Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hume's ethics with a Buddhist context

Along the same lines, Nou, I would like to interject a comment from my own experience. Basically, I have learned (though I am open to learn something new) that any relationship will never be any more than I deem it to be.

That is, in choosing to see a dog as merely a possession, it will not be possible to see the dog as a companion, as a living being which perhaps possesses less developed faculties and a lower level of self-awareness. It seems a shame to me that so many people are willing to label inequality at the first sign of difference.

An example of some people who benefit from not passing the harsh judgment of inequality are the Buddhists, and any historical scholar will agree that bloodshed and inhumanity does not mar the past of this religion. This is probably due to the fact that they see all beings as sort of (and this is a rough interpretation) their reincarnated brothers and sisters. If I am getting the gist of Hume's Enquiry, benevolence plays a central role, and though he did not prescript the inter-species justice, he did prescript socially virtuous living toward all things. I find Hume's approach easier to understand when placed in the Buddhist context, and I find it relatable to my life. I see Hume's 'moral obligation but not justice obligation' as expressing that some living things may not necessarily be of the same level of consciousness, but they are nonetheless worthy of benevolence and appreciation for what they are.

Now, Hume was a gregarious, outgoing, humorous and popular man, despite the fact that his philosophy was often very much disapproved of at the time when he wrote it. I tend to be very outgoing and can play the role of the life of the party, and I know that it is impossible to do so if I choose to see the people in the party as inferior or unequal. I am sure Hume could have thought this way, especially since he found so much fault in the church which many people believed in. What better reason to call for inequality than this? However, Hume did not create this inequality amongst his peers, and rather more modestly attempted to see their side. When he found it did not work for him, he continued to go party it up and enjoy himself with these people. I see this as him basically living the meaning of his philosophy.

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