The Spirit of Political Ethics

September 13, 2018 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , OTHER




Thriveni C Mysore



Ethics is about being Right in Conduct; where Right – derived from rectus (L) means according to Rule.


It is difficult to put such a simple virtue – Ethics into practice. It is because of the truth that Conduct is governed by desire and also by the fact that Rule is governed by some authority.


‘Desire’ varies from one person to another; it may range among wealth, freedom, power, fame, beauty, knowledge, love, praise, honor and such. There is no absolute reference to a single, ultimate end to Desire, as it keeps changing with time and circumstances. There lies the difficulty in keeping track of rightness of Conduct. This virtue that is involved in human life gets complicated because; the rules are also subject to change whenever there is change in authority, change in times and change of circumstances. Hence, Ethics flows towards a finer moral discernment and is a virtue to be discovered, realized, learned and adopted by systematic thought process. It is a philosophical ideal, the subject matter of which forms one of the three disciplines in Philosophical sciences; Logic, Aesthetics and Ethics.


The beauty of Philosophy, as known, lies not in finding the answers but in shepherding one’s thoughts to Question, to agree to disagree, to break the imaginary boundaries and barriers of hitherto known knowledge.


Considering Aristotle’s statement, ‘When man, is always a member of some kind of community, he is a political animal’, it can be stated that the ideal of human Conduct dissolves in Politics. The crystalline structure of Ethics can only be realized under the light of Politics, making it essentially an intimate part of Social Philosophy, an integral societal factor.


Hence the society, an authority that lays down a set of rules on human Conduct should work as a responsible unity, discovering and perfecting the virtues and values of her individuals.


At this point, it becomes a necessity to face head-on two conflicting attitudes; Egoism – that addresses individual ends, and Altruism — that addresses devotion to the ends of others.


Herbert Spencer, in ‘Data of Ethics’, points out that either of them, if carried to an extreme is self-destructive. A compromise has to be reached between these two attitudes in any socio-political authority for the development of society.


The philosopher who said, ‘Patriotism ruins history’, Goethe, in ‘Homer once more’ famously says:


There is among men no end of strife, and it always flares up anew because of the currents and crosscurrents of opinion that refuse to be reconciled. Now when it happens that one particular current gains the lead and succeeds in capturing the fancy of the public and triumphing to such a degree that the opposition has to pull in its horns and retreat and go into hiding, then we call this preponderance the Zeitgeist and for a while it holds the field unchallenged.


It will be crude if we do not acknowledge this historically proved theorem.


Inevitably, an individual becomes an inseparable part of society, bound by a language, religion, interest and law. These four factors greatly affect the homogeneity of a society. A society can maintain phenomenal unity; provided a shift in righteousness of the above mentioned four factors remains constant with time, provided these four factors do not gain momentum at each change in political authority, and provided these Ethical factors are not used as tools of any political conspiracy.


Political Ethics should work as a frame to a blissful painting on canvas, that neither imposes itself on the painting nor on the painter. It should be a frame that gives wider scope of appreciation to the painting and so also to the painter. Political Ethics that frames the society and an individual should neither impose itself on the society nor on the individual. It should provide a safe, protective environment that leads on an individual to realize self-goals, goals that reflect on prosperity of society and manifests itself as a base to peaceful co-existence.


At each turn of a century, there has been a turn of events in human society. Gone are the days when the ideal of Ethics laid down for an individual reflected the related society, paving the way to an arrangement of society which would enable the individual to realize the highest aims.


Now, there is a global situation where the ideal of Ethics is laid down by the authority of society to be followed by an individual that may or may not lead to the realization of individualistic goals or aims or desires or beliefs. Philosophically, it is a dangerous situation.


Genuine care has to be taken to address this crucial virtue of human co-existence. It is high time that Political Ethics is provided with its due importance, is offered its true dignity, is granted its due honor, is bestowed with highness and endowed with real value.


A divine wish is; let human-beings regain the lost crown, let them be named again as the crown of creation; let it happen in the nearest future.


Political Ethics should respect Life, Freedom, Truth and Progress. Political Ethics should stand as a moral institution for humanity, by instructing good sense to mankind and by instilling a peaceful co-existence. Co-existence stands on moral Freedom and leans itself with its full weight on Equality.





Thriveni C Mysore

Thriveni C Mysore is a science teacher from Karnataka, India. She is locally acknowledged for her writings on Philosophy and Education in regional language. She loves naturewriting and ecopoetry.

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