A short introduction into ethical considerations and its consequences
What is ethical behavior?
I think that every person, at one time or another, is interested in ethical questions. The question "What am I to Do?" lies on the lips of every person. When one gets down to it every action is an ethical action in the wide sense because every action has an influence on other things and beings, so in that sense in every action the question in what way one wishes to behave is already present. Within the wide ethical field there are several different ethical views in the narrow sense. These views are certain 'rulebases' by which people try to decide what to do. Even though there are many different views concerning what is 'the good' the general concensus is that what is 'the good' does not change. That which is 'the good' is 'the good' always and everywhere. Similar sets of circumstances would induce similar solutions.
Ethics in ancient Greece
The first ethical works we know of (apart from religious ethical works such as of the Jewish religion) came from ancient Greece. The best known are Plato's Politeia
and both Aristotle's Ethicae
(Unfortunately the Eudemian Ethics is unfortunately not presented by the Gutenberg).
The major difference between the work concerns what the intent of a state should be and the proper execution of the ruleset presented by the state. On an ontological there is also a difference in understanding of the existance of 'reality'.
Intents of Stateforms
Plato, in his reasonings concerning stateforms, looks towards the strength of Sparta. Athens had just been defeated by Sparta and there were very good reasons for that both historically as well as according to Plato. Plato merits Sparta for their equality. There was an elite ruling Sparta, but Plato does not look towards that, he mentions that there are also some less admirable points of the Spartan Polis, but that his comments concern the equality of the populace. The Spartan citizen was equal in all ways and every person was utilised for the benefit of all; thus laying focus on the intent of the state and the individual.
Aristotle, in his reasonings concerning stateforms, looks towards the cast systems of earlier Athens (he himself was from an aristocratic family). In both his (major) ethical works he tries to rationalise the different rights of people in the Athenian society, such as Elite, free citizens, women and slaves. The essence of his work concerns a feeling, which he names eudaemonia
, and which can be achieved by acting in no extreme way: exactly in the middle (mesotes
) of the extreme actions witnessed in the polis. The function of the state is to make sure that some people (the elite) can actually achieve this 'happy feeling' by the oppression of the lower classes; thus focussing on a 'goal' (telos).
Execution of Rulesets
Plato reasons that the state should utilise all inhabitants of the Polis to serve the polis according to their abilities. That is why every man had a 24 year military duty and the best people were carefully selected for certain functions so everybody could benefit from that. A product of that would be that every craftsman would be able to dedicate himself to the profession, thus being able to come to an unparalelled excellence, much like it is today.
Aristotle on the other hand makes remarks such as "One should not beat his slaves in public because that might reflect badly upon ones character" and "One should try to make ones wife happy because an unhappy wife might reflect badly upon ones character" can be found numerous times. With this the execution of his envisioned stateform is clear: oppression, much like it is subvertedly today.
Plato has a certain vision on reality in which his logoi
take a central place. He reasons that the simularities between certain objects suggest that there are certain 'universals' of which all particulars are quantifications. These 'perfect' universals are part of the quantified particulars in the sense of existing on a different ontological level.
Aristotle's vision on reality (in his metaphysics) contain a pivital role for his 'idea
'. Aristotle uses his idea as the quantified form
of a certain potentiality, which is a certain abundance and inundates into the actuality of forms, thus seperating the two ontological levels. In his physics Aristotle uses potentiality as an essence, however, placing this potentiality (of possibilities) inside the thing-in-itself.
Religion during the dark agesSlavery
Slavery has been an integral part of many civilisations during the co**** of history. In ancient Greece slaves could be made by the conquering of a rival in the sense that the ultimate debt was owed by these slaves to the conqueror: a debt of life. Another way of making someone a slave was be a purely financial debt which could not be paid by the slave. Both debts made people fall into the lowest class in the society of ancient Greece: the slave class. The laws, in many poleis, were only applicable to free citizens; not to the slaves.
As Aristotle explains it does not reflect well upon an individual when slaves are mistreated (publicly) in any way. Life debt of free citizens were quickly frowned upon, because these free men were of a different social class than the slaves. That is why financial slavery became more and more common practice. During the dark ages slaves were only bought off strong African tribes, thus becoming property, as the debts already implied. The slaves of Africa owed a life debt to their captives, mind, which was easily transferred into a financial debt by selling them.
Ultimately it does not matter if one is a slave in the literal sense or only in the factual sense. The elite in Europe had tons of financial 'slaves' in the poor citizenry. These citizens did their bidding out of financial necessity. This led to the realisation that classes in societies are merely values placed on them and financial classes were as usable as actual slaves in the ancient sense of the word. People can think they are free, but as long as the only option they have is work to benefit others they are still 'owned' by those others.
Financial slavery in the wide sense is still common practice today. After conquering a country the financial aids quickly follow, thus endebting the conquered to the conqueror. The corporations belonging to the conqueror will never be far behind, thus making sure the conquered will be put to work to benefit the conqueror. This can only work if the 'slaves' do not have another option, but to work for the 'master'. It works even better of the slaves are unaware of the situation. Currency plays an integral part in this, because it is the measurement in which the severity of the debt is expressed and if the 'master' will be lenient or not. The fact that one are using currency makes one a slave though, being in the plus or in the minus, because of the fact that it shows the person in question is caught in the maze presented by the master. That is why it is common practice to depict the face of the slaveowner on the currency.