clarify concepts such as: liking and disliking (affections), desire and …

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11. Chapter Eleven

 

1.         Habits

 

An apparent issue relative to freedom of the will is the force of habits, good or bad. If we have freewill, how come we have habits that are sometimes so very hard to break? Some habits once acquired remain with us all our life, becoming (what Aristotle has…

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12. Chapter Twelve

 

1.         Physical Urges and Impulses

 

We all have natural bodily urges, which seemingly ‘force’ us to perform certain actions. But on closer analysis, they do not really leave us no choice at all, but present us with relatively little choice.

Our most manifest bodily…

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13. Chapter Thirteen

 

 

1.         Purposiveness

 

The concept of purpose is initially and primarily one relating to human action. We mentally visualize, or conceptually and verbally project, a state of affairs that we would like to bring into existence or to ensure the continued existence of, …

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14. Chapter Fourteen

 

1.         Social Darwinism

 

Darwinism has, since its inception in the latter half of the 19th Century, been influential beyond the field of biology proper, in ethical as well as economic, social and political theorizing and commentary, some of which has been pernicious. Unde…

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15. Chapter Fifteen

 

Deontology is a vast topic, which we can only touch upon in the present volume. I have already made scattered remarks on this subject in previous chapters, and in earlier works[1]; here some additional comments seem worth making.

 

1.         Founding Ethics

 

The term …

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16. Chapter Sixteen

 

1.         Inducing Ethics

 

How is ethics actually built up in people’s minds, and how is it to be justified epistemologically? My proposed answer to these questions is as follows.

We all have our own ‘intuitions’ of right and wrong, good and bad, just and unjust, kind a…

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17. Chapter Seventeen

 

1.     Against Kant on Freewill

 

Various comments against Kant’s view of freedom of the will.

As I explain elsewhere[1], freedom of the will should not be conceived as “doing what you want”, in the sense “doing what you desire”, for being moved by random desires is not free…

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18. Chapter Eighteen

 

1.    The Goals of Meditation

 

Meditation is a means to enhanced consciousness. The ultimate goal of meditation is, accordingly, to attain the highest level of consciousness possible to one. This summum bonum (highest good) is generally understood as threefold, although the three…

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19. Chapter Nineteen

 

1.    Distinguishing the Ego

 

The self was above defined – from a philosophical perspective – as the apparent Subject of cognition and Agent of volition and valuation. But – in common parlance – most people identify themselves with much more than this minimal definition. To c…

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