Living Fully, Living Responsibly: Buber's Philosophy of Dialogue
Author: Sia, Santiago
Source: Ethical Contexts and Theoretical Issues: Essays in Ethical Thinking, Issue data not provided , pp. 141-161(21)
Abstract:Ethical thinking has to address the fundamental question of “what ought I to do?” since ethics should direct us ultimately to doing that which is right and avoiding that which is wrong. Thus, it has to focus on the ethical status of specific actions as well as more general ones. The search for moral norms or the examination of ethical criteria would certainly keep these issues to the forefront.
But ethical thinking also needs to consider the questions: How is one to live one's life? What attitudes, traits or habits should one develop so that one can be described as living responsibly? In other words, what is the status and role of the moral agent?
This set of questions was certainly of interest to Confucius who gives as an answer the concept of the junzi (translated as gentleman, nobleman, or superior man) and a list of traditional virtues that he is expected to cultivate. Originally a title from birth, this concept was changed by Confucius to be a moral ideal, attainable by everyone through continuous and consistent striving. Aristotle, too, develops the notion of “a just and prudent man” whose intellectual and moral virtues will lead him to fulfil his ultimate goal of becoming an eudaimon. Inasmuch as the moral agent's intention is the mainstay of Kantian ethics, a case could also be made that Kant was particularly keen on alerting us to the important role that the agent plays in our ethical discussions. Even J.S. Mill, whose utilitarianism has been closely associated with actions and the kind of consequences that they effect, does consider this more fundamental issue. For him, the actions one performs have a bearing on the kind of agent that we become, which in turn leads that individual to perform a certain kind of action.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2010
- Ethical Contexts and Theoretical Issues: Essays in Ethical Thinking
Compared to the traditional approach to the philosophical study of ethics, this book adopts a different strategy. It shows that such ethical thinking, in the concrete particulars, originates in various academic and professional contexts, among others. But inasmuch as theoretical issues require wider and more intensive attention, it argues that ethical thinking needs to be pursued further and that it can be aided by philosophical investigations. In its concluding chapters the book presents an alternative foundation for ethical decision-making. Philosophically grounded, it moves away from an individualistic ethical perspective to a relational one that has been shaped through dialogue with the various contexts in which ethical thinking arises.
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