Download PDF by Vernon J. Bourke: History of ethics

By Vernon J. Bourke

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Many of Berdyaev's books ( originally in Russian? Gennan, or French) have been put into English and they are well known. "88 Throughout this book Berdyaev insists that it is what happens to man after death that gives meaning and value to his life. 91 MODERN THEORIES This eschatological emphasis involves the important notion of the finality of man. His view is not that of ancient or medieval eudaimonism, however; Berdyaev does not agree with Thomas Aquinas that a morally good life is the way to achieve everlasting happiness.

The fundamental attitudes are very similar to what we have seen in Marx: a good morality grows out of a rightly ordered society; all ethical systems are relativistic; all· classes have their own moralities but the proletariat has the only progressive type; the value of a given moral or ethical position is determined by its political and social results; the Communist party as the spearhead of proletarian ideals is the ultimate norm of moral judgmenLS5 Quite opposed to Marxism is another school of Russian thought, which takes its origins in the Orthodox Christianity of the Eastern Church.

Societal ethics does not attempt to explain moral good and evil in terms of the consequences of certain personal attitudes or actions to the social wel~ 77 MODERN THEORIES fare. " People who hold this societal ethics, in one of its many varieties, usually think that the common good of the group takes precedence over the private interest of individ~ ual members. Such an ethical attitude is important to understand, because extremists in this school of thought feel that they are ethically justified in sacrificing the individual person for the sake of the general welfare which they see so clearly.

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History of ethics by Vernon J. Bourke


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