Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wisdom, Truth, Honesty and Ethical Dilemmas

Being a seeker of the ultimate truth and the ultimate answer I often puzzle over ethical dilemmas. First off there is always the question of if there is a higher truth to things. I mean that a lot of ethics and morals are based in societal needs. There are a lot of ways we act and think in order to keep the harmony in society. And these values change over time and vary from society to society. As an example some cultures don't mind picture taking but some cultures consider it very taboo to take a persons picture without permission. And some cultures don't permit it at all.

Before you jump and say "when in Rome you follow the Roman rules" I just want to say that this is not my real point. My real point is the question of if there are ethical rules that go above all else and are universal. And by universal I mean the whole tootin universe.

Let me get to my point here. It is a theory I have called "Path Interruption" and it applies to conscious beings (but then again I am not going to say a rock is devoid of consciousness, who knows right?)

Path Interruption

I feel that a potential universal ethic is that of awareness of path interruption. I think that every human being is on his or her own path and he or she must find and follow that path. And, you as a person have to be very careful about that path. You have very limited right to interrupt that path in any way. This ties in very nicely with the ethics of hurting someone else which is bad according to path interruption. You have changed their path. And forcing someone to do something they don't want to do is also a bad form of path interruption.

Now, what about ethical dilemmas and path interruption.

This brings to mind a pretty common psychological test. In the test the subject is told that they are watching some railroad tracks and a train is coming. Now the subject can see three people working on the tracks and they have no idea the train is coming. They are wearing hearing protection and the train will run them right over - it is certain that they will die. Now the subject as an observer of this is right near a track switch where the switch can be thrown and the train will change tracks and avoid the three workers, but, on the other track there is one person and this person will be killed. hmmm... interesting ethical dilemma. So what would you do?

Often times people will choose to kill the one person because its better to save three than one. But, how does the theory of path interruption fit into this? If you do nothing, three people die, true but if you take action one person will die - the difference being that you have taken action and in effect you have, by your action, killed this person.

So, what is the absolute right thing to do? Do you get a karmic point bonus for saving a persons life? Or do you get a karmic minus for killing somebody? Does it really matter?

(The interesting thing to remember is that the choice you make determines the path you take)

So, is it ok to just be an observer in other peoples lives, or is it right to take action based on what you feel is right? I am sure if you asked that one man standing on the railroad tracks alone he would give you a very strong opinion about what you should do and how you shouldn't interrupt his path by throwing the switch.

Where does wisdom fit into this?

I have always considered wisdom to be very important however intangible it is. A good portion of wisdom comes from experience and understanding that many of the rules we live by are not set in titanium. They are good in most cases but sometimes it is best for all parties involved to not follow the rules. This is wisdom on the level of society. But what about the ultimate ethics and wisdom? What is it and how do we acquire it? Or is there even no such thing?

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