Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why So Extreme?

One of the things we've been talking about in class is Eastern vs. Western culture and specifically about murder and violence.  We've talked about The Boondock Saints and whether taking the life of a person who will kill more is ethical and we've talked about the Dalai Lama and his approach toward the Chinese who've invaded his country.

Why do we only talk about the extremes of death, murder and violence?  On a more day-to-day level, what about things so small as talking about someone behind their back? Or lying? Cheating? 

Do you inform those with authority if you see someone doing something wrong or believe that karma will even everything out in the end? If you find out that someone said something mean about you, do you spread rumors about them too or shrug it off believing that it says more about the person talking than it says about you?

1 comment:

  1. Maybe it was a rhetorical question but…
    I would think we like to frame a discussion around murder/death because that is an issue that most people have the same reference point for. Even in our small group we may have various degrees of when it is ok to lie. (Kantian/deontological- never Utilitarian- when it does the most good or Virtue Ethical- kind of a mixture of the two but I could be wrong on this part)
    However in regards to death, I think we all agree it is an ending of some sort. Regardless if you believe that after death we are worm food, are reincarnated, or go to heaven/hell, we can generally agree it is a major non reversible issue. This gives us a standardized and relatively absolute jumping off point for our discussions.
    As to the spreading rumors... I would think the deontologists/ Buddhist would feel that you wouldn’t say anything because it is the absolute right thing to do (by who’s rules is the question?) while a virtue ethicist would be more concerned about what it says about the other person and themselves. Again I may be wrong on the virtue ethicist response.
    Maybe I heard wrong but at the end class on Tuesday, Dr. Griffin had made the comment that the Lama was concerned about how his children/future generations would perceive his actions and how they would feel about him. Again maybe I didn’t hear right and/or I haven’t read enough on Buddhism but I would think that the Lama was more concerned with the future actions of his perceived children, including the invading army, than how they perceived his personal character or actions. I would think he would be concerned with the knowledge that by responding with hate he was not only letting hate into his own life but also into the lives of all that followed his teachings. By allowing hate into the lives of his followers he may feel he has performed an action worse than the soldiers, for the soldiers just killed were as he allowed hate and future killings to spread.
    But like I said maybe I didn't hear Dr. Griffin's statement and the subsequent response correctly.